Archives for : tokyo

First snowfall in 2013 for Tokyo

A woman walks through the snow in Tokyo on 14 Jan 2013. Rob Gilhooly photo. All rights reserved.


Jan 14 saw the first snow fall of the winter in Tokyo and it was pretty treacherous. From my apartment I got a view of people passing along the street blow and dozens of vehicles struggling to climb the icy road that runs past on the other side. Cars were basically stopping at lights and then sliding back down the hill – a couple of minor accidents resulting. The meteorological agency estimates more than 40 cm will have fallen around Tokyo by 6 pm today. I’m staying in!

Japan agrees to buy Senkaku islands

Reports this morning  including this one in the Yomiuri Shinbun about the Japanese government reaching a deal to buy Senkaku islands from the current owner, who lives in Saitama.

The agreement between the Saitama man and the government is reportedly worth 2.05 billion yen and will include three of the chain’s five main islands — Uotsuri-jima, Kitako-jima and Minamiko-jima islands.

The islands fall under the administration of Okinawa, but are part of an  ongoing territorial dispute with China.

In a desperate attempt to protect the islands, Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara and Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda had entered  a heated battle to buy the Senkaku Islands, which are located in the East China Sea between Okinawa and Taiwan, from the current landowner, who runs a real estate business and is now in his 70s.

The efforts to secure ownership of the islands has been stepped up in recent weeks following the landing on the island in August by a group of Pro-China activists from Hong Kong. The 14 activists were detained and later released, though not before a spate of anti-Japanese street protests broke out in China with regards to the islands, which are also claimed by Taiwan.

A group of Japanese nationalists has subsequently made an illegal landing on the island chain.

Tokyo Gov. Ishihara has met the landowner on a number of occasions over the past 9 months and has openly expressed his confidence that the islands will be sold to the metropolitan government, even though the landowner has turned down an application by Tokyo to land on the islands in late August.

The metro government has since conducted aerial surveys of the islands, a move that was criticized by China.

With reference to Ishihara’s attempts to buy the islands, the state-run Xinhua news agency said: “The Japanese government should not let a right-winger take hold of the reins.”


Street Photography

Photographer: Robert Gilhooly

Photographer: Robert Gilhooly

Photographer: Robert Gilhooly









Photographer: Robert Gilhooly









Photographer: Robert Gilhooly


Been finding it hard of late to justify things. It took a bit of effort to go out and shoot, and it shows. But gotta start somewhere …




Solar Eclipse

Photo shows the eclipse that crossed the skies of Tokyo and Asia on Monday 25 May 2012. Robert Gilhooly photo


Caught a fleeting glimpse of the eclipse early this morning, unfortunately hidden by thick clouds during the most dramatic stage of its transformation. Still quite dramatic — first one I have seen in the flesh at it were.

Photojournalism Exhibition

A visitor looks at photos from the DAYS Japan annual photojournalism awards winners' exhibition in Shinjuku, Tokyo. The exhibition runs until May 18th 2011, before moving onto various other venues in Japan.  Robert Gilhooly Photo



Shameless plug, I know, but this doesn’t happen every day. A few of my photos are on display at the Konica-Minolta Gallery in Shinjuku, Tokyo. Please drop by if you are in the area … admission is free.

Some of the photographers on display are Days Photojournalism Awards first prize winner Jan Dago and Adam Dean, among other award-winning snappers. I was awarded with a prize by special jury for my suicide forest photos, three of which are on display in the gallery sandwiched between those depicting the Pakistan floods by Andrees Latif and others about maternal mortality in Sierra Leone by Jean Chung. I really don’t mind rubbing shoulders with those two.

A gallery of the suicide forest photos can be found here. Some people might find a few of these shots a little disturbing.

Access directions to Konica-Minolta gallery here

Info on exhibition here (Japanese only)

Review on CNN here




Japan War-end Anniversary!

Woman prays by a tree at the National Cemetery in Tokyo

Woman prays by a tree at the National Cemetery in Tokyo

Shinichi Kamajo, founder of ultra-right wing group Gishin Gokoku-kai

Shinichi Kamajo, founder of ultra-right wing group Gishin Gokoku-kai

Aug. 15, the day that marked Japan’s surrender in the Pacific War, is also a day when Japanese make the pilgrimage to Yasukuni Shrine, often referred to as “Japan’s Soul” and the place where convicted war criminals are interred. As a result, it is a magnet for nationalists and right-wingers. You can find more images that I took during a day which took me from the shrine, to the national cemetery and then on to another cemetery that houses the grave of Japan’s war-time leader Hideki Tojo here.
Also here a photo story on Japanese nationalism that ran in Global Post recently. Comments welcome!

Who’d be a window cleaner in Tokyo?

Anthony Suau

Tony Suau by a poster advertising the World Press Photo 09 exhibition in Tokyo

Tony Suau by a poster advertising the World Press Photo 09 exhibition in Tokyo

Extracts from a q&a session given by award-winning photojournalist Tony Suau during a presentation in Tokyo.

First on his World Press Photo 09 award-winning image, which is shown in the poster behind him in the photo above.

“The (pictured) sheriff’s name was Robert Kole and I travelled with him in his car for two days to homes that were being foreclosed in order to make sure evictions were finalized. When we arrived at homes we encountered a wide range of emotions, from people crying on his shoulder to others who came at him with weapons. So when we drove up to any home we had to be prepared for anything. We visited 12-15 homes and when nobody was home the law was that they could break open the doors and he had to go from room to room with weapon drawn to make sure the place was clear of guns and safe for movers to come in and remove the goods. There are a lot of guns in the U.S., and there are some pretty crazy people around so you have to be very careful when walking into that kind of situation, it’s very highly emotionally charged. You don’t know what you will find around any corner. So the sherrif was very professional in making sure the house was secured. The (winning) photo was taken in the very last home we visited. The house had been badly vandalized — you can see the debris in the picture. And I saw the light falling on that room and the silhouettes on the wall and so I just positioned myself thinking that if he goes in that direction he will be silhouetted against that wall and you will be able to see him clearly. It was difficult because it all happened so quickly, but for one brief instant he was silhouetted and I think this photo illustrated what I wanted to say more succinctly than any of the other images… What Sgt. Robert Kole was doing at that home was directly related to what was going on in Wall St. Those mortgages were sold on Wall St. and it basically collapsed, which then hit the economy.”

On his photo essay about the economic tailspin in the U.S.

“When I visited Detroit in 2008, what I saw was shocking. It was like a ghost town, and I remember thinking that it was worse than what I had seen in eastern Europe in the early 1990s. There were apartment blocks that were 30 percent empty. And I don’t mean 30 percent of the apartments were unoccupied, they were empty. They didn’t even have window frames. Obama could lead the U.S. in a very interesting direction, but the country really is falling apart, in many many respects – economically, and socially it’s in a very critical state state and I don’t think even Barrack Obama himself will be able to pull it out of the tailspin that it is in…”

“I am continuing to work in the U.S. particularly on the economic situation there… At the moment I am working on a project with 10 other photographers, including David Burnett and Stanley Green. We want to form a kind of recreation of the FSA (Farm Security Administration) that was formed in the 1930s to document the economic crisis in the U.S. for the government. We are trying to recreate that for the Obama government. I think that’s a very important project, both historically and in terms of eeking out some of the stories in the U.S. that are difficult to get to in order to enlighten the public as to what is going on.”

On his “Fear This” book about the Iraq War with a different angle

“Before I set out on the Fear This project, about a week before the war in Iraq started, I was in a bar and people there were talking about how the U.S. needs to go to war. It was very right wing stuff, and I made a comment that I thought it was really bad. They wanted to take me outside and beat me up. I realized that this was in many ways an important experience. I realized that to do the Fear This project I needed to be careful: I didn’t bundle up my feelings, exactly, but rather just kept my mouth shut. And although I really disagreed with what many of the people I photographed were saying, I kept telling myself that I would have the chance to speak once the book was published. When I didn’t have my cameras with me I just let it all out when I saw these people in shopping centers and so on because I realized I didn’t have to bottle it up. But there was a great sense of satisfaction when the book came out and I was able to make my personal statement of how I felt about the subject. … I thought this was a very relevant and interesting way to look at war, and a different way to look at it and how it was created within society and how (people in the U.S.) got swept up in this fervor to to go to war.”

On war and the state of the (photo)journalism industry:

“My feeling is that war is inevitable because it is part of human nature at the moment, unfortunately. In my experience I do not see that photography is doing anything to alter that. It’s just an unfortunate fact that humanity has an affinity to war still, and this is true in many cultures. I don’t that is going to change any time soon and I don’t think photography is going to do anything to help it change.”

On motivation:

“For me it is really important to photograph things that you are passionate about, things that matter to you personally, for you to get involved in it and make photos that are going to speak to somebody else. Unless you feel it yourself, I don’t think you will be able to relay it to the outside world. … I am trying to focus on more anthropological documents. When I take a picture I think the most important thing is well, it may have some immediate use, but will it survive 50 or 100 years from now?”

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