“Tokyo is like a photographic playground,” says Kamila K Stanley. “When I was there last month, I struggled to adjust to the nine-hour time zone change. I was dogged by insomnia. I’d wake up between dusk and dawn, and go out to shoot pictures.”
Her series, Tokyo Insomnia, was shot during “those eerie in-between hours, when light is more sensitive, and you make chance encounters. You get that feeling of drifting: half awake, half in a dream.”
Stanley stayed in quiet, residential Midtown, but spent days and nights walking around Shibuya and Akihabara, “transfixed by the traffic, the flow of people, the gleaming love hotels, and the neon lights.” She also also hung out in the Nakameguro neighbourhood, and then the huge fish market in Tsujuki before dawn. Her photos have the feel of a present-day Saul Leiter with their raindrops, signs and passers-by.
“I guess what fascinated me most was the realisation that every single thing can be done differently, in Japanese culture: the way the city is built, the way public space and architecture are used, the Japanese language and alphabet, the Japanese style of photography – the meticulous care with which they wrap their fruit in supermarkets: everything is different. As a photographer it’s a treat because every inch of the city is surprising.”
“So it’s like a huge, technicolor spectacle. No matter what time of night or day it is, you can get lost in endless game arcades, casinos, multi-coloured bars and strange sights. There’s electricity and light everywhere. Somehow in this city you feel like a kid.”