“We have no place to be 1980-1982”

Foreword by Yoshitomo Nara, Artist (English and Japanese)

And Yet, Here I Am

Apart from New York, I experienced all the cities contained in this book in realtime. Early 1980s Liverpool and London in England; Nuremberg and West Berlin in Germany; New York in America; and Tokyo, Japan. It was in 1980 when, not long after my 20th birthday, I “reallocated” the limited funds set aside for the following year’s tuition and worked my way south through Europe, by way of Pakistan.

A kid from a provincial city in the northern reaches of Japan, I had just moved to Tokyo and enrolled in art school. Surrounded for the first time by talented classmates from across Japan, my confidence was at an all-time low. I became a regular at the many live music venues and rock’n’ roll coffee shops blanketing Shinjuku and Shibuya. I still remember how junkies would begin to congregate around the South Exit of Shinjuku Station each afternoon, high on paint thinner and whatever else they could get their hands on. They looked like washed up hippies and stood out from the crowd who flocked to see all the punk and new wave bands. Whenever I saw them at shows, they seemed to try to dress and act the part, but their posturing couldn’t conceal an omnipresent cloud of sadness. Rather than feel the music, it looked like they had drifted into the clubs craving friendship. Either way, as if left behind by the wave of students and salarymen pouring into Shinjuku Station, there they were. As was I, on the periphery.

The first European city I ever set foot in was Paris. Nowadays, Japanese bookstores are full of conscientious guidebooks written for young travelers on a budget. But back then, I had to make do with Europe on $10 a Day, written by an American. True to the title, I ultimately did subsist on $10 a day. A prima facie art student, I had envisioned an itinerary full of art museums, but after only a few days in museum-ridden Paris, I’d soon had enough. Instead, I crashed in youth hostel after youth hostel, communing with fellow travelers and young locals who would come to hang out. Perhaps as a product of my youth, I found this mode of communication far more entertaining than cultured tourism. In a sense, I think this youthfulness was a hangover from my days spent in Shinjuku’s dimly-lit music hubs. So ingrained was this routine that I would roam the streets in search of such venues upon arrival in each big city, from Paris to Brussels to Amsterdam to divided Germany. At the time, West Berlin was like a landlocked country, isolated unto itself. I boarded an overnight train in West Germany. Passing through East Germany, we pulled into the last stop on the line at dawn: West Berlin’s Zoo Station. Exiting the gloomy station, I saw the ravished remains of a church across the street, left untouched since the war. The young people in Zoo Station differed from the delinquents in Shinjuku, as well as the punks and working-class skins I had encountered in London. They were the demographic who would later be depicted in the film Christiane F. Again different from the young people in Amsterdam who obtained spiritual liberation through drugs, they were shrouded in an over-whelming air of isolation and alienation. Though I was from the same generation, I could instinctively tell that I was nothing more than an interloper from a far and foreign country. At a cursory glance, I realized we wouldn’t be able to connect even over a discussion as simple as rock music or movies. They were engulfed in a whirlpool of nihilistic emptiness utterly unrelated to politics or religion. They showed none of the familiar traces of youth typically evinced in fashion or violence. Instead, they seemed to be in the process of being helplessly swallowed up in their own bottomless abyss.

I left Japan in the beginning of February 1980 and travelled through-out Europe practically penniless and in rags, returning home in early May. Having blown through my tuition, I had to withdraw from university. But I couldn’t have cared less. Of course, I felt that I had lost some important part of myself. Then again, I also felt that something intangible had been gained. I left Tokyo but was fortunately able to resume my studies the following year, this time at a private regional university.

As ever, I wasn’t the best of students, but managed to make it through my studies without dropping out. Then, right when my European adventure was starting to become nothing more than a distant memory, I came across a certain photobook. I was immediately struck by the cover photograph and title: We Have No Place To Be. I flipped through the pages and made a beeline for the checkout counter. Leaving the bookstore, I sat down on the street for the first time in a long while. With each page, I slipped through time, transported back to London and Liverpool, Nuremberg and West Berlin. These photographs were the real deal. I found the nostalgic faces of all those who accepted me solely on the basis that we were of the same generation. I found the faces of youths branded with the badge of social outcast. I found the faces of young men and women who would ultimately be crushed under the weight of impregnable force. What I found transcended nostalgia. Within these pages, I discovered a feeling: what I wanted to say but could not articulate, what I hoped to paint but could not express. These photographs contained something that I could never hope to encounter in a school setting. Moreover, they contained something I thought only I knew.

The memories of my trip had been buried in the banalities of daily life, but they were revived by these black and white photographs, running through my mind accompanied by smell and sound. Like this photographer, I wanted to give voice to our generation. I resolved to devote my energies to elevating our tattered existence into something transcendent, something lasting and accepted.

The following year, I embarked on my second trip to Europe. This time, I was sure that art would provide my escape from this hopeless listlessness. For what followed, I thank Joji Hashiguchi and this wonderful book.

(Translation by Daniel Gonzalez)




 そうそう、初めて降りたヨーロッパの都市はパリ。当時は若者向けの親切な日本語のガイドブックも無く『Europe on $10 a Day』というアメリカ人が書いた本を持って行った。まさしく一日10ドルの旅だった。美大生の端くれとして美術館を巡る旅になる予定だったが、早くも美術館だらけのパリでそれに飽きてしまった。そんな観光よりもユースホステルを泊まり歩き、そこで出会う旅人や訪れる町の若者たちとのコミュニケーションの方が楽しくなっていったのは若さのせいだったのだろう。その若さは新宿の薄暗いライブハウスから引きずってきたようなもので、大きな町に着くとそんな場所を探して路地を歩いていたのだと思う。そういうようにしてパリからブリュッセル、アムステルダムと移動していったのだが、まだ東と西に分かれていたドイツで、当時の西ベルリンは陸の孤島のような場所だった。西ドイツから夜行列車に乗り、東ドイツを通り抜けて終着駅である西ベルリンのZoo駅に着いたのは朝方だった。薄暗い駅を出ると、戦争で壊れたままの教会が通りの向こうに見えた。駅には新宿の不良少年たちやロンドンで見かけたパンクスや労働者階級のスキンズたちとも違った若者たちがいた。後に映画化された『クリスチーネ・F(原題 Christiane F.)』に出てくるような若者たちだった。彼らはドラッグで自由な精神世界を手に入れるアムステルダムの若者たちとも違って、圧倒的な孤独感や疎外感を身にまとっていた。そこでは僕はただの異国から来た同世代の旅人にしか過ぎなかった。ロックや映画の話題で盛り上がることすらも出来ないと、一目見てわかった。政治や宗教とは無縁の空虚がそこに渦巻いていたのだ。ファッションや暴力に表出される若さは無く、彼らはなす術もなく自らの奈落に吸い込まれていくように見えた。





Commentary by Mika Kobayashi, Photography Critic (English and Japanese)

Photography, Imagination, and the Other

Over the course of his long career, Joji Hashiguchi has remained an unfailing champion of the individual. Approaching his subjects with humanity, he has devoted his life to telling their stories to an indifferent society. Although most who stand before his camera can be nominally divided along abstract lines such as geographical region, social class, workplace, or school, Hashiguchi lends a sympathetic ear to each and every individual, documenting his subjects and their surrounding environs, the product of intimate engagement and discussion. At the heart of Hashiguchi’s work is a sobering sense of dedication to his subjects, reflected in an unwavering willingness to accept responsibility for the gravity of exposure before his lens. The moment a photographer picks up his camera, the power dynamic shifts, and the photographer can no longer be on equal footing with his subject. However, Hashiguchi has been careful not to impose his own value systems, instead maintaining a sublime sense of distance. With an open mind, he is accepting of the fact that even the observer becomes the observed, as the photographer is conversely exposed to the penetrating gaze of his subjects.

The present volume combines Hashiguchi’s acclaimed debut series Shisen (The Look)- recipient of the 18th Taiyo Prize in 1981- Oretachi Doko ni mo Irarenai: Areru Sekai no Judai (We Have No Place To Be), originally published by Soushisha in 1982, and many previously unpublished photos taken during the same time period. Available here in a new expanded edition for the first time in the West through Session Press, these works already reveal Hashiguchi’s nascent characteristic brand of engagement with his subjects. Encamped amidst the lingering, appraising eyes of young so-called furyo-“delinquents”-prowling the bustling night streets of Shinjuku, Harajuku, and Shibuya, Hashiguchi captures the posturing of the young with sensitivity, a lost tribe desperate for self-expression, repelled by a society that sings the praises of abundant riches and stability. Feeling stifled by the mounting pressures of home life and an increasingly oppressive education system, these youth sought out their own ephemeral space in the city. It’s on the streets where they learned to conduct themselves, and where Hashiguchi became a regular presence each weekend, submitting himself to their watchful gaze, continuing his work undaunted. In order to further study the conditions in cities, he left Japan in October 1981, embarking on an approximately three-month tour of Liverpool, London, Nuremberg, West Berlin, and New York. Over the course of this condensed itinerary, he came face to face with the harsh realities lurking underneath the surface of city life: drug addiction and self-destructive proclivities, racism and immigration issues, unemployment and poverty. Along each step of his travels, the local youth became a barometer for manifold social disarray erupting to the fore, the symptoms of complexly intertwined regional dynamics.

Although each country is undoubtedly home to its own unique social and historical context, these youths shared a common discontent and pent-up frustration that knew no outlet. Deviating from the traditional confines of societal norms, perhaps their violent behavior was an inheritance from their parents’ generation, the delayed manifestation of a wrinkle in the social fabric that emerged as an amplified distortion following the turbulent war years. Unable to choose their place of birth, these youths were conscripted to exist within their predestined location in time and history, all the while mouthing their cry, “We have no place to be.”

Hashiguchi walked those same streets, immersing himself in the culture to gain an intimate understanding of the voices and atmosphere of disenfranchised youth, closing in at point blank range to preserve their presence in photographs. Tape recorder in hand, he also interviewed his subjects, producing a body of reportage based on their raw testimony. Both mediums-image and language-depict distant worlds separated by vast oceans, populated with young people who proved to be not unlike ourselves. Moreover, Hashiguchi’s work is a vivid testament to the difficulty and unforgiving brutality of existence in one’s allotted place. When this book was first published in Japan, audiences were captivated by the predicament of these youths. A great many readers undoubtedly saw themselves in these young men and women living their lives in foreign lands. Indeed, Hashiguchi’s photographs have the power to jog the viewer’s faculties of imagination, inspiring recognition of the Self in the Other, and the Other in the Self.

Following the publication of We Have No Place To Be, Hashiguchi made repeated visits to Berlin to further his reportage on the city. Meanwhile, he embarked on an ambitious tandem project, traveling extensively throughout Japan from the latter half of the 1980s, meeting with the hoi polloi and documenting their stories in one-on-one portraits. The resulting series of Japanese subjects collected in photobooks such as Junana Sai no Chizu (Seventeen’s Map, 1988), Father (1990), and Couple (1992) eschew the pressing urgency of his street snapshots, instead utilizing an approach in which he takes a step back and puts some distance between his subjects, as if in studied repose. Even into the present day, Hashiguchi’s oeuvre serves as exploration and confirmation of existence, wherein everyone plays the hand they’ve been dealt.

Over 35 years have passed since these photographs were taken in the early 1980s. If the once-young people depicted in this volume are still alive, they will have already reached middle age. When we confront these photographs mindful of the passage of time, we find that they are more than simply a record of the nature of youth in a bygone era. Over a generation out, these images also contain tangential evidence of myriad deep-rooted problems-racism and the immigration debate to name two-that remain just as relevant and pernicious in the present day.

Compared to the 1980s, at first glance, it may seem that we live in an era of relative quietude. However, not far beneath this veneer of deceptively peaceful existence pulses the same primal cry, “We have no place to be.” This sentiment, a plea for belonging, remains a visceral part of our everyday lives, often experienced though not necessarily articulated. The act of viewing photography thus constitutes one means of confronting the past, providing perspective that elucidates the present in stark relief. For the generation who lived this era, these photographs provide an opportunity for reflection on the past through the lens of age. Similarly, these photographs will enable a younger generation to understand the experiences of their forebears. In this sense, Hashiguchi’s work is a timely cross-generational addition to the modern milieu. Speaking to a higher calling, perhaps his photographs will allow us all to ford new channels of imagination, connecting past to present.

(Translation by Daniel Gonzalez)




 橋口のデビュー作として注目を集めたシリーズ『視線』(1981年に第18回太陽賞を受賞)と『俺たち、どこにもいられない 荒れる世界の十代』(草思社、1982年) そして、この度新たに発表された東京の作品を元に編まれた本作では、橋口の被写体に対峙する姿勢の原点が表されている。橋口は新宿や原宿、渋谷のような繁華街にたむろする、いわゆる「不良」と呼ばれる若者たちが放つ視線の中に、虚勢を張りながら精一杯の意思表示をする態度を感じとる。豊かさと安定を謳う社会の中で抑圧力を強める管理的な学校教育や家庭に息苦しさを感じ、そこからはじきだされた若者たちは、都市の路上に束の間の居場所を見出し、お互いに視線を送りながら路上での振る舞い方を身につける。週末毎に彼らのいる繁華街に通い視線に身を晒して撮影に取り組んだ橋口は、都市のありようをさらに探究すべく、1981年10月末から約3カ月をかけリバプール、ロンドン、ニュルンベルク、西ベルリン、ニューヨークと五つの都市を巡った。凝縮された旅程の中で、豊かな社会に潜む薬物依存などの自傷行為の問題や、人種差別や移民問題、失業、貧困など、都市、地域ごとにさまざまな要因が絡み合って噴出する社会問題の実情を、出会った若者たちの中に見出していった。











 そしてそれはおそらくたいした慰めにもならなかった。橋口氏の作品を開くと、私たちは彼らと出会える。どこにもいられない彼ら、1982年初版の本を直訳すれば『俺たち、どこにもいられない 荒れる世界の十代』。彼らはセレブでも、バンドでもなく、スターだとは口が裂けても認めないスターでもない。このざらざらした世界の中で混乱し、絶望し、誇りを持って生きている人たちだ。








 『俺たち、どこにもいられない』が彷彿とさせる写真家がもう一人いる。アンデルス・ペーターセンだ。ペーターセンの写真はもっと緊迫していて、悲痛で、多くの場合目を背けたくなる。代表作『Cafe Lehmitz』では無秩序な生命力を活写し、ある特定の場所の深い記録を残した。橋口氏はもっと手広く、ペーターセンや森山大道のような芸術家ではないのかもしれないが、しかしやはり『俺たち、どこにもいられない』のような作品は他にない。






British Journal of Photography by Marigold Warner (3.9.2020)

PHOTOBOOKSTORE MAGAZINE by Robert Dunn (3.18.2020)

photo-eye by John Sypal (4.20.2020)


alfalfa studio by Rutwik Ingale (9.3.2020)

9 lives magazine by Nicolas Menut (1.19.2021)

pen by Clemence Leleu (10.06.2021)