tokyo in the 1970s, a pre-blade runner city, unseen photos by greg girard

tokyo in the 1970s, a pre-blade runner city, unseen photos by greg girard

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tokyo in the 1970s, a pre-blade runner citytokyo in the 1970s, a pre-blade runner city

to mark the release of his latest book, ‘tokyo-yokosuka 1976-1983’, greg girard has shared a collection of largely unseen images offering a nostalgic glimpse of the japanese capital before it exploded into the hyper-modern metropolis we know today. using a combination of color and black and white compositions, the photographs perfectly depict the ‘pre-blade runner’ era. capturing both the people and the urban landscapes of tokyo and yokosuka, the series transports viewers back in time – evoking a sense of what it was like to visit, or live in, japan’s cities during the 70s.

tokyo in the 1970s, a pre-blade runner city, amazing unseen photos by greg girard designboom
kabukicho neon, 1977

all images © greg girard

after first arriving in 1976 – for what was intended only to be a short visit – girard then made the decision to stay in tokyo. working part-time during the day as an english teacher, the photographer would spend his evenings exploring the city’s night life and entertainment districts, often wandering the streets between the time the last trains stopped and first trains of the day began. girard also started photographing in nearby yokosuka, southwest of tokyo, home to a sprawling US navy base and the many bars and clubs clustered around it. renting a darkroom and making black and white prints, and sending his slide film to a commercial processing lab, the photographs from this period remained largely unseen until the magenta foundation published the work earlier in 2019.

tokyo in the 1970s, a pre-blade runner city, amazing unseen photos by greg girard designboom

billboard advertising pasolini’s 120 days of sodom, tokyo, 1977

in addition to the nostalgic appeal of these photographs, girard also intends to show viewers the exact point in history when two historical streams passed each other headed in opposite directions, with tokyo as ground zero. one, the decline of US pre-eminence in post-war asia. the other, the emergence of an asian city, the non-west, as the default for what our future might look like.

tokyo in the 1970s, a pre-blade runner city, amazing unseen photos by greg girard designboom

yakuza greeting, mr. donuts, koenji, 1979

tokyo in the 1970s, a pre-blade runner city, amazing unseen photos by greg girard designboom

shibuya crossing, 1976

tokyo in the 1970s, a pre-blade runner city, amazing unseen photos by greg girard designboom

off-duty US sailor, yokosuka, 1976

tokyo in the 1970s, a pre-blade runner city, amazing unseen photos by greg girard designboom

shinjuku, evening traffic, 1977

tokyo in the 1970s, a pre-blade runner city, amazing unseen photos by greg girard designboom

two schoolgirls in subway station, 1979

tokyo in the 1970s, a pre-blade runner city, amazing unseen photos by greg girard designboom

shinjuku, 05:09am

tokyo in the 1970s, a pre-blade runner city, amazing unseen photos by greg girard designboom

club USA, shinjuku, 1976

tokyo in the 1970s, a pre-blade runner city, amazing unseen photos by greg girard designboom
keiko, yoyogi park, 1979

tokyo in the 1970s, a pre-blade runner city, amazing unseen photos by greg girard designboom
department store elevator operator, 1977

tokyo in the 1970s, a pre-blade runner city, amazing unseen photos by greg girard designboom

platform conductor, ikebukuro station, 1976

project info:

book: ‘tokyo-yokosuka 1976-1983’

photography: greg girard

designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.

edited by: lynne myers | designboom

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