Northern Irish photographer captures the essence of Tokyo’s jazz culture

Philip Arneill says the cafés in the city are hidden, insular worlds but slowly dying away.

Photographer Philip Arneill, alongside writer and researcher James Catchpole, has created a project called ‘Tokyo Jazz Joints’. They say the cafés in the city are hidden, insular worlds but slowly dying away - there are approximately 130 jazz bars spread throughout the Tokyo Metropolitan area – a huge number compared to most cities, but down from the peak of more than 250 in the early 1970s.

Catchpole says “Year by year, the old jazz joints around town close their doors as the men and women who own them age and their children move on to other more ‘legitimate’ or lucrative occupations. ‘Tokyo Jazz Joints’ is our attempt to let you into this part of Japanese culture.  These are small, sometimes tiny, intimate locations where you can lose yourself in the world’s greatest music. None of these establishments were contacted before we visited.  Philip’s photographs are a window into this jazz community, showing the shops and their owners as they are”.

Arneill says “While nothing less than actually being there yourself can measure up to the depth of such an experience, it is my hope that, akin to the crackle of a needle on vinyl, the grainy, imperfect images on these pages will at least reflect even a little of the history, passion and joy to be found when you are sitting huddled in these hidden musical worlds of Tokyo’s backstreets”

See their project website HERE

Their Instagram page is HERE



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