Since traveling to South Korea and Bangladesh at the age of 16 when I dropped out of high school in 1982, I have spent more than 10 years traveling primarily in Europe. Sometimes I wandered for more than half a year while washing dishes and hitchhiking, and at other times I stayed at a friend's house I met on the train for months. And if possible, I wanted to continue my carefree journey and live as it was. After graduating from a Japanese university, I began to work as an editor for magazine and books. Even though I had a lot of pictures on my desk every day, they were just materials for my work and I never wanted to take them myself. One day I had to move and I found the photos of my old trips. There were many towns and people that I had forgotten for a long time . Then I realized that no matter how important you thought, it would disappear from your memory over time. So I came up to think I wanted to keep a record of the moments I lived. With that in mind, I started photography.
One side of this town measures about 300 meters (328 yards).
Looking at it on Google maps, you can see that it almost forms a square. While there are people who die in this town, there are as good as no people who are born here.
“Don't you wanna buy one? Just 500 Yen!“, Mr. Kawakami asks me with a bunch of fake brand watches in his pocket.
Mr. Suda saves up his welfare to put it into boat races and dreams of becoming a millionaire some day.
Nancy, who I had no doubt was a man, showed up with blonde curly hair and in fishnet tights one day.
Tsun used to be all alone in the world, until he found his father living in the Philippines on Facebook. He scraped up all his money to go and see him.
Will the man sleeping on a futon spread on the rooftop gaze at the moon tonight?
I want to take a few more pictures, but they leave me behind, disappearing in their little rooms they got used to live in.
This only 300 meter wide square might not be a place where they were born in, but it is a town where these people can be what they are.
"My name is Ichiro Kojima, I’m 55 years old. I live in Tokyo. These are photographs of the people living in “Kotobukicho“. Even near Tokyo, there are skid rows like this and people are having a difficult life. I’m taking their pictures since 2012. At first, I looked at them with curiosity. But while keeping company with them, at some point, I got fascinated. At first I was scared and couldn’t calm down. Ordinary people are hiding behind nice clothes and fancy watches, they preferably don’t show their bare selves. These people have nothing to hide, so they, live themselves exposed. And I discover the beauty in them. I usually live under so many restrictions, but in this town, I feel freed. With that feeling, I am taking my pictures."