Tokyo Compression is an ongoing photo series by German-born artist Michael Wolf that shows daily commuters with their faces pressed against the steamy windows of Japan’s overcrowded subway trains.
Japan has one of the highest population densities in the world. Tokyo, its capital city, and the surrounding metropolitan area has a population of over 35 million, living in an area just 8,000 square kilometers in size. As you can imagine, the cost of living in such a densely populated metropolis can be considered astronomical, and that forces a lot of people into neighboring areas, where housing is more affordable. The result of this phenomenon is a large number of commuters traveling into Tokyo for work and back home, on a daily basis. Although Japan’s capital is famous for its advanced transportation infrastructure, not even its punctual subway trains can handle the large number of people using them during rush hours. In order to fit them all in, the subway even has “passenger arrangement staff”, commonly known as “people pushers”, main goal is to cram as many people as possible into the subway tram. The white glove-wearing personal actually pushes people into the train, so the doors can shut. Seeing commuters’ faces pressed against the windows like sardines inspired Hong Kong- based photograph Michael Wold to create his Tokyo Compression photo series.
According to the description on Wolf’s website, “The images create a sense of discomfort as his victims attempt to squirm out of view or simply close their eyes, wishing the photographer to go away. Tokyo Compression depicts an urban hell and by hunting down these commuters with his camera, Wolf highlights their complete vulnerability to the city at its most extreme.” Looking at the the faces immortalized in Michael Wolf’s photographs, I’m sure you’ll realize the New York or London metro is really not as bad as you thought, during rush hours.
Photos © Michael Wolf
via Laughing Squid