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Tattoo-Neu
People with tattoos, like 31-year-old Sanroku, are not accepted in Japanese society.

Tradition and societal norms dominate private and public life in Japan.

People who do not follow the rules have a hard time in Japanese society. The young man with extensive tattoos is among the marginalised. He is not invited to weddings or family parties because many people in Japan still think that only mafia members have tattoos. In the West, he could live unobtrusively, but in Japan he is pushed into the subculture.

The young sculptor: he was an apprentice for twelve years, so he can now finally practise his craft. He makes Buddhist statues for temples and monasteries. Many young people are just like him: tradition, history and culture mean a lot to them.

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Sculptor Atsuhito Yasumoto works on a Buddhist temple figure.

At the other extreme are young girls who want to be famous - and who are ready to pay a high price for it. In Japan there are tens of thousands of so-called idols: young women and men who are cast in manufactured bands. They are often very young, still children. They leave home, live with their agents, work from morning to night - and if they don't make it, they're replaced.

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Members of girl group Kamen Joshi are made ready for a promotional shooting in a maid café.
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A Kamen Joshi show: their fans are primarily middle-aged men.
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Protest against the construction of a new US military base on Okinawa Island.

Things are bubbling beneath the surface in Japan. Different views and different ways of living are suppressed. But now and again there are protests: faint, but still there. For example, against the US military presence on the southern island of Okinawa. And more and more people, particularly the young, are determined to defy expectations and lead different lives.

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As an office worker, Yugo Matsuzaki put in up to 80 hours a week. Now he’s a barman and runs a web shop.
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The Kongo Noh Theatre in Kyoto has been in family hands for 26 generations.

Japanese society faces major challenges. The population is ageing, and with fewer and fewer young people, it is in danger of dying off: By 2050, the current population of 126 million will have shrunk by one-third to a little over 80 million. Immigration would be one way of avoiding collapse, but the country is resisting this solution. The proportion of foreigners in Japan is less than two per cent.

Japan cannot avoid becoming more open. The key theme will be retaining its identity. The main question that preoccupies people in Japan is how to make a success of this.

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Aikido trainer Yoko Okamoto is one of the few female sensei in Japan.
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Yoshiaki Suda is the mayor of Onagawa, a city destroyed by the tsunami, and the guitarist in a heavy metal band.
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Zen master Gensho Hozumi is in charge of a temple in Kameoka near Kyoto.
Globetrotter Japan1 Globetrotter Japan2 Globetrotter Japan3 Globetrotter Japan4
Globetrotter Magazine (CH), June 2018
Tele Japan Titel Tele Japan Text
Tele (CH), November 2017
Globetrotter-Fernweh
Globetrotter Fernweh (CH), October 2017
Blick-Japan
Blick (CH), November 2017
Display-Japan1 Display-Japan2
Display Magazine (CH), January 2018


Book.

Japan

In my book, Japan - Abseits von Kirschblüten und Kimono, I show Japan in a way that's different from the way a tourist may explore it. It's a very personal Japan.

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Ukraine.

Ukraine is a relatively new country. Twenty-seven years after the break-up of the Soviet Union, it is more divided than ever. War is raging in the east between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian nationalists. Domestic politics is a struggle between forces who want rapprochement with the EU and those who want to remain independent. Society is riven between conservative Christian circles and progressive liberal modernisers. A multimedia confrontation with a country on a blood-stained quest for its identity.

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Chernobyl.

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After the devastating Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986, hundreds of thousands of people were resettled from the so-called circle of death – an area with a 30-kilometre radius around the failed reactor – to anonymous big cities in Ukraine. Not all the migrants accepted this willingly: they fought by stealth to return to their former homes, where some of them still live today, surrounded by deserted and dilapidated villages. A photographic visit to the widows of Chernobyl.

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Bosnia.

More than twenty years after the end of the war, Bosnia and Herzegovina is still a divided country. Former enemy groups seem on the surface to live peacefully together, but the tension is palpable in everyday life. While older generations seek to forgive, young people try to forget. They hope for a future in a land with a tragic past. Portraits from Srebrenica and Sarajevo.

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