The Yakuza Project by Anton Kusters

Vi ho già proposto le intense immagini di Anton Kusters sulla Yakuza, qui ce n’è qualcuna in più con un racconto video del fotografo.
Anton Kusters spent two years with the Japanese mafia. This was his very first project.
The Belgium photographer spent several months embedded in the Japanese underworld, taking photos of Yakuza as they went about their business. The outstanding images are featured in his outstanding debut book – Odo Yakuza Tokyo.
So how exactly did a Belgium photographer get to meet Tokyo’s boss of bosses, take photos in the back street brothels, and follow around a bunch of criminals doing a bunch of criminal Shit?  The short answer is Taka-san – the proprietor of a hole-in-the-wall bar in Golden Gai. The paired struck up a friendship, Taka-san knew some people, they knew some people, and before long Kusters was getting invited into a world few outsiders have ever witnessed, let alone photographed.
As he explains, “[The people I photographed] want to have a kind of a chronicle of their family, a chronicle of what they are about, [that’s why I was allowed in] … I do not want to be a judge in my photography. I want to be a witness in my photography.”
“The Yakuza project actually quickly turned into something different than I expected, I started to feel that [the Yakuza] is a way of life more than anything else… that the Yakuza is many shades of grey, and not simple black vs white. The subtle shades are the key.”

Centuries ago in the days of the Shogun, Japan’s authorities would mark criminals with tattoos to distinguish them from the rest of the population.
These highly visible tattoos usually took the form of a black ring around the arm; with rings added as convictions increased.
These marked men were usually discriminated against so they tended to stick together, eventually forming the organized, mafia-style gangs now known as“Yakuza”. They are worn proudly as symbols of status and dedication.
Anton’s camera bag and the gear he brought with him to Japan:
• pack of paper hankerchiefs, a lens cloth
• any random palstic bag
• woolen cap, a super lightweight raincoat
• “pocket communicator”: crucial for situations when you don’t speak the local language and need help
• passport and credit card and other necessary travel/ID docs
• extra batteries
• flash (**with a band-aide affixed to it to reduce flash intensity and warm up flash colour)
• secondary camera (set up as rangefinder)
• main camera (Leica M9) with just one lens (35mm f1.4)
• pens & pencils, markers, little notebook
• memory cards
• audio recorder
• super dooper business cards with images of his work (extremely important in Japan)
• mini tripod
• Crumpler The Hoax bag with insert added
Visit Anton Kusters website.

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