Tokyo-based photographer Lee Chapman has been documenting life in Japan for almost two decades. Originally from England, Chapman went to Japan on a one-year work contract to teach English at a language school. He now works as an English teacher at a local high school—which means he has plenty of free time to take photographs.
Chapman finds it easier to wander around Tokyo with a camera compared to say, London, where he says “the authorities are clamping down on photography in the public sphere.” As an outsider he finds himself attracted to subjects that many indigenous photographers might overlook. He has no interest in covering the “fashion girls of Harajuku and Shibuya” or the quirky trends so beloved by western fashion magazines. Instead, Chapman focuses on the areas that a lot of people don’t see—the old, the homeless, the people who live on the periphery of society.
Among the many subjects Chapman has covered is a series of photographs of drunks passed out on the city’s sidewalks, doorways, bars, and train stations. Being passed-out, stone-cold drunk on Tokyo’s streets is a common and accepted sight. Whether through an excess of alcohol or mere tiredness, businessmen in dapper suits can often be found lying spreadeagled next to heavy metal freaks and regular low-rent run-of-the-mill alcoholics.