“All my life I was – I don’t know how to say it in English – a sofa potato,” says photographer Ryu Ika, as she recounts the story of how she started taking pictures. Ryu – who was born in Inner Mongolia but now lives in Tokyo – says, only half-jokingly, that she wasn’t much interested in the world around her before relocating to Japan in 2014. Prior to the move, Ryu had never thought about becoming a photographer and spent much of her time watching “stupid and funny” Japanese television shows. “I didn’t really care about what was happening in my surroundings,” she remembers. “My life, my work, was the television. I didn’t have friends. I didn’t know what was going on around me.”
Her obsession was such that it persuaded her to ditch her graphic design degree – her parents were unimpressed – and leave her home country for Tokyo, where she hoped she might somehow become a part of the TV world she loved. “[People in the TV shows] were always saying funny things and catching up with each other, and that made me have this warm and weird impression that Japanese people are really funny and really open-minded,” she tells CR. But she was in for a surprise when she got to Tokyo, and says she realised that many people were actually “totally the opposite”.