Photographer Oleg Tolstoy captures Tokyo’s silent cabbies

Garbed in white gloves and suits, an army of taciturn taxi drivers ferry Tokyo’s inhabitants across the city. Here, photographer Oleg Tolstoy discusses why he was drawn to the “old-world charm” of the capital’s cabbies.

Tolstoy first visited the city ten years ago, and says he was fascinated by the unique hierarchy that the taxis follow – with drivers arranged by rank, marked out by stripes across the car. Having finished his Who’s Driving You series documenting London cabbies, Tolstoy turned to Tokyo’s rather less ebullient drivers as the “perfect companion series”.

The photographer – who has also shot portraits of Elton John and Cara Delevingne – concentrated on the city’s Shibuya and Shinjuku districts, where the majority of cabs can be found. The city’s abundance of neon signs offered ready-made lighting, creating brightly coloured blurry reflections in the cab windows – a far cry from the drab surrounds of Tolstoy’s London series. The photographer spent several hours each night shooting, hidden amongst the crowds of people on the street.

 

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