Time Out Tokyo recently blogged about Tokyo Interlopers.
Check out Tokyo Interlopers, a local version of ‘Humans of New York’
Meet Tac, 15-year-plus resident of Japan and the founder of Tokyo Interlopers, a project focused on telling the stories of Tokyo’s non-Japanese residents. Think ‘Humans of New York’ (HONY) meets Tokyo meets foreigners, with slightly less regular updates than on the original – Tac has a full-time job to attend to besides this, after all.
It all started as a hobby. Inspired by HONY, Tac started looking around for a Japanese version, and when he couldn’t find a proper one, decided to fill the gap by creating one himself, gradually adding a professional photographer and a writer along the way.
‘Not all foreigners are equal – there’s a wide range of experiences, both good and bad. A white, blonde female experience is completely different from a Filipino male one. I had the desire to understand what people might be going through, and perhaps try and help them by showing them they’re not alone.’
When Tac first came to Japan as an exchange student, he went into full-on Japan-loving mode, going as far as virtually wanting to be Japanese, but the ideal came crashing down when he entered the corporate world – in a local company to boot.
Perhaps as a reaction to that, Tac seeks to document not only stories of those thriving in Tokyo, but also any hurdles they may have had to overcome to get there. ‘I’m not looking to celebrate other people’s misery – it’s more about the victories, how people could thrive and achieve things afterwards,’ Tac says.
‘I guess it’s also about showing people who want to come here that Japan isn’t always paradise, and that you can have a hard time here too. It’s not all rainbows and butterflies (thanks Maroon 5). Showing a range of experience is the aim – both good and bad, and not just the white perspective, for example.’
‘I also wanted to break the stereotypes that exist about “gaijin” in the minds of Japanese who may not know that many foreigners, and show them who these people really are: more than just a foreign face. Perhaps help change the perception a bit, change the stereotypes,’ Tac recounts.
‘It feels as if we’re often guilty until proven innocent. For example, me being Filipino, they’d expect me to be lax with things, always dancing or break out into song. I found a lot of people here actually expected me to be like that, and I constantly had to prove them otherwise. I try my best to not reinforce those beliefs.’
The ultimate aim of Tokyo Interlopers is for people, both foreign and Japanese, to connect with each other through the platform and celebrate their differences. ‘Foreigners are part of Japanese society in the end, we contribute to society, we’re not just here for nothing, and vice versa, the Japanese have a massive impact on our lives, they welcomed us and let us stay. It all boils down to diversity and living together. I’m just trying to bridge the gap a little,’ says Tac.