At seven am this morning I received a phone call from ‘Grind’ magazine reminding me that we were supposed to be meeting at 07:20 in Shibuya, and that I needed to bring my £5 Casio sports watch with me. The tone of the phone call was somewhat strange, but definitely set the mood for the day ahead; upon arrival at Shibuya I was bundled into a minivan with a bunch of photographers, fashion consultants and two other models: Sammy, a French architect; and Will, an Australian artist. For some unknown reason there also happened to be a rather large plant in the middle of the van. I was under the impression that we would be driving to a nearby location for the fashion shoot, but after a couple of hours of looking at the plant and pondering its existence, I was beginning to reconsider my assumption.
About another hour later and we finally arrived at our destination: a cliff near the seaside town of Atami, roughly 100km South of Tokyo. At first I was a bit confused as to why we had come here, as all of the first set of photos were taken in front of a black canvas, which surely could have been done in the Tokyo studio. However, things soon became clear as we descended into the side of the cliff to reveal a hidden group of derelict rooms, all of which were now exposed to the elements, and had been covered in very elaborate graffiti. I had to model a couple of outfits, including the dungarees (yay!) in front of this random collection of street art, before being asked to perch rather perilously on a tree which was sticking out from the side of the cliff. Thankfully these tree shots were all done rather quickly, as I didn’t quite trust the rapidly decaying wood to hold my weight. After a few hours of shooting we were finished, and were then taken to a nearby restaurant for dinner before heading home. In the end I ‘only’ got paid ¥10000 (~£78) for the day’s work, but it was more than adequate compensation for what had been a very interesting, albeit pretty undemanding experience. Indeed, the most difficult aspect of the shoot was trying to figure out why they had explicitly told me to keep my hair in a particular style, when in every photograph that was taken of me I was wearing a hat. And as for the mystery of the plant, it turns out that the editor wanted to give it some fresh air before planting it in his garden, only in Japan.