A Random Plant and Modeling Dungarees on Decaying Wood: Monday 12th March

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.

I was of course ready for my close-up.

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.


About truehamlet

Sam is a senior lecturer in Science Communication, who researches the different ways in which media such as poetry and film can be used to communicate science to new audiences.
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