The minimalist beauty of Japan’s forgotten walls
Click to explore
“When I saw a beautiful wall that looked perfectly matched with the world, I thought that if I didn’t take a picture, it might be forgotten as time went by. And if it wasn’t a popular place, then maybe no one would realise the beauty. It was these thoughts that drew me to photography — although I worried it wouldn’t be special to anyone besides me.”
Maki Shinohara is an avid observer of all things minimal on the streets of Tokyo. Walls are the predominant canvas for her photos, which capture pastel tiles in geometric patterns, the play of light and shadow; commonplace objects like traffic cones or bags of rubbish offer pops of colour in still life scenes.
Maki is drawn to minimalism for its clarity. “The walls I think are beautiful are always simple. For my own mindset, I prefer to be minimalist — although I am not a minimalist in actual life because I like clothes, shoes and accessories.” Maki laughs, gesturing to the array of colourful scarves hanging from the back of her door. “But when it comes to my creations, thoughts and ideas, I want to make them simple.”
Maki feels that both Japanese and Scandinavian styles rhyme with each other in that way. “There is a simplicity to both schools of design, as they are always minimal, clean and tidy. But this doesn’t necessarily mean lazy — both styles consider materials carefully.”
While she doesn’t like to call herself a photographer because she started out by taking photos on her phone, Maki’s images capture the very essence of minimalism — purified beauty, truth, simplicity and order.