Zen Foto Gallery is pleased to present Yang Seung-Woo’s exhibition “TEKIYA” from September 16 to October 15. This exhibition commemorates the publication of his photobook under the same title. Yang received the 36th Domon Ken Award in 2016 with his publication “Shinjuku Lost Child” with Zen Foto Gallery. While he continued to take photographs of Shinjuku, he has also been capturing the world of Tekiya for over 10 years. This exhibition will present 30 colour prints selected from the long-awaited photobook.
“Eleven years ago, not only was I struggling to afford to do photography but I was also short of money for food, as there were very few places I could work with my visa at that time. To find a part-time job to keep afloat, each day I would scan job sites for Korean students in Japan.
Ideally, I was hoping to find a part-time job that would also allow me to take photos, and I happened to find a job that was perfect. In short, the job was to “sell simple food at a food stall”. The daily wage was 15,000 yen.
My gut told me “this is it!” I called them.
They told me to meet them at the job site. It was to be a fireworks display. Ah, it’s the Tekiya! Bingo.
I had always been interested in the culture of Japanese festivals, and the groups of “Japanese-style” food stalls that were always there. And I had always wanted to photograph them someday.
On the first day, I fried and sold fried chicken for the first time in my life. They were all sold out before the festival began. I thought I had found my calling. (laughs)
But after that I gradually learned the reality of the job, and it was quite tough. It required long hours of work under harsh conditions, especially in summer and winter. Despite its gaudy image, it’s a rough and physically demanding job.
As for the photography, it took me a year to get my camera out. Ten years have passed since then, and I have finally pulled everything together. I have become a master of yakisoba and Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki.”
—— Yang Seung-Woo