“Every time I shoot someone — it’s to break the ice, having them do various expressions — after, you realize that some people you see everyday, you never see them [being] silly or angry.”

juunin toiro pablo yano geometry global photography

Juunin toiro (Ten people, ten colors) is a Japanese proverb that reminds us that everybody is different. It’s a common proverb, with many variations in different languages. However, its significance is heightened in a country frequently considered homogenous. In fact there is no end to the testimonies of individuals who have sought to express their frustrations with the limitations of the stereotypical and societal definition of “Japanese.”

It may come as a surprise, then, that photographer Pablo Yano entitled his photo exhibit “juunin toiro” — but does not seem to share these struggles with the country. “I know I will never be totally integrated, because I grew up in France. I mean, my dad is Japanese. But coming here, I was just [thinking] ‘be yourself’. Once you understand you’ll never be ‘100%’ it’s up to you how you live your life.”

It’s this philosophy of self: unapologetic, utterly natural and completely at ease with oneself, which comes across in this exhibit. 100 photographs of friends and acquaintances, accumulated over more than 10 years, line the walls of NOS Bar & Dining in Ebisu. Each face is warped in shock, or fear, or silliness. Being in black and white adds a weighted effect that draws your eyes toward each photograph.

juunin toiro

There is something to be said about sitting in a room in which the walls are covered by 100 funny faces. “Just be yourself. Shouganai (it can’t be helped). A lot of people who are going to come tonight, they’re going to see themselves. They don’t see themselves as I saw them, but sometimes they’ll smile. It’s important, I think — not to take everything too seriously.”

The exhibit is a reflection of Yano’s body of work: casual, eye-catching and incredibly refreshing.  Coupled with a few delicious drinks from the NOS Bar, conveniently located right by Ebisu Station, you’ll find the exaggerated expressions make for a highly enjoyable perusal. However the accumulated individualities deliver a light, but strong message: juunin toiro.

Yano himself will frequent the space and is happy to meet any visitors: “Come, I’ll take your picture!”

Until February 15. Open 6pm. Sundays and holidays: open 5pm. NOS Bar & Dining, Conze Ebisu B1, 2-3-14 Minami Ebisu, Shibuya-ku