Enoshima beach has been captured from all angles over the years, mainly as the foreground to a sunset shot we’d say, but over the last 16 years photographer Eiichiro Sakata has seen another side.

The beach is perhaps the most popular summer hangout for younger Tokyoites wanting to escape the city to dip their toes in the sea. It is usually gets too crowded in the summer months, and it can curiously resemble a version of some parts of the city, as if the young crowd of Shibuya suddenly transferred to the beach – think Shibuya 109 and bikinis paired with high heels…

Portrait photographer Eiichiro Sakata has been capturing the evolving Enoshima landscape over the past 16 years, resulting in vibrant portraits of Japanese youth and vivid still-lifes of their belongings casually lying around: there are picnic sheets, trinkets, shoes, designer bags, half-finished drinks, cigarette ends in a watermelon slice… Sakata’s latest exhibition presents those scenes in a collection of what have be described as “portraits without people”. Around 40 colour photographs will be shown, including ten portraits.

The series of photographs conveys the playfulness and carefree lifestyles of those frequenting Enoshima, and with the help of those simple beach scenes, the artist evokes modern-day Japan, symbolizing a chaotic world in which people are “comfortable, yet hectic; affluent yet unfulfilled”. Although Japan has changed considerably since the mid-90s and post-bubble economy, Enoshima has retained its “well-seasoned and energetic charm”, he says. “I hope people living in these complicated and unpredictable times will feel a positive energy in these images of young people, and that that energy will lift up their spirits.”

Sakata was born in Tokyo in 1941, and after graduating from Nihon University College of Art, he worked for an advertising agency, then studied in New York at the studio of photographer Richard Avedon.

Eiichiro Sakata: Enoshima

More info: www.haramuseum.or.jp

When: until September 29, closed Mondays

Where: Hara Museum of Contemporary Art (see map)

How much: Adults ¥1,000/students ¥700/elem. + JHS ¥500

Main image: Eiichiro Sakata, Enoshima 1999

View Larger Map