Wednesday, August 24, 2016


Any time you think American kids are wacky, Google "Japan fads". You'll discover that our youths are strictly Wonder Bread in comparison. (And if you don't believe me, check out these Bagelheads.) For a population that seems to run at top speed 24/7, Japanese kids appear to be incredibly bored. But at least they're not deliberately doing stuff that verges on life-threatening.

Oops, spoke too soon.

A small, cramped photo
of Hal.
Haruhiko Kawaguchi, who goes under the distingu√© name Photographer Hal, specializes in taking pictures of couples in love. But what sets Hal apart from your average wedding shutterbug is his philosophy: 

OK, that's interesting. He could make a fortune here in New York. In fact, probably even more than the landlords. And you know what? New Yorkers would pay for it, because that's what New Yorkers do.

But where most artists expand their horizons, Hal is shrinking his by photographing couples in vacuum-sealed packs. You know, like the kind you put your winter blankets in when spring comes around. Only tighter.

Now that's a tight couple.
And as with those seasonal bags in your basement, Hal uses a vacuum cleaner to suck out all the air so that the couples are literally thisclose. So unlike other photographers who like to take their time, he's got exactly 10 seconds after shouting "Say chizu!" before accidentally becoming a morgue photographer. 

To hear Hal put it, these couples don't need to listen to him anyway: "As my work has become more and more intense, I've noticed that communication is indispensable." When you're vacuum-sealed, I'd say communication is damn near impossible.

There must be easier ways for couples to express their love for one another. I'm a big fan of saying, "I love you." If you're not in a talkative mood, flowers come to mind. Making a nice dinner for your loved one is always appreciated. Washing the dishes afterwards even more so.

This is a double-whammy for my wife:
vacuum-packed and tattoos.
But choosing to risk suffocation because it's the latest trend doesn't make the list, at least for me. That's why this boring American is never on the cutting edge of anything other than a steak knife.

Just so you understand, the couples are in the bags for 10 to 40 minutes, as they find the right pose before they're sealed tight. I can't keep a blanket on me in bed for 15 seconds without having to stick my leg out.

Luckily for Hal, he finds plenty of couples willing to wrap themselves up in each other:

You think you love your bike?

Again, ugly American that I am, I think the only thing these people are expressing is how nuts they are, and not just for the obvious reason. 

See, all they get by putting their lives on the line is a print of the photograph. Hal, on the other hand, sells the same copies for up to $5,600 each.  

I look forward to Photographer Hal's next series featuring all that dough vacuum-packed inside a vault at an undisclosed location. What's Japanese for "Sucker!"?


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