Tokyo Parrots

The Japanese photographer Yoshinori Muzutani released the incredible series ‘Tokyo Parrots’ in 2013 and since then it has left an unforgettable impression on us. The escaped parakeets – not actually parrots – have flourished in the city of Tokyo for some decades now, and likewise fascinated photographer Yoshinori Mizutani, who upon his first encounter with them was struck by apprehension and fear, as if he had walked into Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds’. Unnatural as they seemed in the urban environment, he followed the flocks and watched their daily patterns, eventually locating one of the largest nesting places in a certain ginkgo tree. After some resesarch Mizutani found out that these parakeets were brought to Japan in the 1960s and 1970s from tropical regions in India and Sri Lanka to be sold as pets, but which have been roaming the city after the owners lost interest. The result of his bird watching study is a highly remarkable, aesthetic series of surreal photographs revealing a tropical urban world inhabited by parakeets.

Shocked by my encounter of the parakeets, I chased them for about a year afterwards. They broke up into groups and flew back to their respective nests. I discovered that the biggest nest was in a ginkgo tree on the Tokyo institute of Technology campus in Ookayama, Meguro. I used strobes to photograph the parakeets in the evenings, when they went home.

These parakeets aren’t supposed to exist in Tokyo, but they do. And it’s the intensely uncanny feeling I felt when I first saw the swarm, which I’ve captured in these photographs.

Yoshinori Mizutani is a Japanese photographer, born in 1987, who lives and works in Tokyo. He graduated from the Tokyo College of Photography and the Nihon University Collage of Economics. Selected group exhbitions include TOKYO2020 at Christophe Guye Galerie, Zurich (2014) and Light and Moment at Recto Verso Gallery, Tokyo (2014). He was awarded the Tokyo Frontline Photo Award Jury Award (2013) by Taisuke Koyama, and the Japan Photo Award Jury Award (2013) by Ivan Vartanian. Last year Muzutani was also part of the Foam Talents 2014, the Amsterdam-based platform for exceptional young photographers from all over the world. They state on the incredible ‘Tokyo Parrots’:

The ‘Tokyo Parrots’ are obvious in some ways. We would conceivably notice them ourselves were we to wander the particular streets of Tokyo they live near. But for sure we would not see them the way Yoshinori Mizutani makes us see and experience them. The photographer elevates what must be a strange spectacle in person, to bring us a different, equally strange, and compelling beautiful spectacle in the form of photographs.

Order the ‘Tokyo Parrots’ book here.

For more information see here.