ISHIKAWA, Mao, A Port Town Elegy
By 1983, Mao Ishikawa was running a bar near Aja-Shinko, a port area of Okinawa’s capital city, Naha. Through the Okinawan language of Uchinaaguchi, she became close with the heavy-drinking local anglers and dockworkers who frequented the establishment. Their rough, precarious lives became the subject of her second book, A Port Town Elegy (1990). Shot between 1983 and 1986, Ishikawa’s photographs are portraits of figures on the margins of Japanese society as they work, drink and fight. ‘Scary-looking guys’, she described them, in ‘a man’s world’ with few prospects, but ‘filled with humanity’.