To Flee or Stand Firm in a Homogenous, Alienating Society?

The series 'Time to go back... to the moon' by Japanese photographer Kawori Inbe focuses on disorientated young women.


WordsHenri Robert

“Time to go back... to the moon” © Kawori Inbe

In the megalopolis of Tokyo, the younger generations are subjected to the full force of the pursuit of consumption and the frenetic pace of city life. A growing number of people, who have fallen into a form of depression, withdraw from the world to retreat into themselves, into their own universe. Japanese photographer Kawori Inbe immortalises this phenomenon through portraits of young women in the series Time to go back… to the moon, published in 2013.

Born in Tokyo in 1980, the artist explains in the book that ‘when taking pictures, [she has] little or no interest in the superficial features of youth and beauty’; rather, she seeks to shine a spotlight on the particularities and diverse nature of individuals lost in the homogenisation of lifestyles, among the omnipresence of screens and gadgets that surround us and impede our everyday life.


Individualising lives

In these photographs taken between 2004 and 2013, Kawori Inbe depicts lives in an alienating environment, stifled by technology and consumer pressure, in which individuality disappears. The title of the series is inspired by a Japanese tale by an unknown author that dates back to the 10th century, entitled The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, in which a young girl, Kaguya-hime, who says she comes from Tsuki no Miyako, the capital of the Moon, mysteriously appears.

With regard to the subjects examined in her work, the artist explains that she prefers to photograph women because they ‘get in front of a camera when they want to look at [themselves] objectively, see [themselves] from a different angle or assert [themselves] in some sort of way.’ For Kawori Inbe does not photograph action, but rather the energy in the individual’s eyes. The photographs present absurd scenes, with subjects lying underneath a giant screen in the street, stranded in the middle of a messy apartment, or on the beach with seaweed in their mouth, allegories of personal situations that, gathered together in this way, offer a broader look at society and its flaws.

For a further exploration of the artist’s work, the series Imperfect Cats, published in 2018, portrays 62 women in photographs that openly showcase their imperfections.


Time to go back… to the moon (2013), a book of photographs by Kawori Inbe, is published by AKAAKA.

'Time to go back... to the moon' © Kawori Inbe

'Time to go back... to the moon' © Kawori Inbe