Tokyo top

If you’ve ever walked the streets of Tokyo, you’ll know how the buzz of people, street signs and giant screens can heighten all your senses and fill you with a rush of excitement that stays with you well after you’ve returned back home. While travel brochure photos can never truly prepare you for the dense onslaught of visual and aural stimuli that envelop you when you visit the megalopolis, one creative photographer has come up with a clever way of highlighting the main features of the city by showing us just how bare the city landscape looks without them there.

Come with us as we take a walk through day and night in Tokyo and see just how different the place looks when the neon signs and billboards are taken away. You’ll never see Tokyo in quite the same way again.

The series, called “Tokyo No Ads”, was created by French graphic designer Nicolas Damiens. His premise is simple: “Tokyo’s ads are part of its appeal, but what would the bustling streets of Japan’s capital look like without the logos, slogans and company names?”

▼ Even by day, towering billboards manage to speak to us without us even knowing.


▼ The crossing in front of the iconic Shibuya 109 building looks somewhat quieter when stripped of its surrounding advertisements and presented as an empty space.


▼ For information overload, head to the scramble crossing outside Shibuya Station. No wonder city life is taxing – how can we possibly take in all those images and messages at once?


▼ As dusk settles, the city comes to life with bright lights and neon signs. With such tight restrictions on space, even small shops are saturated with signs and posters to entice customers.


▼ Shops and businesses in Tokyo are often piled high on top of one another on many floors of very tall, narrow buildings. Without traditional shopfronts, these businesses rely on street level signage to entice customers and promote their wares and services, which means numerous signboards spill out onto walkways, making for a unique streetscape.


▼ While illuminations and light-ups are popular for providing a sense of warmth in the cold winter months, this light display is available every night of the year along the many streets of Tokyo. Long stretches of low-hanging signs cradle people with warmth and light, a comforting feeling in such an expansive yet dense urban environment.


By taking away the background to Tokyo’s cityscape, these images bring a mosaic that’s often taken for granted back to the foreground. Which Tokyo would you prefer? Let us know in the comments section below!

Source: Nicolas Damiens Tokyo no Ads
All images © and published with the permission of Nicolas Damiens