Tokyo Compression, Michael Wolf's photography

Michael Wolf Tokyo Compression

Tokyo Compression 1, 2008

Tokyo Compression 39, 2009.

Tokyo Compression 5, 2009.

Tokyo Compression 9, 2009.

Tokyo Compression 18, 2010.

Tokyo Compression 32, 2009.

Tokyo Compression 35, 2009.

Tokyo Compression 54, 2009.

Tokyo Compression 75, 2009.

Tokyo Compression 114, 2010.

Artist's Statement

Shinjuku Station is used by an average of 3.64 million people per day, making it the most crowded train stations in the world in terms of number of passengers. 

I spent more than 60 weekday mornings photographing passengers during their commute into Tokyo. All portraits were taken at one train station along the Odakyu line, during rush hour between 7.30 and 9 am. At intervals of 80 seconds, a train already packed to the absolute limit pulled into the station. Even more people pushed their way into the compartments until the commuters were jammed like sardines in a can. Day in day out, millions of commuters must endure this torture, as the only affordable housing is hours away outside of the city center. Is this a humane way to live?

About the photographer


1954, Germany



About Michael Wolf

The focus of German photographer Michael Wolf’s work is life in mega cities. Many of his projects document the architecture as well as the vernacular culture of metropolises. Wolf grew up in Canada, Europe and the United States, studying at UC Berkeley and at the Folkwang School with Otto Steinert in Essen, Germany. He moved to Hong Kong in 1994 where he worked for 8 years as contract photographer for Stern magazine. Wolf’s work has been exhibited in numerous locations, including the Venice Bienniale for Architecture, the Sao Paulo Biennial for Architecture, Aperture Gallery, New York and the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago. His work is held in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Brooklyn Museum, Museum Folkwang, Essen and the German Museum for Architecture, Frankfurt, the Heritage Museum, HK. He has won first prize in the World Press Photo Award Competition on two occasions (2005 & 2010) and an honorable mention (2011). In 2010, Wolf was shortlisted for the Prix Pictet photography prize. He has published 29 photo books.