Mayumi Hosokura – Crystal Love Starlight

In 1992, the owners of Crystal Love Starlight were arrested for allegedly allowing prostitution in their restaurant in the Gunma prefecture of Japan; 34-year-old photographer Mayumi Hosokura came across the case while looking through old copies of a local newspaper, Jomo, and was inspired by both the story and the restaurant’s trashy moniker.

The resulting series, also called Crystal Love Starlight, has just been published by Tokyo-based Tycoon books.

“The charming meaninglessness of the flashy name – Crystal Love Starlight – and of the numerous snack bars, cabarets and love hotels throughout Japan appeals to me,” she says. “This series considers various aspects of urban life. I use images of nude girls and boys because I want to think about the gaze, especially the sexual gaze. The people in this series are the ‘anonymous youth’ and we can see them as us.”

It’s not the first time she’s shot nudes, or the transience of youth; in a previous series the Kyoto native combined softly lit nudes with hazy landscapes. This time she mixed nude studies shot in-studio in Tokyo with photographs of the restaurant, photographs of the hotels in Gunma, and images of the neon signs from the three-hour drive from Tokyo to Gunma.

“I wanted to look at Japanese suburbs and the ‘roadside-scape’ of national roads – it’s a very intimate landscape,” she says. “This region seemed to be a very good place to capture these roadside images, but I wanted to add a little bit of narrative, and for the viewer to confuse what is real and what is not.”

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