"In the hotel bar in Niigata, I'm only slowly starting to understand the extremely subtle social interaction that is continuously happening, the micro-expressions on the faces, the gestures, the voices and intonations, the body language.
As the bar is evacuated to make room for the godfather having a coffee, everything seems to be strictly organised but at the same time seems to come naturally: strangely, I don’t need anyone to tell me what to do, where to sit, when to talk or when to shut up.
It’s like I literally feel the boundaries, the implicit expectations, and I am slowly learning when I can move forward, and when to best hold back. Sitting at the table with a bodyguard looking straight through me, I drink from my iced coffee. I’m feeling the acute sensation of walking on eggshells."
YAKUZA is a personal visual account of the life inside an inaccessible subculture: a traditional Japanese crime family that controls the streets of Kabukicho, in the heart of Tokyo, Japan.
Through 10 months of negotiations with the Shinseikai, my brother Malik and I became one of the only westerners ever to be granted this kind of access to the closed world of Japanese organised crime.
I share their complex relationship to Japanese society, and show the personal struggle of being forced to live in two different worlds at the same time; worlds that often have conflicting morals and values.
It turns out not to be a simple 'black' versus 'white' relationship, but most definitely one with many shades of grey.