Sixth piece of a series of spontaneous night encounters, seized and captured by Issam Kechouri.
For many foreigners who pass through or settle in Tokyo, the bijou drinking holes which line the streets have been the catalyst for their love affair with Japan.
For either a shot of self-contemplation or a cocktail of casual conversation, the intimate bars of Tokyo represent the unique social rhythm of the city.
For director, Issam Kechouri, it was within the walls of Tokyo’s hole-in-the-wall bars where creative inspiration was poured from the individuals that he met.
Formerly from France, Issam worked in multimedia industries in Paris and Canada before settling in the Japanese metropolis. Fascinated by documentary filmmaking and the individuality of artists, Issam’s most recent project, Tadaima, is a collection of videos and stills which focus on an opportunistic form of collaboration.
A direct translation of Tadaima is “right now”, but has the cultural connotation of meaning; “I’m home”.
This term has an emotional characteristic for Issam and constitutes a metaphor intrinsically linked to his experience of living in Japan.
To him it represents his passion for the introductions he makes with unique individuals, as though it were a destined opportunity for collaboration. A sense of feeling at home with a stranger and sharing their stories with the lens of his camera in the immediate moment of their encounter.
This, to Issam, is Tadaima.
The process of spontaneous collaboration is, in its nature, hinged on luck. Who will you meet on a night out in Tokyo - a city home to millions of unique characters with their own stories to share.
Everyday, videographer Issam Kechouri is faced with the opportunity to venture out into the streets of his favourite city in order to track down the perfect immediate collaborator. So far, Issam has shared the art of dancers, calligraphers, chefs, musicians and surfers all in the comfort of Japan’s intimate drinking holes. This time around, in the Dogma Bar in Shimokitazawa, it was gamer Momo Yama-san’s turn.
Faced with the daily question of whether to take his camera out with him, Issam decided to consult his trusty dice and, ever superstitious, when the result was to leave his equipment at home, he was convinced that it was not going to be the night for Tadaima.
However, if spontaneity was ever predictable, it wouldn’t be very spontaneous, would it? As luck goes, it was precisely this warm night in August where Issam would be introduced to the impressive gamer that is Momo-san.
On a night out with French friends from home, Issam ventured to find some drinks and sushi into his favourite neighbourhood, Shimokitazawa. On a neon lined street near the station stands the Dogma bar - an intimate manga-covered drinking establishment which overwhelmed Issam with its commitment to the cosplay theme.
They had been told of the bar’s elusive and mysterious bartender Tequila-san (a nick-name concocted on a previous night out), but alas she was nowhere to be found. After a few ginger high-balls and conversations with another eccentric bartender and graphic designer, Niiko, the group played multiple games of Street Fighter 2, a game which Issam had played religiously with his brother when he was a boy. After maintaining a confident winning-streak, Issam was named champion of the night and was challenged by Niiko to return to take on Tequila-san, a professional gamer, whom he “will never beat”.
This challenge was boldly accepted as Issam returned a week later, ready for a Street Fight.
Relying on his dice as usual, Issam decided not to take his camera with him to Dogma bar that night. He finally met Tequila-san and learned that her real name is Momo and that she is the owner of the bar. Many games were played and the night was electric with an exciting energy.
Momo-san and Issam bonded over their love of video-games and specifically Street Fighter 2, both having a connection to one of the game’s key characters Ken (Momo even admitted that her crush on the character was a catalyst for the passion she has for gaming).
As was expected, Issam was continually annihilated in the game. After his defeat, the victorious Momo lifted her bottle of tequila and said “Kanpai!”. No matter who wins or loses, the sharing of tequila (the source of her nickname) was the humble ending to a game well played. Issam knew that he needed to capture this gaming legend.
The following week, camera in tow (dice decided), Issam approached the dynamic Dogma Bar for a rematch and potential collaboration. The bar was filled with people and with the energy of Tadaima: a free-styled and random occasion wrapped in the feeling home.
Why do I play games?
Because Ken is my first love, obviously!
As one collaboration comes to an end, the Tadaima project goes on. With new locations to fall in love with, different individuals to inspire and perhaps a different cocktail to be enjoyed, who will cross Issam’s path next?
Performance by Momo Yama
Director & Editor - Issam Kechouri
Sound Recording - Nicolas Amblard
Sound Design - Romain Guedj
Color Grade - Max Golomidov
Music - ''Fuya” by C2C
Title Design - Jeremie Leonard
Post-production Producer - Julie Guillot
Copywriting - Francesca Roberts
Editorial Design - Julie Guillot
Special Thanks to Louis Hoarau.