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TADAIMA EP9: Origami

Ninth piece of a series of spontaneous night encounters, seized and captured by Issam Kechouri.

The Tadaima project has depended upon a few factors in order to capture authentic Japanese individuals and experiences through the lens of a foreigner. A camera, a ginger highball (or two), sometimes some dice, but most importantly a passion for meeting diverse characters one can happen upon in a hole-in-the-wall bar in Tokyo.

Through this series of videos and stills, videographer Issam Kechouri has challenged clichéd and stereotypical ideas of Japan by filming the passions of new friends he has made in discovering the country he now calls home. While practicing his Japanese in bars at night has been the catalyst of his endeavours, the project has blossomed into a filmic diary representing the rhythm of Tokyo and the electric and eccentric energy that is carried through every person living in the city.

Tadaima is the feeling of being at home, with somebody you happen to meet, somewhere you have never been, through a shared passion for creative expression.

Starting out his adventure to the eastern side of Tokyo - in the neighbourhood of Nihonbashi, Issam found the formerly bustling streets relatively empty due to covid-19 restrictions and the enforced closure of bars after 21h00.

Scouring the area for the perfect location, Issam felt out of luck and inspiration. Maybe tonight was not to be? It’s not so much the fact that this area is known to be a salaryman hotspot – as Issam explains he has a lot of interest in their lives and unique stories, but every bar seemed either closed or were too busy to instigate a worthwhile conversation with a stranger.

An hour later, Issam found himself back on the train towards Kinshicho, an area bursting with lights and a “party mood”, and hopefully, the tangible feeling of Tadaima.

After resisting suggestions to attend the famous girl bar in the area, Issam was told about a building nearby that housed multiple bars and eateries. Through one door and out another, Issam weaved his way through the maze-like building in search of that special bar. Somewhere intimate, somewhere with an atmosphere: a place you walk into and feel comforted by not only the setting, but also by the welcoming faces of the bartender and fellow patrons.

Finally, the adventure had paid off, as he peered through the doorway of an Italian dining-bar. Therein stood the all-important counter, and an embracive “Buona Sera” from the female bartender. Without hesitation, Issam felt lucky and knew that this place had something unique to offer.

“Ginger Highball onegaishimasu” he said as he approached the bar-lady Tania. There was an empty seat next to a salaryman, her regular customer, and after making introductions the trio started talking in Japanese together (Tania kindly helping Issam with unknown words).

After a while, he told the pair about his project: why it was so important to capture authentic, diverse and unclichéd Japanese people. They spoke of previous Tadaima features, and Tania asked Issam what he would love to shoot next. Issam quickly explained that his dream was to capture somebody with a passion for Sake, Origami, Katana and Tatami.

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.

After sharing stories of one another’s lives and pasts, Issam reflected on what a wonderful night it had been. The night had turned into early morning before he knew it, and he and the bar-lady shared numbers vowing to meet up again soon. It was true, Tadaima was just not to be that evening.

A week later, Issam received a mysterious message from Tania. “Come for coffee… And bring your camera”. Intrigued and surprised, Issam arrived at the Italian Bartender’s bar’s neighborhood, only to find out that the final destination was to be at the next door along. The pair entered to a welcoming smile, ushering him inside. This was the home of passionate Origami artist: Komatsu Nobue.

A table adorned and covered inch-by-inch in the brightest and most intricate Origami and Kabuki creations awaited them in the tatami room. From life-like roses to abstract geometric pieces, it was Issam’s dream come true.

Here stood a woman who humbly practised her art and evoked his project’s true meaning. Even in somebody else’s house, he felt so comforted by her creativity and her unique passion for her craft, that he too felt at home. The folds in the bright paper and the simple materials of the craft creates such a brilliant paradox of fragility and material manipulation.

Why do I do Origami?

Because I can create infinite different figures.

A Frenchman, an Italian and a Japanese woman, feeling at home in one another’s company and sharing stories about life and creativity. Issam reached for his camera and captured, as he describes it, very special and intimate footage of Tadaima.



Performance by Komatsu Nobue

Director & Editor - Issam Kechouri
Sound Design - Romain Guedj
Color Grade - Kristopher Paterson
Music - ''Pink Lemonade” by Katuchat
Title Design - Jeremie Leonard
Post-production Producer - Julie Guillot
Copywriting - Francesca Roberts
Editorial Design - Julie Guillot

Special Thanks to Tania