His nearly 10 years bicycle messenger experience in Tokyo, Junichi “GON” Murakami is one of my best reliable Tokyo rider. TOKYO 100 MESSENGERS is his first photo exhibition. he took 100 portrait photos of Tokyo bicycle messengers from October 2011 to September 2012. I have my portrait series of NY bicycle messengers also, so I can easily imagine that it’s not easy project. Bicycle messengers are pressed for time all the time, so have to catch them while they are not hurry, which is rare. You might catch them at intersections but don’t forget your risk. Someone might be running over you while you are watching viewfinder. In my experience, I photographed them most when they are talking with a dispatcher. Never interrupt their conversations, most important thing is respect their operations.
I quitted counting years since when my dreadlock hair get too long. But I guess first time I met Junichi GON Murakami was in 2004 at the T-serve office. According to their company manager, I was not really welcome there. He believed bicycle messenger must be neat, honest and polite. For him, it’s hard to believe that, this bombaclot head kid from New York who even doesn’t speak English enough is a Bicycle Messenger. But he gave me a chance to talk with T-serve CEO. After a conversation with Mr. CEO, the manager gave me a office tour, then I understood his meaning. All riders are clean, polite, and very professional. Compared with them, my coworkers (include myself) are smelly and rough. But, at the same time, we NYC riders are very professional too. Each city has different color, New York have to be like this. For example, almost 100% has health insurance in Tokyo. How many NY riders have that? We have to fight against NY struggles, always be strong. That’s why NY riders attitude are like this. It’s necessary evil. I explained to the CEO and he agreed with that point. But he said, “NY is NY, Tokyo is Tokyo. We are representing Tokyo bicycle messengers and you are not suitable for us.” Thinking back now, the CEO opened the door for me. If you want ride for us, you are welcome anytime. But don’t forget, if you want to survive in Tokyo, you can’t ride like NY. When in Roma, do as Roman do.
Unfortunately I have never ridden in Tokyo as a messenger. I always yearn to talk on a radio with my language. So far I am wishing to visit TOKYO 100 MESSENGER exhibition and share the experience of Tokyo riders.