Mokushi” means ‘visual confirmation’ and it is strictly adhered to by Japanese train conductors. They often stick their heads out of the train windows to see with their own eyes, without the use of any mirrors or monitors. They never take their eyes off of upcoming platforms or platforms they’re passing by. They look ahead and then look behind. You’ll notice, even if you consider it a small thing, that this conductor didn’t look at my camera at all and I was shooting him continuously for quite a while. I found what he was doing to be so mesmerizing. He had such a procedure going. As a photographer, I guess I notice people and things maybe a bit more than others do ~ and I just find it interesting and it makes me wonder…is it so routine for riders that they give no thought to what this guy does on a daily basis? It’s an extremely important job and their lives are in his hands. It’s his job to stop the train immediately if anyone outside brushes up against the train, falls off of a platform…and these things can happen, especially during rush hours. His focused eyes and ability to react quickly safeguards the lives of thousands of passengers a day. Here are some images:gi 037 gi 043 gi 063 gi 065 gi 022 gi 019 gi 015 gi 033gi 052 gi 056 gi 237

28sep14. The Hankyu Line. Japan.


  1. I like to watch the ritual from the platform. A guard on the platform turns to look up the track, pointing his finger, then down the track, doing the same. Each guard I’ve seen has his own style. A straight point and turn here, an arm swing there, a nod of the head for good measure. A guard on the train pokes his head through his small window, looks up the track and then down, his cramped and crooked arm allowing the same finger pointing gesture on each turn. It is as though they are confirming to themselves that the way is clear in both directions. I will watch the guard when I’m inside the train next time!

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