I once read that humans can easier distinguish the characteristics of those of their own race. It is called ‘The Other Race-Effect’ or ‘Cross-Race Effect, and seems to be a well recognised psychological disadvantage in people. As a Caucasian raised in Northern Europe, it is much easier for me to recognise the individual features of other Caucasians than it is to separate the individual features of Africans or Asians. One of the two main theories claim that our perception is based on how different other people are from us. If we recognise them as different on the level of skin colour, we might not subconsciously look for further characteristics of the individual. An other major theory claims that it is based on what we are used to seeing. Most of us will have grown up with people like ourselves and thus learned to recognise individual features that are common amongst our race, while overlooking those characteristics that are often varying within another race.
I think it is a combination of the two. After three weeks in Japan, I have noticed in myself a much sharper recognition of how different the Japanese are. I have felt this change gradually and particularly in Tokyo have I become aware how many different faces meet me in the street. But it is not only because I become used to looking at those characteristics which have a great variation amongst the Japanese. In fact, I start recognising in strangers characteristics that remind me of people I know back home. Thus, I focus on characteristics which are also varied amongst Caucasians.
Why am I writing this? I have no idea. But somewhere along the way, I have managed to take some photos of a small portion of the many million people you might meet in Tokyo. All of them so very different from one another. This gallery is made up of a few of those photos.