I Deliver Bento Boxes to the Houses of Old People Living Alone
After graduating from the Photography Department of Osaka University of Arts in 2004, Atsushi Fukushima spent ten years working part-time as a delivery driver of readymade meals for elderly people living alone in the city of Kawasaki. First shocked by the dismal living conditions of the people for whom he provided food every day, Fukushima began to take his camera on his tours (encouraged by his boss). Before long, the camera helped bridge the gaps between Fukushima and his customers, allowing him to build relationships. Eventually, Fukushima visited his customer not as a delivery driver but as an old friend.
In “I Deliver Bento Boxes to the Houses of Old People Living Alone”, Fukushima presents the photographs he has taken during these ten years. They show homes filled with litter and plates piling up in the sink, and lonely people in the final years of their long lives. Following his initial shock, gradually Fukushima created photographs that reveal an attitude of compassion and care. As the book progresses and Fukushima’s relationships deepened, the elderly people begin to feature more and more in his photographs.
The book includes texts by Atsushi Fukushima as well as an essay by photography critic Kenji Takazawa (all texts included in Japanese and English translation).
“Old people are photogenic subjects. The wrinkles on their face are like the tree rings of life, allowing us to imagine the hard seasons they ave endured. In the same way an old building acquires a unique presence, humans start exuding an aura of austere calmness with age …
The ever-progressing time will take their lives in the near future. But humans do not let the curtains go down so easily. By eating, they turn death into life. The reason for Fukushima to continue taking photographs, even while having conflicted feelings, may be because he witnessed such moments, scenes that needed to be told.”
— from Kenji Takazawa’s essay “A Turn from Death to Life”