According to the most recent statistics, as of October 2017, 27.7% of Japan’s population, or around 35 million people, are 65 or older. While Japan’s rapidly aging population has long been an issue for the country, the numbers are still shocking.
Born in Manchester, England, photographer Lee Chapman has lived in Japan for over two decades. His photo series The Old turns his lens onto Japan’s aging society. They still stagger along on traffic-clogged thoroughfares and eke out a living in alleyway shops.
最新统计显示，截至 2017 年 10 月，日本 65 岁以上老年人口为 3515.2 万人，占总人口的 27.7%。虽说对日本老龄化社会所面临的诸般问题早有耳闻，但真正看到数据时，却依然显得触目惊心。
出生于英国曼彻斯特的摄影师 Lee Chapman，已经在日本生活了二十多个年头，他的这个摄影系列《The Old》，正把镜头聚焦于在日本生活的垂垂老者──车水马龙的大路上，他们依然蹒跚地走着；沿街的小店里，他们依然勉力维持着生计。
“I was initially fascinated by Tokyo’s older areas and districts,” Chapman says. “These neighborhoods often have large elderly populations, so a series of photos featuring them just gradually built up.”
Almost none of the individuals featured in this series were deliberately chosen – most were just chance encounters. “They are mostly all people I spotted on the street, in bars, or in restaurants,” he says. “People that to me at least are interesting, and people whose faces, or the situation I photographed them in, seemed to tell a story.”
“我是先为东京较古老的城区所吸引，而这些地方往往聚集着大量的老年人口，因此一系列以他们为特色的照片才逐渐建立起来。” Chapman 说。
所以镜头里的老人们绝大多数都是 Lee Chapman 在街上随机遇到的，而并非经过层层挑选的拍摄对象，“他们基本上都是我在街上、酒吧或餐厅看到的人。他们是对我而言至少有意思的人。他们的脸上，或者我拍下他们的那刻情景里，似乎都在讲述一个故事。”
One particular photograph that’s engraved in Chapman’s memory is his shot of a silver-haired woman rolling up metal shutters.
“I initially saw only her hands and feet, and then as her face appeared, I quickly got the shot,” he says with a grin. “But the main reason it’s one of my favorites is that when she saw me standing there, she immediately – and rather forcefully – commandeered me into helping her . . . After opening it, she invited me inside to chat with her.”
最让 Lee Chapman 感到动容的一张照片故事，是这个拉卷帘门的老婆婆。
“这是我很满意的一张照片。她站在卷帘门背后，起初我只看到她的手和脚，当卷帘门缓缓上升，她的脸最终出现的时候，我当即按下了快门。” Chapman 说，“但我最喜欢这张照片的主要原因之一，是她看到我站在那里，她立即，甚至是不容分说地，请我帮她拉开卷帘。然后老婆婆还邀请我进屋聊聊天。”
She ended up becoming just about the only person in the series Chapman would spend time with. Chatting with her, he learned that this was her former store, but as age began taking its toll, she closed down the shop and converted it into a living space.
“It was a very interesting half an hour or so that I wouldn’t have had without taking that photograph,” he says. “It’s also even more poignant now as I’ve never seen the shutters raised since, let alone seen the lady herself.”
这次经历几乎算是 Chapman 在拍摄这一系列中唯一与之“共度时光”的老人了。聊天里，Chapman 得知照片里拍的是老婆婆从前开的小店，但因为她年事已高，疲于经营，现在这里只算是她的住所，早已不作商铺。
With the sheer amount of elderly citizens in modern Japan, many have voiced concern for their well-being. Must they live the rest of their lives alone? What are the realities of their living situations?
“The lady who I talked with was living by herself and was clearly very lonely,” Chapman notes. “Her kids didn’t live nearby, and she couldn’t get out much, a situation that, given Japan’s aging population, is sadly only going to get more common.”
“就我之前提到的那位拉卷帘门的老太太来看，她一个人生活，显然很孤独。她的孩子不住在附近，她也无法独自出门。” Chapman 说，“鉴于日本人口老龄化的情况，很遗憾这样的事只会变得更加普遍。”
In the middle of the fast-paced city, the old get by at their own inevitably slower rhythm. Leading slow lifestyles, the aging population of Japan can struggle to find belonging in the rapidly developing metropolis. Chapman says that this series has helped him come to terms with the impermanent nature of the world around him.
He tells us, “These areas I often shoot in are changing at an alarming rate and fascinating old buildings are being demolished everywhere. Of course, it’s not just the buildings that are disappearing, but also the people who once inhabited them. This element also makes my work seem more pressing, and in some small way, more important,” he says.
在快速发展的城市夹缝中，老人们用自己缓慢而不得已的节奏生存着。因此拍摄这个系列，让 Chapman 更加意识到了周围世界的无常性。