Japan is home to a unique construction workers culture with a centuries- year-old tradition. Its protagonists are the tobi-shokunin: highly specialised builders, named “tobi” after a raptor bird by the same appellative commonly found in Japan. Like birds, the tobi-shokunin are more likely to be seen up in the sky than on the ground: they are skilled high-rise construction specialists, trained to climb scaffolding at remarkable speed. The tobi developed a distinctive style that they carry with pride: they are easily recognisable from their split-toe ninja-style tabi boots and extra-large nikkapokka trousers that narrow at the ankle. When they are not wearing a helmet or a headband, they sport a fashionable, often dyed, haircut. Today, as new scaffolding are at almost every corner of Tokyo, the tobi, with their signature attire, can be spotted everywhere.

A special thanks to Tiziana Alamprese and Takashi Tsukahara for their support in developing this project from concept to production.

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