Every once in a while you hear about a person who has managed to turn eccentricity into an art form, and you find yourself forced to admire their approach to life. Tomoyuki Shioya is such a person.
By day he works at a corporate job. By night and at weekends he roams Japan searching for cutout boards to stick his face through.
What turns his photos to gold is the same deadpan expression he adopts in each and every photo. He does this for a reason: “A lot of people will take photos for a keepsake, but I believe the main character here is the cutout board, not the person. That’s why I try not to stand out,” Shioya said about his emotionless face. He explained that he is “just filling an empty space” on the board. “As a way to show respect to these boards, I also don’t drink alcohol before I take photos.”
Shioya loves finding cutout boards in unlikely places and says he enjoys the thrill of “finding hidden treasure”.
Shioya cuts an almost heroic figure in humanity’s endless search for meaning, standing out against the absurdity of modern existence by doing something equally absurd but in which he seems to find inner peace. It’s his way. And we applaud him for it.
A man of such serenity and singleness of purpose leaves us feeling speechless and inadequate. We’ll therefore let him describe his hobby in his own words:
“My collection will never be complete” because comic panels are erected or removed without notice, he said. “Some are set up for a limited period. Sometimes they are gone in a day or two.” [Japantimes.com]
“Such occasions gave me a chance to meet people, and I thoroughly enjoyed conversing with them. Then I came to feel the desire to have more such wonderful experiences, and as a result I grew more serious about searching for humorous cut-out signs.”
“Cutout boards never cease to exist. I want to continue putting my face in holes until I die.” He then added, “As a matter of fact, I want my coffin to be a cutout too.” [Buzzfeed.com]
The Japanese word for cutout board is ‘kaohame’ which means ‘insert face’.