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Greg Girard, Snack Sakura

Monte Clark presents Snack Sakura, a selection of pictures by Greg Girard, taken in Japan between 2017 and 2024.

Girard’s expansive photographic project documents snack bars across Japan from Okinawa to Hokkaido. These entertainment bars, known locally as a “snack,” are generally clustered around train stations but can also be found in residential neighbourhoods. Frequented by salarymen, the bars peaked in popularity in the 1980s, with many still featuring Shōwa-era decor. Bottles of whiskey and shochu with customer name tags draped around them make regulars feel at home. Karaoke is an integral part of the experience.

Greg Girard

Snack Sakura, Sanbomatsu, Shikoku
2023
Archival pigment print
40 x 50 in

Greg Girard

Snack Sakura, Regulars, Urasoe, Okinawa
2018
Archival pigment print
22.5 x 15 in

Greg Girard

Joren-san (“Regular”), Snack Sakura, Yokosuka
2018
Archival pigment print
22.5 x 15 in

Greg Girard

Snack Sakura, Urasoe, Okinawa
2019
Archival pigment print
40 x 50 in

Greg Girard

Snack Sakura, Doorway, Kumejima, Okinawa
2020
Archival pigment print
40 x 50 in

“While working and travelling in Japan some years ago, I started noticing that every town seemed to have a drinking place called “Snack Sakura.” Each bar typically has a counter, a few seats, perhaps a booth or two, and a hostess. The Canadian equivalent name might be Maple Leaf Pub. Since 2017, I’ve been photographing these bars, going from town to town, looking for Snack Sakuras. Not all are listed in directories, have websites, or even phone numbers. So there’s a lot of walking around, searching, and asking for directions from locals.” — Greg Girard
Greg Girard

Snack Sakura, Kawasaki
2022
Archival pigment print
40 x 50 in

Greg Girard

Snack Sakura, Sado Island, Niigata
2019
Archival pigment print
40 x 50 in

Greg Girard

Snack Sakura, Kinchu Building, Akita
2019
Archival pigment print
40 x 50 in

Greg Girard

Snack Sakura, Oomori, Tokyo
2019
Archival pigment print
40 x 50 in


Greg Girard

Snack Sakura, Interior with Regulars, Oomori, Tokyo
2019
Archival pigment print
15 x 22.5 in

The project has come to define the cultural geography of Japan. From glowing awnings and signs to empty streets, late-night karaoke, and the secret life of the patrons, Girard provides a unique glimpse into life during the after-hours.

Greg Girard

Blossoms, Akayu, Yamagata
2023
Archival pigment print
40 x 50 in

Greg Girard

Snack Sakura, Fukuoka
2018
Archival pigment print
30 x 24 in

Greg Girard

Snack Sakura, Karaoke, Sado Island, Niigata
2019
Archival pigment print
15 x 22.5 in

Greg Girard

Snack Sakura, Niigata
2019
Archival pigment print
15 x 22.5 in

Greg Girard

Snack Sakura, Naha, Okinawa
2023

Archival pigment print
30 x 42 in

Greg Girard

Snack Sakura, Kumejima, Okinawa
2020
Archival pigment print
30 x 42 in


Greg Girard

Snack Sakura, Furano, Hokkaido
2024
Archival pigment print
30 x 45 in

Greg Girard

Snack Hostess, Koza, Okinawa
2019
Archival pigment print
22.5 x 15 in

Greg Girard

Snack Sakura, Muroran, Hokkaido
2024

Archival pigment print
30 x 36 in

Greg Girard

Greg Girard’s photographs have been featured in TIME, Newsweek, National Geographic, The New Yorker, and numerous other publications. Girard’s publication list includes:
City of Darkness
Phantom Shanghai

In the Near Distance
Tokyo-Yokosuka 1977-1983
HK:PM Hong Kong Nigh Life 1974–1989
Under Vancouver 1972–1982
Hanoi Calling:  One Thousand Years Now
JAL 76–88
American Stopover
Girard`s work has been exhibited at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, The International Center for Photography, New York, PM Gallery (London, UK), The National Gallery of Canada, The Yixian International Photo Festival (China), and numerous other venues.


Collections:

Art Gallery of Ontario
National Gallery of Canada
Vancouver Art Gallery
Royal Bank of Canada
Art Bank of the Canada Council