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Masashi Mitsui Photo Exhibition The Aura of Working Men

For the past few years, I have been riding around India on a motorcycle, circling the country seven times and logging over 110,000 km so far. My travels have taken me so deep into India that locals have been amazed at how “crazy” I am.
Guided by the wind, I move about with no destination in mind, pointing my camera at men at work I encountered along the way. Covered in sweat, these working men had a handsome aura to them. This “aura” I speak of applies to men who:

  1. Project presence and have a penetrating look in their eyes;
  2. Have a natural “aura” and are unafraid of growing old, and;
  3. Are unconcerned with their appearance and largely unaware of their being “popular with the other sex”.

Though not decked out in any particular way, these men emanate a strong presence. They are attractive without embellishment, as if knowing good looks bear them no realistic benefit, such as finding a good person to marry. Men like that have an aura to them.
The impression these men give is a far cry from the prim and trim, stylishly dressed androgynous masculinity heralded today in Japan as good-looking. Put bluntly, all of the men I photographed were the complete opposite - sweaty and brusque. The innate differences between the two stem from the differences in the way they live and their systems of value. What society demands of them and they demand from society are worlds apart as well. Those differences show in the way men look.

In this exhibit, I explore the reason why good-looking men in India and other parts of South Asia are so attractive and pursue the enigma of where those piercing looks and jaw-dropping physiques come from. It should provide a clue to understanding “what Asia is today”.
So, let the journey into a world of working men with an aura begin.

Masashi Mitsui Profile

Born in Kyoto in 1974. Currently resides in Hachioji City, Tokyo.
After graduating in engineering from Kobe University, went to work for a machine manufacturer where he worked as an engineer for two years before quitting. Spent ten months traveling across Eurasia in 2000 - 2001. Has ever since traveled mostly in Asia, taking pictures of people as they happily and nonchalantly go about their daily lives.
Prefers traveling without a fixed destination by motorcycle, which he procures locally. As of 2019, has motocycled round India seven times where covering 110,000 km.Including this, has visited 39 countries.
While authoring photo essays and energetically speaking about his travels on the one hand, is engaged in a broad range of photographic work for advertisements, commercials and more on the other.
Major publications include “Pure Smiles” (3A Corporation), “Children Smiling” (Graphic-Sha Publishing), “Smile Planet” (Parolsha), “The Aura of Working Men (country)”and“The Aura of Working Men (world)” (Raichosha).
Received the 2018 Grand Prize at the Nikkei National Geographic Photo Contest.