Thomas Struth, Tokyo, 1986

Shinju-ku (Skyscrapers), Tokyo 1986 1986 by Thomas Struth born 1954

It had been almost six months since Toda disappeared, and his family had finally begun to accept that they would never see him again. Then, one day, an ordinary day devoid of portent, the front door opened and in walked Toda, only he looked different and spoke with a German accent. Gone was his spiky black hair, replaced by a blonde Prince Valiant hairdo. Gone was his clean, baby smooth face, as it was now covered in a thick, blonde beard. Toda sat on a tatami mat in the kitchen, uttered several gnomic pronouncements which his family did not comprehend (“I put on shoes so that I can walk; I make food so that I can eat; I sing so that I can be heard; and I read so that I can be alone”), drank a cup of tea, and retired to his bedroom. He locked the door and did not come out for another six months. When he did come out, though, he resembled the Toda of old. “Please do not ask what happened to me, because I do not have any answers for you,” Toda said to his family one night as they sat and watched a game show. Toda’s family granted his request and never asked him any questions about his disappearance, return, and semi-disappearance upon his return. They were just happy to have him back. They were happy to be a family once again.

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