On 14 January 1958, the disfigured and amputated body of a man was discovered near Lake Sembako in Japan. Two investigators from Tokyo came to help out the local police in order to resolve what at first appeared to be a banal case, but which proved to be more complex. For the first time, a photographer was authorised to accompany the police to document the investigation. Watabe followed the inspector as he questioned witnesses (workers in a tannery factory, local police officers etc.) and pounded the streets of the most insalubrious neighbourhoods in Tokyo – its bars, bridges, alleyways and hospitals – in search of the killer. Watabe’s images record much more than simply a police investigation, they reveal Tokyo in the 1950s in a way that has rarely been shown.

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