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A photographer's quest to appreciate (and catalog) the best escalators in the world

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TOKYO ESCALATOR spiral escalator
TOKYO ESCALATOR spiral escalator

It's easy for city-dwellers to overlook the escalator, but Japanese photographer Miha Tamura is working to highlight the functional beauty and engineering achievements of the moving staircases. Her site, Tokyo Escalator, serves as a database of sorts featuring hundreds of the machines from around Japan as well as the rest of the world. In an interview this month with PingMag, Tamura spoke about her odd project, and explained "I don’t publish pictures of escalators that are just 'average'... A really nice escalator, like the one by Richard Rogers at Lloyd’s of London [below], means to really understand the appeal of escalators and then take advantage of that to the maximum in the design."

Her photos typically highlight either unique designs or those that are particularly suited to their environment, like one with a narrow escalator wedged between two others due to space constraints. The most exotic escalators may be the difficult-to-make spiral versions (see above), which save space and, according to Tamura, are only made by Mitsubishi. Tamura doesn't call her work art; instead, she explains that she chooses "the photographs where you can best understand the whole picture and what is special about the escalator."