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This Guy Has Stuck His Face In More Than 2,400 Cutout Boards

Everyone needs a hobby.

Posted on January 24, 2016, at 8:22 p.m. ET

By day, Tomoyuki Shioya is an office worker, but on weekends and after work, he gets down to his true passion in life: Sticking his face in holes.

In case you're wondering what he is sticking his face into, these are cutout boards. In Japan, they're typically placed at tourist sites. Shioya has traveled across Japan for 10 years, taking photos of more than 2,400 cutout boards.

Eimi Yamamitsu / BuzzFeed

Cutout boards could be found anywhere, even in unexpected places such as convenient stores and parking lots. But the weirdest place he's ever seen one?

"Free information center," Shioya told BuzzFeed News. Free information centers are where you can get information on local sex entertainment in Japan, by the way.

"I wasn't so obsessed with cutout boards at the beginning," Shioya said. "I simply took photos whenever I spotted these boards during my travel."

Twitter: @shioya20

However, he became obsessed with these boards after interacting with different kinds of people: the creators of the boards, the people who set up boards, and the people who agree to help him take photos.

"Everybody involved in these cutout board photos has very positive feeling at the end," he said. "And that is the most amazing thing about cutout boards."

He adds, "Cutout boards appear out of nowhere, and when you find them at the most unexpected place, it sort of becomes an addiction."

Before he knew it, he began travelling in search of more cutout boards across Japan.


His obsession has also led him to appearances on TV shows, in magazines, and in newspapers. He has even published a book about “the way of the cutout board,” introducing some of his favorite boards and “behind the scenes” stories.

What's so fun about putting your face inside a hole? Only one way to find out... tag along with him.

Earlier this month, I followed Shioya to a local zoo. He showed me how he takes his cutout board photos. First, he takes a photo of the back of the board.

Eimi Yamamitsu / BuzzFeed

Then he sets up a tripod right in front of the board and shoots another photo, with no face stuck in the hole.

Eimi Yamamitsu / BuzzFeed

Afterwards, you set your camera on automatic or ask someone for help, you quickly position yourself to fit your face in the cutout board. However, as Shioya lowered his face in the hole, he muttered, "this board is impossible."

Eimi Yamamitsu / BuzzFeed

Shioya explained that, "a good cutout board photo should never show anything but the person's face." Since this board had a huge gap in the middle that would inevitably show his body, he decided not to take a photo and move onto the next one.

He began analyzing the next board. "This hole is a pretty good one despite the thickness of the board."

Eimi Yamamitsu / BuzzFeed

As an amateur, I couldn't tell the slightest difference between the first one and the second one.

This is what the board looked like from behind. Surprisingly, it even had handles for people to hold onto while their photos were being taken.

Eimi Yamamitsu / BuzzFeed

As I was observing the board, I realized that there were two holes on the board.

And that meant...

I had to put my face in one of those holes.

Tomoyuki Shioya


Tomoyuki Shioya

At first, I was a little embarrassed by people staring at us (or just me) taking photos, but I have to admit, it actually was fun. I felt some sort of accomplishment, and it was heartwarming to see how people, after seeing us, were encouraged to take photos at some of these abandoned cutout boards.

So you might be wondering one thing about his photos.



He is not smiling in ANY of the photos.


"A lot of people will take photos for a keepsake, but I believe the main character here is the cutout board, not the person. That's why I try not to stand out," Shioya said about his emotionless face. He explained that he is "just filling an empty space" on the board.

"As a way to show respect to these boards, I also don't drink alcohol before I take photos."

"To be honest, I've never thought about reshooting photos because a new cutout board is constantly being created. Cutout boards come and go. Instead of reshooting the old ones, I'd rather go find new places for new boards."

Eimi Yamamitsu / BuzzFeed

Even if he is not satisfied with the outcome of his photos, he explained "that's the beauty and what makes these cutout boards all the more unique."

When BuzzFeed News asked about his goal, he answered, "cutout boards never cease to exist. I want to continue putting my face in holes until I die." Shioya paused for a moment and continued, "as a matter of fact, I want my coffin to be a cutout too."

Eimi Yamamitsu / BuzzFeed


Shioya has visited around 2,400 cutout boards. An earlier version for this article misstated that.