The appeal, he says, lies in imagining how the glove got there and who once wore it.
“I imagine people who were here, somebody who used it for work or some other person who was very kind and picked it up from the ground,” he said.
“They are no longer here but certainly they were weeks ago or months ago. This is what I enjoy.”
He has developed a sort of categorization matrix, determining first what kind of glove it is — a disposable medical glove? a children’s mitten? — then whether it is still where it was dropped or has been moved to a prominent spot by a kind bystander, and then describing the type of location.
On a recent expedition, he found a grey glove on the ground by a crosswalk.
“I’d say this is a light-duty/neglected/crossing type,” he said as he crouched down to take a good look.
Closer inspection revealed it to be a mesh fabric ladies’ glove, leading Ishii to extrapolate it was worn by a woman who removed it at the crossing to check her smartphone while she waited and didn’t notice she had dropped it.
The coronavirus pandemic has led to many people wearing gloves outdoors for safety — a bonanza for Ishii.
“In summer 2020, we may see as many lone gloves as in winter,” he said.
As Ishii moved to another location, he pointed at a leather glove on a roadside fence.
“This is a fashion-warm/picked-up/fence type I found last week,” he said.
When he saw it last week, he realized he had actually seen the same glove two months earlier — at that time tucked into a binding on a pole several metres away.
“Lone gloves are a constantly changing, dynamic phenomena,” he said, adding he often visits the same place multiple times to observe any changes, and once recorded the same glove in at least eight different but adjacent locations.