Between Brisbane and Japan, some whimsy and Dan (All contents © Dan Ryan, unless noted)

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Part of my past is a hotel sidewalk where pretty girls still walk by every now and then…

When I first moved to Tokyo in mid February, 1987 I stayed in the Akasaka Yōkō Hotel. My room there was a fine little place, and I stayed in it at my company’s expense for about a month until I found my own apartment in Yushima.

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I hadn’t seen my first “home” in Japan since I moved out of it in late March, 1987. So the last time I was in Tokyo in 2013, I made a point of going to Akasaka to see the place for the first time in over 26 years. It was still nice, still monolithic and rust orange-red.

And I didn’t go inside the hotel, but I lingered in front of it for awhile and admired the occasional pretty girl passing by it like I used to do when I was a much younger man.

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(Pictures taken in Akasaka, Tokyo in September, 2013)

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Evening and Ameyayokochō

I am so fond of Ameyayokochō, a place in Tokyo where I spent a lot of time in my twenties. It is so vibrant, metal blue, and beautiful, full of the street-level life and kinetic personal frenzies that are the very blood pumping through Tokyo’s many mythological hearts…

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(Picture taken in Ameyayokochō, Ueno, Tokyo in September, 2013)

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Daruma street panic

A colorful mural in a generally drab part of town, this Daruma artwork in front of a cheap business hotel on Tokyo Route 464 is on the Kiyokawa side of what used to be called Sanya. Route 464 cuts through the heart of Minami-senju, dividing the Sanya area into the Kiyokawa and Nihonzutsumi districts. This depiction of Japan’s beloved good luck symbol looks over all who pass by, including the cops who also look over everyone from the police station across the street…

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(Picture taken in Sanya (Kiyokawa), Tokyo in September 2013)

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Ameyayokochō time warp

Tokyo changes so rapidly. Parts of it, anyway. Although this photograph of Ameyayokochō on a Tuesday afternoon is from April, 2012, it could well have been taken in 2002. or 1992, or 1982, or….well, you get the idea.

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(Picture taken in Ameyayokochō, Ueno, Tokyo in April, 2012)

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(Ashita no) Joe from Sanya

He stands with confidence and rugged style on Dote Dori not far from the western end of the Iroha shōtengai in Nihonzutsumi, part of modern-day Sanya. His name is Yabuki Jō, a.k.a. Joe, and he’s the lead character in a popular and highly regarded boxing manga from the late ‘60s called “Ashita no Joe”.

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In the manga, Joe hails from a slum district of Tokyo named Doya Town, which is widely believed to be based on the areas of Nihonzutsumi and Kiyokawa which now comprise Sanya. Doya Town is the English version of the Japanese term doya-gai, or skid row district. But folks in Sanya are proud of Joe’s origins and use images of characters from the manga, as well as the statue pictured above, to promote the Sanya shōtengai and hopefully generate a little commerce.

These photographs are just a very small sample of the visually-prominent ways Joe and characters from his world still inhabit the streets of what they used to call Sanya…

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Tange Danpei, Joe’s boxing trainer and mentor, drawing attention to a well-stocked liquor store.

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Tōru Rikiishi on the front of a shuttered business. Tōru was Joe’s first boxing rival, and Joe is still haunted by his death.

(Pictures taken in Sanya (Nihonzutsumi), Tokyo, Joe in September, 2013, and Tange and Tōru in April, 2012)

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