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


Toy (オモチャ) Street

He’s a nice man, and I hope he still works at Seoul Izakaya down in Sanya. I think he’s married to the Korean lady who owns and runs the place…

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But sometimes when I was in their bar they fought with each other. Hell, when I took the picture below she even whacked me upside the head…

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

September 25th, 2013

On this day in Tokyo two years ago, I stumbled across a little bar in Nakano-ku 5-chome called Freedom. It was a wondrous little place. Finding it and having a couple of beers there made the day one of the best I ever had in Japan.

I intend to revisit Freedom when I’m back in Tokyo in about a month. I hope it’s still there. I want to see mama-san again, and buy her a beer…

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(Pictures taken at Freedom in Nakano 5-chome in 2013)

We have never existed as physically anything…

We roam Asakusa,

We are ghosts of clown.

You can see us,

And we love you;

You are human

of warm summer days

and cold Tokyo beer.

And happy Buddha

is inside you all

in ways we street-play ghosts

will never know.

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We pacify the street

for you,

and tell the street stories

of how it must love your feet.

You can see us,

We make sure of it.

We are cramps

in a leg you no longer feel,

the laughter that

results from great pain.

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You give us hope,

so we paint ourselves,

and cherish our time

on the man-made

crust of the Earth,

and hope that

you give us money

which we can use to buy a new god.

(Pictures taken in Asakusa, Tokyo in October, 2013)

Planet Tokyo

“During my first-contact away mission to Planet Tokyo, I captured many images such as this which clearly show the sentient species native to this planet have invented and regularly utilize many advanced technologies. Here a young female prepares to obtain a form of encapsulated liquid refreshment from a beverage replicator installed on a public linear transportation platform. As local temperatures at the time were uncomfortably elevated, but still within parameters acceptable for this species, it was only logical that the young female would wish to cool herself before boarding the next available public linear transport. These transports are admirable for their punctuality and speed, but when crowded have rather poor interior cooling capabilities.”

“Thank you, Mr. Spock.”

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(Picture taken at Nakano Station, Tokyo in September, 2013. 長寿と繁栄を.)

Render the smoke into purified nothing

I had never hoped to convince you

of my place as a giant in this world.

I appear as a dumpy man, a man of spent substance,

and I hide in plain sight amongst Tokyo’s Sunday multitudes.

There is a kangaroo on my head, and I’ve never even fucking been to Australia.

I pass as so many gods do, looking down at the pavements of man.

Humans have built a crust encasing the earth

and they think I can’t punch through it

and swim like an effortless dolphin through the mantle

down to the planet’s core where I was incubated and born.

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And that’s okay, really, it’s fine.

You took Jesus, Buddha, and Muhammad for granted,

and they actually told you all who they were.

I am, at the very least, a god of all Tokyo’s streets

but I won’t make the mistake of revealing myself.

You wouldn’t believe me anyway.

There are more of us in the Tokyo city limits than you might think.

Men seemingly of little actuality and no style

wearing Western baseball caps and Velcro Nike shoes,

sparring with their wives over pension money

and how much shōchū they can drink before izakaya curfew at midnight.

Anyway, that’s enough about me, but you asked.

I’m standing here smoking because I like it.

It won’t kill me.

In fact, the smoke I suck in, process, and exhale

is more pure and sweet than the delivery room air you first breathed

inside whatever hospital in which you were born.

(Picture taken near Sensō-ji in Asakusa, Tokyo in October, 2013. Also published on Scholars and Rogues.)

Trolling Shinjuku

I shot these photos on the same day, within minutes of each other in the Golden Gai section of Shinjuku. And in the 20 months since then, it only just now occurred to me that the nice man in the second picture resembles the cartoon troll figure in the first picture. Weird.

I hope this pleasant-seeming fellow isn’t offended if he ever sees this visual comparison…

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(Pictures taken in Golden Gai, Shinjuku, Tokyo in September, 2013)

Asakusa contrasts

The younger man, calm and still, in the more traditional garb of a rickshaw puller. And the older man, speeding along, dressed in more-or-less modern street fashion…

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(Picture taken in Asakusa, Tokyo in October, 2013)

So happy and blue

In Sanya there is, in fact, warmth in the shaded gutters and thermal uplift from cans of varying liquors.

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And if the sky is clear on a given day or not, the blue streets can take its place, and one can soar in them, as this man seemed to do in whatever happy reverie put peace and contentment on his face…

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(Pictures taken in Sanya (Nihonzutsumi), Tokyo in September, 2013)