In Inokashira Park, on the pond (井の頭池), on a day just after the middle of November. Feel free to click on the photograph and then download it for your computer wallpaper…
(Picture taken in Tokyo, Japan on November 19th, 2015)
In one of Haneda Airport’s cramped, hard-to-find smoking rooms, me and my fellow smoker quickly glanced at this advertisement. For me it really drove home how full of shit tobacco companies are. I can’t speak for the Japanese fellow. And in that moment at least, I couldn’t recall wanting a cigarette less in my life.
I really need to quit these damn things.
(Picture taken at Haneda Airport, Tokyo on November 20th, 2015)
Late on a Thursday morning, she was walking south on a street in Kichijoji that leads to broad steps down into Inokashira Park. She had style, but stood out because she was a little too made up, her hair a bit over-sculpted. But her fundamental beauty was unaffected, and was something to see in the bright Tokyo sun…
(Picture taken in Kichijoji, Tokyo on November 19th, 2015)
My wife and I were walking through the normally quiet and deserted midday streets of Golden Gai in Shinjuku. Suddenly I heard voices singing loudly to a very mainstream-sounding J-pop song. I followed the raucous sounds to a little dive which, unlike the other dives around it, had its front door wide open. Inside a bartender and three customers were joyously boozing it up and singing like contestants trying out for a television talent show.
And so, after calling my wife over to have a look we unexpectedly found ourselves sitting in a teeny Golden Gai bar ordering drinks at 12:30 in the afternoon.
The place is called Yoshida Shōten (よしだ しょてん). This is Getta, the bartender and, presumably, the owner of the joint. He charged my wife and I ¥500 each for cover, and ¥700 apiece for two Japanese whiskies and a regular bottle of Asahi Super Dry. He knew some English, was very accommodating, and had a wry sense of humor. His place had various types of garishly-colored Japanese toys pinned to the walls, and small baskets of packaged sweet and savory Japanese snacks on the bar. He seemed to know what he was doing and how he wanted his place to be.
One of Getta’s customers, who didn’t give a name but whom Getta described in English as ‘a crazy boy’. I sat next to this man, who also spoke a little English. He was quite nice and outgoing, though shy of my camera, and I think he told me he had recently been diagnosed with a serious medical condition, which I won’t name here. But it did make me feel like an asshole for smoking a cigarette next to him. He didn’t seem to mind, though.
Another customer with whom my wife and I drank. A handsome fellow, also outgoing and friendly, but I don’t recall if he gave a name or not. He did most of the singing when Getta had the music playing over the bar’s speaker system. And he had a pretty good voice.
My wife and I were delighted to have the chance to drink in a Golden Gai bar, but it was early in the day for us and after sharing two whiskies and a beer we knew we had to press on with our day. So we paid Getta what we owed him, and said our goodbyes with smiles and our cameras. Despite having lived in Japan in the late ‘80s and visiting Tokyo four times since 2008, I had never had drinks in Golden Gai before. So stumbling across this lively little place was a real treat for me. What made it so special, of course, was the friendly warmth of the people there.
So, thanks gents.
(Pictures taken in Golden Gai, Shinjuku in Tokyo on November 15th, 2015)
My wife and I got to Kyoto today to spend a couple of nights. We were on Shijo Dori east of Gion-Shijo Station, when I saw this guy and asked to photograph him. He was rather happy to oblige me. Maybe he figured it was good publicity for whatever he’s promoting with the signs he’s wearing…
(Picture taken in Gion, Kyoto on November 9th, 2015)
One Saturday morning my wife and I were walking through Nakano Sun Mall on our way to Nakano Station. As we passed a ramen joint we saw a man sitting, looking dazed. He had blood around his nostrils, blood-smeared paper on his knee, and there was a woman standing near him speaking frantically into a smartphone.
Our guess was he’d gotten punched in the face after a night of drinking, but we’ll never actually know why we saw this odd scene…
(Picture taken in Nakano Sun Mall, Tokyo on November 7th, 2015)
I hadn’t been to Shinbashi since the late ‘80s, so I was delighted to be meeting a respected friend there for lunch on a Wednesday afternoon. And Shinbashi was what it has always been, a ground zero of sorts for Japanese salaryman life and culture.
But there were presences from another side of Japanese life, and I couldn’t help wondering if the rough-looking men in these photographs were once members of Tokyo’s business suit legions and how they might have fallen from those ranks…
(Pictures taken near the New Shinbashi Building in Tokyo on November 4th, 2015)