Sundries, wares, liquor, and Kleenex, you can find everything you need for normal everyday happy life on the Irohakai shōtengai (いろは会商店街) in Nihonzutsumi, which used to be known as Sanya.
I wasn’t sure what she was browsing for. She had a jittery way about her, perhaps because some big damn foreigner was pointing a camera at her and taking her picture. For me in Tokyo that’s sometimes an unintended consequence.
But once she composed herself she was cool. And she was generous with both her smile and the peace sign the Japanese love to make when being photographed. Sometimes that peace sign makes me squirm a little, like I’m some American soldier running around Tokyo taking happy snaps during the post-war U.S. occupation.
I’m probably reading too much into my own presence on Tokyo’s streets. But my own discomfort is a price I gladly pay for the enrichment I get from being in this city and among these amazing people.
And I sure as hell hope that after I walked away, this nice woman found what she was shopping for.
(Nihonzutsumi, Tokyo 2015)