Posts Tagged: Nakano 5-chome

An umbrella before the sugar melts

25 Days in Tokyo—10: Fish man

In late October, 2015, I was in Tokyo, Japan for 25 days. I shot many photographs. This series presents the most interesting, compelling, or touching person or scene I saw each day I was there. Click here to see the previous entries.

Just a young man taking a break from his job at a seafood izakaya not far from Nakano Station. I stayed close to my apartment this day, to rest up because I had to pick up my wife at 11 p.m. from Haneda Airport. But Nakano is a vibrant place where there’s always something or someone worth photographing…

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(Nakano 5-chome, Tokyo 2015)

25 Days in Tokyo—8: Relief

In late October, 2015, I was in Tokyo, Japan for 25 days. I shot many photographs, and this series presents the most interesting, compelling, or touching scene I saw each day I was there. Click here to see the previous entries in this series.

When I visited Tokyo in 2012 and 2013, across the street from the building where I rented an apartment I’d frequently see an old man in the early morning doing calisthenics in front of his house. Sometimes in the late morning or early afternoon, I’d see the old man having a cigarette in the same spot where he exercised. I’d always see him when I was outside smoking myself, since I couldn’t smoke in my building. We became familiar sights to one another, typically either smiling or waving at each other, or exchanging spoken greetings like ohayō gozaimasu (good morning).

In 2015 I stayed once again in the same building and expected to see the old man doing his familiar things again across the street. But I didn’t, and I became upset about it. I was genuinely worried that the old man had moved away, or been put into a rest home, or had died, and that the last time I saw him in 2013 was the last time I was ever going to see him. A week passed during which my concern grew, until finally on my eighth day in the city I saw my beloved old man across the street sweeping up leaves that had fallen in his courtyard.

Nakano 5-chome, Tokyo 2015

I was so relieved I wanted to cry. Instead, I grabbed my camera and approached the old man to ask if I could photograph him, something I’d never done before. I wanted a souvenir of him, something I could have to remember his face, his wrinkled beauty, to remind me of how a small, almost non-existent relationship spread out over a number of years could have weight and comfortable importance. At least to me.

I asked him in broken Japanese for a pikuchā and he happily agreed while a wave of recognition passed across his face. Then I said thank you to him and went back to my apartment while he continued sweeping. I didn’t see him again for the remaining 17 days I was in Tokyo. Once had to do. I really hope I see him again when I go back to Tokyo in 2017. But if I don’t I’ll imagine that it’s because of bad timing, and say a silent Buddhist prayer that if he died he died happy and easy.

Then I’ll say another prayer thanking karma and good fortune that I carry a camera, if the Buddhists even have a camera prayer.

(Nakano 5-chome, Tokyo 2015)

25 Days in Tokyo—7: Strange rains

In late October, 2015, I was in Tokyo, Japan for 25 days. I shot many photographs, and this series presents the most interesting, compelling, or touching scene I saw each day I was there. Click here to see the previous entries in this series.

On the second day in November it was raining heavily in Tokyo so I decided to stay in Nakano-ku to avoid the unpleasant heat and humidity damp passengers always generate in Tokyo public train cars. I happened to be walking by Nakano Sun Plaza while some kind of stage show was in progress. A crowd of almost all men was watching and cheering two women singing a bubblegum rap song in squeaky little-girl anime voices.

I figured out the scene I’d stumbled into was sponsored by a film festival and an agriculture company (maybe you can read far more of the poster in the second photo than I can), but I never did understand why this guy was standing in the crowd in swimming gear with plasters on his nipples in the rain on a chilly November day in Tokyo…

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The event timetable…

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(Nakano Sun Plaza, Tokyo 2015)

25 Days in Tokyo—6: Strolling

In late October, 2015, I was in Tokyo, Japan for 25 days. I shot many photographs, and this series presents the most interesting, compelling, or touching scene I saw each day I was there. Click here to see the previous entries in this series.

Just a nice old fellow and his exercise poles, somewhere on the streets in Nakano between the apartment I was renting and the Ministop where I was headed to buy some snacks and beers for the evening. And he let me photograph him twice, so that’s not surprise on his face. I’m not exactly sure what it is…

Nakano 5-chome, Tokyo 2015

(Nakano 5-chome, Tokyo 2015)

25 Days in Tokyo—5: Halloween

In late October, 2015, I was in Tokyo, Japan for 25 days. I shot many photographs, and this series presents the most interesting, compelling, or touching scene I saw each day I was there. Click here to see the previous entries in this series.

Halloween in Tokyo, 2015 was a gas. I had not been in the city for this holiday since 1987. Back then Halloween wasn’t a big deal in Japan, and you were lucky to be invited to a gaijin friend’s costume party or find an American horror movie from the ‘30s on Japanese TV. Anyway, in 2015 I bopped all over the city, from Nakano to Ueno to Shinjuku and back to Nakano. I was delighted to see many people dressed up for Halloween, and not surprised the Japanese had adopted it and turned it into a marketing revenue stream.

Here’s some of the sights I saw during my Tokyo Halloween…

Nakano 5-chome, Tokyo 2015

A neighbor living next to the Nakano apartment building I stayed in. He’s not in Halloween costume, but I love his face.

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Young men on the Yamanote Line platform in Ueno Station.

Halloween, Tokyo 2015

On the Yamanote Line near Ōtsuka. The fellow wearing the bloody white tie spoke excellent English.

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Costume problems for the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man somewhere on the edge of Kabukichō at 11 p.m.

(Various locations, Tokyo, Halloween 2015)

25 Days in Tokyo—4: Tattoos & high-tops

In late October, 2015, I was in Tokyo, Japan for 25 days. I shot many photographs, and this series presents the most interesting, compelling, or touching scene I saw each day I was there. Click here to see the previous entries in this series.

It was about 11 p.m. on a Friday night. I was in my short-term apartment rental drinking beer and watching a movie on my laptop. I forget which movie. Suddenly outside my apartment door I heard bumping and banging sounds accompanied by a man’s loud voice speaking Japanese. I grabbed my camera, exited the apartment, and saw this punk rocker guy wobbling around the walkway outside. He was clearly rather drunk, but when he saw me eyeballing him he quieted down and insisted on showing me his leg tattoos. I was fine with that, as I was a bit lit up myself. Then we looked at each other with the unspoken mutual understanding that we were both intoxicated but meant each other no harm.

Then we smiled at each other and said ‘oyasumi nasai’ (‘good night’) almost in unison. Then he went into his apartment, and I went back into mine, and that was pretty much it for the night…

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(Nakano 5-chome, Tokyo 2015)

Waldo’s beautiful sisters

It was a few days before Halloween in Tokyo, so I think these ladies were going to a costume party. But my Japanese being what it is, I didn’t have all the words required to properly ask them. It didn’t matter, they were happy to be photographed. Because it was Tokyo, they were beautiful, and that wouldn’t change whether they found Waldo or Wally or Wōrī later or not…

Waldo's beautiful sisters, Nakano 5-chome, Tokyo 2015

(Nakano 5-chome, Tokyo 2015)

25 Days in Tokyo—3: Freedom

In late October, 2015, I was in Tokyo, Japan for 25 days. I shot many photographs, and this series presents the most interesting, compelling, or touching scene I saw each day I was there. Click here to see the previous entries in this series.

The first three days I was in Tokyo in 2015, I didn’t wander around the city much. I was getting over jetlag, and a cold I brought with me from California. So I stuck to destinations within about 10 minutes walking distance from the apartment I was renting in Nakano-ku. Fortunately, that restriction encompassed a fantastic little bar called Freedom that I accidentally discovered near a park in September, 2013.

As the exterior shows, it’s a run-down little place. But Mama-san, on the left, and her customer, who was a regular I’d seen before in 2013, treated me with humor, warmth, and respect, despite the fact that, as usual, my Japanese was so bad the three of us really couldn’t talk to each other much…

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(Nakano 5-chome, Tokyo 2015)

25 Days in Tokyo—2: Alley boys

In late October, 2015, I was in Tokyo, Japan for 25 days. I shot many photographs, and this series presents the most interesting, compelling, or touching scene I saw each day I was there. Click here to see the previous entries in this series.

The second night I was in Tokyo I went to a Ministop convenience store near the apartment I was renting in Nakano 5-chome to buy some beer. Nearby I saw these two men in a grubby alley behind an izakaya, probably taking a break from their jobs in that restaurant. Actually, I saw the guy on the left. I didn’t notice the other man until I saw his face floating in my photo when I analyzed it on my computer about half an hour later.

Tokyo is packed tight and always full of surprises…

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(Nakano 5-chome, Tokyo 2015)

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