Posts Tagged: Tokyo

Darkness/lightness

This is brief recounting of two men from very different walks of Japanese life, whom I encountered near Ueno Station within 45 minutes of each other. The first, an older and somewhat rugged-looking salaryman, stopped for a smoke on the south end of Ueno Station by a ramp which descends down to the Tokyo Metro…

TokyoDay21 127-1

The second, a monk holding out a bowl for alms on a street corner across Chūō Dori from Ueno Station. Monks with such bowls are a familiar sight in this spot…

TokyoDay21 112-1

I wondered if the monk was a fake, for in Tokyo these men are sometimes convincing imposters who collect money from unsuspecting passersby for no legitimate religious purpose. But about the salaryman I had no doubts. He was who he appeared to be, and I respected the miles I saw in the lines on his face and the battle his hair was losing to age.

Ultimately, however, the contrasts between the two men captured my attention. The differences between their appearances, apparent professions, and between Japan’s new ways and old ways.

(Ueno Station, Tokyo 2015)

The Ueno Ameyayokochō Time

This beautiful man…

Look at this unconventionally beautiful man, and what he was willing to share with my wife. She and I were at a festival at the Ohtori Shrine in Asakusa on a Tuesday…

TokyoDay22 156-1

To this man we were strangers, foreigners to him, and that mattered for nothing. When I asked to take his picture, he agreed. Then he saw my wife and insisted she borrow his shimekazari so that I could take a picture of her holding it…

TokyoDay22 158-3

The Japanese are often the most warm, generous people you will ever meet. And because of this man, that day in the Asakusa sun with my wife was one of my best days in Tokyo or anywhere ever.

TokyoDay22 157-2

(Asakusa 4-chome, Tokyo 2015)

25 Days in Tokyo—13: Yasukuni rain

Yasukuni Shrine is an interesting place, but I won’t make more of visiting it than doing so deserves. The truth is, my wife and I went there on a rainy Sunday primarily to browse a weekly flea market on the shrine grounds. We arrived around 9:45 a.m. There wasn’t much right-wing nationalist activity, just five or six men in olive-drab uniforms sitting out the rain in two black propaganda vans. They drove away 20 minutes later.

Everything at Yasukuni was wet, the sky was uniformly dour and grey, and the immense Daiichi Torii gate looked as if it was indifferent to who walked under it that day and would maintain its indifference for the next 1,000 years…

Yasukuni Shrine, Tokyo 2015

(Yasukuni Jinja, Tokyo 2015)

25 Days in Tokyo—11: Big issue

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.

He was selling The Big Issue Japan on the south side of Nakano Station, so despite his immaculate appearance I knew the man was homeless. Only homeless persons are authorized to sell The Big Issue on Tokyo’s streets. It’s a legitimate way to earn money to mollify the effects of the predicament they’re in. My wife was with me and I described to her what the man was doing and why. She immediately said “I hope he doesn’t have to be out here selling that paper for very long.”

TokyoDay11 019-1

(Nakano Station, Tokyo 2015)

25 Days in Tokyo—9: Grand dame

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.

In the New Shimbashi Building, you can buy most anything. Its lower floors are a salaryman haven filled with ramen shops, shoe shops, dress shirt haberdashers, video game parlors, news stands, golf shops, and bars. It was only two p.m., but this grandly-dressed lady was already preparing her tiny tavern for the waves of men in cheap suits who later that afternoon would descend into the building’s foundations to drink their evenings away until it was time to go home, sleep it off, then put the cheap suits back on and take the trains back into Tokyo to do it all again the next day…

TokyoDay9 103-1

(New Shimbashi Building, 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)

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—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…

TokyoDay2 105-1

(Nakano 5-chome, Tokyo 2015)

25 Days in Tokyo—1: Standing guard

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…

Tokyo is always under construction. Something is always being built, rebuilt, renovated, upgraded, repaired, or maintained. So walking by, through, under, or over construction sites is pretty common. And these sites typically employ security guards, usually older men on pensions or limited incomes who need the money or want the work to keep busy. And I didn’t ask into which category this fellow placed himself, but it was clear he took the job very seriously…

Near Nakano Station, Tokyo 2015

(Near Life Nakano Ekimae, Tokyo 2015)

%d bloggers like this: