Yokohama, just south of Tokyo, is a popular destination for many, but personally I’ve always struggled to like it. Quite why is hard to pinpoint, but my jaunts there never left me especially eager to return. That said, a couple of little areas have been fairly fruitful of late, so below — aside from the first frame which was taken on the way — are some scenes from a recent visit. A location that’s rarely seen on these pages, plus it was in the rain, which is similarly infrequent in my photography. Something I should really do more of despite the fumbling awkwardness of manually focusing while holding an umbrella, as results-wise, a few of these came out reasonably well.
I photographed this lovely old take-out yakitori shop towards the end of 2022. A place I’d previously tried to capture on several occasions, but the light had always been unhelpful, and one time it had rather frustratingly been shut. So to finally record its real, retro beauty was genuinely pleasing. Even better was the ownership situation, prompting me to conclude my write-up with these uncharacteristically positive words:
“A little shop that has been serving freshly grilled chicken for 45 years. Another near half a century is hard to imagine, but with a younger family member now on board, many more years do remain a distinct possibility.”
Optimism that was sadly very much misplaced, as returning recently at a slightly different time of year, but at the same time of day, we found nothing except an empty plot of land.
This fabulously dated bit of Tokyo’s subway system has featured on Tokyo Times before. A fascinating taste of the past that somehow still survives amidst the network’s otherwise modern and mostly immaculate passageways. Parts of it remain unchanged for decades, with the DVD shop in particular a real novelty in this day and age, especially as it rather comically still boasts a slightly tucked away selection of adult titles. That said, a good number of businesses have changed over the years, with the bars featured here now looking quite different. The same goes for the oddly located vending machine, which was removed a while ago, and the abandoned space at the side of it is now incorporated into a cool little clothes shop.
However, such changes aside, its unique atmosphere remains intact, making it like nowhere else in the city, let alone just the subway system. The same goes for its distinctive smell too — a rather less appealing feature that can be particularly pungent during the summer months.
Finally, many of these photos were used in the last set, but others are new, or just new additions. A series of images prompted by the area appearing in Perfect Days, Wim Wenders latest film. An apt spot in so many ways, and a title very much befitting this truly wonderful location.
Quite a few of these old-style Chinese restaurants have appeared on Tokyo Times over the years. Some are still going strong, whereas others have sadly succumbed to the unrelenting passage of time. The latter is an increasingly common occurrence of late, as these types of places flourished in the post war years, so many are now both old, and run by similarly aged owners.
This one, however, is happily very much still in business despite opening way back in 1955. Needless to say it will eventually come to an end when the current, and final family member decides to call it a day, but until then, it’s a place that is an absolute joy with its quiet charm and old school simplicity.
It’s impossible to even guess how many times I must have walked past this lovely looking old sweet shop — both on my own, and on one of my Tokyo photowalk tours. A sight that due to its patched up nature and overgrown exterior never disappointed. There was the added bonus of the lovely little karaoke sign for the establishment next door too. The only problem was that upon turning the corner, there was always the very real chance of it not being there anymore. Partly because so many of Tokyo’s older structures are disappearing, but even more so due to the planned widening of the road, with this place slowly but surely becoming one of the last surviving hold outs.
And just recently that day sadly arrived. Initially the shop was simply shut with a sign posted saying thanks for all the custom, along with the added info that circumstances meant they had to close down after 50 years in business. Then not long after that the demolition crew arrived and unceremoniously started to tear it down. A scene that on the second day was made all the more poignant by the man on the left watching it all happen. His own shop once occupied the exact spot he was standing on, so I’ve included a photo of him working there back in the day.
But that was then and this is now, and sadly neither place exists anymore. Cars will undoubtedly travel by quicker in the future, but the journey itself will be a lot less interesting.
The really quite unexpected snowfall that hit Tokyo earlier this week offered a lovely glimpse of the city that we very rarely get to see. A welcome treat of sorts that while admittedly causing transportation chaos, also created a genuine sense of excitement and wonder, with smartphones belonging to both the young and old being pointed here, there and everywhere.
Feeling similarly enthused, my initial thought was to head into Shinjuku, but not knowing what the trains would be like, and, it has to be said, being rather pathetically put off by the bitterly cold wind, I instead decided to just take a few photos of a nearby public housing estate (danchi), along with my local train and monorail stations. An area that just like everywhere else, looked completely different under a blustery blanket of snow.
Come the following morning, things were already rapidly returning to normal, but I also photographed a couple of local favourites which still had a little bit of snow surrounding them.