With 2020 almost done and dusted, it’s time once again to choose my favourite photographs from the last 12 months.
In Tokyo, we’ve somehow been spared the devastation experienced in so many other cities, but with Covid-19 numbers once again on the rise, and Japan lagging behind in regards vaccine approval, we certainly aren’t out of the woods just yet.
Yet despite infection rates being relatively low, daily life here is still different, and just like so many other people, I‘ve personally been hit hard by the pandemic. After enjoying continued success with my Tokyo Photowalks business in the first 3 months of the year, everything came to a jarring, completely unavoidable halt in April when travel stopped and Japan’s borders essentially closed. A setback that all being well will start to slowly ease once vaccinations reach the wider public, and international travel very tentatively returns to something approaching what was once deemed normal.
A testing period that has again been tempered by the simple joy of being out and about with a camera. Long walks and occasional drives have, as ever, allowed me to enjoy a wide variety of experiences, and also embark on a new project of sorts — documenting the end of Tokyo’s rapidly disappearing old bars and businesses. The first one I put together is included in the selection below, but perhaps the most touching up to now has been the death of a lovely old bar owner in the far west of the city. The full story and photos from that can be seen here.
In conjunction with a friend who has the necessary skills and experience, I also have a selection of prints ready to sell, but I’m currently waiting until Japan Post’s overseas service returns to its fully functional best before opening my little online shop. In the meantime, earlier in the year I rather apprehensively set up one of those buy-me-a-coffee pages, so if you think this site is worth the occasional ‘drink’, or even a recurring monthly one, then the option to safely and securely pay for a hot beverage, or better still a beer, is here: https://ko-fi.com/tokyotimes
Anyway, with those awkward plugs now out of the way, here, at last, are the aforementioned photos. These are the images I like the most, or in some cases, the ones that simply mean the most — each with a link to the original post below. A set that wraps up Tokyo Times for the year, so until January 4th, when normal updates will resume, take care of yourselves, and all the very best for what will hopefully be a much better 2021!
Old school Tokyo take out yakitori
A crumbling Tokyo alleyway from a different time
Traditional Japanese snacks down a dark Tokyo alleyway
Tokyo past, present and continuous?
A fallen, modern-day Tokyo samurai?
Tokyo Monday morning umbrella blues
Tokyo blue, black and salaryman greys
A dilapidated and uniquely paint daubed old Japanese house
A Tokyo bar owner, her cat and decades of clutter
An abandoned Japanese apartment complex in the mountains
The life and death of a traditional little Tokyo bar
An abandoned Japanese hamlet in the mountains
A slowly decaying Shinto shrine and its truly incredible torii
An intense looking Shinto priest in Tokyo
Timeless Tokyo in monochrome shades
A great selection it is with so many memorable shots. I don’t think I could choose a favorite. Thanks for them all. I look forward to your 2021 output!
Thank you very much. Really nice to hear. And we shall just have to see what 2021 brings!
What an awesome collection! Thank you for all the photos and insights in this difficult year. I enjoyed every update. 🙂 I wish you and yours a happy and healthy 2021!
Thanks a lot! That’s very kind of you, and absolutely lovely to hear. You too, all the very best!
Longtime reader says
Thank you always for your pictures. This year more than ever they have been such a source of escape for me. Please continue to share.
You are very welcome, and thanks a lot for the kind words — they were very nice to hear. Oh, and no plans to stop at all!
Mr & Mrs cdilla says
Your photography has continued to impress, entertain, educate and move us this year. This is a fine retrospective collection (and thanks for the Video reminder – I am still on that!)
We hope you and yours have a content and uneventful festive season and that 2021 is kind to you.
Here’s hoping we can raise a glass somewhere in Tokyo again soon.
Thanks a lot to the two of you. Lovely to hear, and no pressure at all finding the video shop. Well, not much pressure anyway!
Cheers. You too. Despite all that’s going on, I hope you can enjoy the day, and the holidays in general. And yes, let’s hope that happens much sooner rather than later. If the Olympics do prove to be possible, then lagers should be too!
Thanks for another great year of photographs, Lee. You have managed to help me get over missing my visits to Japan. Hope you and your wife have a good Christmas and Emperor’s Birthday and can enjoy 2021.
My pleasure. Being out taking photos is when I’m happiest, so knowing the results are also enjoyed by other people makes the whole process even more rewarding. And thanks a lot. You too. Have a good holiday and all the very best for the new year.
Hi Lee, thanks for another year full of nice pictures! I work at a travel agency in The Netherlands and have your photo walk in the information for our Japan clients. I hope to be able to send people your way again somewhere in 2021! And of course I can’t wait to visit Japan again myself. Will be my 10th time when the time comes so an anniversary trip 🙂
You are very welcome. I had a lot of fun taking the photos. And thank you ever so much for including my photowalks. I had some lovely customers from that. One of them showed me the information and I wondered how I’d got included. Now I know, and knowing it’s through you makes it even better! Thanks again!
I hope you can make that anniversary trip in 2021. Japan is a bit slow with the vaccine, but at the same time we haven’t been hit anywhere near as hard as Europe and the US, so there’s definitely a chance. Fingers crossed.
Cheers. You too, stay safe over there!
I am with the other posters Lee, thank you for another incredible photographic slice of 2020 in Nippon. And I especially liked your words above, “the simple joy of being out and about with a camera.” Perhaps all of Earth’s population is now hoping for the simple joy of returning to everyday life, pre-pandemic.
Thank you. Very happy to hear you enjoyed them. And cheers, that simple joy has made the year much more bearable that it would have been otherwise. No doubt about it.
Yes, definitely. Just got to hope the vaccine roll out is swift and effective. The idea of relatively mundane ‘normal’ life has never been more appealing.
I only recently discovered your work. Thanks for this year end review. You have a great eye for capturing aspects of Tokyo life that few people would notice. I will continue to enjoy your photos in 2021. Ake mashite oh-meditoh gozaimasu!!
You are more than welcome, and thanks a lot for the kind words. Very nice to hear.
Cheers. You too. All the very best for the coming year!
Looking over the 2020 output, I wonder if it was difficult choosing your top twenty seven and arranging them? Yellows, reds, blues, pastels and finally mono? I’m sure that there could be a cheery calendar somewhere in there too!
Stay safe, and take care with early starts and karaoke enthusiasts!
It was. Photos in there for different reasons, and quite a few from larger series, which made it even trickier. And then there was the order. Changed both several times. Still nowhere near sure I got it right, but had to say enough was enough and call it a day!
Hahah, hopefully plenty of the latter this year as well. The early starts perhaps not quite so much. And cheers. You too. I hope your 2021 is a happy and healthy one!
Perhaps impossible when all of them are the best – for different reasons! :O) and fortunately without need to compare across cameras/lenses too.
It was certainly difficult, but yes, nice not to have extra complications!
And you are very welcome. Being able to take these photos made my life better. No doubt about that whatsoever.