Several years have now passed since I first found it, but this old, dilapidated house with its long-closed shop continues to fascinate me. There’s just so much to marvel at. It has two broken vending machines, the remnants of the shop are there for all to see, and the house itself remains occupied — the unexpected sound of a radio playing upstairs being the giveaway on that initial visit.
Having walked passed many times since, there has always been a sign, or at least a sense, of someone still staying there. However, when wandering by again last week, I noticed that the upstairs windows had been boarded up, and the crumbling balcony covered with blue tarpaulin. Changes that suggested the building was now abandoned, possibly even set for demolition, so it seemed like the perfect time for a peek inside.
Some of the remaining stock was unexpected to say the least, and the old cash register is a real contraption, but the biggest surprise of all was an interruption from outside. Turns out the place is still lived in after all, as the owner had returned with some lunch. A scenario that quite rightly could have been awkward in the extreme, but as soon as he realised I was only taking photos, he was totally fine with it. In fact, he was amused by my very obvious interest, and happily told me the shop has been shut for 30 years or so. What amused him more than anything though was opening up the lone magazine on the ‘teen look’ shelf and declaring that the model must now be about my age.
Amazing story. Surreal!! Amazing shots.
Thank you! One of those completely unexpected finds that Tokyo is so very good at.
What a great set of photographs and lovely story.
I can just imagine you totally focussed on working your magic with your camera when you hear a quizzical, “Sumimasen?” behind you.
Cheers. Yeah, I was a little surprised to say the least, and needless to say my returning sumimasen was very apologetic. He really was great though. In fact it would have been nice to stop a bit longer as he seemed very comfortable to stop and have a chat, but there were so many mosquitoes I was sadly anything but comfortable…
Great story and pictures. The owner sounds a super nice guy.
Thank you very much, and yes, he really was. A very gently and kind old fella.
Fascinating but also sad that the owner is living like this. Admittedly a gloomy thought: are these people a metaphor for what Japan might be like in one more generation?
Yeah, there’s definitely that aspect to it. Not a nice place to live by any standards. On top of everything else, it must be boiling in the summer, and the complete opposite in winter. Thankfully he seemed content, and there were no complaints from him at all about the conditions, so that’s something.
Good question. Not for the country as a whole would be my answer, but I think it could be for the countryside, and to a certain extent smaller towns. In fact for a lot of locations that’s already the case.
I remember seeing a lot of closed stores in small shopping arcades near the central station in Osaka when I was there in Nov 2019. Not run down and dilapidated. But clearly closed for business.
Yeah, surprising how many there are, even in the big cities. A number that is sure to have increased during this pandemic as well…
Linda Lombardi says
This is so great.
I can’t imagine living with that mess for 30 years and not gradually cleaning it up. Keep the stuffed koalas, of course, but why not just throw a few things out every week? But for the sake of the pictures and story, I’m glad he didn’t.
The doll with the hair like Sacred Riana and the fella in the tam o’ shanter are already looking worried.
@Linda I know eh? Got a quick look at his living room too, and unsurprisingly it wasn’t all that dissimilar. But yeah, it wouldn’t have been interesting if he had cleared everything away, and the mess clearly doesn’t bother him in the slightest.
@john Haha, they do indeed, whereas poor old Doraemon just looks in desperate need of a good wash. His anywhere door clearly long since deserted him…
Aah! Thanks! Doraemon the dusty, and banned in Bangladesh (Doraemon not the dust).
Amazingly the name escaped me, but it would have been tail-rhyme stanza-pandemonium with highland headgear.
Haha, that would have been something! Had no idea about the Doraemon ban. Who’d have thought the jolly looking little fella could cause so much controversy.
I’m amazed at the intricately crafted polystyrene(?) on that ‘teen look’ shelf! His comment reminds me of a recent wonderful find..
Jun Togawa Birthday 2021 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6QmC8szRBPA
No Koalas but an awesome rabbit backpack and it rocks at 4.30 just like in the eighties!
Thanks as ever Lee!
Yeah, don’t know what the deal with the polystyrene is. My guess is it was part of something else and just ended up on the teen shelf, but with this place who knows…
You are very welcome. Good to hear it reminded of your interesting find. Definitely see why too!
If it helps date things, the National Diet Library web site shows that Teen Look Magazine ティーン ルック 雑誌 was published from 1968 to 1970.
Oh, nice one. Cheers for that. That’s way before he said the shop closed, but of course there’s no reason why the magazine shelf would have been removed. More a sign of when the shop was operational. Something I should have asked him…