Before beers were served and meat grilled, the late afternoon light allowed just enough time for a book and a baring of the midriff.
Food and Drink
Back in the spring of 2018, I took these 3 frames of the old lady below. She initially pretended she didn’t want to be photographed, then happily slid the door open to be in full view of the camera. A brief but enjoyable moment, and one I am very happy to have captured.
Sadly, however, I never saw her again. The old, former shop is still there, as is the bicycle in exactly the same position, but the drinks machine, and much more importantly the smiles that accompanied it, have now disappeared.
It wasn’t planned at all, but these little ‘before and after’ photo sets have become a growing series of sorts, so if you want to see more of what I have taken up to now, here are the links: Bar-wise, there’s a place owned by a woman who was in her 90s, a once lively little drinking spot that’s now empty and quiet, plus a tiny karaoke joint that one day simply ceased to exist. There’s also an old tofu shop that has been knocked down to make a car park, and finally, for now at least anyway, a once full of life traditional house that’s now abandoned and falling apart.
Before opening up for lunchtime diners, the usual food preparation is required, along with several pinches of salt for purification*.
Recently on Tokyo Times, I’ve posted photos of character-filled old homes, bars and shops that have either been abandoned, or simply demolished. Such scenes are sad, and also sadly inevitable, especially when one considers the age of some of the owners.
That said, there are thankfully many that still survive, and the fishmongers below is happily one of them. First opening its doors for business way back in 1935, it looks absolutely fantastic, especially with the old water pump still in situ, and still in use. So when walking by last week, I couldn’t resist another shot of the owner working away. A photo that turned out to be remarkably similar to the one I took almost 2 1/2 years ago. And all being well, there’ll be a further shot in another few years.
On a similarly positive note, Tokyo Times has had some technical issues over the last few weeks with caching and commenting. I’m happy to say, however, that a server and setup change over the weekend has finally resolved them, and with the summer holiday slowdown also done and dusted, it’s full steam ahead once again.
Several years ago, a friend and I spent an interesting few hours in the bar below.
To be honest, it wasn’t at all what we expected. The exterior suggested something more old school, and much more in the way of basic food and beers rather than belting out banging anthems. But a change is as good as a rest as they say, and good times, along with dubious tunes, were most definitely had.
The change in focus, it turned out, came about due to a change of owner, with the fella in the photo taking over from his father. That was a full ten years before we turned up — a career switch at the age sixty that saw him swap a life in a business suit for one behind a bar.
But only months after the photos were taken, the karaoke machine was fired up one last time before the lights were turned off for good. Then, for reasons unknown, the building, just like so many others, was unceremoniously demolished.
The photo below has appeared on these pages before as part of a monochrome series from Shinjuku’s Omoide Yokocho, or Piss Alley as it’s also known. It is also a companion piece of sorts with this shot taken just a few minutes later.
Back then, as well as converting the original image to black and white, I’d also cropped it, but going through some older pictures with a view to the print sales mentioned last week, this one caught my attention in relation to how it would look in colour, and if it were cropped slightly differently.
In regards cropping, it’s not something I do very often. Not sure why, but it almost always makes the resultant image seem somehow wrong. Just not what I saw, or something along those lines anyway. It’s hard to explain. This case though is an exception, as the square format works perfectly for the shape of the bar — it’s pretty much made for it.
Also, it’s a shot that nowadays isn’t possible. Of course this particular moment has long since disappeared into the past, but that angle was always interesting, either with the door almost closed, or wide open like in this photo, which allows for a clear view of the bar’s amazingly dirty lamp. And that’s because a while ago, an extra fridge was installed near the window, more or less blocking the view. An element that for me at least gives the scene extra significance. The memory of pressing the shutter as always, but also a reminder that I won’t be able to capture something similar ever again.
It’s currently holiday time in Japan, but with things as they are, travel isn’t really an option. Trouble is, the horribly intense heat and humidity, along with increasing coronavirus numbers, mean even walks in Tokyo aren’t much of an option at the moment either — especially not the long, meandering types I tend to prefer. So from today, Tokyo Times will slow down for a little bit, and rather than the usual 3 posts a week, I’ll just upload new photos on Wednesdays for the next fortnight. The 19th and 26th. Then from Monday August 31st, the regular Monday, Wednesday and Friday updates will return as normal.