There are plenty of photos featuring old shops and the like on these pages. Buildings that all have a sort of ordinary charm, although very few of them were taken late in the day with the lights on, and as they tend to look quite different in the dark, here is a small selection of evening shots. The second and last ones were photographed very recently, with the others taken over the previous year or so, but each and every one has a beauty all its own.
Food and Drink
I’ve posted photos of broken Japanese vending machines before. Old and long defunct metal boxes that absolutely fascinate me due to their retro designs and the way they still diligently stand there despite no longer being able to dispense anything.
Stumbling upon even one, however, isn’t a common occurrence, so to find a small collection like below is especially rare. Add to that their colourfully taped up nature and the old shop sign above, and it was a special find to say the least.
Recently I posted a couple of ‘before and after’ series featuring the disappearing people and places of Tokyo. Small vignettes of change and lost lives in a vast metropolis. Elements that make the city what it is, but are also easily forgotten and left undocumented.
The photos below are similar in some respects, but also quite different, as the area being demolished is sizeable to say the least. It’s also fairly well known due to its old school charm and looks. A vast array of buildings, businesses, and most strikingly a couple of iconic drinking alleyways, that are all making way for a massive apartment complex. Large scale demolition that is also happening in several of the city’s older neighbourhoods.
The pictures were all taken after pretty much everywhere had been emptied and locked up, but fortunately just before the barriers blocking access were put in place. In a similar vein as those aforementioned ‘before and after’ sets, I’ve also included some photos taken over the years in the same locations.
And with that it’s farewell to a large part of Tateishi. A once truly fascinating area that Tokyo will never see the likes of again.
Last week I wrote about the ‘before’ photos below and how, over time, they became much more than I ever imagined. Poignant vignettes of lives lived and structures now long gone in a forever changing city.
That state of flux Tokyo constantly seems to be in, along with a generation of people and buildings approaching their end, means there will be more photos to come, but for now at least these (along with those previously posted) are some of what I have at present. Little moments that offer a brief glimpse of lost lives in a very large metropolis.
The vast majority of the ‘before’ photos in this series were taken for no other reason than I found the scene interesting. Over the years, however, they unexpectedly became something more as death or demolition changed what I first saw forever. Outcomes that didn’t cross my mind when I initially pressed the shutter, but needless to say they do now. Tokyo changes fast, and time, for better or worse, simply can’t be held back. Elements that make the photographs far more poignant than I could have ever imagined.
That said, I don’t really know what to do with them. A book at some point would be lovely, but at the same time I’m not sure the images alone say enough without written backstories. A magazine or newspaper article would perhaps work better in that sense, but then the necessary pitches involved in that process are an increasingly thankless task, so we shall see. There’s no particular rush anyway.
The one thing I do know is that there will almost certainly be many more photos to come. A generation of buildings and their inhabitants is sadly coming to an end, so the documentation of them will definitely continue.
For now though, here (and next week in part 2) is a selection of what I have already. Small vignettes of Tokyo life that are gone, but at the same time aren’t completely forgotten.
Traditional shotengai (shopping streets) are everywhere in Tokyo. Areas both big and small that are always interesting due to their independent little stores and eateries. For me personally, however, it’s the older and decidedly rundown ones that are the most appealing, and due to the people in particular, they are places well worth regular re-visits. An approach that allows for a more accurate and thorough document of both the streets and their structures.
That desire to return again and again was something I felt keenly when in Osaka recently, as the dated shotengai there are truly fascinating. Long, criss-crossing and mostly covered streets that while similar to those in the capital, also feel quite different. Routes that I walked back and forth for days. A period of time that was both fulfilling and, it has to be said, slightly frustrating, as the more I saw, the more I wanted to return. Unfortunately that won’t be anytime soon, so until I do, here is a small taste of what I witnessed.