This old and faded shop front with its nowhere near as old but still defunct vending machine has fascinated me for ages. It’s a scene I find hard not to photograph, but harder still has been trying to get someone suitable in the frame. The street is awkwardly narrow, and there aren’t many people passing by, so my efforts have always ended in failure. Until last week that is, when persistence finally paid off and at long last a half-decent chance presented itself.
Food and Drink
This old, slowly collapsing hairdressers has fascinated me for a long time, and these first two photos were taken just over three years ago.
Then, when passing last week, I was incredibly pleased to see the fella below sat outside having a quick canned coffee break. Photographs that further document the deterioration, as well as proving that excited responses aren’t always reciprocal.
Old and long-abandoned Japanese villages are hard to top when it comes to looks and character, but this wonderfully faded and atmospheric little mountain settlement more than holds its own.
Slowly deteriorating signs for souvenirs and refreshments point towards better, and previously busier times, yet just like so many of Japan’s old resort towns and crumbling day-trip destinations, they are now little more than dying reminders of a very different past.
The clearly visible decline unsurprisingly imbues such places with a very real sense of sadness, and yet at the same time there’s also a certain element of beauty involved. An unconventional sort of beauty it has to be said, but for me at least the poignant mix of unknown memories and natural decay exudes a quiet, subdued charm all its own.
Below then are the photos, which for what it’s worth were taken just over 4 years ago. It’s a location that will live long in the memory, both for the village itself, and the bar in the last shot. The latter is the only one in the village, so it’s where the local men, and men only, go to drink and basically be bawdy. Nothing out of the ordinary there, but the reaction we got when we opened the door was anything but normal — the slack-jawed, utterly disbelieving looks going way beyond anything either of us had experienced before. An entrance that also garnered a chorus of, “Foreigners!”, followed by a barrage of questions that made for a full-on experience to say the least. To be fair though, after realising we weren’t overly weird, and that we were more than willing to join in, the far more important business of drinking and gambling quickly took precedence once again, meaning another ordinary night in what for us was an extraordinary place.
These photographs were taken between 2014 and 2020. A period of time that has seen Tokyo undergo huge changes, and yet this bar at least looks exactly the same, with even the looks emanating from it remaining surprisingly consistent.
From January 8 to March 21, Tokyo was under its second state of emergency, which, just like the first one, pressed establishments serving alcohol into calling last orders at 7pm. It was a mostly observed request that resulted in fewer people going out drinking, and perhaps inevitably, more people just drinking early. Either way though, that freedom was missed, and the man below missed it so much that it rather ironically resulted in a temporarily enforced lockdown all his own making.
A restrictive measure that did lift after a little while, but just like the aforementioned rule on serving times that has been reintroduced again this week, the poor fella was forced into a further lockdown shortly afterwards.
On Monday, I sadly had to write an update concerning my wife’s now terminal cancer. It was an incredibly difficult post to put together, but I’m so very glad I did, as the warmth and support in the comments that followed were absolutely lovely. Responses that we both appreciate enormously.
Along with detailing my wife’s situation, I also mentioned that the time now devoted to care, and also simply being together, would inevitably mean a reduction of photographic updates from the usual three posts a week to just the one. Since then, however, I’ve realised that when the various health workers are here doing their thing, and when rest is required, I suddenly have a lot of time on my hands. Time that obviously has to be spent at home, indoors, which is something I’m really not that used to. As such, I’ve found myself going through older photos, doing some re-edits, and also thinking about different ways of presenting them. Hence the set below, and another schedule change, meaning for the time being at least, I’ll almost certainly be updating Fridays and Tuesdays. The latter with new photos, and the former with mostly older, or reworked images. The results of which will hopefully be as interesting for you as they are a welcome distraction for me.
These shots then are all from 2012. Photographically it was a pivotal year I think. After investing in a Leica in late 2011, I fully embraced the switch to a more compact camera system, and along with exploring certain themes, there was a concerted effort to get a bit closer, as well as embracing eye-contact instead of shying away from it. Approaches I’ve continued and hopefully expanded on ever since.