This shop and home has apparently been standing for over 60 years. I know that as the owner told me. A man who was just out of frame on the right; very wisely sat reading in front of his neighbour’s house rather than his own.
There are a huge number of shuttered up shops in Japan. They aren’t just in more rural areas either, as they can be found all over the capital as well. Some of them, of course, are now abandoned properties, and are left to gradually deteriorate before demolition. Many others, however, are still lived in, as lots of traditional little operations are a combination of both the home, and the workplace.
In regards the latter, without a doubt the most poignant place I’ve ever found and photographed was the property of an old lady in her 90s. A woman who I had the pleasure of spending a bit of time with, and the resultant photos and write up can be seen here.
The shop below is a bit different, but in many ways very similar. I’d passed by countless times and seen the woman who owns it moving about in what was once the shop part of the building. And back in 2015, with one of the shutters lifted, I was lucky enough to get this shot of her doing some cooking.
Then there was nothing until last week when I saw her again. A slightly different situation, but very similar headwear, and a life still lived amid the debris of the past.
The dreaded ‘peace sign’ invariably appears if you ask to take someone’s photo in Japan, and the number of times I’ve been presented with it is way too many to remember. How many times it has actually worked as part of an image, on the other hand, is a much smaller number. It’s one. This one to be exact.
So as offensive as it can be, getting the decidedly non-peaceful V sign was a very unexpected treat. One further added to by being brandished under a similarly surprised looking giant octopus.
The tofu shop below always fascinated me. It was so old and ramshackle that each crack and layer of grime seemed to conjure up some sort of story. Photographing it, on the other hand, was easier said than done, as the little alleyway it was located in is way too narrow, so I just enjoyed stopping by and looking at it every time I was in the area.
In the summer of 2014, however, the owner unexpectedly appeared, allowing me to get a shot of him, and a bit of the building.
Then, just shy of 3 years later, I had the good fortune of seeing him again. It was a surprise to get another opportunity, and similarly surprising to see how much he had aged.
But sadly there won’t be any more such sightings, or indeed photos, as I dropped by at the weekend — my first walk in that area for several months — and not only was the owner absent, but so was the shop. The plot of land it once covered is now a car park. A nondescript, freshly tarmacked rectangle that strangely, but understandably, offers no hints at all about what stood there before.