Faded tourist spots long past their peak are common in the Japanese countryside, and invariably they are fascinating locations that slowly disintegrate rather than suddenly just ceasing to exist. The gradual, yet very visible decline creating a vicious circle of sorts, as the lack of investment and modernisation deters visitors, and the resultant reduction in custom further lessens the chance of financial support, leading ultimately to dereliction. Perhaps the perfect example of which is this old resort town I photographed at the end of last year.
The lakeside spot below is yet another, although in the fog it took on a completely different look and feel. Before the weather changed, the area was already quiet, with just a few couples wandering about, each one looking around, seemingly unsure of where on earth they had driven to. When the surroundings began to rapidly disappear from view, however, so did those last tourists, meaning they missed out on an experience that was almost otherworldly. The dense fog turned the rather sad silence into something far more serene, plus what remained visible took on a completely new, and at times almost ethereal quality. A transformation that resulted in a genuine sense of wonder — something that maybe, just maybe, was felt back in the day when business was booming.
Shinto shrines can be found everywhere in Japan. Some, of course, are large and grand like the famous Meiji Jingu in central Tokyo, but many more are small, simple structures — especially so outside the big cities. And yet while they are all unique, I’ve never seen one quite like this before, or at least not one with such incredibly striking torii gates.
When photographing people, I generally feel reasonably confident I can reproduce what’s in front of me. Landscapes, on the other hand, are a completely different proposition. Without a person in the frame, I never really know what to focus on, and as such the results are almost always underwhelming.
Presented then with the atmospheric scene of clouds coming in over this lake, I stood there as usual, completely unsure of how to try and capture it. Wanting, more than anything, for somebody of interest to act as a focal point. And then, as if by magic, a man in an animal costume rather amazingly came running along the road.
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.