Televisions remain an ever-present feature in the home and hotel room, but just like viewing habits, designs have changed enormously, and the TV sets below are a nice reminder of just how dramatic those changes have been. Taken over the space of 10 years or so, they were all shot in a variety of abandoned buildings, and while some are clearly more modern than others, all of them hark back to an era when millions of people sat, at set times, to watch specific programmes.
The fella below and his family before him used this wonderfully cluttered little office to run their business selling nuts and bolts. A small, but seemingly busy operation that had already been trading for about 80 years when I took this photo back in 2017.
Four years on and it’s still going strong — the only difference being the man now works from a tiny desk squeezed into his storeroom down the street below. A space that does seem functional, but at the same time it’s a world away from the character-filled building he spent decades in. That’s now gone though, with nothing to mark those memories except some freshly laid tarmac.
The photograph below was taken just shy of 7 years ago — a day when 130,000 spectators squeezed into Tokyo Racecourse for the Japan Derby. Not that long ago really, and yet in the current climate it almost looks like another world. All those people, hardly any masks, and, pandemic comparisons aside, an almost complete absence of smartphones.
2014, it turns out, wasn’t half bad, and perhaps appropriately, the winner that year was One and Only.
This time last year I did a short series on suburban bus stops and their sometimes comically eclectic seats. A set of photos that was deliberately devoid of people as the emptiness seemed to somehow suit the surroundings.
The old Tokyo bus stop below, on the other hand, has always felt like it needed the right person, or indeed the right people, to really do it justice — something that had never quite happened until I fortuitously happened upon these three fellas last week. A trio who for me at least compliment the scene almost perfectly.
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.