Sometimes, some things simply don’t make any sense whatsoever.
Several weeks ago I documented the death of a traditional Tokyo bar. The terribly sad sight of a once lively little place that now lies empty and quiet. Why it shut, however, remains a mystery. Its former owner’s relatively advanced age is the obvious answer, but then again, the planned demolition of the building could easily be another.
The closure of the bar below, on the other hand, is unfortunately not lacking in facts. A friend and I drank there back in March 2016. It was one of those lovely chance finds, and one that was clearly very special from the moment we walked in. The interior, the sumo on the radio, and of course the smiling mama-san. A feeling of good fortune that only grew stronger as we relaxed, enjoyed our beers and heard a little bit about our host’s life. And it genuinely was only a bit, as by then she was 93 years old. The details of that night can be read about in the original post here.
After that visit we went back a few times, but always without success. They could easily have been days off. Maybe days she just didn’t feel like opening. Plus once it might have been because we were simply too early. Deep down though there was always the nagging worry that we were in fact too late, and in the end that inevitably was the case. She died at the grand old age of 96, and the bar has understandably died with her. It still looks the same (at least from the outside anyway), but it’s now merely a locked up building rather than a bar, a home and a simply wonderful place to sit down and while away the hours — or indeed the decades.
Tokyo’s train network is truly wonderful, with the option to easily travel all over the capital the gift that really does keep on giving. Actually using the network, on the other hand, is often utterly awful, as overcrowding can make commutes more akin to a melee.
Recently, of course, that has all changed, at least from personal experience it has anyway, as after years of taking almost daily train trips, it has now been none in two and a half months. However, with Japan’s state of emergency now lifted, that will likely change very soon, but whenever that first journey is, I’m fairly sure I won’t be quite as excited as this little fella will be when he finally makes his.
When danchi (public housing complexes) began to appear in and around Tokyo during the mid-1950s, so did shopping areas designed to cater for the new residents. Some tower blocks had shops on the ground floor, whereas little areas of commerce naturally evolved near others. Public spaces that back in the day would have been bustling with local families, but changing shopping habits, as well as a massively altered demographic, have caused many of them to slowly fall into dereliction and disappear. A sad fate that the district below also seems destined for.