Tucked away down a quiet little side street, this man was working away on a Sunday. Presumably just like he has done on countless other traditional days off. But that didn’t seem to bother him in the slightest. And fortunately neither did a foreigner poking his head through the window to take a photograph.
Big and shiny buildings may well be sprouting up all over town, but even on dark, damp afternoons, Tokyo’s narrow little alleyways remain considerably more compelling.
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Hideaki Kobayashi, or GrowHair as he is also known, has become a celebrity of sorts due to his love of wearing sailor suit schoolgirl uniforms. A man whose courage to hit the streets on his terms has to be applauded. Plaudits too for the city around him. There’s no judgement. No mean-spirited comments. Just enjoyment at the spectacle of a middle-aged man living life in a manner that suits him, not society.
Having seen photos of him online numerous times, I’d often thought it’d be interesting to get a picture of him doing something more pedestrian than his usual pose. And as luck would have it, the first and only time I’ve ever seen him he was doing just that. Inadvertently creating a scene that’s boringly ordinary, and also wonderfully out of the ordinary.
Now in her early 80s, this bar owner’s beauty queen days are little more than a distant memory, but the former Miss Fukushima is still far from ready to give up the profession that has ultimately consumed much more of her life.
Owning and running the tiny place below for the past 52 years, she shows no signs of slowing down. Even advancing years and a battle with cancer have thankfully proved incapable of dampening her enthusiasm. So 6 nights a week booze is still knocked back, the banter remains gloriously bawdy, and brief glimmers of the past abound.