Knight Rider-esque it may not be, but this decidedly worse for wear delivery bike at least appears to be well aware of its whereabouts.
And with its sinister stare, woe betide anybody that gets in its way.
Wigs, and especially woeful ones, are more than easy targets for merriment to say the least; however, whilst it might well be easy to insist that, finding oneself half hairless, it’d be a simple procedure of unceremoniously shaving it all off and coming over all Kojak, for those with cauliflower ears or unusually contoured craniums, a toupee at least must surely be a tad tempting.
But such understandable contemplations aside, it’s baffling in the extreme to imagine what kind of bloke could possibly consider complementing a man-made fibre bouffant with an equally fake beard.
One of the truly great things about Tokyo is the capital’s absolutely enormous amount of eateries, with many streets in the suburbs let alone the city centre offering more variety than even the most voracious of eaters could conceivably call for — let alone consume.
And yet there is, however, a downside, as, with such a staggering amount of sustenance on offer, it can be decidedly difficult indeed to decide where to dine.
Due to its prime location right by a lake, guests at the Sansuisou Ryokan, in Saitama Prefecture, would have had the rather enviable option of a gentle saunter by the water’s edge before breakfast.
Plus, should they have felt energetic enough afterwards, maybe even a meander around the nearby mountains.
But whilst it may not look all that inviting now, at one time it must have been really quite welcoming.
And, along with its looks and location, it is also quite possible it played some kind of role in the local farming community, as the lake itself was built in 1935 as an agricultural reservoir in response to the Great Depression. Changing times, however, meant that despite its surroundings, the number of visitors slowly dwindled, culminating in the inn’s closure in the late 1990s. A situation that, combined with a relatively cursory clear up, has resulted in a fairly sparsely furnished haikyo, with not a great deal more to photograph than snake-like shower fittings,
and beds in which one wouldn’t really want to lounge about in for any longer than was strictly necessary.
But that said, like practically all abandoned buildings, it also contains a considerable number of chairs — pieces of furniture that were happily used by visitors during the hotel’s heyday to enjoy a few lively drinks,
or a decidedly quieter dinner.
The latter in particular once offering an ideal opportunity for guests to enjoy inobuta, the Ryokan’s speciality, which is a hearty hybrid of pig and wild boar.
Now, however, these chairs are either unceremoniously stored away,
or are left where they were last used.
Some of them still arguably suggestive of the conversations they once witnessed.
Whereas others, somewhat strangely considering they are merely functional pieces of furniture, look somehow rather lost.
And indeed lonely.
Almost as though they are silently waiting for someone to sit on them, or alternatively for something to happen.
Neither of which is the least bit likely.
As settings go it’s certainly not the most scenic, but situated amidst the sensory assaults of Shibuya, it does offer a certain amount of serenity.
Traditional Japanese knives are undeniably very expensive, but they are for an undeniably valid reason, as, regardless of how they are made — whether it be by the true-forged honyaki technique or the two material-based kasumi approach that is also used to produce samurai swords — they are very very sharp indeed.
So sharp in fact that they can even make one or two wide-eyed with wonder.
As well as causing those of us who aren’t especially accomplished in the kitchen, a considerable amount of concern.
Tokyo Times is owned and run by me, Lee Chapman, a long-term resident of Tokyo who arrived in 1998 for ‘a year or two’, and, for a myriad of reasons, stayed put.
Japan means many things to many people, but Tokyo Times is how I see it. The places. The people. The day-to-day situations. All of it shot using a Leica, a Nikon and a selection of lenses.
My photographs have appeared in the Guardian and Japan Times, plus numerous magazines and books. Should you wish to use any, or simply ask a question, you can get in touch with me here.