The sounds, supplemented by those from the encroaching city,
and the common sights,
of a temple in Tokyo.
Japanese boat racing (kyotei) certainly doesn’t have the same image as its bigger and much more respectable relative, horse racing, as there are no fancy hats or royal connections down by the river. No families either. Just boats and lots of betting.
A sport that unashamedly boasts a collar as blue as the water, or at least boat number 4.
And, perhaps due to its lack of airs and graces, and much more functional rather than fancy facilities, it is one of the friendliest and most welcoming places I have ever had the pleasure to visit in Tokyo.
Of course that said, when it came to figuring out the form of the drivers.
And watching the actual races.
or otherwise perched.
It was all seriousness and solitary silence.
But in-between races, there were waves (of the non-water variety), greetings and the biggest and warmest of smiles a newcomer could ever hope for. The latter in particular being especially pleasant, as despite it being so simple, it’s something that sadly isn’t seen so much in Tokyo.
Meaning that without a doubt I’ll be back. And maybe next time I’ll get a result, allowing me to add financial gain to the fun.
A hope that a lucky t-shirt might just help me with.
Despite the red seeming somewhat unseasonal, this sensationally-shaped bonsai is still an absolute delight to behold.
And yet rather sadly, having spoke to one of the men managing this one and many others, it seems that who exactly started it, or even saw it through its first century, is totally and utterly unknown.
It could well be because of a lifetime of having to squat when squeezing one out, although thankfully that’s mostly avoidable now due to the welcome abundance of western bogs. Or there again, maybe squatting is as compulsory as kanji in education.
But either way, the ability to ‘sit’ in that position for a prolonged period of time without protesting in pain or unceremoniously seizing up is simply amazing.
Continuing what has become a really rather enjoyable routine, I shall once again be leaving Japan for the summer, returning home for five weeks to a land where the national football team is now worse than the nation’s infamous teeth.
However, that’s not to say that whilst I’m away Tokyo Times will stagnate like my country’s national sport, as the site will continue to be updated — just at a slightly slower pace that’s all; the current five posts a week being reduced to a much more manageable three.
And to be sure there is new content to see, subscribing to the Tokyo Times RSS feed could well be the way to go, although if such a system doesn’t suit you, the updates will more than likely be on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
So, with that said, and my suitcase all packed, it’s just a case of hoping that little Abbey will get me to the airport before my aeroplane leaves.
Or even comes back again.
A mere mannequin it may be, but there’s something amazingly melancholy.
Downright depressing even.
About this strangely unsettling scarecrow silently going about his business in solitude.
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.