The missing little finger strongly suggests that this man was once a member of the yakuza, and his current predicament may also suggest that the reason for losing said digit eventually resulted in him losing an awful lot more.
On August 15th, the anniversary of Japan’s surrender, it’s common to see the extreme right doing their thing at Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine. The same is also true for National Foundation Day on February 11th — events I’ve photographed and written briefly about before. A few favourites being this uniform-clad old man last summer, a large gathering of like-minded extremists a few years ago, and further back still, some atmospheric scenes in the snow.
So, due to them being so oddly fascinating, I did the same again on Monday. Just as they did what they usually do too.
But that’s not the whole story of course. There were many thousands of ordinary people, very ordinarily paying their respects. Plus, it has to be said, a very select few doing something that one really wouldn’t call typical at all.
During the daytime it’s hard to know whether this little bar is a going concern or not; its different signs and decidedly rundown appearance making it seem arguably more defunct than actually functioning. But come 9 o’clock, the lights flicker on, the five or so seats are set ready, and the karaoke machine is ceremoniously fired up.
And fired up is what the owner is as well. His father started the business half a century ago, and as the exterior suggests, its initial focus has changed somewhat, with chicken on a stick making way for chitchat and a singsong. But 10 years ago the current master-san took over, ending a full career as a businessman to start a new one behind the bar. One he was clearly made for too, as despite being 70, he shows no signs of slowing down — or indeed even sitting down.