Tokyo’s streets may well be reasonably clean and orderly, but for the large number of people who live on them, along with those in temporary rooms one precarious rung above, they are scenes to be forgotten. Or at least attempted to be forgotten.
The sprawling, slightly ramshackle Tsukiji fish market is a place packed full of character, and characters. But, for better or worse, come November 2016 it will cease to exist, at least at its current address — the controversial re-location to Toyosu having been finally approved.
How the move will affect business, in particular the market stalls and restaurants located next to it, remains to be seen, but presumably what won’t be dented is the obvious pride of the people who work there.
No deadlines to work to. Quite the opposite in fact, with simultaneous work on the past, present and future more akin to time travel than dealing with the demands of an actual timetable. And seemingly no stress too. Rather the gentle, almost meditative practice of pruning, shaping and carefully watering. Making arguably the most Japanese of jobs, utterly un-Japanese-like.
Sometimes it’s good to stand out. Sometimes it isn’t. But either way, it’s impossible to do otherwise.
The ten or so rooms in this Tokyo apartment building are small, old and basic. So basic in fact that a room is all you get, along with a communal toilet and sink, meaning daily ablutions require a trip to the local bathhouse or public shower.
But being a bit on the dingy side doesn’t mean the building can’t be unusually decorated. Or indeed be devoid of a talking point other than the toilet predicament.