Hours of walking can very often result in nothing photographically, but to be fair, Tokyo does tend to reward perseverance. And on this particular day, the wonderfully unexpected sight of a young fella doing his thing in a floral frock was ample recompense for the many kilometres covered.
Tsukiji fish market isn’t exactly the nicest of places. The sprawling complex is busy, noisy, and rather befittingly it doesn’t exactly smell the best. Yet none of these factors appeared to affect this fella, as despite the surroundings and his run-of-the-mill lunch box, he still somehow managed to look almost regal.
Despite its gradual, post-bubble decline, Japan is still an affluent country. To suggest otherwise would be absurd. But at the same time, an increasing number of Japanese can only dream of being financially stable, let alone comfortable. The myth of everyone being middle-class has been well and truly debunked, and not just jobs for life, but full-time jobs in general are slowly becoming a thing of the past. Those in so-called irregular jobs now make up almost half the nation’s workforce, and the insecurity, lower pay and lack of benefits synonymous with such positions mean millions of people are simply surviving. A good amount just barely, and way too many not even that. But while visibly growing in numbers, those who have fallen through the ever-widening gaps in the safety net somehow still remain mostly invisible.
It’s perhaps worth mentioning that the decision to take this photo was a difficult one — as was the decision to use it. The man’s plight is undoubtedly bad enough without having a camera pointed at him, and I’m well aware that my highlighting of such suffering doesn’t alleviate it at all, or make his situation easier in any way whatsoever. And yet there again, is the cold indifference (at best) shown by the government and so many of those passing by any better? Maybe. Maybe not. I honestly don’t know.
Well, old style udon, soba and ramen. All of which — somewhat unusually perhaps — are served up daily on the grounds of a shrine. And not just any old shrine either, but the famous, or indeed infamous, Yasukuni Shrine.
Last month, a popular Japanese girl band got into a spot of bother for their hugely inappropriate Nazi-inspired Halloween costumes. But for citizens who really want to show their passion for National Socialism, the SS tattoo studio would appear to be the perfect place to go.