Wind-swept Japanese woman

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So many times when turning a corner, a person with a bit of character has just passed by, or at the very least passed out of shot — a seemingly unwritten law of the street that is frustrating to say the least. But, on the odd occasion when the opposite is true, and one simply has to be quick enough to fire off a shot, it’s fantastic.

wind-swept and tanned Japanese woman

An old Tokyo bar and its even older owner

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Opening the door and stepping inside an old, unknown Tokyo bar is always done with at least a touch of trepidation. Will it be good? What will it look like? And perhaps most worrying of all, will we be even welcome?

Thankfully this place ticked all the boxes and then some. A wonderfully dated establishment with bags of character and an owner so friendly it immediately felt like we’d been going there for years.

old Tokyo bar

Although nowhere near as many years as it’s been open, which is a very impressive 50 and counting. Even more impressive, however, is that the jovial fella in charge is the establishment’s one sole proprietor. A man now into his 71st year, but in possession of such energy and enthusiasm that it’s still possible to picture the young buck who started the business all those years ago.

old Tokyo bar

Japanese nationalists at Yasukuni Shrine

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Every year on National Foundation Day, a large number of Japanese nationalists gather for a Shinto ceremony at Tokyo’s controversial Yasukuni Shrine. An event documented on this site in a series of photos last year, and also several years earlier in the snow.

Perhaps surprisingly it’s an unusually sombre affair, which is a huge contrast to how one usually sees Japan’s far-right factions — either strutting about peacock-like, or blasting the populace with ear splitting, hateful propaganda from their speaker-equipped trucks. A ceremony that in total lasts no more than 15 minutes or so, and is conducted in almost complete, reverential silence, along with a hard-edged, but at the same time undeniable solemnity. Elements that, despite the repugnant, archaic views of those participating, and the way they will inevitably behave once leaving the shrine, make the whole spectacle really quite impressive — oddly moving even. Causing this onlooker to briefly, and begrudgingly, respect those paying their respects.

Japanese nationalists at Yasukuni Shrine

Tokyo real-life Mario Kart

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Tokyo’s famously efficient train network is a great way to get around the capital, but to really see the city, it’s much better to navigate on foot. The perfect method to explore backstreets, alleyways, and all they have to offer. Plus, and perhaps more importantly, it offers the possibility of coming across one of the many surprises that Tokyo seems to continually offer. Like, for example, real-life Mario Kart.

Tokyo real-life Mario Kart

A wonderfully silly sight that was sadly let down by the overly cautious and not in the least accurate way they took corners.

Tokyo real-life Mario Kart