Tokyo’s controversial Yasukuni Shrine is a divisive place of worship at the best of times, but on August 15th, the anniversary of Japan’s World War II surrender, it’s an element that is even more pronounced. The vast majority of people are there for the right reason — to simply remember the past. The very noticeable contingent from the far right, however, are there to revere it. And some, quite possibly, are somewhere in-between.
Or should it be lost in place rather than time? Possibly even both?
Thirty years or so ago, the bar below was a butchers. Falling returns, however, meant a rethink, and so a bar it became. A decision that seems to have been a good one, as not only is it still in operation, but it also has a steady stream of customers.
Filled with cuttings and photos from the owner’s baseball-related past, it’s a happy home-from-home for him, and a similarly happy drinking hole for those who drop in.
Shoeshiners plying their trade on the street has, for me at least, always seemed a rather sad spectacle. There’s the presumably meagre returns. The generally tough life of those doing the job. Plus perhaps most of all, simply the sight of a comparatively affluent man looking down at someone polishing his shoes.
A reaction that is obviously based on my own bias and preconceptions, yet at the same time it’s also somehow instinctive. Something similar, perhaps, to the facial expression of the man in the right of the frame. Although quite what he is responding to is intriguingly unclear.