Usual, and yet nicely unusual.
With so much stuff now mass produced and made elsewhere, the sight of someone actually making leather shoes by hand is really quite striking. Entering the tiny workshop also felt like stepping back in time, and in some ways it was, as the shoemaker’s grandfather started the business way back in the mid-1930s. But, like so many other old school setups, when the current owner finally decides to call it a day, the decision will also put an end to all that history.
After a long, all-day walk, nothing beats the discovery of a grubby little dive bar to relax and drink in. And it’s even better when said establishment immediately accepts you as an honorary local, while the whole time the real locals loll about drunk despite it still being early doors on a Monday.
Factors that basically made it the perfect place for a thoroughly enjoyable evening.
One which involved comically pronounced coarseness in English. At table, rather than in toilet, vomiting. Plus perhaps most surprising of all, a perplexing marriage proposal of sorts.
Then, a good few hours after arriving, everyone stumbled out. All soothed by the booze consumed, along with equally reassuring feeling that they’d be there again the following day to do it all over again.
Despite far less interaction with foreign types, it’s always surprising how much more open and welcoming people tend to be in Japan’s countryside. The ready smiles, willingness to talk and general nonchalance providing an inexplicable contrast to many urban situations — particularly so in supposedly cosmopolitan Tokyo. A considerably more relaxed approach to life that these two lovely ladies perfectly exemplify.
Lovely ladies aside, I’ve been testing out the option of photos being clickable, allowing visitors to see a bigger, sharper and higher resolution version. It seems to have been working fine too. So from now on — and going back to mid-January or so — all photographs posted on Tokyo Times will be expandable. Pointless on a phone of course, but way better viewing on a desktop.
Tokyo’s streets are notoriously busy. Streets that’ll only get busier too, as more and more people move to the capital. But the continued growth of Tokyo, along with Japan’s other large cities, can obviously have a devastating effect on the surrounding regions — particularly so when coupled with a declining population. Not unusually resulting in streets where permanently shuttered premises way outnumber the people.