A Tokyo bar and the city’s most basic toilet?

Cheap, cheerful and not especially cleanly bars and eateries remain common finds in Tokyo. Utterly unpretentious places where anyone can pull up a chair and enjoy good, honest food and booze. All of which is served in a similarly genuine manner.

old Tokyo bar and bucket toilet

Many of these establishments have memorable quirks too; their confined nature often meaning certain compromises need to be made. And from experience, this can result in some interesting, or at least interestingly placed, lavatories. I’ve had to go to one behind a fridge. Others that have involved going outside and then back in again through a different door. Plus another that required a walk down the area’s main street, before turning into an alleyway where the bar’s toilet was. Or at least a toilet was.

But in Yakitori Shima, the fact that the question of whether a wee or a poo was needed when enquiries were made about the toilet’s whereabouts, suggested it could be more of a concern than a mere quirk. And such concerns were indeed confirmed when directions led to this (blue) bucket-based affair round the side of the bar. A toilet made all the more public by also being across from the entrance to an apartment building.

old Tokyo bar and bucket toilet

Mercifully for the ladies, or indeed men needing to evacuate other matter, there is actually a more conventional facility through the door to the right of the bucket. It is, however, up some stairs that are so steep a rope has been added in a slight nod of sorts towards health and safety.

old Tokyo bar and bucket toilet

And yet at the end of the day, none of these peculiarities hurt Yakitori Shima’s back-to-basics charm. As with cheap beer, good food and a wonderfully genial host, how could they?

old Tokyo bar and bucket toilet

Post-work salaryman beers

Post-work drinks are very often an integral part of office life in Japan, regardless of whether the participants want to go out boozing with their bosses or not. They will, do, and that’s all there is to it. And as this previously posted picture appears to prove, such evenings aren’t always much fun, let alone the stress relievers they should be.

Tokyo drinkers disagreeing

But thankfully that’s not always the case. In fact the complete opposite can actually be true. As photographed in the exact same spot, along with the very same senior figure, is a night of smiles.

Tokyo salarymen drinkers

Not scowls.

Tokyo salarymen drinkers

The sadness of a fake Japanese policeman?

It could be argued that most Japanese policemen have very little to do — the hunt for stolen bicycles or giving directions taking up much more of their time than anything truly important. But even that dwarfs this poor fella’s duties. A figure whose only task appears to be to stand still and look completely forlorn.

Japanese roadside fake policeman