An old style Tokyo convenience store

Convenience stores are everywhere in Tokyo. Inside their bright, modern interiors, they stock pretty much everything too. But their older, more traditional counterparts, are very different. So different in fact that it’s amazing they still exist. But exist they do. And they will no doubt continue to exist for as long as their owners do.

old style Tokyo convenience store

Tokyo bar in what’s basically a shed

In what is little more than a converted shed situated beside a suburban station’s bicycle parking space, several men of a certain age regularly gather to drink and eat. The place probably seats about seven. Any more would be uncomfortable cozy. And the toilet is in another shed at the other end of the bike park.

But these aspects are simply a part of its charm. As is the owner, who for the last twenty years or so has served drinks, chatted amiably and cooked simple, very reasonably priced food. All done after a daytime cleaning job at a nearby private school. A tough life it would seem, but one she simply gets on with.

Tokyo bar kitchen

Vending machines and vinyl umbrellas

In the sprawling, concrete surroundings of Japan’s cities — or even amidst the rice fields that cover a lot of the countryside — the vending machine is an ever-present sight. And in June, when rainy season uncomfortably dampens the capital, clear vinyl umbrellas are just as ubiquitous.

But genuine characters combining the two, are sadly nowhere near as common.

Tokyo Vending machines and vinyl umbrellas