The winter, as well as early spring light is lovely in Tokyo, and so the spot below became a place to regularly walk past or wait at for a little while. A location that allowed me to photograph a slightly concerned looking salaryman, the rather more retro look of a young fella in shades, and with a dash of colour for a change, the intriguing expression of the gentleman below.
This small set of photos was taken several years ago, but despite going back to the images on quite a few occasions, I really didn’t think they were good enough. I’m still not sure they are to be honest, but that’s a fairly standard concern, so sometimes it’s best to cast aside such insecurities and just go for it. That said, much more of a push to post them was the current climate, and how the photos may now posses a little bit of added poignancy.
The house itself was a mystery. No idea who lived there, or even when they left, as unusually for Japan, there wasn’t a calendar in the property. The only genuine giveaway is the music that was once played there, although clearly it’s the real sound of silence the rooms are now familiar with.
The fella in the photographs was a barber until he was 50, but he didn’t like it, so he became a bar owner instead. A job he has done ever since. For the last 24 years to be exact. Cooking and serving behind the little counter below.
Those are the simple facts, but how long he will continue to be open for business is far less certain. His age of course is a factor, but with Tokyo residents now being asked to refrain from socialising in the evening, and a lockdown surely inevitable, it’s not hard to imagine that once the pandemic is over, lots of little places like this will sadly never open again.
Much debate has surrounded Japan’s post-Diamond Princess avoidance of the coronavirus pandemic — at least on the scale seen elsewhere, anyway. Has it been due to the general lack of physical contact in public? The pretty much standard habit of mask wearing perhaps? Or, has it always been a mere matter of time before the country succumbed?
Despite the possible merits of those cultural traits, the latter now appears to be the case, with Tokyo’s governor requesting a soft lockdown at a press conference on Wednesday. Of course how many people adhere to it remains to be seen, especially as the message was confused somewhat by a mention of only the weekend. The same goes for the timing, and ultimately its effectiveness — we’ve just got to wait and see. In the meantime, like in so many other parts of the world, it’s now simply a case of sitting tight and hoping for the best.