With another year rapidly nearing its end, it’s time once again to select my favourite photographs from the past 12 months.
In a world that all too often can seem full of nothing but dishonesty, chaos and a complete lack of empathy, photography has once again been a personal saviour. The simple process of heading out and seeing what happens remains a constant source of both joy, and contentment. It’s also a key factor in my desire to find interesting new places in Tokyo, as well as Japan in general. Plus, of course, there are the people I get to meet, or at the very least photograph. Not all of whom, I hasten to add, give me dirty looks. In fact some of them even smile. Or at least one or two do anyway.
Similarly positive has been my experience conducting photowalks in and around Tokyo’s older neighbourhoods. This year has seen my business really start to take off, and I’ve had the pleasure of showing a different side of the Japanese capital to a whole host of lovely people. Customers who have not only made my job enjoyable, but at the same time proved that despite what we see and read every day, most people are genuinely good sorts. A fact that’s sadly all too easy to lose sight of amidst the seemingly constant barrage of bile that makes up a disturbingly disproportionate amount of public discourse and supposed debate.
All of which, in a decidedly roundabout manner, brings me to my favourite images from the last 12 months. Just like previous years, the selection is made up of photos I like purely and simply because of the results, whereas others are included due to what they mean personally, or the memories I have attached to them. So here then is the 2018 selection. They aren’t in chronological order, just how I feel they work best. They’ll also be the last additions to Tokyo Times until normal service resumes again on January 4th. So until then, Happy New Year and all the very best for 2019!
For the last 40 years, the 82-year-old owner of this little Tokyo bar has stood behind the counter cooking cheap food and serving similarly inexpensive drinks.
Yet despite those 4 decades of operation, no other westerners had ever walked through the door. Similarly absent during that time period has been any serious attempt at cleaning — the incredible amounts of dust and grime everywhere making each and every surface a source of both fascination, and trepidation.
Elements that, when combined with the establishment’s regular customers, lifted the evening from the fun, to the truly unforgettable.
The far west of Tokyo is a world away from the bright lights and busy streets the city is famous for. It’s mountainous and green for starters, plus it’s also home to bar owners in their 90s, wonderfully atmospheric old train tunnels and long since abandoned cable cars.
However, that’s not the whole story, as seek out the area’s villages, and it feels altogether different again. Small pockets of civilisation that seem utterly isolated despite being located in one of the world’s most populated cities. And yet isolated they are in many ways, with little in the way of facilities, and none of the things people generally take for granted such as public transportation and supermarkets. Hence the need for a mobile shop.
A service that’s presumably a lifeline for the predominately elderly locals, and as such the owner had his orders already written down and was slowly bagging them up from his astonishingly well-stocked truck — it also opens up on the other side where the fridge is.
All in all a sight that was as interesting as it was surprising.