Bakurocho, Tokyo | 2015

Spend any decent amount of time walking around Tokyo -- that is, non-tourist Tokyo -- and you'll soon realize that the Japanese approach to zoning differs considerably from the American approach. This is most noticeable in the intermingling of businesses (light industrial, wholesale, and other small mom and pop businesses), and residences (both apartments and single-family homes). (This article is a good primer on Japanese zoning laws and how they differ from the US.)

Here we have a small business of which type I forget now, although the washing machine outside might provide a clue. I imagine a business washing uniforms, tablecloths and the like for izakaya chains. Or alternatively it's a small print shop that moved its washing machine outside to make room for another printer or cutter. Next door is a tonkatsu restaurant, and what looks to be a small office building beyond that.


Yanaka, Tokyo | 2005

I remember taking this photo on a 初写真散歩 (hatsu shashin sanpo) the first week of January, 2005. hatsu shashin sanpo is a made up word indicating "the first photo walk of the new year", and is a play on words like hatsumoude ("the first visit of the year to a shrine to pray") and hatsuhinode ("first sunrise of the year") that Japanese use (and do) at the beginning of every year.

The photo was taken in Yanaka, a quaint area of temples and shrines, a few museums, old-timey shops, and Yanaka Cemetery, one of Tokyo’s largest. Most areas of Tokyo, and indeed the country, are deader than a door nail the first week of January, but while not teeming Yanaka was busy that day on account of 七福神巡り (shichifukujin meguri), a short pilgrimage tour to visit seven temples and shrines of Shichifukujin, the Seven Deities of Good Fortune.