That drunken, falsely confident feeling of, ‘one more can’t do any harm, I’ll be fine’, generally results in a sore head, or more often than not, horrors far worse. Times when the comfort of a bed and the shaky embrace of feeling sorry for oneself slowly but surely win out the day. But how much those horrors must be magnified when waking up. In daylight. Outside a grotty convenience store. Really doesn’t bear thinking about.
Tokyo may lack some things, but not drinking establishments — not by any stretch of the imagination. And yet despite many being lavish and elaborately decorated affairs, it’s almost impossible to resist the dirty little places down dark alleyways that offer wonderful, character-filled glimpses of the past. Cramped escapes that happily exist in the modern world, but very rarely give the changing times more than a cursory glance.
Originally set to be moved to a shiny modern complex next year, the wonderfully chaotic and happily old-school Tsukiji fish market has been granted a stay of execution due to soil contamination at the new location. Findings that unsurprisingly have heaped considerably more criticism on an already contentious decision.
However, while Tsukiji in its current form may live on for another year, it’s a very different story for the dazzling array of sea dwellers that arrive at the market. None of which are more representative of Tsukiji than the tuna; a fact proven by the recent hoopla surrounding this month’s record breaking first auction of the year which saw a bluefin sell for a staggering 155 million yen.
Huge, initially quite startling beasts, that are carefully cut up with equally impressive knives.
A fascinating procedure that is as time consuming as it is time-honoured.
With the end result being fabulously glistening raw meat, and the considerably less appealing looking carcasses.
Much is made of Japan’s high-tech cities and the nation’s love of gadgets, but an awful lot of day-to-day life remains stuck very much in the past. And nowhere is this more apparent than in the home. A place where very often even basics along the lines of insulation and double glazing are inventions to be merely marvelled at, than actually made use of.
Such uncomfortable omissions, particularly in older houses and apartments, making the whole experience somewhat akin to camping — only colder. And yet even such inadequacies don’t come close to a lack of roofing or walls.
Although to be fair, there is running water. Lots of it too.
The double whammy of Japan’s ageing and shrinking population will produce all manner of problems in the coming years; issues that the nation’s numerous Prime Ministers will almost laughably fail to deal with. A feat they are already achieving with the likes of poverty and the faltering economy.
So ahead of an election that is destined to change nothing for the better, and a birthrate that shows no sign of booming, it’s especially nice to see a young family enjoying the simple pleasures that life in the capital conjures up.