Tokyo Marathon 2011

Merely the mention of a marathon — unless the sentence also involves the words drinking and session — is more than enough to make me weak at the knees, so for those who actually do them, I have nothing but the utmost respect. And especially so, like in today’s Tokyo Marathon, when they tackle the challenge with incredible good humour.

Tokyo marathon

Tokyo marathon

Not to mention equally incredible costumes.

Tokyo marathon

Tokyo marathon

Tokyo marathon

For some on the sidelines, however, simply watching was way too much.

Tokyo marathon

Whereas for others, not only competing, but also completing the course, can become a huge cross to bear.

Tokyo marathon

A character-lined old lady

The incredibly long living and therefore growing number of old people in Japan certainly causes plenty of problems. There’s the the huge burden on the nation’s health service, an even bigger one on the dwindling number of wage earners, and last but by no means least, the godawful prospect of gateball becoming the country’s number one sport.

But there is the odd advantage, aside from the obvious benefit to those actually living longer, as, for anyone who wants to photograph them, all those years create incredibly character filled.

Old Japanese lady

Fascinatingly featured.

Old Japanese lady

Faces.

Old Japanese lady

The draughtiest door in Tokyo?

It’s a much-repeated mantra that houses in Tokyo are built for the summer, and not winter; hence, no doubt, their woefully inadequate, nay non-existent, insulation. A far from comfortable state of affairs that often means the likes of bedrooms barely get above the baltic.

But even considering such stoically accepted suffering, the old, badly fitted and tape-repaired front door below surely takes draughtiness to new, appendage deadening, depths.

Old tokyo house

Basic Tokyo food and booze

Tokyo undoubtedly has an enormous amount of fancy, and even fancier priced, eateries; a situation not lost on Michelin, as it has been very liberally sprinkling the city with its money-filled stars over the last few years.

But despite this rich bounty, the capital still has a much larger number of places with splendidly basic surroundings.

cheap Tokyo restaurant

As well as similarly unsophisticated sustenance.

cheap Tokyo restaurant

And, for me at least, it’s far better for it.