The consternation of a Tokyo resident caught in the rain

A quick glance to see if commuters are clutching umbrellas or not is almost always a good indicator of the day’s weather. And the more people in possession of one, means a higher percentage of rain. A technique that, without a doubt, is far more accurate than any forecast.

But even when there’s apparently no chance of precipitation, and absolutely nobody appears to have a brolly, the moment there’s a quick downpour, almost everyone suddenly does. A sort of mass magic trick, when umbrellas, and not just folding ones, appear to be pulled out of thin air.

However, for those not in the know, or whose conjuring tricks are on the wane, the consternation of being caught out is often all too clear.

Tokyo in the rain

A long-abandoned, beautifully decayed, bike

Lost, discarded, or often stolen and discarded bicycles are a common sight in Tokyo. Some are left alone, whereas others are used as conveniently placed bins, resulting in their baskets gradually filling with garbage. But none of them, not by any means, come anywhere close to being as beautiful as this one.

abandoned bike in Tokyo

An old to begin with machine that is perfectly preserved (and yet at the same time not preserved), in a manner that, for me at least, is pretty much perfect.

abandoned bike in Tokyo

For whom the (temple) bell tolls

Large bells in temple grounds are a far from uncommon sight, and yet at the same time, not such a common sound. So why the priest was ringing this one then I don’t know, but whatever the reason, it was well worth stopping. Staring. And soaking up the sound.

Listen!

large Japanese temple bell

The terribly sad sight of a man bereft of his best friend

Tokyo’s parks offer a myriad of sights and sounds, many of them happy ones, but the man below — who I think used to own this dog, which unfortunately must have died — is instead a decidedly sad one.

A sad old Japanese man

A scene that always used to upset me, and yet at the same time it was one that for reasons unknown I would always seek out. One that for an awfully long time I made a point of not photographing too. Until a while ago that is. Although why it’s hard to say. But whatever the motive, I’m now glad I did, as despite countless visits, he hasn’t been there since. And as sad as he always looked, the park is somehow a lot sadder without him.

A sad old Japanese man

Japanese sweets served by a Japanese sweetie

Considering the Japanese love affair with sweets, whether it be cakes or more traditional confectionery, the nation’s continued svelteness is even more incredible. In fact, it’s arguably fair to say that the amount of goodies that many Japanese seem to regularly put away would have many in my native Britain indecorously bursting out of their elasticated waistbands at the mere thought of such delicacies. A plight that would perhaps also leave them with barely enough breath to get through that overly long and largely comma-free last sentence.

Plus, if simply eating them in large numbers wasn’t enough, merely producing sweets would appear to be almost as pleasurable.

Japanese sweets

Times are hard due to Tokyo’s lack of foreign tourists

The major repercussions of Tohoku’s massive earthquake and tsunami are extremely well documented, but while the visible devastation is restricted to the north, its far-reaching effects can still be felt over 200 kilometres south in Tokyo — and indeed throughout the rest of the country. Power consumption has to be kept in check, manufacturing output is still down, and now it has just been announced that tourism has plummeted to its lowest levels since the SARS outbreak in 2003. A whopping 62.5% decline from April last year.

This latest bit of bad news, like the other problems, undoubtedly affects the country as a whole, but at the same time, it’s very easy to see the damage it does to individual traders; people who rely almost solely on foreign visitors for sales.

Yes, it may well be tat that some of them sell, but it’s tat that the tourists like to take back, and without them, times are clearly very tough.

tourism decline in Tokyo