Clearly and comically the wrong compact disc

Music snobbery means that anything other than something by the most obscure of artists can result in one’s choice of new music being subjected to condescending comments — even downright criticism if it’s seen as especially dubious.

Utterly disdainful looks from the disc itself, however, arguably takes things to a new and rather disturbing level.

Japanese woman

An angry or contemplative Tokyo commuter?

An extremely large number of Tokyo commuters sit utterly expressionless on the train, their eyes — if they aren’t firmly shut — invariably fixed on a phone or game. But this lady was different. For starters she wasn’t looking down, rather up and off somewhere in the distance. And then there’s her expression, although whether it is one of vexation, or simply contemplation, it’s hard to say.

Tokyo commuter

Traditional Tokyo in the snow

Like most cities that don’t get a lot of snow, a few centimetres of the white stuff caused all kinds of trouble in Tokyo this week. Trains were delayed. Schools closed. And the TV continually told us how terribly treacherous it was under foot.

But, in older, more traditional Tokyo, rather than chaos it instead created a comforting sense of serenity.

Tokyo snow

And an absolutely sublime silence.

Tokyo snow

An abandoned and rapidly decaying Japanese hotel

Most abandoned buildings/haikyo offer something of interest, but the ones that I’m invariably drawn to contain hints of the past; poignant reminders of the lives of those who once lived or worked there. An element that the old enka singer’s house offered with suitably melancholy mystery.

Yet arguably better still are those rarities like the long since closed mountain school — a building so utterly untouched that despite decades of disuse, it still felt occupied.

Neither of those places, however, contained that other mainstay of haikyo: the taking back of the building by mother nature. A feature that, despite offering little else, the SPG House hotel in Yamanashi Prefecture had in abundance.

haikyo hotel

Possibly because of its location beside one of Mount Fuji’s famous lakes, the dampness throughout the structure — particularly on the ground floor — was staggering.

haikyo hotel

A problem that has gone way beyond rising, and is now simply all-encompassing. Even its iconic neighbour, bravely clinging to the wall, is now barely recognisable.

haikyo hotel

Fortunately, despite the decay, there were still a few of those previously mentioned reminders of the past, with the office revealing some of the activity that once went on there.

haikyo hotel

But all that came to a very abrupt end in 1996, when the business went bankrupt. The last people to check-in and enjoy what by then could have been the SPG’s quite dreary delights, being Shusaku Miyadera and four family members or friends.

haikyo hotel

Elsewhere, it was simply more signs of the hotel’s fight with the forces of nature.

haikyo hotel

haikyo hotel

An unfair contest that has even turned everyday objects into fascinating, initially unrecognisable, forms.

haikyo hotel

And in the guest rooms, moss in particular has begun to make a move.

haikyo hotel

Some of it so wonderfully resplendent that it easily manages to outdo many moss gardens.

haikyo hotel

Freshly made Japanese sweets

Considering the amount of cake and sweets that many Japanese seem to consume, the country really should be adding obesity issues to its long list of concerns — but it’s not. Far from it in fact. Meaning that on the whole, people do indeed have their cake and eat it too.

And, if it’s all as wonderfully fresh as this, then why not?

Japanese sweets