Tokyo corner shop conversations

Supermarkets pretty much stock everything you could ever want; all under one roof. And convenience stores are exactly what their name suggests — a blessing on so many occasions. But neither of them can come anywhere close to offering the conversation and companionship that a traditional corner shop does.

old Tokyo shopper conversations

Yasukuni Shrine on August 15: The anniversary of Japan’s surrender

On National Foundation Day, events at Tokyo’s controversial Yasukuni Shrine are surprisingly low-key, with only a gathering of uniform-clad nationalists for a a brief ceremony, along with a smattering of more conventional visitors and curious onlookers. The anniversary of Japan’s surrender at the end of World War Two, however, is a very different affair altogether. There are more people to begin with. Way more. Including all manner of far right factions. Then there’s an impeccably observed and very moving minute’s silence held at noon. Plus later on in the day, disturbing and incredibly vocal animosity is directed at pro-peace marchers from the aforementioned right-wingers and their supporters.

Fortunately, however, this aggression was, on the whole, countered by the friendliness of the vast majority of those present — a healthy percentage of whom were keen to stop and talk. So in many ways the image below seemed to sum up the day; namely a huge amount of people, and a quite staggering number of flags. All of which was watched over by a very strong, not to mention extremely visible, police presence.

Yasukuni Shrine on August 15 the anniversary of Japan

Japanese beach sunburn

As a pasty Englishman capable of going red at the merest hint of some sun, it’s oddly reassuring to know that ridiculous seaside tans are a global, rather than a local, summer spectacle.

Japanese beach tan