I walk a lot around the Asakusa neighbourhood and across the Sumida River. Taking photographs as a diversion at first, then as I noticed the old architecture disappearing, I began to take more and more street scenes.

Demolition and redevelopment claim block after block. Showa-era homes and shophouses are replaced by coin-parking sites and condominiums. I thought I knew these narrow lanes, the labyrinthine grids, but construction hoardings, razed lots and brand new hotels often blank out memories. What used to stand here? 

I prefer to shoot film, I like the chemical reaction. Even though film is doomed and the labs are shutting down. 

Sunshine on Tokyo’s east river side is finer than on the west, perhaps due to the lower skyline. Tokyo vicinity beaches are bathed in a similar luminance. The light is dialed down a notch, as if the time is eternally late morning or afternoon. Riding the train over the river from Asakusa is to cross a date line. Nagai Kafu, who wrote of the brothel district of Tamanoi, now Higashi Mukojima, said he’d rather spot a glimmer of beauty amid filth, than notice specks of dirt in a glittering hall. 

In Toyosu, a friend dances tango in a large room with the lights off, the sun washing the curtains. 

Edo was a city of water, threaded by canals like hallways in a big house. In Tokyo, life remains fluid; inside and outside flow together. Sometimes I feel enclosed within an aquarium, the waters sweeping random items against street corners, before carrying them away.


Tokyo Shores: 36 Views from the Other Side  photographs and text by Mark Robinson at Tamanoi Cafe

June 11 (Fri) – July 12 (Mon) 2021  Open 12noon – 6pm 

Closed Tue, Wed, Thur.  (Note: Sat 6/12 & Sat 7/10 from 4pm; closed Mon 7/5) 

5-27-4 Higashimukojima, Sumida-ku Tokyo tel. 080-2107-1016 (in Japanese) 4 mins. walk from Higashimukojima Stn., (3 stops from Asakusa) Coffee or other order requested

Photographs and 56-page book on sale 

Also see / 他 : Nikkei Asia / 日経ジャ Tokyo: Views from the Other Side

Tokyo Shimbun (in Japanese) 60 Images that Touched the Heart: Australian Mark Robinson Photographs at Sumida Cafe

玉ノ井カフェ.東京都墨田区東向島5-27-4 tel. 080-2107-1016 2021年6月11日~7月12日 1200pm~6:00pm(金)~(月) (注:6月12日(土)・7月10日(土)4pm 営業、7月5日(月)臨休)



他:日経新聞Nikkei Asia: Tokyo: Views from the Other Side

東京新聞 心に触れた下町60景撮影 豪のロビンソンさんが墨田のカフェで写真展