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Finishing Up with Rice

I bought a riceball stuffed with kombu seaweed and ate it beside the window at Iseya, the shop with the striped awning next door to the leaning metal workshop in Kyojima, near Hikifune station. The young woman pulled her mum into the picture. They do inari sushi, pockets of rice in deep-fried tofu, and a…

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Travelling Riverside Blues

Mr T is a bit tired of life in the blue-sheet shacks. He and two mates have been here for three years. Reckon I’ll give it a few more, he says. I didn’t ask where he would go. He comes from Tohoku. He says, To tell the truth, I don’t know what I’m doing from…

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Gone Things: Lost in Heisei

A few items that went irretrievably missing in the final sputter of the Heisei era, as Tokyo businesses and government lost their minds to a frightening wave of demolition, speculation and hotel erection, grasping for as many tourists as they could… Some captions link to previous Ginzaline stories Yusuke Kabuki lost his painstakingly crafted cafe,…

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Men in Books

Shigeru and Kazuhiro Yamaji are father and son who run separate used-book stores in an old commercial building owned by the family in noisy Shibuya, amid the rampant juvenile shoppers and smoke and steam billowing from yakitori bars and ramen stands. Crowds scurry around the scramble crossing. Touts for hostess bars loiter on the stained…

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Heartbreak Hotel

I slept a few times in front of these air-conditioning ducts near the top of Rambling Street in Shibuya, when the faded but somewhat majestic Hotel Kowa stood on this spot. I can still see inside our room, above the yellow elbow of the backhoe, though of course that’s my imagination and no one could…

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A Farewell to Arms

When I told Mrs Yamamoto with the short brown hair about the two old drunks who stumbled in to Seifu Massage the other day she said, It used to be a lot worse. The afternoon of the drunks, Mrs Anai was massaging my forearm, pinching the flesh through my sleeve. Face-down, looking through the donut…

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Two Kinds of Quiet

Rock and Shrine: an exhibition Readin’ Writin’ Bookstore Tawaramachi (Ginza Line) Dec 04 – 16 2018 Monday closed readinwritin.net 2-4-7 Kotobuki Taito-ku Tokyo tel 03-6321-7798 東京都台東区寿2-4-7 (地下鉄銀座線、田原町駅) Tokyo writer/street photographer Mark Robinson’s black-and-white series juxtaposes new photographs of the rainswept national treasure Kamosu Shrine in Matsue with the two-man “No-Wave” band Friction performing in Shibuya.…

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Healing Time

People come to Sensoji for all sorts of reasons. Superstition that your illness will be cured by the incense smoke from the cauldron of the goddess would rank high after ordinary tourism. But who’s to argue against a bit of blind belief? Could be just the thing to get you moving and focus your mind…

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Cosmic Confection

People who love red-bean cakes often say Japanese sweets are healthy, but the truth of course is, they’re loaded with sugar. That’s what helps preserve them, says Mari Masuda, the madame of Tokutarou sweets bakery. She also lets you know, without a hint of reserve, that she is aged 74. You can’t help thinking ……

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Outpost to a Dream

What else do you do up there? asks my friend Takahashi. Get the train to Horikiri, and just eat ramen? Yes, I say, just eat ramen. Some days, like in this heatwave, that’s enough purpose in life. Five stops from Asakusa. Negi ramen. Just get to Miyuki Ramen, beside the railway and the river. One…

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