Photo Feature: Ikebukuro street

Posted on: Sat, 05/05/2018 - 22:31 By: the-dilettante


tokyo number dos

Tokyo is a quiet city. The low birthrate ensures that obstreperous kids are rare, and strict standards of conduct tend to ensure ensure that people don't bother their neighbors with loud music or wild parties - these needs are satisfied in centralized karaoke emporia.

This photo is from the dead of night, the quietest time of all. It was just after a long day of continuous snow, and the clouds appear to portend more to come. Most of the streets through residential Tokyo are quite narrow, and footprints are about as prominent as tire tracks since public transportation is easy and driving is expensive and difficult.

The neighborhood is Ikebukuro, a less prominent district on the north side of Tokyo. Evidently it has a reputation as a working-class area. Despite this, the area immediately surrounding the main train station appears as exciting as any in Tokyo, with skyscrapers, bright lights, bustling businesses, and the rush of a crowd at nearly all hours. Countless local ramen and tonkatsu shops hit their peak hours around 9 and 10 PM as well-dressed businessmen eat quickly and alone.

On any street and in any neighborhood, the natural drift of the imagination is towards the private lives of the locals. What is it like to live in these apartment buildings, on this street? What has happened in these rooms, on the other sides of these windows, or even on this street itself? In an ancient city like Tokyo, it is easy to imagine that this street has been the site of a surreptitious first kiss, a heartbreaking last encounter, a business partnership newly forged, a betrayal newly revealed, and much else besides. What is the character of this street, and how does this character communicate itself to the souls of its inhabitants?

For now, the street is dark, and the night is still enough that one could believe that it will continue this way forever: dark, cold, beautiful with the blanketed snow, but nearly empty and eerie in its silent stasis. But the sun will rise soon and begin its work of melting the snow and warming to life and new hope the humble Ikebukuro street.

street in Tokyo at nightmorning in Ikebukuro, Japan