Dusk in Yanesen

yanesen tokyo

It’s not dark yet, but it’s not exactly light either. It’s been raining all day and I have no umbrella. Everyone else seems to be clutching one of those see-through plastic umbrellas you always see in Japanese movies and music videos. Their hair is much dryer than mine right now.

I don’t mind the rain, though. I’ve always liked rain. I like how it feels against my skin, I like its smell in the air and I like the sound it makes when it hits the ground.

I’m staying at a traditional Japanese ryokan in Yanesen, a sleepy neighborhood at the edge of Ueno Park. All the locals keep looking at me like I’m the first and only blonde boy they’ve ever seen on their street. I stop at a red light and there’s a lone woman on the other side of the street, veering at me from the side of her eye. To my right a taxi picks up a lone passenger, saving her from the drizzle that keeps growing stronger.

yanesen tokyoyanesen tokyoyanesen tokyoyanesen tokyoI keep going on foot, walking past small shops selling furniture, handicrafts and odd cakes. I’m hungry, but restaurants don’t seem to be popular around this neighborhood.

yanesen tokyoyanesen tokyo

The electricity lines above my head make a distinctive noise, waving freely in the wind.

yanesen tokyoyanesen tokyo

The evening grows darker and the few shop signs I see begin to flicker on. Promoting what, I don’t know.

yanesen tokyoyanesen tokyoyanesen tokyoyanesen tokyoyanesen tokyo
yanesen tokyo

The blue hour is almost here. It’s always been one of my favorite moments in a day; that brief moment just before night falls, when the sky turns a deep blue and just for a while everything seems more beautiful in the shadows and everything seems possible. Just for a while.

yanesen tokyoyanesen tokyoyanesen tokyo

I keep walking the narrow streets, turning right, turning left, not knowing where exactly I’m going, not searching for anything specific. I just keep walking.

I’m following a woman dressed in a red hooded coat, which reminds me of Kumiko the Treasure Hunter, one of the weirdest films I’ve ever been bored watching. She passes a store selling anything and everything cat-related, then I pass it.

yanesen tokyoyanaka ginza tokyoyanaka ginza tokyo

The woman makes her way to Yanaka Ginza, the busy shopping street that apparently dominates the so-called nightlife of the area. I keep my eyes open for restaurants, hoping to find a warm broth to help against the chilly night. I’m not too lucky tonight.

yanesen tokyoyanaka ginza tokyoyanesen tokyo

My walk didn’t amount to much, but I enjoyed it nonetheless, and maybe that’s enough.


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