Tokyo Gloss

September 7th, 2010By Category: Culture, Photography

You want something. But you don’t know what it is. She is there for you. Swathed in concrete and electric light, sublime and feral, frenetically interconnected in ways neural synapses are jealous of, she can provide anything you can imagine. Prowling the back-alleys and neon-lit boulevards, Golden Gai’s tiny 5-seat bars and the swanky Roppongi cabarets, the Ginza haute couture, the Harajuku freak-show cosplay and the ancient feel of post-war Shinbashi ginjoints, you slowly start to realize there is a softness to the façade, an inexplicably inviting quality to the hard, brusque exo-skeleton, rampant as a misguided synapse, a freak malignancy most people deny in silent submission as they walk on obliviously, never having broken through the tough, glossy exterior.

Tokyo Gloss

Tokyo Gloss

Coming in contact with too many hungover salary-men, commuting via the vast network of sardine-can packed trains and subways, all and sundry hypnotized by supercharged mobile devices, where smug perverts feel up Louis Vuitton ensconced women, milling about in coffee shops between jobs, these people who you think you’ll never see again, yet constantly do, tumbling around Shibuya with the rich teenagers, you buy beers and Chinese Tangerines for the bums laid up against Gap and Banana Republic and you hear, “She is Tokyo.”

Yoshiko is Tokyo

Yoshiko is Tokyo

Then comes the rain, trying to wash all the Tsukiji fish guts down the drain, the Kabukicho multitudes of gregarious carnivore men pouring out of sexshops open for business behind Police stations and City Hall, where the public servants go to get serviced, the Asian version of the greasy spoon boasting whale and horse sashimi, what could be dolphin skin soup with grated garlic and ginger, empty Suntory and Black Nikka premier whiskey bottles lining alleyways you’ll never know, but from which you smell mackeral egg breakfasts at 6 in the morning at people’s shoebox apartments whose faces are somehow familiar, you’ve seen them in a dream, known them in a past life, at some level somehow there’s a shared camaraderie, slowly watching the price of Mercury-tainted tuna rise above gas and saying fuck it, ordering some anyway, eating it with disposable chopsticks made from the bleached clearcut forests of Vietnam, and as you get blinded by the morning sun finally poking through the rainy season clouds and 60s era neon so all this blurs together into a kind of silent beautiful despair, you begin to see the dark heart of your sometime seamy mistress.

Loudspeakers and bullhorns, ladybugs and dragonflies, explosions and genocides, persimmons and sakura, tatemae and honne, soba noodles and grated shoga, Sky Tree and Asahi’s golden doodie, chrysanthemum sushi and ochazuke, burnable and nonburnable, bamboo and mini maple leaves…you are in the world of opposites, in the soft concrete center of lusty abandon. Rife with the gooey, sexy, glossy stuff, Tokyo is an addiction. We’re all mainlining.

Text & Photography ©Manny Santiago / HESO

Author of this article

Manny Santiago

Hopping back and forth between Tokyo and San Francisco, the founder of HESO Magazine is currently writing a book on Overland Travel.

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Comments

  • guest says:

    the name says it all. Dieppe – Douche

  • russjosephs says:

    Not sure why dieppe is such a douche. Thought this was great. Nice work man.

  • Dieppe says:

    What a trite (probably copied) piece of gumpf! High school assignment piece or what? The name says it all I think? Manny? Santiago? Creative and memorable. Any chance you could write something new, not a piece that was prrobably taken from a 45 year article about Saigon (or Ho Chi Minh City if youre feeling confused Mr Santiago, love the name once again). What ridiculous stuff! What would a New Yorker say to thsi piece, or a Londoner? A Parisian or Berliner? ‘We have read this sort of shit before! And the photos of streaming neon lights!? So commonly used its now just everyones pre-conceived idea of city photos! Rubbish!’ Try writing in the real world you fool, or I could write a few pieces for you if youre struggling (Please dont bother to correct my many errors, I just felt lazy)

  • Dieppe says:

    What a trite (probably copied) piece of gumpf! High school assignment piece or what? The name says it all I think? Manny? Santiago? Creative and memorable. Any chance you could write something new, not a piece that was prrobably taken from a 45 year article about Saigon (or Ho Chi Minh City if youre feeling confused Mr Santiago, love the name once again). What ridiculous stuff! What would a New Yorker say to thsi piece, or a Londoner? A Parisian or Berliner? ‘We have read this sort of shit before! And the photos of streaming neon lights!? So commonly used its now just everyones pre-conceived idea of city photos! Rubbish!’ Try writing in the real world you fool, or I could write a few pieces for you if youre struggling (Please dont bother to correct my many errors, I just felt lazy)

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