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Friday, March 24, 2017

Snapshot From 1951 Tokyo

Those who know me will understand why the above photograph caught my eye.

Yes, I love black and white photography.

Would you believe I love old photos that show people writing?

Okay… whatever.

I have dated more than my fair share of women involved in the art of strip tease, and have heard many a story of why they are where they are... 

From Magnum Photos, we have a 1951 photo of a woman in a striptease club in Tokyo  - perhaps writing a letter to her far away home, telling her parents and younger siblings about how well things are going for her as a clerk in a Tokyo shop.
Otōsan and Okaasan,

I miss you and the family very much.

Please provide my blessings to Obaasan. Tell her I pray for all of you every day.

I am enclosing a few yen to help. Please spend it on a treat for yourselves - perhaps everyone can go to the movie theater or go see a new bunraku puppet show. Don’t tell anyone it’s from me.

I know you wish to come and see me here in Tokyo, but Tanaka-san’s fruit shoppe keeps me very busy. I am working the evening shift, and sometimes the day shift to make extra money. As such, I would not be able to spend as much time with you, so save the money for yourselves.

Work is good. People need to eat, so the fruit shoppe is always busy.

When I am not selling the fruits, I help unload it and stack it - it is good honest work, so you should not be concerned for me. 

Tokyo is wonderful. Although I have not had much opportunity to look around, I do try and change my route back to my apartment every evening so I can see how beautiful it looks, though I am sure it is not as beautiful as it was when you were children.

No. I do not have a boyfriend or any man in my life now.

I would like to, of course, but my work will simply not allow that to occur. 

Of course, I do wish I was home right now. I do miss everyone. But since the war ended poorly for our great nation, I know that money is scarce for everyone in our farming community, and jobs for people like me, even rarer.

My break time is almost over, so I shall end with a deep bow of respect.

Your daughter Sumiko.

…or… maybe she’s tallying up her costs for working at the Tokyo striptease club: money earned from the American GIs, less rental costs for dresses and shoes used, for the apartment she shares with the other seven women, less bedding and furniture rentals, less transportation to and from the apartment to work, grocery bills, payment for o-cha and snacks we purchase to serve customers, tips to bartender, music maker, coatcheck girl, and, of course to the manager…  

Some things never change… except that she obviously is writing a letter.

Maybe it’s a resignation letter. Doubt it.

I found this photo HERE, where you can see a lot of cool old photos of post WWII Japan. Check’em out!

Andrew Joseph

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