浅草善哉 Asakusa Zenzai | 2003〜2008
Everything that related to life and death, which all exists in our ordinary life, continuously inherent in it which gives a life and courses to every one of us. I thank Hana and Zen for accepting me and spending the irreplaceable time together.
I have no other words than the language of the photograph. I would be happy if people would feel something important which is invisible by these photographs.
From the postscript of photo exhibition “Hana and Zen” in 2008
- 明治四十五年 (1912)
- 大正七年 (1918)
- 大正十四年 (1925)
- 昭和十一年 (1936)
- 知り合いの紹介で、浅草に職が見つかる。荒井屋(天麩羅屋)の子守りとなって子供七人の面倒をみる。 新潟県神原郡から腕っこきのいい若い衆が二十人働きに来ていた。男達が休みの晩には吉原へ、女郎買いに行くのを見ていた。夏は天麩羅、冬は鍋、一日千円も売る威勢のいい店で、ナショナルの金銭登録機があった。皆からネエさんと呼ばれ親しまれた。方々歩いたけれど、ああこんないい所はないと浅草の空気に溶けこんでゆく。日の暮れ、銭湯あがりの大旦那は、はなさんの届けたふんどしとハイカラなスーツに着替え、銀座のダンスホールへ。それから吉原の待合に行き、薩摩琵琶を弾いては芸者をあげ踊り唄う、とにかく気前のいい粋な男だった。銭湯五銭、支那そば六銭、板草履三十銭の頃、小遣い月三 円もらった。
- 昭和一五年 (1940)
- 昭和二十年 (1945)
- 昭和二十一年 (1946)
- この頃、フジキッチンで働くようになった善さんと知り合う。闇で仕入れた砂糖や珈琲豆を飲食店に売り歩き、生活の足しにした。白砂糖・一貫目三千円、珈琲豆・一斗缶三千五百円。夜は戸板の上に蒲団を敷き、男たち十人と雑魚寝。月給はもらえなかったが、ごはんは食べられた。食べられるだけありがたかった。 砂糖は高価なため、代わりにサッカリン(食品添加物)でシロップなどの甘みをつくった。店の息子が売上を持って銀座のダンスホールに遊びに行くので、かつての大旦那はお金を持っていなかった。
- 昭和三十年 (1955)
- 大正十年 (1921)
- 大正十二年 (1923)
- 昭和二年 (1927)
- 浅草区金竜尋常小学校入学。忙しい両親に代わって、姉が入学式について来た。全校生徒千八百人、男女別で一組六十人。この頃浅草は大変な人口で、栄養が足りない子は頭にガビ(十円はげ)ができて、鼻を垂らしていた。勉強は乙だったが、体操・珠算は甲で学年トップのいたずら坊主。お昼はアルミ弁当箱に、 自分で踏んづけるほど飯を詰めてきたのを食べた。
- 昭和九年 (1934)
- 昭和十一年 (1936)
- 三月卒業。親戚筋の紹介で下谷区荒井屋総本店(酒屋)へ、住み込みの小僧に出た。朝六時起床、夜十一時店じまい。八畳二間に小僧さん十人が寝起きしていた。掃除、片付け、小間使い、配達などをして一日中駆けまわっていた。小遣い月三円の月一回休み。休みの日は兄貴分に連れられ、後楽園球場、明治座、新橋の演舞場、二流映画館の東京館にもよく行った。係りのおじさんが裏からこっそり入れてくれる時もあり、夕方まで四本見続けた。男女別席と夫婦や恋人のため のダブル席があった。
- 昭和一六年 (1941)
- 現役兵隊として召集され、荒井屋総本店をやめる。やめたとき、大旦那が六百円の小遣いをくれた。長屋が一軒買えるくらいの大金で、父・幹三はびっくりして喜んで、死んでもこの大金を離さないと東京大空襲のときお腹に縛りつけて逃げまわった。昭和六年満州事変、七年上海事変、十二年日中戦争が勃発し、 戦争の空気が高まっていた。一六年十二月八日、真珠湾攻撃、太平洋戦争開戦。
- 昭和十七年 (1942)
- 昭和十八年 (1943)
- 所属していた分隊は悪さをしなかったため土地の人と交流が持てた。中国の女お巡りさんに味噌・塩・古い毛布などをあげたり、土地の女の子にお金や塩を渡し、水汲みや風呂焚きをやってもらったりした。善さんは煮炊き当番になると、おこげをわざと一杯こしらえて女の子に持たせ喜ばせた。溶かし砂糖でおこげを絡めると、おこしになり市場で売れた。水が悪いのでコレラや赤痢がはやり、死んだ仲間三人を おんぼう焼き(火葬)にした。 十月、陸軍兵長となる。電気の通った、弾の飛んでこない四畳半ひとり部屋が与えられ、おおいばりだった。 募集で集まった中国、韓国女性十人ほどがトラックに乗って小隊にやって来た。女性には軍票で支払い、それを交換所に持って行くと十倍の現金になった。多くは家族へ仕送りしているようだった。
- 昭和二十年 (1945)
- 昭和二十一年 (1946)
- 昭和二十二年 (1947)
- 昭和二十四年 (1949)
- 昭和二十八年 (1953)
Hana Nakamura & Yoshiro Nakamura
- 昭和三十二年 (1957)
- 昭和三十五年 (1960)
- 昭和三十七年 (1962)
- 昭和四十年 (1965)
- 昭和四十二年 (1967)
- 昭和四十六年 (1971)
- 昭和五十四年 (1979)
- 昭和六十年 (1985)
- 平成十年 (1998)
- 平成十六年 (2004)
善さん。午前中に起き、一階の鍵を開け「あゆみ」の白い調理服を着てごはんをつくる。はなさんに食べさせ、固くなった食パンをポッポー(鳩)へやってから、二階で横になる。座っていると帯状疱疹でつらい。からだの按配がいい日は、家の掃除をしてから自転車に乗って近所の蛇骨湯、コインランドリー、 スーパーへ買い物に行く。そんな日は温燗をつけ、何杯も呑むと幸せそうにかぱかぱ戦争の話をする。 はなさんは煙突みたいに煙を吐きながら黙って聞いている。毎月一日、一五日は八幡神社と浅草寺へ欠かさず参拝に行く。夜七時頃、表の鍵を閉めパン屑をおネズミさんへ散らして二階へ上がる。 馴染みのご近所さんはお裾分けをよくしてくれる。気が楽でいられる浅草は住みやすい。
- 平成十九年 (2007)
- 平成二十年 (2008)
- 平成二十二年 (2010)
- She was born in a town called Kawaguchi, of Saitama prefecture, as a daughter of her father Kisaburo Hirata and her mother Mann. She was the youngest among nine brothers and sisters. However, three of them died very young from sickness. She had older sisters, Yaso, who was twenty years older, Tsuma and Tsuya. She cannot recall the name of her brothers. Her father was a joiner, and had a small working room for making fittings for houses.
6 years old
- In April, she entered the Shiba primary school. She was much fond of lessons, she ran fast to school, every morning. Evidently, school reports showed all grade A, except for P.E. No one at school paid much attention to the poor, so she had her lunch home. For that there was no friends at school. Her parents died when she was in the 5th year at the primary school.
13 years old
- In March, as soon as she finished the school on the last day, she jumped out her home holding an oil papered umbrella in one hand, a pair of Japanese sandals(clogs) in the other. She wandered about places as she did baby-sitting here and there. As there was an employment office called Keian to be introduced jobs for her, she could change the place to live in Kawaguchi, one place to another.
24 years old
- She found a job in Asakusa, Tokyo, being introduced by an acquaintance of her. Araiya is the name of the place. It was a Tempura restaurant. There, she became a baby-sitter of seven children. There were also, twenty of well trained young men working for the restaurant who came all the way from Niigata prefecture(which is cold and snowy part of Japan). She often saw the young men going out to find girls in Yoshiwara(the famous red light district), when they had a day-off. The restaurant served Tempura in summer, and the Japanese style pot-au-feu(hot pot) in winter, selling as much as 1000 yen per day. A "National" made cash-register was there, too. Everyone called her "Sister", she felt comfortable and familiar with them. She thought to herself, "I'd never found such a nice place as this", she felt very much at ease with the atmosphere of Asakusa. The boss of the restaurant, he, after taking a bath at the public bath in the evening, dresses himself up in a trendy clothes which Hana brought to him, went out to the dance hall in Ginza, and then to Yoshiwara, to have fun with Geisha girls, dancing and singing. He really was neat and generous. It was the time when the public bath cost 5 sen, a Chinese noodle 6 sen, and a pair of Japanese sandals, 30 sen. She earned as much as 3 yen(300 sen) per month.
28 years old
- As the colour of the war became deeper, Araiya(where she worked) closed the restaurant and became a munitions factory that produced parachutes. Hana lost her job and went back to Kawaguchi, where her brothers were. Occasionally, she carried a bag of rice on her back and took it to the family of Araiya. While the war was taking place, she did not have a job and spent the time mostly in the country side, so that she was poor but did not have to feel much that there was a war going on.
33 years old
- In August, the atomic bomb thrown in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The acceptance of the Potsdam Declaration followed, and then the end of the war. Coming back to Asakusa after a long time, she could see nothing on the ground except some concrete buildings, because of the big air-raid. There were lots of tramps and beggars sitting on the straw-woven rags in front of the broken down temple of Asakusa. Ex-Araiya's munitions factory, too, burned down, but it renewed the place as a western-style restaurant named Fuji-Kitchen, in the neighborhood. Hana helped the restaurant now and then, coming a long way from Kawaguchi to Asakusa, doing the dishes and the cash desk et cetera.
34 years old
- Around that time, she got to know Zen who would be her husband later on, as he was one of a staff of Fuji-Kitchen. She bought the sugar and coffee beans on the black market, and sold them to the eating houses, that was a supplement of her small income. The white sugar cost three thousands yen per one kan(4 kilos), coffee beans, three thousand and a half yen per one tou(18 litres). She had to sleep on a thin wooden floor with a futon spread over it, together with other ten men. She did not get paid, but at least she did not have to starve. It was the time, when the food meant more than anything else. As the sugar was too expensive to get, they had to make things sweet with the food additive, such as saccharin. The son of the owner would take the sales and go out to the dance hall, so that the boss of the restaurant, who used to be generous, did not have money to spend anymore.
43 years old
- In December, Hana opened her own coffee house called Ayumi. The capital was three and a half hundreds thousands yen, and the address was 2-11-9 Nishi Asakusa. It was located on the ground floor of newly built town house with four other tenants. The town house was built on the part of a land where the temple called shogannj once was before the war. The name of the coffee house, Ayumi means, "step", Zen (Hana's future husband) gave that name, so to mind that they walk step by step toward the future. On the 24th of the same month, She called up and said to Zen, "If you are just hanging around, why don't you work in this place?", so they started to work together. She remembered on that night, they saw in front of their coffee house, many drunks with the corn-shaped hat on and the strawberry shortcakes in their hand, passing by(it was Christmas eve). Hana loved coffee very much, she had this idea that she could drink coffee every day if she ran the coffee house. Coffee cups and cooking wears and all that was not a concern as a regular customer who worked for the beer company brought everything they needed. In the neighborhood, there were hotels especially for merchant, a cabaret with live band performance, phoney bars, the apartment full of would-be artists, a Tonkatsu restaurant, queer houses, pubs, and Sushi-bars and many more, very lively. Hana and Zen's coffee house served a cup of coffee for thirty yen. At the back of the shop; there was a room with six Tatami mats, with no air-conditioner. They worked very hard without taking day-offs for the first two years.
- He was born on the 28th of November, as a son of his father Kanzo Nakamura and his mother Tsuruhe, in Kitamiyayama, Ichinomiya, the county of Nakashima, of Aichi prefecture. He had an older sister, Yukie and a younger sister Toshie. His father was engaged in textile manufacturing.
2 years old
- After the big earthquake which took place in the Kanto region (where Tokyo is), in September, the family moved to Asakusa, Tokyo, as being introduced by a relative. The place was a part of a town house, facing the big street called Kototoi, his father Kanzo, opened a little restaurant, named Araiya-bar. A bowl of rice with some toppings on, for five sen, a soup with meat for ten sen, and the second class Sake for eight sen. Working men who could afford fifty sen per day, often came to eat there. In the neighborhood, there were shops which sold shoes that wouldn't make a sound, the barbers especially for Geisha, and Kimono stores for them, as the Yoshiwara, red light district was just beyond the Kototoi Street.
6 years old
- He entered the Kinryu Primary School of Asakusa ward. His older sister took him to the entrance ceremony in place of their busy parents. One thousand and eight hundreds pupils altogether, boys and girls were separated, there were sixty pupils in one class. In those days, Asakusa was so full of people, and children who were not fed well, they had the mold in the head, with running noses. He did not do well in lessons but in P.E. and in counting with an abacus, he was the top of all, one of the mischievous boys. He had his lunch box, so full of rice that he even had to step on it to close the lid.
13 years old
- He entered the Imado Junior High School. It was a two-year school where the pupils would usually be apprentices or housemaids after finishing school. He played basketball, and baseball, he did just about every kind of sports. If one had the third grade skill in counting with abaci, he could be employed at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Tokyo. So everyone competed with others in going to school where they taught especially counting.
15 years old
- He finished school in March. He became an apprentice of the head store of Araiya(liquor store). At that time, Zen and Hana still did not know each other. The time to get up was at six in the morning and the store would close at eleven in the evening. There were ten boys of apprentice sharing together in two rooms with eight tatamis in each. He was running around all day, doing things such as tidying up, cleaning, and delivering. Pocket money he would get was three yen per month, with one day off per month. His senior disciple took him to places such as a baseball stadium, and Meijiza-theater. He often went to the second-rated movie theaters, too. Sometimes, the ticket man let him in through the backdoor, he saw four movies until it would get dark in the evening. In those days, movie theaters had separate seats for men and women, and also a double seat for a couple.
20 years old
- He was enlisted and joined the army, so he had to quit serving Araiya. The day he left Araiya, his boss gave him six hundreds yen. This was about the amount to be able to buy a town house. His father was so surprised and so pleased, and he swore he would never ever lose the money. While the Tokyo air-raid, he ran around with the money tied around his waist.
21 years old
- He passed the physical checkup for conscription with no problem, and was determined to be sent as troops to China. Since his legal domicile was Nagoya, he didn't have to go to the hard-fought battle filed of Mudan Jiang, where all his classmates were sent to fight and died only in 6 months. As life and death almost wholly depended on where one was sent to, so that they called 'army transport', instead of calling army-troops. His father came to Tokyo station to see him off. He was transported first to Nagoya, then to the Ujina port in Hiroshima, and finally to Kotoshou, Sannsuiken in China by ship.
The Manchurian Incident in 1931, the Shanghai Incident in the following year,?then in 1937, the Sino-Japanese War broke out. The war situation was aggravated.?In 1941, the Pacific War started with the Attack on Pearl Harbor, on the eighth of December.
22 years old
- Because the squad that he was assigned to, did not harm the local people, they had opportunities for a sort of exchanging things with people there. Giving miso, salt and old blankets to a Chinese policewoman, for instance, and have the native girls burn the firewood for a hot-bath in return, or draw water for them for some change. When Zen was on duty of cooking, he cooked rice with high temperature on purpose, so that he could gain some nicely scorched rice inside the pot. He gave it to little girls to make them happy. Also with the scorched rice, they could make some sweets by melting it, and then put some sugar on it, that sold good in market. The water was bad, and there were cholera and dysentery spreading over them. Three fellows died from them and the rest of the squad cremated them in an open grass field. In October, he was appointed to the leader of the squad. He was given his own room with electricity where the bullets would not come any close. He was so proud of it. As many as ten Chinese and Korean women who were gathered, came along on a truck. They paid women in military scrip, which could be exchanged to cash that the amount was ten times of the local currency, if one would take it to the exchange house. Most of them seemed to be sending money to their family.
24 years old
- In August, he was assigned to the major. And the same month, he got to know that the war ended.
25 years old
- That Chinese policewoman was by then a police sergeant, who came to the port with two packets of cigarette to see him off. It was the end of April, when he finally stepped on the land of his defeated country. It was a hot day that day, so he asked for a cup of ice, and his eyes popped out with astonishment when he was charged fifty yen for just that. Before the war, it cost only five sen; that means the price got a thousand times higher. By that time, he had saved up as much as five hundreds yen, to make his parents happy, but it was no more use in this economical situation where those savings could only afford ten cups of ice. Wandering about the places like Nagoya, Ebisu and Shibuya where some acquaintances of him were, but for some reason or other, he came back to Asakusa, started to help the restaurant 'Fuji Kitchen.'
26 years old
- As soon as the postwar economy became lively, the restaurant went so well, always full of people, coming one after another. The ground floor, they served coffee and tea, the western-style dishes, upstairs. A set meal included potage soup, roasted pork (tonkatsu), rice and also a cup of coffee. That was three hundreds yen. The American music was on the radio WVTR. He did not get paid, but he managed to make some money by gaining some controlled goods from a friend of him who knew people as he worked in the office of Occupation Army, and handled them to put on the black market, or else, he did other small jobs to get some pocket money to spend. Around that time, he met Hana again, and found out the fact that they both worked in a branch of Araiya, before the war.
28 years old
- One of the customers who was a teacher of paintings, brought him to many red-light districts such as Yoshiwara, Tamanoi and Hatonomachi, to have fun. There were tiny rooms, separate rooms and main rooms, the charge was different accordingly. The art teacher did not do anything but he paid for two, that was five hundreds yen. There were as many as six women with no place to live. They all rolled into the room of the teacher, drinking all naked.
32 years old
- A big crowed was gathered around a black and white sixteen inched television that was installed on the ground floor of 'Fuji Kitchen.' There were people even in front of the restaurant; some put the newspapers on the ground to sit and watch the television with a cup of coffee.
Hana Nakamura & Yoshiro Nakamura(Zen)
Hana 45years old
Zen 36years old
- Hana and Zen were now married. Hana never thought that she would get married in her life. But whoever could foretell? She became Hana Nakamura.
Hana 48years old
Zen 39years old
- The first floor of a town house became vacant, so they decided to live there and opened a coffee house on the ground floor, with the capital of three hundred thousands and eighty thousands yen. The customers such as a Madam of Japanese-style restaurant, neighbors, boss of the whore house, regular goers of the public bath, ladies of Yoshiwara, old woman from the sushi bar, hotelkeeper and the maids and so on were all familiar with them and kind. The siphon coffee was very popular and sold many cups everyday. The wholesale dealer of rags and the sporting master of Nakamise street, treated the couple very well and took them to see the bicycle race in Ito and Odawara, and even to go skiing with them in the mountain district of Echigoyuzawa, every year.
Hana 50years old
Zen 41years old
- At eleven o'clock in the evening, as they would close the coffee house, Zen went out as his boss's company to a cabaret in Asakusa, Ikenohata, and Ginza, and to a Japanese-style restaurant in Mukojima, red-light district. They did not meddle with geisha girls, and Zen looked after his boss and kept an eye on him, not to let him throw silly money away. So that he was loved by his boss; it was a little like the relationship between Sancho Panza and Don Quixote. The geisha girls tried hard to coax his boss to buy expensive sushi such as salmon roe and the meat of tuna; here Zen would come in to talk girls down to be satisfied with a plain seaweed sushi and such that his boss himself had. However, his boss died by choking himself with sushi at the age of thirty-nine. A Madam of Japanese-style restaurant, gave Hana a pair of beautiful sandals and some other things.
Hana 53years old
Zen 44years old
- They often had delivery requests of hot dogs and coffee from the next door, the Turkish baths. As Zen would go up its narrow stairs, there were naked women hanging around. Lucky him! Zen rode on the bicycle at times, sitting Hana behind him, to Yoshiwara red-light district to buy a pleasure. Hana would then sit and wait, chatting with the Madam of a whorehouse downstairs; just about thirty minutes, Zen would come down and would go back home together just as the way they came along. Hana paid for him. On Saturdays and Sundays, the customers who liked to play the horses gathered to their coffee house, Hana was often asked to go and buy tickets at a near-by betting window. Hana herself was fond of gambling, so she bought for her own betting tickets, as well.
Hana 55years old
Zen 46years old
- Zen's parents moved into the upstairs room of them. His father cooked meal with a tiny gas cooking stove there. 'Carrot rice' was his best dish. Old aluminum made pot which survived together with him from the war, lacked one handle. Zen's mother did not do much but sewing was good and exceptional.
Hana 59years old
Zen 50years old
- His father Kanzo died at the age of ninety. A hundred and ten people gathered for the funereal.
Hana 67years old
Zen 58years old
- His mother Tsuruhe died at the age of eighty-three. Hana did every part in the funereal and conducted the ceremony.
Hana 73years old
Zen 64years old
- Everyday is peacefully as usual. Hana would sit on a chair taking care of regular customers. She would drink coffee whenever she had time. Zen would make siphon coffee and egg sandwiches. When the evening would come, he would make the gin fizz by crushing a big mass of ice, and put it in the shaker; that sold well. There were pictures of John Will and Halden and scuh, hanging on the wall of the coffee house, as a customer who painted them for movie theaters, brought them in and gave them for free.
Hana 86years old
Zen 78years old
- The fifteenth of May, the Asakusa Sanjya festival. It is the first day. One could hear the sound of music from the Hachiman shrine in the morning. Hana was all so excited that she accidentally wrenched her ankle at the staircase. That caused her to be ill in health. It was beginning too hard for Zen alone to do everything in the coffee house; they finally had to close 'Ayumi' for good, within the month. A cup of coffee was only two hundreds yen.
Hana 92years old
Zen 83years old
Hana would look out at the window on the ground floor all day long, except when she would go upstairs to sleep. Many kinds of people passed by, and even the radio was on, so she did not feel lonely just sitting and watching outside. On a rainy day, she would put off the radio, listened to the sound of rain. She would wake up after the noon, and have her meal that Zen prepared. She could not do much by herself anymore. She would smoke at least three packets of 'Hi-lite' each day. She would stay in one place looking outside except when she would go to the bathroom and to throw away the ashes. She would even be listening to the radio alone as late as ten o'clock in the evening with the sliding shutter doors still unopened for a day. Every Friday was the day for a nursing home care service, so that she would be gone for a half day. The iceman would come everyday to add the mass of ice for the wooden refrigerator which was more than fifty years old. The iceman would not take money from them. Sitting on the very same chair, everyday would go on in just about the same way.
Zen would wake up in the morning, and first open the door of the ground floor, then put on a white cooking wear which he had worn since 'Ayumi' was still open, to prepare meals. He would help Hana having lunch and feed pigeons that would gather around the front door, with some crumbs of bread, then go upstairs to lie down for a rest. It was very painful for him to sit up as he had shingles around his body. When his body-ache was not so bad, he would clean up the house and then off to the near-by public bath house called Dakotsuyu(bones of the snake), a laundry place, and a supermarket to buy groceries. A day like that, he would enjoy drinking quite a few bottles of hot sake, and start talking about the war story with a bit of nostalgia. Hana would listen very quietly to him while smoking like a chimney. They both would never forget to visit the Hachiman shrine on the every first day and the fifteenth of a month. Around seven in the evening, he would lock the front door, and spread the crumbs for the rats, then go upstairs to sleep. The neighbors were all nice and familiar with them. Asakusa for them is the most relaxing town to live, all nice and easy.
Hana 95years old
Zen 86years old
Hana puts ointment on Zen's body for he had shingles around his waist., although it does not seem to get any better. As he has a pain in the back, he wraps himself up in a blanket, sleeps all day long with a radio on. He does not bother any more to go and have a bowl of rice, of which a near-by Chinese restaurant spares him. "No need for doctor" he says and drinks a pack of sake, instead of eating meals. And with crumbs, he feeds little pigeons that gather aroud. The room in a mess. There is not cheerfullness in his face like used to be, to tell old funny sories just like a Rakugoka(a comic story teller) any more.
Hana sits on the same old chair just as usual. All day long, she stays sitting towards the sliding doors which are now always shut. She used to take a home-help's bath service, but not any more. In June, Hana goes out to a supermarket to buy groceries for the very first time, as Zen asked her to, but she could not manage to buy anything and came home. Zen was a little angry. She put small change on the counter-table, and breathed badly. By that time, all I could do was to go and visit their place, to fill up the empty wooden fridge with something to eat. Then I shake hands with them to leave. Once I stepped out of their place, two existence became as if they were ephemeral, only the touch of their cold, small hands stayed vivid long after, in a busy crowd of the downtown of Asakusa.
The new year's eve, a kettle on the stove barely warms their room with no heating. Hana silently eats Osechi which I brought for them for the new year's dish. "Why don't you slow down a bit?" says Zen, and puffs white smoke out with a face that lacking liveliness. To me it was the last sight of two sitting next to each other.
Hana 96years old
Zen 87years old
In January, Hana fell off the stairs as she stood up for the toilet. When her voice calling for help stopped, bedridden Zen was convinced that she died then. Probably he was at the time determined to follow her shortly after. On that night, the north wind was blowing strong and the door was making noise, a woman next door came to see if things were alright. Exhausted Hana and Zen got found, and carried out in a rush to two different hospitals. After that, they neither went back to Asakusa nor meet each other again.
A few days after, I visited their empty room. A piece of radish that must have been gnawed by a mouse lying aroud, unopened bottles of some condiment, rice cakes and sweet potatoes covered with mold, were there. I dumped away things that I once brought for them, and emptied the wooden fridge. The soft winter sun shed some dim lights on all those things that lost their owners and kept their mouth shut. Only the tic-tac of a clock made any sound in the deep silence.
In February, the unlocked room was in a big mess. Drawers were turned over, photographs of their young period lying round the floor, small change popped out of a deep red purse. There were marks on the floor of somebody thumping around with his shoes on.
In March, a carrier has taken all their household effects out of their house with three trucks. The empty room looked as if it was an empty stage which the actors have left. One little pigeon flew down by the front door, lingered on for some time.
My visiting Asakusa has changed to visiting hospitals. In a bedroom of Iidabashi, Hana was there with many plasters around her body, when I told her that Zen was alright, she nodded with delight in her eyes. And now, Zen in another hospital near the Sumida river. He was told off by a nurse as he choked on a Ningyoyaki(Asakusa's famous cake). "At this age, I don't say that I miss her, but I say that being with or without her, there's a huge difference" he said and laughed in a bed of clean white blanket.
In June, Zen died at the age of 87 in a hospital of Sumida Ward.
Plasters removed, Hana moved to a nursing home of Adachi Ward. The people around her received a good impression of her, since she never complained and thanked people. From the window of the large room of her, one could see nothing but the wall of a building. No sense of the turn of the seasons. There was a photograph of Hana and Zen together with a same t-shirt on, by the bedside. The separation from the life with Zen in Asakusa started to make her head unclear. She stayed quietly on bed. Her heart was bad.
Hana 98years old
She was transferred to another nurseing home for elderly in Hachioji City. Her memories of Zen and the long gone past remained firm. "Oh, yummy, yummy, I'm happy" she said after eating, or rather sipping eight cream puffs that I brought. Then she laid down her tiny body on bed. In spring, she developed pneumonia and taken to a hospital.
In June, Hana died in a hospital in Tokyo at the age of 98.
In July, cicadas sang freshly at Nanzanji-temple in Yanaka area. I arrived at the graveyard where Hana and Zen sleep, with a bunch of purple, yellow and white colored chrysanthemum and a couple of incense sticks in my hand. As I poured some cold water onto the burning hot gravestone, a face of carved Jizo in relief stood out pleasantly.
Photo book “Asakusa Zenzai”
- 雑 誌
風の旅人 vol.26 LIFE IT SELF
KAZE NO TABIBITO
- 風の旅人 vol.26 LIFE IT SELF
- 書 籍
PHOTO DOCUMENTARY “NIPPON”
- 図 録
Young Portfolio 2006
CHINA PINGYAO INTERNATIONAL PHOTOGRAPHY FESTIVAL
- ヤング・ポートフォリオ 2006
- 受 賞
“Photo Documentary ‘Nippon’ 2004” awards, Guardian Garden
- ガーディアン・ガーデン主催 フォト・ドキュメンタリー「NIPPON」2004年