Tokyo Stories from Curious Outsiders

014 : Olly Denton in Takadanobaba Station, Shinjuku-ku
Born 1978 in England, Olly Denton currently works as a Junior High School worker, just above the man with one arm that delivers the newspapers. He came to Japan on a instructor visa. Why Japan? Because he had nothing else going on at the time. He digs the following Tokyo bits: McDonalds monthly specials, Kichijoji, the girls, the view of Mt Fuji on the Chuo line in the winter on his morning commute, the second-hand record stores. He, however, is a touch miffed by the lack of insulation in homes, the lack of night public transport, the lack of simian life. For more info on Olly Denton you should send an email or visit his site.

image: J. Webber

“Her voice, even across languages, betraying her worry.”

A little girl was sitting next to me on the train home from work. She couldn’t have been more than 8 years old. She was wearing very strong prescription sunglasses with a bright blue tint that made her eyes look huge, and a protective hat, the type worn by American football players in World War II era newsreels. [1] The hat had circular holes in it, including a few that someone had lovingly modified to make them look like Mickey Mouse’s silhouette. Her mother spoke to her constantly, her voice, even across languages, betraying her worry, and her hands clutching a large yellow folder – the type that they give you at hospitals to hold X-rays.

In my foreigner-in-Tokyo-self-obsessiveness, I thought that the little girl was staring at me, until her mother asked her to try to sit up straight, and she simply replied, “It hurts.” Her mother told her she would buy her a nice parfait when it had finished. The little girl, looked even sadder and said, like it was an apology, that she couldn’t eat after.

They got off the train at Takadanobaba Station. Stopping a little way up the platform in the sea of commuters pushing past, the little girl asked her mother something. She agreed and they stood and waited, facing the train. As the train pulled out of the station, the businessmen and shoppers, engrossed in their comics and mobile phones were too busy to notice a little girl waving at them. No one waved back.

location information

  • Name: Takadanobaba Station
  • Time of story: afternoon
  • Latitude: 35.712343
  • Longitude: 139.703744
  • Map: Google Maps


019She laughed at my effort and responded in English, ‘Long time, no seduction.’ — Qi Rari

018In my dreamy state, oblivious to signs and announcements I often boarded the wrong train.— Momus (aka Nick Currie)

017I was fifteen years old and it was one of those nights.— Yuko Enomoto

016That ear of corn just wanted to go home— Guttersnipe Das

015With his painstakingly coiffured mane blowing in the wind— Digits Wolfowitz

014Her voice, even across languages, betraying her worry.— Olly Denton

013I saw them drawing bamboo sticks from a silver rectangular box.— Daphné Haour

012A simulacrum of someone else's home, equal parts comfort and loss.— Adam Greenfield

011Jumbled Escheresque insanity where geo­graphy in any traditional sense ceases to exist.— Joseph Badtke-Berkow

010I could hardly make out anything apart from his glowing eyes...— Uleshka

009Shibuya was like a stroke.— Alice.d

008I cried for a while and wiped the dead bracken off my karate pants.— David Cady

007Both my tie and my disposition hang limp as I calculate the remaining distance to the station.— Chris Tobber

006I once read about a Chinese maiden whose feet were unbound by a cruel man …— Claire Tanaka

005The Bad Girl strutted off and I was left with a ham egg pie.— Guttersnipe Das

004I arrived expecting an irritated Japanese person to step out of the crowd and identify himself as Hideki.— Ashley Rawlings

003The woman at the ticket window seemed surprised to see another human being. I was the only visitor.— Andrew Douglas

002Flanked on either side by adult manga shops and the like, the smell of yakitori in the air.— Jean Snow

001For two weeks the day began with this morning walk, our shared routine.— Joseph Squier


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