Quantcast

The pandemic might have slowed it down, but the heart of Tokyo still beats

A lone visitor stands outside the iconic bridges leading into the inner Imperial Palace grounds in central Tokyo, Sept. 3, 2020. Most of the site is closed to the public, except for New Year's Day and the Emperor's Birthday. It's also possible to take reserved guided tours.

AKIFUMI ISHIKAWA/STARS AND STRIPES

By STARS AND STRIPES Published: September 17, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has hit Tokyo harder than any other Japanese city, with nearly 25,000 people testing positive since the illness first appeared in Japan early this year.

Because of the uptick in infections, most U.S. military personnel have been barred from visiting the capital city since spring. Popular tourist destinations like the Imperial Palace, Harajuku’s Takeshita Street and the unique bars of Shinjuku’s Golden Gai district are a no-go for Americans in Japan under the status of forces agreement.

Stars and Stripes photojournalist Akifumi Ishikawa recently ventured to some of these spots to capture what they’re like in the coronavirus era.

<gallery>

<element>

<element>

<element>

<element>

<element>

<element>

<element>

<element>

<element>

<element>

<element>

<element>

<element>

<element>

People explore Takeshita Street in the Harajuku neighborhood of central Tokyo, Sept. 6, 2020. The pedestrian shopping lane is lined with fashion boutiques, cafes and eateries.
AKIFUMI ISHIKAWA/STARS AND STRIPES

A woman wears a casual summer kimono called a yukata as she walks toward Sensoji, a popular Buddhist temple in the Asakusa section of central Tokyo, Sept. 1, 2020.
AKIFUMI ISHIKAWA/STARS AND STRIPES

A rickshaw driver gives a tour of Asakusa, an old district of Tokyo known for the Sensoji Buddhist temple, Sept. 1, 2020.
AKIFUMI ISHIKAWA/STARS AND STRIPES

A woman dressed as a maid works to draw customers into one of the many maid-themed cafes in the Akihabara section of central Tokyo, Sept. 1, 2020.
AKIFUMI ISHIKAWA/STARS AND STRIPES

People stroll outside Ueno Zoo in central Tokyo, Sept. 1, 2020. Japan's oldest zoo opened in 1882 and is famous for its Giant Pandas and the nation's first monorail.
AKIFUMI ISHIKAWA/STARS AND STRIPES

Tokyo's iconic Rockabilly dancers perform outside Yoyogi Park, Sept. 6, 2020. The dancers gather here every Sunday in their blue jeans and boots to twist and strut to classic rock 'n' roll tunes.
AKIFUMI ISHIKAWA/STARS AND STRIPES

Prayers and wishes are written on wooden plaques called ema at a shrine in the Ueno district of Tokyo, Sept. 1, 2020.
AKIFUMI ISHIKAWA/STARS AND STRIPES

Tokyo's icon Rockabilly dancers perform outside Yoyogi Park, Sept. 6, 2020. The dancers gather here every Sunday in their blue jeans and boots to twist and strut to classic rock 'n' roll tunes.
AKIFUMI ISHIKAWA/STARS AND STRIPES

People hang out near the Hachiko statue outside Shibuya Station in Tokyo, Sept. 2, 2020. Hachiko was an Akita dog remembered for remarkable loyalty to his owner, whom he waited for outside the station for nearly a decade after his death.
AKIFUMI ISHIKAWA/STARS AND STRIPES

People wait to meet friends near the iconic Shibuya scramble crossing in Tokyo, Sept. 2, 2020. During peak hours, more than 1,000 people can be seen crossing the multi-cornered intersection at a time.
AKIFUMI ISHIKAWA/STARS AND STRIPES

People leave an establishment in the Golden Gai bar district of Shinjuku, Tokyo, Sept. 2, 2020. Golden Gai comprises several narrow alleyways that are home to more than 200 tiny bars, many of which can serve only a few customers at a time.
AKIFUMI ISHIKAWA/STARS AND STRIPES

Friends chat outside the gateway to the Kabukicho entertainment and red-light district in the Shinjuku section of Tokyo, Sept. 2, 2020. The district is known for its movie theaters, game centers, restaurants, nightclubs and some seedier establishments.
AKIFUMI ISHIKAWA/STARS AND STRIPES

Shinkansen conductor and cleaning staff, wearing the pink uniforms, wait to board an incoming bullet train at Tokyo Station, Sept. 3, 2020. The trains can reach speeds of nearly 200 mph and are lauded as a fast, convenient way to travel throughout Japan.
AKIFUMI ISHIKAWA/STARS AND STRIPES