Pithecanthropus Erectus will always hold a special place in the heart of Tokyo Jazz Joints. It was the first place we ever visited as an experiment to see whether the idea of the project even had legs. It didn’t open at the time we were expecting, and so we waited around outside and in nearby bars for about two hours; we could just have easily given up and gone home, and the project may have died there and then on that sketchy backstreet in Kamata. The choice of this particular bar to begin in was as much convenience as anything else, but Pithecanthropus Erectus actually came to epitomize the classic Japanese jazz joint and the very spirit of the Tokyo Jazz Joints project: it’s a cluttered, aging, grimy space, up a narrow winding staircase next to a set of train tracks, and - with a young, second generation owner taking over the reins - continues to exist in spite of itself and the endless juggernaut of redevelopment which characterizes the Japanese urban landscape.
The first three photos here are from our original visit back in March 2015, the rest from our visit there in June 2017. By the time we returned two years later to where it all began, we had visited over 120 joints. It is interesting to compare the quantity and quality of the two sets of pictures: the first set is nervous, overly reverent and testing the photographic waters; the second represents a project that had grown immeasurably in confidence, and by that stage established a distinctive photographic style and viewpoint.