Ueno sits on the intersection of Shitamachi and Yamanote.

If Ueno is grunge, then North Ueno is grime.

In the area north of Ueno railway station, in Tokyo's Taito ward, you will find a sizable proportion of the city's homeless population, sleeping in parks and on the pavement in their often meticulously crafted cardboard homes. North Ueno is also home to Tokyo's premier motorcycle district, the motorbike quarter of the city.

The motorcycle hub of Tokyo.

Between Showa Dori and the railway lines, rust haven. For a long time, I used to walk through the quarter every day... just about every day. Grease-stained mirrors, young dudes with permed hair jumping around in overalls, wrestling with merchandise. The pavement was crowded with shoppers, cyclists and motorbikes out for sale. Racks of jackets, helmets nearly as funky as their kin in Vietnam! Old guys who burned their rubbish on the street, or chucked seed for pigeons to eat. I never used to work out why they needed to burn their garbage (couldn't they just throw it in the trash?), and sometimes I saw pigeons trapped in cages. Were they planning on eating them? Late at night, when most folks were home asleep, you could the homeless old men pushing their carts stacked high with cardboard and aluminium cans, making their living off the refuse of the land. I was there the night they crashed planes into the World Trade Center in New York, drinking with a Swiss anarchist in the Flight Club. The club was done up like the inside of a passenger jet, with fake airline windows on the interior walls. We were talking about Fight Club the movie, and how they detonated the American Express building

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