The Vibrancy In Small Bars: Japan’s Izakayas

Small bar located in the back alleys of Osaka’s Dotonburi district.

Travel & Documentary Photographer Lee Starnes is the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributor of this social documentary photography.  These images are from his project ‘Izakayas Of Japan‘.

Omoide Yokocho, Shinjuku, Tokyo





“I always liked side-paths, little dark back-alleys behind the main road,” Dostoyevsky writes in his 1879 novel, The Brothers Karamazov. “There one finds adventures and surprises, and precious metal in the dirt.”

Though it’s a pretty far cry from 19th-century Russia, the narrow back alleys of Japan are evidence that Dostoyevsky’s musings hold a universal truth. Clear on the other side of the world, the Land of the Rising Sun boasts an entire network of small, local businesses built around this idea of serendipitous experiences and tiny, unexpected places.

Down the side streets and back alleys of Japan, the culture of izakayas – small, intimate watering holes, often helmed by a single barkeep – is alive and well.


The Pontoncho area of Kyoto. Famous for Geishas and littered with traditional tea houses, small bars and izakayas




Tokyo’s Nonbei Yokocho or “Drunkard’s Alley”

Life: Quick, Intriguing, Random and quite Absurd

I don’t know where I’m going, but I’m on my way.
Carl Sandburg





Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company.

Mark Twain



Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city.

When we talk to God, we’re praying. When God talks to us, we’re schizophrenic.
George Burns

Why do they call it rush hour when nothing moves?

Robin Williams

There are lots of people who mistake their imagination for their memory.

Josh Billings

The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.




Life is full of misery, loneliness, and suffering – and it’s all over much too soon.

Woody Allen



Just cause you got the monkey off your back doesn’t mean the circus has left town.

George Carlin


Buddhist Monk protesting in an incredibly intense way. Vietnam 1968.

150-Ft Spiraling Treetop Walkway In Denmark

Architecture studio EFFEKT has designed a walkway to take hikers and Instagrammers to new heights above a forest in Denmark. The idea is to offer bird’s-eye views of the area without disrupting the environment.

The centerpiece of the construction is set to be a winding observation tower, topping out at about 150 feet (45 metres). The hourglass-like construction should rise in a luscious preserved forest an hour south of Copenhagen, in Glisselfeld Kloster, Haslev. It consists of a 2000 ft. (600m) internal ramp, which will take visitors from the forest floor, through the treetops culminating with a 360° view of the hilly landscape, characteristic for the region.

The structures that make up the route towards the tower have been split into two sections: the high walkway will extend past some of the forest’s oldest trees, while the lower path will swirl its way through the younger areas.

The one-of-a-kind project is expected to be finished in 2018.


Kids from around the World with their favourite Toys

Italian photographer Gabriele Galimberti is always traveling the world in search of adventure, good stories, and interesting people. For his latest project entitled “Toy Stories”, Galimberti photographed children from around the world with their most prized possesion. He did not expect to uncover much we did not already know. “At their age, they are pretty all much the same,” is his conclusion after 18 months working on the project. “They just want to play.”

But it’s how they play that seemed to differ from country to country. Galimberti found that children in richer countries were more possessive with their toys. “At the beginning, they wouldn’t want me to touch their toys, and I would need more time before they would let me play with them,” says the Italian photographer. “In poor countries, it was much easier. Even if they only had two or three toys, they didn’t really care. In Africa, the kids would mostly play with their friends outside.”

However, there are many similarities in which the kids regard their toys, especially when it comes to their function. Galimberti met a six-year-old boy in Texas and a four-year-old girl in Malawi who both maintained their plastic dinosaurs would protect them from the dangers that await them at night. More common was how the toys reflected the world each child was born into – the girl from an affluent Mumbai family loves Monopoly, because she likes the idea of building houses and hotels, while the boy from rural Mexico loves trucks, because he sees them rumbling through his village to the nearby sugar plantation every day. A Lativian kid plays with miniature cars because his mother drove a taxi, while the daughter of an Italian farmer has an assortment of plastic rakes, hoes and spades.

Working for Toy Stories, Galimberti learned as much about the parents as he learned about the children. Parents from the Middle East and Asia, he found, would push their children to be photographed even if they were initially nervous or upset, while South American parents were “really relaxed, and said I could do whatever I wanted as long as their child didn’t mind”.


Watcharapom – Bangkok, Thailand



Stella – Montecchio, Italy



Ralf – Riga, Latvia



Botlhe – Maun, Botswana



Orly – Brownsville, Texas



Noel – Dallas, Texas



Maudy – Kalulushi, Zambia



Li Yi Chen – Shenyang, China



Chiwa – Mchinji, Malawi



Davide – La Valletta, Malta



Cun Zi Yi – Chongqing, China



Arafa & Aisha – Bububu, Zanzibar



Tyra – Stockholm, Sweden

Best Countries Rankings 2017

The overall ranking of Best Countries measures global performance on a variety of metrics.












The study and model used to score and rank countries were developed by Y&R’s BAV Consulting, specifically John Gerzema and Anna Blender, and The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, specifically Professor David J. Reibstein, in consultation with U.S. News & World Report.

Dangerous Countries


The Traffic Girls of Pyongyang

The capital city of North Korea, Pyongyang (pop. 3,255,388) is one of the most mysterious cities in the world.  This is due to the fact that the Communist rulers of North Korea control the country and city with an iron-fisted resolve.  No foreign tourists or journalists, and very few diplomats from other countries.  Only 6-8 countries have missions staffed with diplomats in Pyongyang.

But one truth has been established about the day-to-day activities on the streets of Pyongyang.  The Traffic Girls of Pyongyang.

In these pictures the main characteristic is the lack of traffic.  Especially relative to western and other Asian societies.  There is virtually no traffic.  North Korea is an economic basket case.  So only government elites and upper bureaucrats get to drive cars.

Therefore the Traffic Girls must not get overly stressed out.

The giant monstrosity in the background of this picture is the Ryugyong Hotel.  A 105 floor skyscraper that began construction in 1987.  Construction was halted for many years but resumed in 2009, but was stopped again in 2014. Nothing has been done since.




 Introduced in 2009, some intersections are equipped with traffic control podiums.
Podium features:
– umbrella for shade and rain
– heated pad in base for keeping feet warm
– light for illumination of traffic controller
– reflective paint for visibility

Some basic information on the Traffic Girls.

There are slightly more than 50 posts in Pyongyang.

Each post is assigned six traffic controllers, with the post staffed from 7:00AM to 10:00 PM.

The post’s six traffic police are split into 2 groups which rotate duty.

Each group shift is 2-3 hours. A traffic controller is on duty for 30 minutes at a time, relieved every 30 minutes.

They work 6 days a week, with Sundays off. They also may have to work holidays.

Intersection control
The basic rules are:
If traffic officer is facing you or has back to you, stop do not proceed – cross traffic has right-of-way.
When traffic officer raises baton, a right-of-way change is imminent.
Baton held out indicates a turn through intersection is permitted.

Requirements to be a Pyongyang Traffic Girl:
– unmarried
– attractive
– healthy
– between the ages of 16 – 26
– at least 1.65 meters (5’4″) tall
– high school graduate