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blog-L - (2012a)

2012/10/04b (1997/06/12)

"The Sky - (June 12th, 1997)"

(1997/06/12) - 17:57 Ginza - I'm sitting in an empty corner room with the windows open.  The sky out the windows is beautiful, the noise from the busy street eight stories below doesn't bother me (or rather, I'm even glad it's there, for in a concrete jungle, no noise means no life.  I just got here from the contract job in Kashiwa.

To get to Ginza from Kashiwa, you have to use the Joban Line, which, more often than not, uses fairly old train cars, but they're fazing in the new ones bit by bit.  The new ones are like new high rise buildings, with mostly sealed windows that can't be opened (for the sake of cheaper construction, cheaper maintenance, energy efficiency and safety)....  Luckily, the train I rode on today was not only an old one, but a mostly empty one, as in the afternoon, not many people are headed into central Tokyo on the Joban Line.  I sat in the back left corner of the second from the rearmost car of the fifteen car train and opened the two sectioned window up into the window frame, so the entire window frame area was completely open, both the larger window on the side of the train and the smaller one on the end of the train car.  (This particular window design was made before air conditioning was on all the trains in order to get the maximum amount of air into the train.  When it's truly hot, I appreciate air conditioning, but often it's a nice temperature outside, and when you get on the train, all the windows are shut and it's freezing cold with air conditioning, you could say it's too much of a bad thing.)  [Note from 2012: Air conditioning used has been scaled back, and now things tend to be too hot rather than too cold.]

As I looked out the window at the sky, with the wind rushing in, the sound of the train's electric motors whining, and the screech of the steel wheels on the steel rails - smelling that same hot tar smell I remember from railway lines as a child -  it occurred to me that people need to have some connection to the world, to the sky.  Living in Tokyo, I have come to really appreciate being able to see the sky directly with no glass in the way.  People living day after day after day cut off from the sky are drifting away from solid ground I think.


2012/10/04a (1999/03/31)

"A Glance at the Cherry Blossoms - (March 31st, 1999)"

Last night, to take care of the dual need to run the engine in my car (a Honda Prelude) which hadn't been started in over two weeks, and also to get a look at some of the cherry blossoms, I fired up the engine, put it in gear, and drove over to the nearby public apartments where there are a lot of cherry blossom trees.

Two and a half weeks since I'd been in the car... almost too long, as the battery isn't in really good shape, and after sitting for so long, it seemed as though I might not be able to get the engine running before the voltage fell too low to turn the starter motor anymore.  Fortunately however, the engine finally did get started... and after making the short drive, I sat in the car for a bit looking at the overheard cherry blossoms through the open sun roof as the 125 horsepower engine did nothing more than warm itself, the interior of the car, and spin the alternator to charge the battery.  A waste of technology to be sure, but an enjoyable time under the trees that I wouldn't have experienced without the car, so....



"Tokyo Station, Oimachi, Omori, Ginza, Shinagawa Station, Etc"

This batch of views is primarily of Oimachi and Omori, both on the Keihin-Tohoku Line, with station area views of Tokyo, Shinagawa, and Hamamatsucho, as well as a few views of Ginza.

Morning Tokyo Station Walkabout 東京駅朝散歩 (120925g)

Tokyo Station was once the proud hub of Japan's train system, with the 1914 (really huge for its day) brick station building, a landmark modern (again, for its time) structure.  In WW-II, the building was damaged in the fire-bombing of Tokyo and the reconstructed roofs put on the building in the post war years were much less decorative than the originals.  In the decades after the war, Tokyo Station didn't change much while other hub stations like Shinjuku, Ikebukuro, Shibuya, etc. changed pretty radically.  By the early eighties, when I first experienced Tokyo Station, it was interesting in a sleepy way, but it didn't seem particularly remarkable as a central station (other than its historical role).

Then with the bubble economy in the late eighties, things began to change.  With the addition of the Keiyo Line (which goes out to Tokyo Disneyland), the Narita Express (which is taken for granted now, but was a big deal when it began running - making it much easier to get to Narita Airport from central Tokyo), and the extension of the northern route Shinkansen lines (which used to terminate at Omiya Station in Saitama), the station took on new life and once again felt like a huge, exciting, central station.

Maybe too much background, but the atmosphere has really changed since the early eighties.  I took some video in the station in 1991, after the Keiyo Line had already opened, but before the Chuo Line had been moved over and the northern Shinkansen lines extended, so it shows part of the transition zone between the sleepy version of the station and the current version.  Here are two videos from 1991 which show the contrast between 21 years ago and now:

"Tokyo Station - March 1991 #1"

"Tokyo Station - March 1991 #2"

Hamamatsucho to Yurakucho 浜松町から有楽町まで (山手線) 120925g

Omori Tonkatsu Restaurant Entrance (120925)

A very short clip - I found this place (and a couple of other similar places) interesting in that people lined up in front of the restaurant before it opened for lunch and then it filled up right away.  A combination of (I'm guessing) good food at reasonable prices in a nostalgic atmosphere (in this age of steel and glass, old wooden buildings seem very nice) makes this type of place very popular with the locals.  (I would have gone in and had lunch there myself, but my travel budget that day didn't include lunch, however reasonably priced it may have been.)

Omori Hilltop Shrine (A) 120925

Omori Hilltop Shrine (B) 120925

Oimachi Main Street Stroll (120925)

Ginza Side Street Balcony View (120925)

For central Ginza, this balcony has an amazing amount of sky....

Ginza Passageway to Chuo-Dori (120925)

No special significance, but it's fun to walk down this very narrow passageway and then suddenly pop out onto the wide sidewalk of fashionable Chuo-Dori.

Maruyama Norio 丸山則夫 Exhibition at Art Space Rondo (120925)

This was an interesting photography exhibition with each picture depicting two worlds....

Yurakucho to Tokyo (Keihin-Tohoku Line) 有楽町から東京まで (120925)

Listening to Insects (120926)

Not nearly as obvious in the video as it was in person, are the insects of summer - still making their various musical noises in late September.

Exiting Tokyo Station (Rebuilt Post Office Bldg., Etc.) 120925

Tokyo to Shinagawa (Tokaido Line) 東京から品川まで (120925)

Morning Shinagawa Station Walkabout 品川駅朝散歩 (120925)

Shinagawa East Side Lookaround 品川駅東口見回り (120925)

Shinagawa Station Walk-through (East to West) 120925

Shinagawa West Side (Wing Complex) 120925

Shinagawa Pedestrian Overpass (West Side) 120925

Walking to Shinagawa Station (West Side) 120925

Shinagawa to Oimachi via Keihin-Tohoku Line (Including Station Views) 120925

Oimachi Back Streets (120925)

Oimachi Izakaya Alley (Morning) 大井町東小路飲食店街 (朝) 120925

Very little activity in the morning, before lunch.

Oimachi Walkabout (A) 120925

Oimachi Trackside Sleepy Morning Street (120925)

Oimachi Trackside Walk (Entering Minami-Shinagawa) 120925

Oimachi to Omori _大井町から大森まで (京浜東北線) 120925

Exiting Omori Station (120925)

Omori Walkabout (A) 大森散歩 (120925)

Omori Walkabout (B) Underground Bicycle Parking (120925)

Walking into Ginza 銀座に入る_有楽町から (120925)

Ginza Chuo-Dori Stroll 銀座中央通散歩 (120925)

Yurakucho Walk Towards SB (120925)

Both Sides of Omori Station (120925)

Entering Omori Station (120925)

Omori to Oimachi 大森から大井町まで (京浜東北線) 120925

Exiting Oimachi Station at Lunchtime (120925)

Oimachi Izakaya Alley Lunch (A) 大井町東小路飲食店街 (昼) 120925g

Much more activity at lunch than in the morning, but this area is geared more towards the evening crowd.

Oimachi Izakaya Alley Lunch (B) 大井町東小路飲食店街 (昼) 120925

Oimachi to Tamachi 大井町から田町まで (京浜東北線) 120925

Tamachi to Hamamatsucho 田町から浜松町まで (京浜東北線) 120925

Hamamatsucho (East Side, Near North Exit) 浜松町 (120925)


2012/09/30 (1999/04/29)

"Knowing From Afar... - (April 29th, 1999)"

For only the second time, I met someone in person on Monday that I initially met on the Internet back in... January (I think).  We exchanged a few letters, and then I didn't hear from her for awhile... until a few weeks ago, when after a few more letters, we decided to meet.  We met in Shinjuku, and had a good time talking about one thing and another, as two people are wont to do (and is no big deal), but a couple of aspects to the meeting are begging comment.

One is the situation of either meeting someone that you feel you know, who doesn't actually know you very well (or at all), or meeting someone who seems to know you, even though you don't know nearly as much about them.  I get this feeling from time to time with some of the people I send the newsletter to, when they'll suddenly ask me about something that I wrote.  My first reaction is often "Why do you know that?  I didn't tell you!"... and then it sinks in that I wrote about it....  On Monday I felt that in a stronger way, as it was the first time for us to meet.  True, we've exchanged letters, but the volume has been heavy on my side with the inclusion of the newsletters, so she knew much more about me than I about her.

It's quite an interesting feeling - a feeling of both wonder and relief.  Wonder at how someone you've never met can already know you, and relief at not having to explain yourself.  Just at the point where you would usually be feeling either a growing familiarity or a growing discomfort, you realize that the person in front of you already knows... and wouldn't be there if it were a complete mismatch... which leads me to the other thing I want to write about.

I asked her how the reality of me sitting there in front of her compared to the mental picture she had before meeting me, and her answer was perceptive... and enlightening.  She said that from reading the newsletter, she had pictured me as being an observer of the places I visit without being a part of them... more of a moody loner than I seemed to be in person.

"Ah... there it is!" thought I.  From what some of my e-mail pals write, I get the feeling at times that I'm coming across as being an unhappy loner.  Like everyone, I have my good and bad moments, but I'm not fundamentally unhappy.., just frustrated at times, and at those times, I often write about the experience, so....

The sense of not being a part of things... when I go out on one of my expeditions - while I'm standing somewhere and writing about my surroundings, certainly I am not of the place at the moment, not in an active sense in any case.  If I were, then I wouldn't have time for writing!  In any case, from someone who spent a couple of non-electronic hours with me, I'm not as "lost and alone" as I seem to be sometimes on the electronic screen.



"1990 Komagome, Kagurazaka, Machida, Etc; 2012 Kawagoe, Komagome, Ochanomizu, Etc."

There are both 1990 and 2012 views from Komagome in this batch, although the 2012 views only show the area very near to the station.  In 1990 however, I spent most of September 14th, 1990 in the area, recording several areas (Nishigahara, Nakazato, Kaminakazato, etc.), including an interesting old shotengai shopping street.  Other 1990 views include Kagurazaka, Shinjuku, Machida, Takadanobaba, Ikebukuro, and of course various train views.

There are a lot (and I do mean *a lot*) of separate views of Kawagoe - primarily in the old section of town with it's Edo style buildings.  Then there are morning views of Shinjuku and Ochanomizu; and various views of Ginza, Yurakucho, Kanda, Etc.

1990 Shimofuri-Ginza Shotengai 霜降銀座商店街 (900914)

This is a good example of how the old shotengai shopping streets used to look.  I say "used to" because even the ones that remain are not quite the same as when this was taken in 1990.  Even in 1990 - as I note on-tape (in the longer version below) after walking into a fairly large (by shotengai standards) grocery store - the grocery store had a lot of customers, but many of the shotengai stores just down the street had very few.  I wondered at the time what would become of the shotengai shopping street, and over the years, a new term has come up, "shutter-gai" meaning not a street of open shops, but a street of closed shutters of former shops.  Many shotengai shopping streets soldier on, but business doesn't appear to be very good for them now.

1990 Komagome, Nishigahara, Etc. (900914) 駒込, 中里, 上中里, 西ヶ原

This is a long video - just over an hour and a half, and it includes a fairly detailed look at the area on one side of Komagome Station.  (The shotengai clip above this one is a new edit - from the source tape - of part of this longer video.)  Time-wise, this includes views from the daytime, the evening, and at night - part of the time walking in the rain.

1990 Night Rain Walk Kagurazaka 神楽坂 (900907)

1990 Shinjuku, Machida, Etc. (Here and There) 900914

1990 Takadanobaba to Ikebukuro Rush Rides (900907)

Trains in Ueno at Night (120905)

A lot of 15-car trains come into Ueno and dead-end there, since most platforms in central Tokyo can only accommodate 10-car trains.  The Chuo Line is the only major JR line that runs right through central Tokyo (via Shinjuku), and one consequence of that is Chuo Line trains are only 10-cars in length.

Kawagoe Bell Tower Area (120919) 川越 小江戸

Kawagoe Lookaround (while Bell Tolls) 120919 川越 小江戸

At the time I took this, I didn't realize how close I was to where the bell was being rung, or I would hurried around the corner and recorded it being rung by hand (it's not automated).

Kawagoe Side Street Stroll (A) 120919 川越 小江戸

Kawagoe Main Old Street (120919g) 川越 小江戸

Ginza 1-Chome Lookaround (120918)

Ginza Chuo-Dori Lookaround (120918)

Ginza Side Street (120918)

Komagome Trains (A) 駒込駅電車 (120918)

Komagome Trains (B) 駒込駅電車 (120918)

Kyobashi Lookaround (120918)

Ochanomizu Bridge Scene (Morning Rush) 御茶ノ水 (120918)

Ochanomizu Morning Rush 御茶ノ水 (120918)

Shinjuku Trains (A) 新宿電車 (120918)

Shinjuku Trains (B) 新宿電車 (120918)

Tokyo Station - Newly Rebuilt (Evening) 120918

The 1914 Tokyo Station building has been renovated/rebuilt - with (from appearances) more reconstruction work than renovation.  It looks pretty much like a squeaky-new building, which is slightly disappointing.  I think they could have kept a little more of the original structure, but that's just my opinion.  In any case, it looks pretty cool and it's styling from another era provides very welcome contrast in the Marunouchi area, which has been almost completely rebuilt with glass and steel high-rise office towers.

Three Door Seibu Train Departing Station (120911)

The more crowded the trains get, the more doors they put in them (to provide quicker loading and unloading).  I think this type of Seibu Line train is the last type in Tokyo to have three-doors (per side of each train car) - the standard is four, although there were some six-door train cars on the Yamanote Line before they decided it make it into a kind of horizontal elevator and needed all the train cars to have the same number of doors in order to match them up with platform wall doors (currently only at Ebisu, but platform construction for additional platform walls is evident at several other stations).

Chuo Line Train Departs Station (120912)

Cicada Still at it in Mid-September (120918)

Morning Shinjuku Station (Central West Exit) 朝の新宿駅中央西口 (120918)

Shinjuku Morning - West Side Stroll (Odakyu Etc) 新宿朝の散歩小田急 (120918)

Shinjuku Station Morning Rush Etc 新宿朝の小田急線電車到着西口など (120918)

Platform End at Shinjuku Station (120918)

Shinjuku to Ochanomizu (Morning) 120918

Ochanomizu Magazine Handout (120918)

Ochanomizu Morning Stroll (A) 御茶ノ水朝散歩 (120918)

Ochanomizu Side Street Stroll 御茶ノ水朝散歩 (120918)

Ochanomizu Morning Stroll (B) 御茶ノ水横道散歩 (120918)

Ochanomizu Morning Exit 御茶ノ水駅朝出口 (120918)

Ochanomizu Side Exit Views (120918)

Ochanomizu Bridge View from Station (120918)

Ochanomizu Side Exit Lookaround and Exit (120918)

Ochanomizu Stroll Past Construction Site (120918)

Ochanomizu Tissue Pack Advertising Handout (120918)

Shinjuku West Side Stroll (120911g)

Ochanomizu to Shinjuku (Morning Chuo Line) 御茶ノ水から新宿までの朝中央線 120918

Shinjuku Station Chuo Line Platform Walk (120918)

Shinjuku Morning Chuo Line Platform View (120918)

Shinjuku - Waiting for Yamanote Line 新宿山手線を乗る (120918)

Shinjuku to Komagome (Yamanote Line) 新宿から駒込まで (山手線で) 120918

Komagome Platform Walk 駒込駅ホームからの見回り 120918

Komagome Station - Hot September Day 駒込駅暑い九月の日 120918

Exiting Komagome Station 駒込駅 120918

Bicycles Beside Komagome Station 駒込駅隣の自転車 120918

They have people watch over bicycle parking areas like this and very neatly align the bicycles after people have hurriedly parked them in the morning.  This one seemed especially neatly aligned to me.

Komagome Shotengai (A) 駒込商店街 120918

Komagome Shotengai (B) 駒込商店街 120918

Komagome Station Old Type Ticket Price Board (120918)

Entering Komagome Station 駒込駅を入る 120918

Komagome to Nippori (Yamanote Line) 駒込から日暮里まで_山手線 120918

Ikeda Tatsuo Exhibition 池田龍雄展 Gallery Kazuki 画廊香月 2012年9月 (120918)

Shibuya Eiichi Exhibition at Lixil Gallery 渋谷英一展 (120918)

Nippori to Ueno (Yamanote Line) 日暮里から上野まで (山手線) 120918

Ueno to Tokyo (Yamanote Line) 上野から東京まで (山手線) 120918

Tokyo Station Afternoon Platform 東京駅お昼のホーム (120918)

Short Glimpse of Rebuilt Tokyo Station (120918)

Tokyo to Yurakucho (Yamanote Line) 東京から有楽町まで (山手線) 120918

Yurakucho Walking Towards Ginza (120918)

Ginza Pomegranate Tree 銀座柘榴木 (120918)

This is probably the only pomegranate tree in all of Ginza....

Yaesu Construction Cranes by Tokyo Station 八重洲 (120918)

This view of the Yaesu side of Tokyo Station will likely be radically different when they finish the construction project the large cranes are there for.

Tokyo Station Newly Reconstructed (Ground Level View) 120918

Tokyo Station Twilight View (Newly Reconstructed) 120918

Marunouchi Night Terrace (120918)

Tokyo Station Night View (Marunouchi Side) 東京駅丸の内側 (120918)

Marunouchi Evening Beautiful Lights 丸の内夜の美光 (120918)

Marunouchi Night Street View 丸の内夜道ビュー (120918)

Entering Tokyo Station (Marunouchi Side) 120918

Tokyo Station Platform View (120918)

Tokyo to Kanda - Keihin-Tohoku Line 東京から神田まで (京浜東北線) 120918

Kanda Night Stroll 神田夜散歩 (120918)

Entering Kanda Station (Under Construction) 工事中神田駅を入る 120918

Tokyo to Kanda (Chuo Line) 東京から神田まで (中央線) 120918

Lights and Reflections (Departing Kanda via Chuo Line) 120918

Tree Walk (Shinjuku Southern Terrace) 120918

White Three-Door Seibu Line Train Departs Station (120919)

This is not the usual color scheme for Seibu Line trains - so it really stands out.

Countryside Side Window View (120919)

Kawagoe Station 川越駅 (120919)

Kawagoe Shotengai 川越商店街 (120919)

Temple in Kawagoe (120919)

Ramen Place in Kawagoe (120919)

Kawagoe Mystery Zone (120919)

A space I stumbled upon accidentally.

Tea Machine (Three Types) 120919

This is a pretty cool machine.  It offers three types of tea, each either hot or cold (thus the twin buttons) and also plain hot water or plain cold water.

Kawagoe Lookaround (A) 120919

Kawagoe Lookaround (B) 120919

Kawagoe Museum (A) Cool Stairs (120919)

Kawagoe Museum (B) Old Fire Fighting Equipment (120919)

Kawagoe Museum (C) Old Fire Fighting Equipment (120919)

Kawagoe Museum (D) Secret Staircase (120919)

Kawagoe Museum (E) Old House (1st Floor) 120919

Kawagoe Museum (F) Old House (Exterior) 120919

Kawagoe Museum (G) Old House (1st to 2nd Floor) 120919

Kawagoe Museum (H) Old House (2nd Floor) 120919

Kawagoe Museum (I) Old House (2nd to 1st Floor) 120919

Kawagoe Museum (J) Street Side Store (2nd Floor-A) 120919

Kawagoe Museum (K) Street Side Store (2nd Floor-B) 120919

Old Kawagoe Street Scene (120919)

Old Kawagoe Side Street Scene 川越市横道 120919

Walk to Back of Temple in Kawagoe (120919)

Kawagoe Lookaround (C) 120919

Kawagoe Evening Lookaround (A) 120919

Kawagoe Evening Lookaround (B) 120919

Kawagoe Retro Style Tourist Bus (120919)

Kawagoe Evening Lookaround (C) 120919

Kawagoe Department Store Near Station (120919)

Kawagoe Bookstore and Street Outside 川越市本屋さん 120919

Cars and a Temple (Kawagoe) 120919

Kawagoe Temple in the Evening (120919)

Kawagoe Evening Window Reflections (120919)

Kawagoe Evening (Shop Closing for the Day) 120919

Kawagoe Twilight (Cars Drifting By) 120919

Kawagoe Night Walk to Station (120919)

Kawagoe Temple Lookaround (September) 120919g

Kawagoe Side Street Details (120919g)

Kawagoe Side Street Diving 川越横道探検 (120919g)

Kawagoe Twilight 川越夕方 (120919g)

Kawagoe Temple Lookaround (September) 120919g

Kawagoe Side Street Details (120919g)

Kawagoe Side Street Diving 川越横道探検 (120919g)

Kawagoe Twilight 川越夕方 (120919g)



Note: Formatting is broken - I'll try to fix it!

"1990: Trip to Tateyama on the Boso Peninsula, Sobu Line, Shinjuku, Parade, Etc."

If you want to know what it's like riding out into the countryside via regular (not reserved s
eat, special express) trains, then the first video below has some good scenes/sounds of a trip I took in November 1990, part of the time with the window open, so you can hear all the noises of the old type train I was in very well.  From the clack-clack of the segmented rails (they've since gone to long seamless rails) to the high-RPM whine of the motors (newer trains are quieter and sound quite different).

To really get the full effect of what it felt like at the time to ride these trains, try listening with headphones and with the sound loud enough to simulate the level it was at at the time (which you'll just have to guess at of course, but the point is, not too low a sound level, or you'll miss both details and the overall effect).  It's a long video at almost 90 minutes, but regarding the sounds I mentioned, the part where I was by an open window is towards the beginning of the video, so that's easy to experience just by starting from the beginning (and if you have time, maybe even take the whole trip with me).

I started off saying "
If you want to know what it's like...", but maybe I should have made that past tense.  The newer trains only have a few windows that open, and those only open at the top, not the bottom; and people appear to be afraid of fresh air now, so they are almost never opened.  There's a world of difference between riding in a sealed box and riding in a cool old train with the windows open.  There are still a number of older trains running, but fewer and fewer, and hardly any in central Tokyo.

1990 Trip to Tateyama (Boso Hanto) 館山 (901110)

1990 Shinjuku Station Live (901108)

I've had several people currently in their early twenties who have said they wish they could have experienced the bubble economy years, and I generally tell them that they probably have an overrated image of the era from modern movies/dramas that glamorize the time.  I mention how the plans of the time resulted in the current Tokyo with its many new (since that time) high-rise buildings, expanded train system, etc., but it wasn't all sparkling lights and fun at the time.

But in (re)watching this short clip from 1990, I remember the optimism of the time.  A lot of new construction was beginning then, and newer things were not just utilitarian, as they had tended to be in the past, but were... I'm not sure "extravagant" is the correct term, but certainly it would apply in some cases.  But new things are just new things - the feeling of the country moving steadily forward was powerful and people were optimistic about the future.

Contrasting that with now, there are so many very worrying trends and incidents in the world, it's increasingly difficult to feel very optimistic about the future.  And in that regard, the young people I've met who wish they had experienced the late eighties are actually right to feel they missed out on something - although I still think they have a rather different idea in mind than what it was really like.

1990 Sobu Line (Central Tokyo, Etc.) 総武線 (901110)

Looking out a window on a local Sobu Line train as it goes through central Tokyo.

1990 Nishi-Shinjuku at Night (Here and There) 901108

1990 Old Tateyama Station (901110)

For anyone who has been to Tateyama Station, this might be interesting - either in a nostalgic way if you have experienced the old station, or in a historical sense if you only know the current rebuilt version of the station.  Speaking of the bubble era again though - this is the type of thing I mean when I tell the current twenties crowd that *during* the bubble, there was a lot of old stuff still.  It was during the bubble that *plans* for all the new stuff they have now were put in place, but the bubble years themselves were really more the old Showa Era than the new Heisei Era.

1990 Yakimo Truck やきいもトラック (901108)

1990 Shinjuku Station at Night (901108)

1990 Suburban Bookstore (901108)

1990 Ikebukuro to Shinjuku 池袋-新宿 (901108)

1990 Ikebukuro Station 池袋駅 (901108)

1990 Restaurants in Shinjuku Station (West Side) 901108

This is the underground passageway lined with shops and restaurants that leads to the underground entrance to both the Keio Line and the JR lines.

1990 Hibarigaoka to Ikebukuro ひばりヶ丘-池袋 (901108)

1990 Newspapers, not Cell Phones (901108)

This is a very short clip, but it shows (at the beginning) people in a train looking at - no, not cell phone screens - but newspapers.  The only people who had cell phones in 1990 were businesses and rich people.  The phones themselves were very expensive, and it was very expensive to use them.

1990 Hibarigaoka-kita ひばりが丘北 (901110)

1990 Exiting Burbs Station (901108)

1990 - Emperor Akihito Parade Day (901112)

This might be of some historical interest.  This was the day that Crown Prince Akihito officially became Emperor Akihito, and I walked around on the parade route recording the event.  There were just a few seconds when he could be seen, but my purpose in going to the parade route was to see the event of people going to see the event, more than the central focus of it.  Looking at it now, the various cameras are interesting to see.  Film cameras, large video cameras (which I was using myself), etc.  No digital cameras.

I started out in in the suburbs, and took a few trains to the center of Tokyo, and then after the event, took a few trains back to the suburbs.  I included the trip there and back to show that it was - by and large - an average day for most of the city.  The problem with news reports is that you get only the central issue, and as time passes, it's easy to get the mistaken impression that the entire city was involved in something; but you can't have 30,000,000 people in one part of the city!  So, it was a big event of course, but everything didn't stop that day because of it.



"Nakano, Koenji, Sugamo, Hamamatsucho, Tamachi, Shinbashi, Ginza, Etc. (12/09/10)"

This batch of around 80 clips were all taken on September 10th, 2012 - starting with early morning train scenes, and then the morning rush of people walking to work from Shinjuku Station.  After that, I visited Nakano, Koenji, Sugamo, Ginza, Hamamatsucho, Tamachi, Shinbashi, and Ginza again.  (I had work to do in Ginza in the afternoon and by getting up very early was able to go around to several places.)  Incidentally, the first part of the batch below was taken in full-size HD.

Shinjuku - Looking West Down Koshu-kaido 新宿の甲州街道ビュー (120910)

Shinjuku Army of People Marching to Work (120910)

White Collar Army Marches to Work (Shinjuku) 120910

Morning Nakano Sun Mall (120910)

Yurakucho Platform View (120910)

Ginza 3-Chome 銀座三丁目 (120910)

Ginza Chuo-Dori 銀座中央通 (120910)

Hamamatsucho-360 浜松町見回る (120910)

Hamamatsucho Evening Long View 浜松町夕方帰る人々 (120910)

Homeward Bound Hamamatsucho People 浜松町夕方帰る時間 (120910)

Hamamatsucho (Heading for Home) 120910

Tamachi-360 田町見回る (120910)

Trains Passing Hamamatsucho 浜松町電車 (120910)

Early Morning Outbound Chuo Line (120910)

Arriving in Shinjuku via Morning Chuo Line (120910)

Shinjuku Morning South Exit (120910)

Morning Shinjuku (A) South Side (120910)

Marching to Work (Morning Shinjuku) 120910

Morning Shinjuku (B) Walking Against the Flow (120910)

Morning Shinjuku (C) Bridge Shadows (120910)

South Exit to Platform 3-4 (Shinjuku Morning) 120910

Platform 3-4 to South Exit (Shinjuku Morning) 120910

Arriving at Nakano Station via Chuo Line (120910)

Koenji Narrow Walkways (120910)

Ticket Gate Error - Retry at Different Gate OK (120910)

Nearly everyone is using IC type cards to ride the train system, so there are fewer and fewer of the ticket gates that take magnetic tickets.  I was using a magnetic ticket this day, so I had to use the older type machines.  For some reason, the first machine I tired didn't like my ticket, but when I tried again with another machine, it worked okay.

Walking Under Rail Bridge in Nakano (120910)

Man on Crutches Boards Bus in Nakano (120910)

Ah... this one.  I got a comment complaining about the theme and I realized the title could be read as one of those (unfortunately) popular videos that poke fun of someone attempting to do something.  Actually I began taking the video just to show the bus, and then a man on crutches came up and - with just the first low step - got on board, so I thought "Ah!  Here we go!  This is the whole point of the low-rider buses - that they are easy to board for people who would have had trouble with the steps!".  So - to avoid confusion, I changed the name at YouTube to: "Low-Rider Bus Easy to Board with Crutches (120910)".

Speaking of this type of bus - which is low to the ground and doesn't have any steps in the front section - is the same type design being used for buses in other countries as well?

Mysterious Old Building (120910)

Tree Shadows on Sidewalk (120910)

Morning Side Street in Nakano (120910)

Walking Towards Nakano Station (120910)

Nakano to Koenji (Chuo Line) 120910

Koenji Morning Walkabout (A) 120910

Koenji Morning Walkabout (B) 120910

Koenji Morning Walkabout (C) 120910

Koenji Temple Area (120910)

Koenji Temple 高円寺 (120910)

Sun Through Green Branches (Koenji) 120910

Hot Summer Street (Koenji) 120910

Lonely Streets (Koenji) 120910

Koenji Station 高円寺駅 (120910)

Shinjuku Yamanote Line Platform (120910)

Shinjuku to Sugamo (Yamanote Line Left Side) 120910g

Kaneko Nao 金子奈緒展 Exhibition at Gallery Ginza Forest (120910)

LHS Sketch at G-403 (120910)

Tamachi Back Street (A) 田町 120910

Tamachi Back Street (B) 田町 120910

Ginza Evening Side Streets (120910)

Beams Group Exhibition-V4 at Key Gallery (120910)

Looking around during the opening party for this exhibition.

Looking Through Old Glass (120910)

Looking through old glass towards an exhibition room.

Exiting Old Building (Looking Down) 120910

While walking down the stairs from an exhibition, it occurred to me that the old steps looked kind of cool, so I recorded the lower part of the staircase while walking down.

Entering Nighttime Yurakucho Plaza (120910)

Singer Playing in the Distance (120910)

Hamamatsucho to Tamachi (120910)

Exiting Tamachi Station (120910)

Tamachi Station (Both Sides) 田町駅 (120910)

Entering Tamachi Station 田町駅 (120910)

Tamachi to Shinbashi - Keihin-Tohoku Line (120910)

Shinbashi SL-Plaza (120910)

Shinbashi SL-Plaza Smokers Area, Etc. (120910)

Shinbashi Izakaya Basement (120910)

New-Shinbashi-Building 1F (ニュー新橋ビル 1F) 120910

Yurakucho Station Platform Walk (120910)

Yurakucho to Tokyo (120910)

Tokyo to Kanda (Chuo Line) 120910

Sugamo Station 巣鴨駅 - Exiting into the Summer Heat (120910)

Sugamo Main Shotengai Street 巣鴨 (120910)

Shops in Sugamo (120910)

Near Sugamo Station 巣鴨駅の近く (120910)

Sugamo Station 巣鴨駅 (120910)

Yurakucho Plaza 360 - Helicopter Day (120910)

They were publicizing the helicopter (medical) rescue service and they actually brought a helicopter to the plaza for the event.  I asked a guard at the site later that night if they had actually flown it there, and he told me no, it had been brought there by truck.

Shinkansen Passing Helicopter - Yurakucho Plaza (120910)

Helicopter in Yurakucho Plaza (120910g)

Trains Passing by Yurakucho Station (120910g)

Ginza Lunchtime Side Street (120910)

Front Exterior of Okuno Building (120910)

Ginza Shadows - Side Street View (120910)

Walking into Yurakucho from Ginza (120910)

Yurakucho to Hamamatsucho (Yamanote Line) 120910

Hamamatsucho Station 浜松町駅 (and Restaurants Etc) 120910

Beside Hamamatsucho Station 浜松町 (120910)

Hamamatsucho Station Walkabout 浜松町駅 (120910)

Trains, Etc. Near Hamamatsucho Station (120910)

Entering Hamamatsucho Station (120910)



"1990 Ueno, Ginza Line, Etc; 1991 East-Shinagawa; 2012 Kamata, Akabane, Ueno, Etc."

This batch of clips begins with a couple of trips back to 1990; one showing a ride on the Ginza Line and the other a look at a few of some very popular (at the time) pachinko parlors.  Then there are a a few views from 1991, all taken in the East-Shinagawa area - one featuring a walk down an overgrown sidewalk that seemed to be almost completely unused; another a look at a shipping container-handling monster machine that I found very interesting at the time (and still think is fascinating, but only if you like machines I guess).  The third clip is a (nearly) hour-long video of my wanderings in East-Shinagawa on that August 24th, 1991 summer day (including the overgrown street and the shipping container footage).

From this year - 2012 - feeling a bit nostalgic about it as I walked around - I did what I used to do back in my 1990-93 video days: I went to places specifically to record the moving sights and sounds of the area as I walked around.  I spent most of the time in Kamata and in Akabane, but also spent some time in Ueno - in and around Ueno Station.  Both Kamata Station and Akabane Station have changed radically (been almost completely rebuilt basically) - the rail platforms haven't changed much, but now the upper part of Kamata (and the lower part of elevated Akabane) are basically shopping malls.

1990 Old Type Ginza Line Train 1990年昔の銀座線 (900723)

In 1990, they had mostly replaced the old fully orange trains on the Ginza Line (maybe the 2000 Series?) with the newer aluminum type (with an orange stripe), but there were still a few of the old trains on the rails.  For some reason, in spite of their rarity, I didn't feel a particular need to document them as I went about Tokyo taking video.  Nonetheless, I did get some video footage of the old type - one example being this clip.

Pachinko Mania 1990 パチンコ フィーバー1990年 (900723)

I had gotten the impression that the number of pachinko parlors in Japan had been decreasing since 1990, but according to a statistics site I checked on-line, they went on increasing until 2000 and have been decreasing since then.  Looking at a graph, it looks as though the total number is about the same now as when this video was taken.  However, I don't seem to see them as often - maybe the ones that remain are in more out-of-the-way places than before?

1991 Shipping Container Handling Machine in Shinagawa (910824)

1991 East Shinagawa Jungle Walk 東品川ジャンゲル散歩 (910824)

1991 East Shinagawa Walkabout 東品川散歩1991年 (910824)

Kamata_BR-SB (A) 蒲田バーボンロード (120905)

Kamata_BR-SB (B) 蒲田バーボンロード (120905)

Kamata_BR-SB (C) 蒲田バーボンロード (120905)

Kamata Bourbon Road (A) 蒲田バーボンロード (120905)

Kamata Bourbon Road (B) 蒲田バーボンロード (120905)

Kamata Tokyu Trackside 120905

Kamata Rooftop Amusement Park (A) 120905 (For Children)

Kamata Rooftop Amusement Park (B) 120905
(For Children)

Kamata (A) East Side Walkabout (120905)

Kamata (B) East Side Walkabout (120905)

Kamata (C) East Side Walkabout (120905)

Kamata Station Platform 蒲田駅ホーム 120905

Old Type Platform Seats (Kamata Station) 120905

As these get old and are replaced with a new type, this old type is getting rare at most of the stations I use in Tokyo.

Kamata Station 蒲田駅 120905

Kamata In-Station Shopping Mall (120905)

Old Photographs of Kamata Station Area (120905)

Exiting Kamata Station (120905)

Kamata West Side Plaza and Shotengai (120905)

Kamata Back Streets (120905)

Ochanomizu to Tokyo (Chuo Line) 御茶ノ水東京中央線 (120905)

Escalator and Concourse (Tokyo Station) 120905

Tokyo Station Platform (Daytime Yamanote) 120905

Tokyo to Tamachi (Daytime Keihin-Tohoku Line) 東京田町京浜東北線 (120905)

Tamachi to Kamata (Keihin-Tohoku Line) 田町蒲田京浜東北線 (120905)

Akabane Station 赤羽駅 (120905)

Akabane Walkabout - Mostly East Side (120905)

Akabane - Large Empty Lot on East Side (120905)

Akabane Quiet Back Streets (East Side) 120905

Kamata (D) East Side Walkabout (120905)

Akabane Ticket Gates to Train - Evening Inbound (120905)

Train Passes by in the Night 120905

Between Ueno Park and Ueno Station at Night (120905)

Ueno Walkabout 120905

Ameyokocho Night Stroll 120905

Approaching Ueno Station (120905)

Ueno Lower Level Ticket Gates (120905)

Ueno Yamanote Line Platform (120905)

Boarding Keihin-Tohoku Line at Ueno (120905)

Ueno Platform Walk - New Train (120905)

New Train Departs Ueno Station (120905)

Ueno Station Platform Walk, Etc. (120905)

Ueno Station Retail Area (120905)

Ueno Train Watch (B) 120905

Trains in the Night (Ueno) 120905

Lonely Street at Night (120905)

Ueno Train Watch (A) 120905g

Akabane to Ueno - Evening New Train (120905g)

Kamata Station Plaza - East Side Evening (120905g)

Ueno Night Walkabout 120905g



"Shin-Okubo, Takadanobaba, Mejiro, Ikebukuro, Otsuka, Yurakucho, Shinjuku, Etc."

I've been venturing off my usual beaten paths and visiting a few places I haven't been to in awhile.  The biggest surprises have been how radically some train stations have been changed/rebuilt.  Someone recently told me that the JR railway company makes most of its money from renting out retail space - not from running its trains (which I didn't believe at first, but I do now!), so it stands to reason that former utilitarian train stations (with a shop or two in a few of them) have been converted into retail shopping malls that also have ("What's that noise?") trains running through them ("Oh yeah!  This is actually a train station!").

Shin-Okubo hasn't changed much - and it was reassuring in a way to see it the way I remember it from the early eighties.  The first shock was Otsuka.  I came down the stairs and thought I had gotten off at the wrong station!  Since then (at places not in this batch of video clips) I've had similar feelings of shock/disorientation at a few other stations.  But that's the charm/hazard of living in Tokyo.  If you stay away from any area for awhile that you used to know well, chances are that when you go back, it will have changed.  You get used to gradual change, but the shock comes when the change has come about by eradicating 100% of what was there before and building something entirely different in its place.  (If you don't live in Tokyo, you probably think that's an exaggeration - long-term Tokyo residents know better!)  You would think it couldn't be 100% changed and maybe it isn't actually (there must be *something* left from before?!), but I've been to areas and looked around and not discovered anything at all of what was there before.  With some redevelopment, they bulldoze over an area and build the entire area anew, so I think 100% is probably accurate.

Anyway - in addition to typical scenes of Shinjuku, Ginza, Kyobashi, Yurakucho, etc., there are views of Shin-Okubo, Takadanobaba, Mejiro, Ikebukuro, and Otsuka.

Shin-Okubo Main Street Stroll (120831g)

This area is home to the most well-know "Koreatown" (or "Little Korea") in Tokyo.  According to a Wikipedia page regarding Koreatowns in the world:

"Unlike other Japanese Koreatowns, the Korean-oriented commercial district around Shin-Okubo Station in Shinjuku Ward developed after World War II, and is dominated by "new-comers" - recent immigrants from South Korea who have retained their ethnic and cultural identity, as can be seen from the ubiquitous signs written in Hangul. Other immigrants from China, Taiwan, Southeast Asia, and various other nationalities makes this one of the most colorful and multicultural areas in Tokyo."

What I remember about Shin-Okubo is the multicultural (from various countries in Southeast Asia) aspect to it, but when I went there last week, it seemed like it was overwhelmingly Korean.  I didn't really think of it as "Koreatown" before, but after walking around on both sides of the main street there on August 31st, I do now!

Takadanobaba Sanpo (120831g)

Takadanobaba hasn't changed much - come to think of it.  Naturally, the tenants and (especially restaurants) in buildings have changed a bit, but there hasn't been much construction there and it feels pretty much as I remember it from the past few decades.

Ikebukuro Sanpo (D) Summer Late Afternoon Crowds (120831g)

Maybe I just didn't appreciate it because I passed though it nearly every day, but Ikebukuro seems like it's become a more popular place with the young crowd than I remember.  But... I suspect that memory is wrong.  When I was in my twenties and walking around with other people in their twenties, I didn't think about it - it was just... Ikebukuro.  Now that I'm three decades past my twenties, the crowds of young people really stand out to me?  I'm not sure.  In any case, my perception of Ikebukuro is that it's become a more hip place, but it was probably just as hip - for its time - in the early eighties as now?

Zebra CW (A) 120831g

The zebra crosswalks have always seemed visually interesting to me (CW = Cross Walk).

Evening Ikebukuro East Side (120831g)

The east side of Ikebukuro Station has movie theaters (or had - I noticed a large empty lot where a couple of movie theaters were before), restaurants, shopping, the Sunshine City complex, etc.  The west side has Nakayama, clubs, and whatnot.  The east side is where you see all the students and couples.

Ikebukuro Station (Evening Entrance) 120831g

Minami-Otsuka Sanpo (A) 120831g

Flute and Dance Practice for Festival (Minami-Otsuka 南大塚) 120831g

There was a large festival scheduled for the next day, so this group - in normal clothing - appeared to be practicing the day before.  The following day (September 1st) there were a lot of short, but heavy rainstorms.  Actually, that's a topic all its own - the rain would suddenly pour down really hard, then there would be no rain, it would pour down hard again, etc.  Naturally I've seen on-again and off-again rain before, but never such heavy rain on and off so suddenly and for such a prolonged period.  Every time it rained, I wondered if this group would get to perform on the festival day or not.  Hopefully they were able to do so between the many sudden downpours.

About the strange way it rained - in talking with various people about that later, everyone told me that they also thought it was very strange and that they didn't remember it ever raining quite like that before....

Tokyo Twilight (120831g)

Looking out over a part of mega-city Tokyo.  The city is so huge, there's no one defining image for the cityscape.  This is just one of an almost infinite variety of views/compositions.

Shinjuku to Shin-Okubo (Yamanote Line) 120831

Shin-Okubo Sanpo (A) 120831

Shin-Okubo Sanpo (B) 120831

Waiting at Intersection (Near Shin-Okubo) 120831

Shin-Okubo Sanpo (C) 120831

Shin-Okubo Sanpo (D) 120831

Entering Shin-Okubo Station (120831)

This is as it was before, although I don't remember quite so many people standing about in front of the station.  That's either just a timing issue (a large number of people just happened to be waiting to meet someone there) or it's become a popular place to meet.  Different places in Tokyo tend to end up as kind of official meeting spots: Hachiko in Shinjuku, Studio Alta in Shinjuku, etc.

Shin-Okubo to Takadanobaba (120831)

Entering Takadanobaba Station (120831)

Takadanobaba to Mejiro (Yamanote Line) 120831

Mejiro Station Interior (120831)

Mejiro Station has also changed pretty radically, but it's never been a station I went to often, so I had before, and still have, neutral feelings about it.  Never having gotten used to it, it's not in the least disturbing that it has changed.

In walking around there for bit (on the west side of the station only), I was struck with how high-price the suburbs off of the main street appear to be (see following several clips - most of which are on the main street, but at least one shows a little of an expensive area).

Mejiro Sanpo (A) 120831

Mejiro Sanpo (B) 120831

Mejiro Sanpo (C) 120831

Mejiro Suburb (120831)

Mejiro Sanpo (D) 120831

Mejiro Afternoon Platform Walk (120831)

Narita Express Train Passing Mejiro (120831)

Mejiro to Ikebukuro (Yamanote Line) 120831

Afternoon Ikebukuro Station (120831)

Shinjuku Station now has the largest number of people passing through it every day, but apparently that distinction used to belong to Ikebukuro (probably before they extended the Akabane Line [renamed the Saikyo Line when they did] to Shinjuku, and then on to Ebisu), but Ikebukuro still has a very large number of people using it every day.

Ikebukuro West-Side Stroll (120831)

Not extensive at all, but this shows a little of the izakaya area on the west side of Ikebukuro.

Ikebukuro Pedestrian Tunnel (Afternoon) - 120831

Ikebukuro Sanpo (A) 120831

Ikebukuro Sanpo (B) Long Shadow Side Streets (120831)

Ikebukuro Sanpo (C) Late Afternoon Crowds (120831)

Ikebukuro - Man Stocking a Toy Machine (120831)

Ikebukuro Sanpo (E) Verbal Advertising (120831)

Zebra CW (B) 120831

Ikebukuro Sanpo (F) Evening Side Streets (120831)

Ikebukuro Underground Shopping Mall (A) 120831

Evening Ikebukuro Station (120831)

Ikebukuro Tunnel to East Side (Evening) 120831

Ikebukuro to Otsuka (Twilight Yamanote Line) 120831

Otsuka Station (Summer 2012 - Twilight) 120831

Kita-Otsuka Sanpo (A) 120831

Kita-Otsuka Sanpo (B) Lonely Streets (120831)

Kita-Otsuka Sanpo (C) Shops at Night (120831)

Otsuka Platform Walk, Etc. (120831)

Yurakucho Platform (Nighttime-360) 120831

Yurakucho-SB Sanpo (120831)

Yurakucho New Underground Stand-Bar (120831)

"Stand bars" (also translated as "standing bars") seem to be coming back into favor big time.  The prolonged bad economy means people are cutting back on expenses, and one way to profitably run an izakaya with lower prices is to have everyone stand (more people fit into a small space and tend to linger less since they're standing the whole time).

Maybe "coming back into favor big time" is an overstatement, but I'm seeing more and more of them as the months roll past....

Yurakucho Outside Izakaya Stroll (120831)

It's only when the weather is warm that there are so many tables out in the open like this.  Spring is the best time - when visiting one of these izakayas is a kind of celebration of the warming weather.

Yurakucho Night Sanpo (120831)

Entering Yurakucho Station (10:30 p.m.) 120831

Yurakucho Station - Waiting for a Train at Night (120831)

Yurakucho to Tokyo (120831)

Yurakucho Platform Walk (Before Night Rush) 120831g

Yurakucho Izakaya Stroll - Summer 2012 (120831g)

Yurakucho-SB Bound (120831g)

Night View (Otsuka to Ueno - Yamanote Line) 120831g 山手線 夜ビュー

Night View (Ueno to Yurakucho - Yamanote Line) 120831g 山手線 夜ビュー

Surface train travel in Tokyo is almost never boring - since you get constantly changing scenery, and and since Tokyo is constantly being rebuilt, you look out and kind of idly watch for new things you haven't seen before (either because you didn't notice them, or because they weren't there).

Departing Yurakucho Station (120829)

Seibu Line Train Arriving at Station (120829)

Summer Ginza Stroll (120829)

Clouds in Kyobashi 120904

Tokyo Station Escalator Under Construction (Chuo Line) 120904

Rolling by East Side of Shinjuku 120904

Ota Yumiko 太田喩美子 Exhibition Ginza Ono Gallery-2 小野画廊-2 (A) 120904

Ota Yumiko 太田喩美子 Exhibition Ginza Ono Gallery-2 小野画廊-2 (B) 120904

Ota Yumiko 太田喩美子 Exhibition Ginza Ono Gallery-2 小野画廊-2 (C) 120904

Project-306 Installation Sept 2012 - 306号室プロジェクト 九月 (120904)

Kyobashi to Tokyo Station Night Walk (120904)

Speaking of "stand bars", there's one in this clip towards the beginning.  I walk past it, and then look back (vertically) into the open door.  I think this a new one, but I'm not sure.  After passing a couple of asphalt deserts (for the internal combustion machines), I walk into Tokyo Station....

Kanda to Ochanomizu - Outgoing Chuo Line (120904)

Evening Shinjuku Station 120904

Shinjuku Southeast Exit 新宿駅東南口 (120904)

Shinjuku South Side Night Walk (A) 120904

Shinjuku South Side Night Walk (B) 120904

Watching Night Trains on South Side (120904)

A good place to contemplate things and feel... a wide range of feelings.



"1990 Takadanobaba, Waseda, etc; 1991 Mini-Steam Train, etc; 2012 Yoyogi, Harajuku, etc."

Several trips back to 1990 (Ichigaya, Waseda, Ikebukuro, Takadanobaba, Hibarigaoka Bonodori, etc.) a few back to 1991 (drives to places in the country, a ride on a mini-steam locomotive, etc.), and views from this month - August 2012.  I've written at some length under some of the videos regarding a few things, so scroll down for more text.  Mostly the titles sum up the theme of each video though.

Shibuya Shadows (120828g)

People casting long shadows as they come and go from Shibuya Station.

Harajuku to Shibuya (Yamanote Line) 120828g

Exiting Ebisu Station 120824

Shinjuku Platform Scene (Friday Night) 120825

In this video, just as the Yamanote Line is about to depart from Shinjuku Station, the emergency buzzer goes off.  I don't know what the cause was - someone may have dropped a bag onto the tracks, or maybe it was a prank.  After three people died on
Friday, January 26th, 2001 [article] at Shin-Okubo Station, JR installed emergency stop buttons at all the stations (I think *all* - it certainly seems that way) so anyone can stop the trains from the platform now.  For emergencies, this is great, but the problem is that people often press the platform emergency stop buttons for frivolous reasons.  I don't know exactly what happened on this evening, but they got the trains moving quickly enough that I suspect there wasn't an actual emergency.

Platform walls (with a pair of electric doors for each place there's a door on the train) are another thing they're installing for safety reasons, but while making the platforms safer is of course a great thing, I also see that they're not repainting bridges.  If they let the bridges rot to the point where they have to shut down train lines because they spent maintenance money on the very expensive doors, you have to wonder if people are looking properly at the total picture.  If it's doable, it should be done, but if they're sabotaging the long-term viability of the rail system through unbalanced spending....

I don't know.  But think of the energy cost for one thing.  On the trains, the doors are opened and closed pneumatically, so you don't need electricity beyond the power used for the air compressors.  Now imagine the situation for one ten-car train.  (Many trains are 15 cars, but let's use 10 for the sake of simplicity.)  Each train car has four doors per side, so that's 40 doors x2 (while there are a few trains that use a single large door, the vast majority use two halves that slide together and close in the middle).  So you have 80 doors per side.  For platform walls with matching doors, this is matched by 80 electric motor powered doors per track (generally on both sides of a platform).  For a simple station, with one train line stopping on both sides of the platform, you then need 160 electric motor powered doors.  Many stations have multiple platforms, so for a four-platform station (eight tracks), you would need 640 electric motor powered doors.  One article I read indicated that there is a push to install platform walls at approximately 2,800 stations.  Again, many have more than one platform, but even if there were only one platform (with two tracks) per station, that would be 448,000 electric motor powered doors.

Aside from the huge power requirements for that many motors, there's the cost of installing them and maintaining them.  There are some branch lines that are barely holding on already, since rural Japan has become very much a car culture.  Being forced to shoulder this much expense would probably lead to several lines just being shut down.  I like safety, but I also like rail transport.  If you shut down much of the rail system in the quest for "zero railway deaths" (of course shutting down a railway is one way to eliminate any deaths that could happen in a rare accident!), and people then take to the road because there are no trains in their area, there will be many more deaths due to traffic accidents.  So here's a question - is exchanging a rare railway death now and then for scores of people killed in the carnage that is the internal combustion engine free-for-all of the open road really a good idea?  Kill 2,000 people to save 15?  Why don't people look at the whole picture?

Shinjuku Yamanote Line Arrival 120825

Yurakucho Plaza Escalator 120824

Yurakucho to Shinbashi (Yamanote Line) 120824

Evening Shinagawa to Ebisu (Yamanote Line) 120824

Yurakucho Afternoon Shadows 120824

Yurakucho Evening Trains 120824

Twilight Shinbashi to Shinagawa (Yamanote Line) 120824g

1990 Ichigaya to Waseda Walk (900824) 市ヶ谷から早稲田まで散歩

This is a fairly long walk I took across one of those parts of central Tokyo that you usually don't think about and seldom see.  Starting with two points on a map and simply aiming towards one from the other, I found myself in a residential neighborhood that you might expect to be on the edge of the city somewhere, but it's right in central Tokyo, within the Yamanote loop line.  I took this back in 1990, back when I was wandering around discovering the different areas of Tokyo, but I don't think I would go there now.  There's nothing amazing about the content, but it is a view of a part of central Tokyo you may well not have imagined.

1990 Ikebukuro Station (900824) 池袋駅

1990 Nighttime Hibarigaoka Station (900824) 夜のひばりヶ丘駅

1990 Takadanobaba JR Station (900824) 高田馬場JR駅

1990 Takadanobaba Tozai (900824) 高田馬場駅東西線

1990 Tozai Evening Rush (Waseda to Takadanobaba) 900824 東西線夕方ラッシュ

It's hard to pin down exactly what has changed, but when I watch this clip, I remember the feeling of the trains back then and the urgency of the daily commute.  Superficially, nothing much (except hair styles and clothes) has changed, and yet the old intensity seems dulled now.  The stress of commuting during peak hours is just the same, but there seems to be a less intense focus on getting to somewhere in the fastest possible time, and so it ends up feeling a little different.  Another component of this is that the train that roars into the station in this clip is manually controlled, whereas nearly all trains are at least partially computer controlled now.  With the manually controlled trains, you get a feeling of human beings at work, with a very real connection between the operator and the machine, but with the computer controlled trains, it feels something like an elevator.  Someone pushes a button, but other than that, the machine runs itself.

1990 Hibarigaoka Bonodori (900824) ひばりが丘盆踊り

View from Mt Takao (120827)

Mt Takao Cable Car (Ascending) 120827

Mt Takao - View From Top (120728)

In the beginning of this clip I'm just looking at the foreground, but towards the middle I focus on the sky and background - which is much more interesting than the first part of the clip.

Dancing to Live Music in Nakano (120828)

Musical Fun in Nakano (120828g)

Small Park in Ebisu 120828

I began this clip in a small park in Ebisu by looking through a fence at the street the park is next to - and then panning to the right to take in a view of the park itself.

Shibuya Nighttime Stroll (A) 120828

Shibuya Nighttime Stroll (B) Streets to Station 120828

Shinjuku to Nakano (Night Window View) 120828

Waiting for a Train in Nakano 120828

Chuo Line Midnight Interior 120829

Kokubunji Platform Look-around 120828

Chuo Line Departing Shinjuku 120828

Shinjuku Platform-5 Look-around (120828)

Temporary Passageways in Shinjuku Station 120828

This area near the Southern Terrace has been under construction for years now.  Eventually it will look radically different from the temporary white walled temporary corridors that are there now.

Entering Shinjuku Station via Southern Terrace Entrance 120828

Walk to Platform (Shinjuku Yamanote Line) 120828

Shinjuku Platform Walk (Yamanote Line) 120828

Shinjuku to Yoyogi (Yamanote Line) 120828

Shibuya to Ebisu (Ebisu Platform Walk) 120828

Shibuya Vertical Shadows 120828

A time of year and a time of day when people were casting very long shadows as they walked to and from Shibuya Station in the evening one hot summer day.

Shibuya Stroll (C) Crossing and Station 120828

Shibuya Stroll (B) 120828

Shibuya Stroll (A) Crossing Etc 120828

Platform to Ticket Gates (Shibuya) 120828

Entering Takeshita-Dori (Harajuku) 120828

Takeshita-Dori Stroll (Harajuku) 120828

It's been a while since I've walked down Takeshita-dori in Harajuku.  It seemed about the same as I remember, although back when I first went down the street in the eighties, it wasn't a specific tourist destination.  Now the street has always got a lot of tourists there to see the street itself rather than to go to its shops.  Over the years, I've noticed more and more of this.  The Ameyokocho area in Ueno at New Years is pretty close to full-out insane!  A couple of years back (or was it three?) I went there and it seemed like easily 90% of the people there were there just to experience the event of being on the crowded street.

I suppose YouTube and the Internet have a lot to do with this kind of progression.  In the old days, you would get information about tourist things to check out in a city by reading guide books, magazines, and whatnot, or having a friend show you around.  A friend would know some non-touristy things/places to show you and a back streets place could maintain its status as an area for locals, visited only rarely by foreign tourists.  Now everyone is falling over themselves to find (and publish stories about) interesting places "off the beaten track" and - lo-and-behold - once they post text, photos, and videos on-line, the places become the beaten track in a remarkably short time.

Of course, Takeshita-dori was never an unknown off-the-beaten-track place, but it didn't used to be a "must see!" tourist destination.  As for changes, I saw a fairly large section that's been torn down and appears to be in the foundation stages of some new construction.  Probably another steel and glass box with a sealed air system.  (I wonder how long it will be before people rediscover how to properly ventilate buildings?)

Harajuku Stroll 120828

Harajuku Summer Light and Shadows 120828

Noisy Crow in Harajuku 120828

That Tokyo crows are noisy is just a given, but what was strange about this one, is how it was down low at people-level, with people all around.  I cautiously walked up to it and recorded this video.  It seemed to be about as nervous of me as I was of it, and after continuing to to make its racket for me and my camera while eying me suspiciously from time-to-time, it flew off a few feet - I followed - and it flew off a few more feet, at which point I decided to leave it alone.  I'm still pondering what it was doing down so low like that.  Hoping someone would give it food?  At least one young woman was frightened by it and ran off.

Crows are famous for being clever birds, and they have tended to appear clever to me from a distance, so I was mildly surprised to notice how the bird looked primitive and not very cleaver when observed at close range.  Maybe it was just a stupid (or crazy?) crow, and others look different?  Still, the "primitive beast" appearance of it was grotesquely fascinating to observe at close range.

Harajuku August Sidewalk Near Station 120828

[From] Harajuku Ticket Gates to Platform 120828

Ebisu Mall Stroll and Escalator 120828

1991: Driving Through Medium-Sized Town (910818)

1991 Mini-Steam Train Ride ミニSLを乗る1991年 - (910818)

This miniature steam powered train was surprisingly fun to ride!  I'm not sure what the exact reason for it is, but there's something fun and fascinating about steam engines - maybe it's the basic simplicity of the technology.  You can imagine the whole process pretty well, unlike with a computer-controlled electrically powered machine.  Or maybe there's something about the basic elements of water, fire, and steam.  In any case, it was a lot of fun and the steam whistle sure sounded good!

1991 Mountain Lakeside Rest Area (910812)

1991 Mountain Town [
Narai 奈良井] (910812)  [Part Two]

This is actually a continuation (on a different tape) of a video I posted in June of a festival I stumbled upon while driving around in the countryside in 1991 in a 1991 Honda Beat.  Here is the first part of the video (with the same explanatory text I posted before):

1991 Kisokaido Narai-juku Natsu-Matsuri (910812)  [Part One]

A look at Narai 奈良井 (or Naraijuku 奈良井宿) on August 12th, 1991.  Narai is a traditional town on the old Kisokaido 木曽街道 (or Nakasendo 中山道) road.  This is the 34th (or 35th, there seems to be some dispute about this) stage of the 69 Stages of the Nakasendo series of woodblock prints (中山道六十九次).

1991 Train Ride in Saitama Countryside (910818)

Yoyogi Station Walkabout (JR) 120828

Yoyogi Station Walk-through (JR) 120828

Yoyogi Afternoon Stroll 120828

Yoyogi Railway Bridge and RR Crossing 120828

Yoyogi to Harajuku 120828



"1990 Koenji Matsuri, Hibarigaoka, Tanashi, Etc.; 2012 Nakano, Keio Line, Etc.

Another batch mixing current Tokyo views with trips back to 1990.  Going back to 1990, there are walkabout views of Hibarigaoka (north side of Hibarigaoka Station) and Tanashi, a 30-minute visit to the natsu-matsuri in Koenji and a few other things.

In 2012, I visit Nakano and walk around on back streets and through the Broadway building with its many small shops (books, movie memorabilia, etc.).  There is also a walk-around view of a whole section of former drinking places that have mostly been torn down to (most probably) make way for yet another high-rise.  The old wooden back-street areas of Tokyo disappear year-by-year - in the future, one hopes at least a few rustic areas will be preserved.  The contrasts of Tokyo are a large part of its attraction.  When everything is new, you lose that element.

There are also views of art exhibitions and train views from various lines - including some long clips from the Keio and Chuo Lines.

Evening Trains in Nakano (120821)

1990 Koenji Natsu Matsuri (900827) 高円寺阿波おどり夏祭り

1990 Tamachi と Nihonbashi (900827)

Nakano Demolition (Old Wooden Buildings R.I.P.) (120821)

Shinjuku to Kanda (Afternoon Chuo Line) 120820

Tachikawa to Hachioji (Chuo Line) 120820

Hachioji to Takao (Chuo Line) 120820

Kokubunji Sanpo 120819

1990 Shibuya to Ikebukuro (Yamanote Line) 900820

1990 Ikebukuro (Yamanote to Seibu Transfer) 900820

Kokubunji to Tachikawa (Chuo Line) 120820

Mitaka to Kokubunji (Chuo Line Window View) 120819

Group Exhibition at Ai Gallery 藍ギャラリー (August 2012) 120820

Nakano Hotel World Kaikan Building (Stairs and Hallways) 120821

Nakano Hotel World Kaikan Building (Exterior) 120821

Heading for Train at Ogikubo Station 120819

Summer Park Sounds 120819

Nakano Broadway Walkabout (A) 120821

Nakano Broadway Walkabout (B) 120821

Nakano Broadway Walkabout (C) 120821

Nakano Back Streets (A) August 2012 (120821)

Nakano Back Streets (B) August 2012 (120821)

Nakano Back Streets (C) August 2012 (120821)

Nakano Back Streets (D) August 2012 (120821)

Nakano Back Streets (E) August 2012 (120821)

Nakano Back Streets (F) August 2012 (120821)

Keio Line Train Arriving at Station 120820

Kanda to Yurakucho (Yamanote Line) 120820

Ogikubo to Nakano (Chuo Line) 120821

Kanda (Chuo to Yamanote) 120820

Kanda - Chuo Line Arriving (Construction) 120820

Nighttime Yurakucho Station Bound (Summer 2012) 120820

Old Type Express Train Arriving at Shinjuku 120820

Yaesu-Guchi Construction Cranes (Tokyo Station) 120820

Yurakucho Station (Hot August Day) 120820

Entering Nakano Broadway 120821

Nakano Game Center 120821

Nakano Narrow Walkways (Edge of Izakaya Area) 120821

Nakano Station (Platform to Exit and New Pedestrian Bridge) 120821

Nakano Sun Mall Stroll 中野サンモール (A) 120821

Nakano Sun Mall Stroll 中野サンモール (B) 120821

1990 Hanzomon Line to Shibuya (900820)

1990 Hachiko Square and Beer Garden (Shibuya) 900820

Nakano Evening (Station North Side) 120821

Evening Nakano Back Street 120821

Evening Nakano Station 120821

Boarding Keio Line at Takao Station 120820

Exiting Keio Line in Shinjuku 120820

Inbound Keio Line Front Cab View (A) 120820

Inbound Keio Line Front Cab View (B) 120820

JR Takao View From Keio Line Train 120820

1990 Bus (Hibarigaoka to Tanashi) 900821

1990 Hibarigaoka (Kita-Guchi Side) 900821

1990 Nishi-Shinjuku Night Sanpo (900821)

Inaba Hirono 稲葉寛乃展 Installation at Gallery-58 (August 2012) 120820

Eric Pelletier Exhibition at Art Space Rondo (August 2012) (A) 120820

Eric Pelletier Exhibition at Art Space Rondo (August 2012) (B) 120820

1990 Shinjuku Afternoon Sanpo (900821)

1990 Tanashi Station (900821)

1990 Tanashi to Shinjuku (900821)

1990 Tanashi-shi Summer Walkabout (900821)

1990: Here と There (Day と Night) 900823

1990 Late Night Stores (900827)



"1990 Tabata, Shinjuku, Etc; 2012 Yamanote Line, Ginza, Etc."

This batch jumps back and forth between 1990 and 2012 (with one video from 1993, which references a video from 1991).  The opening scene is of a 1990 rooftop beer garden in Shinjuku, then a 1990 udon shop in a train station, followed by a 1993 look at an archaeological dig where the Shiodome office towers now stand.  There are also art exhibition views, a couple of long Yamanote Line rides, and glimpses of other train lines in Tokyo.

I'll comment after some of the video titles and links below.)

1990 Shinjuku Rooftop Beer Garden - (900816)

There are still rooftop beer gardens in Tokyo, but not nearly as many as there used to be.  Regarding a difference between then and now (to a degree anyway), as a viewer commented, just about all the men are wearing white shirts.  It was in the bubble years (of which this is the tail end, when things were just beginning to slide), that some people began to wear colored shirts, but even now, probably there are more people wearing white shirts here than in many countries.

1990 Udon と Soba Ticket Machine (900806)

1993 Shiodome Archaeological Dig - (930624)

Before the many office towers went up in Shiodome, this was undeveloped land.  It used to be a rail freight yard, after which the rails were ripped out and it was used for model homes, a circus, a small amusement park, etc.  I visited it during this time period in 1991:

"Shiodome Before the Highrises Were Built - March 9th, 1991"

But going back to the 1993 view - this is what it looked like just prior to beginning construction of the office towers, when they were carefully digging out old ruins.  Presumably they carted the rocks and whatnot off and reconstructed them somewhere else, but I don't know where.

1990 Tamachi to Shinjuku - (900802)

1990 Shinjuku Night, Etc. - (900802)

A bit on the long side maybe, but it captures some of the 1990 atmosphere of Shinjuku, which is a little different from 2012.

Inside Bookstore (120814)

Shinjuku - Entering Book Store Building (120814)

Group Exhibition at GGICM (A) 120814

Group Exhibition at GGICM (B) 120814

The above two clips show an August 2012 group exhibition at Gallery Ginza 1-Chome.

Empty Space by Hibiya Park (New Construction Soon) 120814

Looking over where the Sanshin Building used to be - and where they are (apparently) planning to build a gargantuan office tower.

Sasaki Hisae 佐々木久枝 Calligraphy と Ikebana Exhibit (A) 120814

Sasaki Hisae 佐々木久枝 Calligraphy と Ikebana Exhibit (B) 120814

Sasaki Hisae 佐々木久枝 Calligraphy と Ikebana Exhibit (C) 120814

Takadanobaba - Seibu to Tozai - (120814)

Southern Terrace Trees (120814)

Shinjuku Station - South Exit Area (120814)

Yurakucho to Shinagawa - Evening Yamanote Line (120814)

Just looking out the window of the Yamanote Line - but even after all these years, I never find the ride boring.  There is so much activity and things to see while making the trip.

Otemachi to Kyobashi (Tozai and Ginza Lines) - (120814)

1990 Nighttime Tabata Area, Etc. - (900806)

Shinagawa to Shinjuku - Evening Yamanote Line (120814)

Another fairly long Yamanote Line ride.

Yurakucho Station - Hibiya Exit (120814)

Ginza 4-Chome and Harumi Dori 銀座四丁目と晴海通り (120814)

Harumi-Dori Stroll - (120814)

Streetside Aquarium (A) - Ginza Sony Building (120814)

Streetside Aquarium (B) - Ginza Sony Building (120814)

The concept is certainly interesting - live tropical fish near a busy Ginza intersection - but when I tried taking some photos and videos, they didn't turn out very well.

Yurakucho Evening Stroll 120814

Yurakucho Station Entrance and Platform 120814

Shinjuku Evening Street - South to East (120814)

1990 Tamachi Lunchtime People (900806)

Fashions and hairstyles have changed a bit in the last 22 years....

Shinjuku East Side Stroll (Evening) 120814

1990 Tabata Station at Night - (900806)

Evening Street by Shinjuku Station South Exit (120814)

Shinjuku Platform Walk - Yamanote Line (120814)

Evening Southern Terrace to Bridge - (120814g)

I didn't have high expectations when I began recording this clip, but it turned out to have some decent scenes.  I like the twilight views from the middle of the pedestrian bridge.

Insect and Car Noises 120817

Waving Construction Sign 120816

Seto Tadashi 瀬戸但し Installation at Gallery Camellia ギャラリーカメリア (A) 120816

Seto Tadashi 瀬戸但し Installation at Gallery Camellia ギャラリーカメリア (B) 120816

Billboard (and Music) Advertising Truck in Ginza (120816)

Ginza Evening Side Streets 120816

Nihonbashi Old Restaurant 120816

The everything-old-must-be-destroyed Godzilla monster is busy tearing down old buildings in Kyobashi and Nihonbashi, but a few old buildings are still left.  This two-story old wooden building is the type of structure the city used to be full of.

Yurakucho Evening Plaza 120816

Yurakucho Zebra Crosswalks 120816

1990 Old Wooden Apartment Bldg in Tabata (900807)

This type of old wooden building probably really isn't very safe from a fire (and probably earthquake) perspective, but wooden buildings like this have so much more character than concrete ones!

1990 Tabata Hot Afternoon Walkabout 田畑 (900807)

1990 Nihonbashi Evening - (900820)

1990 Shinjuku Department Store Restaurants - (900816)

1990 Shinjuku Elevator Operator - (900816)

1990 Shinjuku Indoor Scenes, Etc. - (900816)

1990 Shinjuku Station Area Stores - (900816)

1990 Tamachi Lunchtime, Etc. - (900820)

1990 Tamachi to Tokyo - Keihin-Tohoku Line - (900820)

A quick warning about the next two video clips - I've not had very good luck with playing them, so be forewarned.  Hopefully they'll play for you if you try the links.  The original files are fine - it's just the uploaded versions I'm having trouble getting to play - I think it's just congested network conditions or something, but thought I should mention it nevertheless (if it's happened repeatedly to me, presumably it could happen to someone else as well).

Takadanobaba Walkabout (A) 120816

Takadanobaba Walkabout (B) 120816



"Trying to
Conceptualize Time..."

I'm still reading (bit by bit, as I have time) "A Naturalist's Voyage Round the World" by Charles Darwin, M.A., F.R.S. (relating his 1831-36 voyage around the world on the Beagle).  The following paragraph brings to mind a scale not usually contemplated.  And to think how quickly bipeds are damaging the planet....

"It required little geological practice to interpret the marvellous story which this scene at once unfolded; though I confess I was at first so much astonished that I could scarcely believe the plainest evidence. I saw the spot where a cluster of fine trees once waved their branches on the shores of the Atlantic, when that ocean (now driven back 700 miles) came to the foot of the Andes. I saw that they had sprung from a volcanic soil which had been raised above the level of the sea, and that subsequently this dry land, with its upright trees, had been let down into the depths of the ocean. In these depths, the formerly dry land was covered by sedimentary beds, and these again by enormous streams of submarine lava—one such mass attaining the thickness of a thousand feet; and these deluges of molten stone and aqueous deposits five times alternately had been spread out. The ocean which received such thick masses must have been profoundly deep; but again the subterranean forces exerted themselves, and I now beheld the bed of that ocean, forming a chain of mountains more than seven thousand feet in height. Nor had those antagonistic forces been dormant, which are always at work wearing down the surface of the land; the great piles of strata had been intersected by many wide valleys, and the trees, now changed into silex, were exposed projecting from the volcanic soil, now changed into rock, whence formerly, in a green and budding state, they had raised their lofty heads. Now, all is utterly irreclaimable and desert; even the lichen cannot adhere to the stony casts of former trees. Vast, and scarcely comprehensible as such changes must ever appear, yet they have all occurred within a period, recent when compared with the history of the Cordillera; and the Cordillera itself is absolutely modern as compared with many of the fossiliferous strata of Europe and America."



"1993 Sendai, Ichinoseki, Iwate; 1992 Sydney; 1990 Ebisu, Hiro; 2012 Natsu-Matsuri, Etc."

Lot's of time traveling in this batch of video clips, from 1990 in a few clips taken on August 3rd, 1990, when I walked from Ebisu over to the other side of the Yamanote Line, to 1992 when I visited Sydney Australia, to 1993 when I drove up to Sendai and Ichinoseki, and of course 2012, which consists of modern Tokyo train scenes and visits to art galleries in Kyobashi and Ginza.  There is such a wide range of material this time, I'll skip attempting to say much of anything at the top here and make some comments underneath titles I feel are deserving of some explanation.

1993 Tokyo to Sendai Drive (Route-4) 930805-06

Having heard that there is a famous version of the Tanabata Festival in Sendai, I rented a Honda Civic (just a basic model without frills and with something like a 1400cc engine, but a great car!) and drove up from Tokyo.  The drive was interesting.  One thing that really surprised me along the way was discovering (when I got lost) that there were two parallel highways with exactly the same name!!  Route-4, it turns out, splits at one point, and since it rejoins (eventually, after many kilometers), it was apparently thought a great idea to name both versions of the spit with the exact same name!  (I would think something like Route-4a and Route-4b would have been nice...)

In any event, I eventually arrived in Sendai, found somewhere to park the car, and walked around for awhile to see the festival.  They had impressively large displays hanging from the two-story roofs of roofed shopping malls, which is certainly practical, but the combination of being basically inside a building (enclosed except on the ends - like a tunnel) and the fact that there were hordes of other tourists there (for the same reason as I...), made it a bit stressful, so I didn't stay long and headed up further north.  Later in the day, I arrived at Ichinoseki just before evening (see next video).

1993 Ichinoseki Tanabata-Matsuri 一関七夕祭り (930806g)

After not being happy under a roof and in mainly enclosed spaces in Sendai, once I got to Ichinoseki, parked the car, and found myself on an outdoor street which was set up to celebrate the Tanabata Festival, I found myself quite energized and happy to be out in the open, under the sky, in the wind, walking through the hanging decorations suspended from bamboo poles on either side of the street.  It only partly shows in the video, but the total effect of having direct contact with the sky and wind - and walking through the hanging decorations blowing in the wind - was magical.  As it got dark, they announced that there would be a fireworks display nearby, so I went to that (which is contained in the "Ichinoseki Tanabata-Matsuri" video, and also isolated as an individual clip via the following link).

1993 Ichinoseki Hanabi Fireworks 一関花火 - (930806)

1993 Iwate Drive, Etc - (930807) 岩手ドライブなど

After getting a little sleep in Ichinoseki, I headed up north again - further into Iwate Prefecture (岩手県).

Kanda to Tokyo (Chuo and Yamanote Lines) - (120730)

Night Ride (Yurakucho to Kanda) - Yamanote and Chuo Lines - (120730)

Night Train Arriving -  (120730)

Chuo Line - Inside View  (120730)

1993 Shinjuku Summer Afternoon (930706)

1993 Shinjuku Late Afternoon (930706)

1990 Machida, Ebisu and Hiro (August) - (900803)

I was glad to find this material, as I had forgotten that I had ever ventured out from the east side exit of Ebisu Station.  I'd see (in old pictures and video material) the old bridge over the tracks and think "I wish I'd gone over there before this area was developed - while that bridge was still there", and so when I looked at one of my old tapes from August 1990, I was quite happy to suddenly see myself walking over the bridge and out the east side exit!  Much more so than with still photographs, old videos really do sometimes feel just like a time machine - especially when it's material that you've taken yourself!  Since you really have been there, but didn't remember - it's about as close to having a time machine as you can get without actually having a time machine I suppose!

1990 Hiro Azabu Hamamatsucho (August) - (900803)

A big surprise for me in (re)watching/visiting the side of HIro closest to Ebisu in this 1990 material, was discovering/remembering that there were old wooden houses with small metalworks factories in them - the last remnants of the postwar economy that supported so many small parts-makers like this.  It was also surprising, as Hiro is now known as an exclusive area, so seeing old wooden houses very similar to the ones in old shitamachi seemed strange when seen in Hiro.  (Well - more to the point, seemed strange under the brand name "Hiro"!)

1990 Shinjuku Camera Crew  (900713)

1992 Jp-Tour: Brisbane, Surfers Paradise (from Sydney) 920416

1992 Sydney and Trip to Katoomba - (920415)

1992 Sydney (Trains, Nighttime Ferry) 920413

1992 Sydney Trains, Etc.  (920414)

Art Space Ginza One アートスペース銀座ワン (Hallway) July 30th, 2012 (A) 120730

Art Space Ginza One アートスペース銀座ワン (Hallway) July 30th, 2012 (B) 120730

Art Space Ginza One アートスペース銀座ワン (Hallway) July 30th, 2012 (C) 120730

Nashimoto Youz 梨本柚子 Amore Ginza Gallery アモーレ銀座ギャラリー (A) 120730

Nashimoto Youz 梨本柚子 Amore Ginza Gallery アモーレ銀座ギャラリー (B)  120730

Sawada Ken 澤田賢 Art Space Rondo アートスペースロンド (120730)

Tsuboshima Yuki 坪島悠貴 Exhibition at Gallery Ginza Forest - (120731)

Ginza-One Tokyo-Ten サロンど東京展 2012年8月 August Exhibition  (120731)

Double Decker Advertisement Bus (in Tokyo)  120731

Shinjuku Platform Scene - Outbound Chuo Line - (120731)

Tokyo to Shinjuku - Nighttime Chuo Line - (120731)

Shinjuku South Exit - July 31st, 2012  (120731)

Natsu-Matsuri Hanabi (A) 120804 花火

Natsu-Matsuri Hanabi (B) 120804 花火

Natsu-Matsuri Hanabi (C) 120804 花火

Natsu-Matsuri Hanabi (D) 120804 花火

Natsu-Matsuri Hanabi (E) 120804 花火

Natsu-Matsuri Hanabi (F) 120804g 花火

Natsu-Matsuri Hanabi (G) 120804g 花火

Natsu-Matsuri Hanabi (H) 120804 花火

Natsu-Matsuri Hanabi (I) 120804 Convenience Store 花火

Natsu-Matsuri Hanabi (J) 120804 花火

Nihonbashi to Kyobashi 120807

Long Internal-Combustion Engine Vehicle and Summer Clouds (120807)

Hot Day Air Conditioner Noise in Kyobashi 120807

Kyobashi Side Street Construction Site 120807

Summer Evening Clouds 120807

Yurakucho Plaza - August 2012 - (120807)

Yurakucho to Tokyo 120807

Shinjuku Chuo Line Platform (Night) - 120807

Departing Shinjuku (Outbound Night Train) - 120807

Shinjuku Station (South Exit Area) - 120807

Watching Trains Pass by at Night (Shinjuku) - 120807

Tokyo to Shinjuku (Evening Chuo Line) - 120807g

Night Coffee Reflections (Shinjuku) - 120807



"July 1990 Otsuka, Ikebukuro, Nishi-Nippori, Etc; 2012 Mt. Takao"

The 2012 component of this batch of video clips is basically just a trip to Mt. Takao (riding the cable-car up and down the mountain, and walking around on the mountain trails), but there are several places viewed in the July 1990 clips - including an Otsuka to Ikebukuro walk (covering the things I saw along the way), and views from Nihonbashi to Nishi-Nippori (transport to Nishi-Nippori by train, not foot).  Incidentally, the Otsuka to Ikebukuro video is 30:55, which is on the long side, so I also posted three excerpts from that, one showing an old streetcar in a park, another an old shopping street as people began their evening shopping, and the last of the three showing Ikebukuro - focusing on the area between the Sunshine City area and Ikebukuro Station.  The Nishi-Nippori video is also long - at 32:03, but I didn't see the need to isolate any particular component of it, so it's just that one long video.  One comment though - watching it, notice how the JR stations have the "Bee!!!-Bee!!!-Bee!!!-Bee!!!-Bee!!!" warning sound just before they close the doors.  That used to be used at all the JR stations before they went to (mostly) the more relaxed melodies used now.

July 1990 Otsuka to Ikebukuro - 900728

Old Streetcar in Park 900728

Old Shopping Street - Higashi-Ikebukuro - (900728)

July 1990 Ikebukuro - (900728)

Mt. Takao Cable Car - Ascending - (120728)

Mt. Takao Cable Car - Descending - (120728)

Boarding Cable Car at Mt. Takao - (120728)

Electric Trains at Night - (120728)

July Flowers and Trees - (120728)

Evening Mt. Takao - (120728)

Leaning Tree and New Staircase - (120728)

Mt. Takao - Late Afternoon - (120728)

Mt. Takao - Waiting for Cable Car (Motor Noises) 120728

Waiting for Cable Car to Start - (120728)

Mt. Takao Temple Bell (Evening) - 120728

Mt. Takao Temple - Looking Around - (120728)

Mt. Takao Trail (A) 120728

Mt. Takao Trail (B) - 120728

Mt. Takao Trail Suspension Bridge - (120728)

1990 Night Stroll - Nishi-Nippori, Etc. - (900730)



"Tachikawa via Bicycle, July 1990 Views, Kichijoji, Ginza, Etc."

There are a number of different areas covered in this batch of video clips.  I rode around Tachikawa on a bicycle, recording a number of scenes around both sides of the station, and (on another day) walked around Kichijoji, recording some views of the busy areas there.  As for time-tripping, there are several trips back to July 1990, recording walks in different parts of Tokyo, visiting a summer festival in Hamamatsucho, etc.  And there are views from various train lines, scenes from Ginza and a look at some art exhibitions, etc.

July 1990 Waseda to Shinjuku Walk (900720)

Tokyo to Yotsuya - Evening Chuo Line - (120717)

Ogawa to Hagiyama 120717

Entering Tokyo Station from Yaesu Side 120717

Tachikawa Bicycle Ride (A) - (120718)

Tachikawa Bicycle Ride (B) - (120718)

Tachikawa Bicycle Ride (C) - (120718g)

Tachikawa Bicycle Ride (D) - (120718g)

Tachikawa Bicycle Ride (E)  (120718)

Tachikawa Bicycle Ride (F) - (120718)

Tachikawa Bicycle Ride (G) - (120718)

Tachikawa Bicycle Ride (H) - (120718g)

Tachikawa Bicycle Ride (I) - (120718)

July 1990 Tamachi - (900723)

July 1990 Shibuya Evening Izakaya - (900720)

Fuji Hidemasa 藤井秀全展 Installation at Lixil Gallery (D) - (120717)

Kokubunji Street Musician 120717

Tozai Takadanobaba Platform Walk 120717

Tachikawa Cinema Street 立川シネマ通り 120718

Tachikawa Pedestrian Tunnel 120718

July Ginza Chuo-Dori Stroll - (120717)

Nihonbashi to Ginza - Ginza Line - (120717)

Shinjuku Platform Walk - Chuo Line - (120717)

Roadside Bike Ride 120718

Boarding Chuo Line at Tokyo Station 120717

Evening Main Roads - Nihonbashi - (120717)

Ginza Side Street 120717

Kyobashi Evening Side Streets 120717

Nihonbashi Evening Lights 120717

Nihonbashi Evening Side Streets 120717

Otemachi to Nihonbashi - Tozai Line (120717)

July 1990 Nihonbashi and Ueno - (900723)

July 1990 Hamamatsucho, Shinjuku, Etc. - (900724)

July 1990 Shinjuku, Machida, Etc. - (900725)

July 1990 Trains, Shinjuku, Trains - (900726)

July 1990: Uguisudani to Minowa - (900727)

July 1990: Minowa Rooftop, Etc. - (900727)

July 1990: Hamamatsucho Matsuri (To and From) - (900727)

Tokyo to Shinjuku - Chuo Line - (120724)

Ginza One Tokyo-Ten サロンど東京展 July 2012 (Quick Look) - (120724)

Tomikawa Kazuhiko (富川和彦) Exhibition at Gallery-403 - (120724)

Kichijoji Stroll (A) - (120720)

Kichijoji Stroll (B) - (120720)

Kichijoji Stroll (C) - (120720)

Kichijoji Stroll (D) - (120720g)

Nihonbashi Stroll 120724

Don't Walk Behind Me (Umbrella Jabber) - (120720)

July 1990: Sugamo Sanpo - (900728)

Walking by Sento in Kichijoji 120720

Nihonbashi Up Escalator 120724

Shinjuku Crosswalk 120724

Street Musician by Shinjuku Station 120724

Tozai Line Arriving at Takadanobaba 120724

Kichijoji JR Station Platform 120720

Trying to Listen to Bell 120724

Chuo Line Arriving at Kichijoji Station 120720


2012/07/22c  (Originally written: January 12th, 1999)

"Listening to the Wind" and "Hibiya Park"

"Listening to the Wind"

(990212) I worked in a strange frame of mind today, mulling over a number of issues that have recently come up.  Getting off work, I put my backpack on, took the elevator down to the first floor, and walked through the expensive stone lobby, with its music and atmosphere putting one in a certain frame of mind... (interesting how quickly nice things feel so natural, and are so easy to get used to)...  Pausing near the revolving door that automatically starts revolving as you approach, I looked over at the golden colored escalators going down to the basement restaurants, feeling the guard's eyes watching my paused form... I continued on through the revolving door, and stepped out into the cold and windy evening.

Outside, I let the wind carry me, as it were, and found myself walking down a (comparatively) dark side street... as I paused to see if a Prelude parked on the left had a manual or an automatic transmission (automatic unfortunately), I started walking again just as a guard with a flashlight checking out the bushes around one of the buildings seemed about to come over.  (Ever since the poison gas attack on the Tokyo subways a few years back, security people and guards all over the city go on regular patrols to check if there are any suspicious objects left lying about.  The caution is good, but the feeling in the air is not.)

I walked to the end of the street, and saw that I was heading in the direction of the Imperial Palace.  At the main road that runs between the palace grounds and the business district, I turned left, walked past the old Palace Hotel (I wonder how they picked that name...) and suddenly found myself in a new park (on the left) constructed on part of what was once one of the outer moats of Edo Castle (now the Imperial Palace).  The park consists of a sort of open stone plaza with artificial streams running across it, pools with fountains (turned off when I was there) and little blue lights everywhere shining up out of the stone.  On the other side of the plaza is a restaurant (closed last night - only open during the day?), and a remnant of the moat on the other side of a tree topped high stone wall from the castle days.  After walking around the plaza a little (empty except for a few couples braving the cold), I stopped by the old wall, looking up at the large trees growing up on top... rather like a natural hill... and... I'm not too sure you're really supposed to do this, but I climbed up a flight of steep stone steps built into part of the old barrier, and found myself on top of the three or four meter thick wall, standing on dried leaves, small sticks, and dirt, under the large old trees.  The feeling there was quite interesting... something like a cross between standing on a busy street in a huge city, and standing among the trees on a deserted mountain somewhere!!  In the clear air, I looked over the ancient moat and the road running along it at the business district on the other side....

I must really be used to living in Tokyo, as there didn't seem to be anything incompatible about standing on an outer wall of a feudal castle and looking at cars whizzing back and forth on a busy road with high rise electric office buildings beyond......  Hmmm.  I walked around awhile on the wall, looking down the almost vertical slope of it to the waters of the moat down below... and then to the city on the other side... to the past... to the future....  The winter winds in Tokyo make it very cold, but they also blow the internal combustion engine exhaust away someplace, and so that feeling of being up on a mountain as I listened to the wind in the leaves overhead (some of the trees were a type that doesn't shed its leaves in the cold) could only happen in the winter I think.

I walked over to the other end of the wall, and looked up the wide road (the center section blocked to traffic, and only opened for the Emperor I hear) to Tokyo Station.  Tokyo Station... for the first time, I understood why it's not considered worthy of saving by some.  Personally, I think it is, but as I stood there on the moat wall, it didn't seem important.  In the clear, cold, windy air, standing under the trees, there seemed to be a connection between the blue lights in the new stone, the artificial streams, the old trees growing on the outer moat wall, the moat, the new bridge built across the moat in the old style, and the electric office buildings.  But try as I might, I couldn't get either the cars, or Tokyo Station to fit neatly into that connected picture.

What does it mean?  I don't know... that's just the way it seemed!

It was a timeless time up there... I never once thought of looking at my watch to see the time, so I can't say how long I was up there really, but somewhere between fifteen minutes and an hour.

I climbed back down the steep stone steps, and looking back up to the top of the wall from the ground, it was really quite amazing how low the wall looked - how could it seem so high from the top, and so low from the ground.....

I walked around the plaza a bit, and looking across the street to the area close enough to the Imperial Palace that guards are always on duty, with powerful floodlights lighting the entrance roads, I turned left and walked over to an area of the "Imperial Palace Outer Garden" with trees and walk lanes (wide enough for a car) winding through them.  I walked down one of the roads, past the empty park benches neatly lining both sides, and as I looked at the trees, I wondered:

"..... the trees look healthy - what is it exactly that is unsettling about this area...."

And then suddenly it hit me...  No bushes!  There are lots of trees, but the grass is clipped very short, and there are no bushes or anything at all that it would be possible to hide behind.  Being near the Imperial Palace, that might well be by design, but it gives the wooded area a strange barren feel to it, which made neighboring Hibiya Park (my next stop) seem positively like a jungle.

"Hibiya Park"

I've been through Hibiya Park many times before, but always from one of the other three corners, so it felt like being somewhere I had never been as I walked in from the entrance closest to the palace.

I walked up a small hill, and then down the other side, where I was surprised to discover a replica of the (American) "Liberty Bell".  There was a stone plaque in Japanese on the front, and a smaller brass one in English on the back, saying (taken from the English plaque):

"Dedicated to you, a free citizen in a free land.
     This reproduction of the famous Liberty Bell in Independence Hall, Philadelphia, was presented to the people of Japan by a group of American companies at the suggestion of General Douglas MacArthur.  This presentation was arranged by the honorable John W. Snyder, Secretary of the United States Treasury.
     The dimensions and tone are identical with that of the original Liberty Bell when it rang out the Independence of America in 1776.  Becoming thereby a symbol of freedom to not only Americans, but all mankind.
     In standing before this symbol, you have the opportunity to dedicate yourself, as did the founding fathers of the United States, to the principles of freedom which you share with free citizens everywhere."

And while the text was the same, the Japanese side carried the additional information that it was put there in 1952, and that the "Nihon Shinbun" (Nihon Newspaper) was involved as well.

It's interesting to stumble onto something like that.....  I wonder how people here feel about that monument in Hibiya Park.  I think I'll try asking people I know, and see what they say.  Personally, I thought of Fukuzawa Yukichi (1835-1901), a really fascinating man - (his autobiography is one of the most interesting ones I've read).  Properly explaining his life would take too long, but here's an excerpt from "Japan - An Illustrated Encyclopedia" (Kodansha):

".............. that he came to realize his mission in life.  This was nothing less than to educate his countrymen to an entirely new way of thinking based on the principles of Western civilization.  Japan was weak and backward, he decided, because its culture lacked two things possessed by Western nations: science and the spirit of independence.  Inculcate these things into the Japanese nation and it would soon grow in power and wealth so as to rival Great Britain and be secure from any threat of Western attack and exploitation.
     To the task of enlightening (keimo) the Japanese people in this manner Fukuzawa devoted the rest of his life.  In his teaching at Keio Gijuku (already one of the largest schools in the country), through the policy of his newspaper, in his personal life, and above all in his voluminous and lucid writings, he constantly strove to show that traditional Japanese ideas and values were wrong and to replace them with others derived from Western positivism and liberalism.  To this end, he defined a new concept of jitsugaku, or practical knowledge, and propounded new views of history, ethics, politics, and international relations.  He proposed a new scheme of family relationships, championing particularly the cause of women.
     Fukuzawa never accepted any government post, remaining a private citizen all his life.  By the time of his death he was a national figure, with former pupils in all walks of life, and revered as one of the founders of the new Japan.  .................."

In his autobiography, the thing that I like best about the guy is his opposition to the class system... and the saying of his that he seems best known for in Japan (judging by the response from the people I've asked) is:

「天は人の上に人を造らず人の 下に人を造らず」と言えり。

(Which is in Latin on an arch at Keio University as:

This means (I'm going from the Japanese here BTW, not the Latin) - basically - "Position yourself not above, nor below others."  (There are different ways to translate this, but it's the same concept as "All men are created equal".)

I spent an hour or so wandering around Hibiya Park, stumbling into a set of five tennis courts that I must have noticed at some point several years ago, but didn't remember.  The night seemed dark and clear... people few and far between... and the past and future seemed to hang in the air.  I stopped in front of a very old looking sign on the corner of a snack stand that said "Public Phone" in Japanese, and imagined the era that it was put up in... an ear when not everyone necessarily had their own phone, and no one had a cell phone.  I think I can imagine that era fairly well, as my own past includes a cell phone-less era, a time when you would walk around searching for a public phone somewhere when you needed to make a call, and wish someone to be off the thing when finding it in use.  Public phones are all over, but I've hardly used one in the past two years, and the old habit of mentally noting where they were has died, so if they were all gone tomorrow, I might not even notice.

By the time I walked out of the park onto a busy street near the Imperial Hotel, I felt as though I had been hiking in the mountains or something, and had to mentally reassure myself that I was presentable looking in my suit and overcoat.

I walked past the Imperial Hotel and turned left at the elevated tracks on the narrow street that runs by the drinking place under the tracks in the tunnel.  The street is lined with restaurants and drinking places, and looked lively and clean in the windy clear air.

And then... suddenly, I became cold.  It was strange, after all that time in the parks, as I stood in one place or another, I didn't feel really cold until I was walking around on the busy streets.  There is something about being away from plants that is fatiguing I think... or is it walking on concrete?

I went underground, walked through passageways this way and that, and eventually came to my train, which turned out to be a mostly nice ride.

There are times in the winter, when you come out of the cold, and sit down on a warm train... and the people around you seem to be a good mood - sometimes a quiet good mood, and sometimes a conversationally noisy one.  It was a conversationally noisy, but happy train car that I was lucky enough to find a seat in, and as I began to warm up, I fell asleep... until towards the end of the ride, when someone who didn't like the warmth, opened a window on the other side, and then I was cold and awake, with the constant thought "I want to be warm - I want to be warm...".

My own apartment never gets very warm in the winter, but the hot bath I took when I got home saved the day.

Copyright 1999 and 2012 by Lyle H Saxon


2012/07/22b (Originally written: January 22nd, 1999)

"Ghostly Building from Bubble Era" and "Drama on the Bridge..."

(990222) On Wednesday (the 20th), after leaving a contract job in Nihonbashi, I headed towards Sumida River, walking past the dark hulk of the empty Yamaichi Building, and over to the river, by the large IBM building.  The river used to run between concrete walls in such a way that you couldn't even see the water even if you were standing right by it, but they built a walkway over the concrete dike, and built a kind of park - a narrow strip that runs near the river on the water side of the barrier.  It's quite an improvement; now you can walk over the wall, down to the strip, and walk (or jog) along the river.

99/01/20 Sumida-Gawa Terrace  18:49  The steel bridge arch's blue illumination reflecting on the river... the sound of passing motorboats echoes off of the concrete buildings... beyond the bridge, expensive high rise apartment towers rise optimistically into the cold clear night... just behind where I stand by the river, a sea of lit square windows in the IBM Building.  Ahead and to my right, the empty, dark Yamaichi Building, with its exterior red lights flashing an echo of a former pride into the night... as though the building itself doesn't believe the end has come, and calls out to the former inhabitants... not understanding why they don't return.

19:25  In front of the "Terminal Hotel"... a spooky name to be sure, but no doubt taken from "Bus Terminal", as in the express bus terminal (somewhere not far away), for the buses to the airport.  No one is visible in the front lobby... nor are there any customers in the first floor coffee shop/restaurant.  The cook(?) sits at a table in the empty room, reading a newspaper.  I'm standing behind an idling truck, breathing its diesel exhaust fumes, getting dizzy.

Time to move on!

In front of the truck now, which has "Orix Rent-a-Car" on the door.  The driver sleeps.  Ah... the front desk guy, now standing behind the front desk, looking "stand-fatigued" and curious... eying the back-packed foreigner outside taking notes.

A helicopter flies by over the large rainbow colored CASIO sign on the top of a building on the opposite side of the street.  Traffic noise... always traffic noise.  Standing here by a main road and near an overhead expressway, breathing exhaust laden air, the world seems truly ruled by the internal combustion engine.  Times like now, I can only think that the city would be infinitely nicer without cars.  There would be more plants, cleaner air, less noise... and I myself love to drive....

"Drama on the Bridge..."

19:45  Standing over the water in the middle of a bridge (Kiyosu-bashi), breathing marginally better air.  There's a camera crew of about twenty people who are moving lights, cables, and cameras around.

Something just occurred to me...  I've often enjoyed watching Japanese television dramas just to watch the visual entertainment they provide; whether the dialog makes much sense or not.  The outside shots!  Much more interesting to watch than things filmed indoors, and so difficult for the video (film?) crew!  All these people!  One of the actors poses in the bright lights... looking cool... a bicycle approaches... a crew member calls out "Bicycle coming through!" and everything is on hold while they wait for the bicycle rider to pass through the set-up on this public walkway on the bridge.

They've put a phone booth right in the center of the bridge, looking almost like it belongs there... or is there really one there?  I don't think so... they keep polishing the glass to make it transparent for the camera... I've never seen such a squeaky clean phone booth before.  (It's an old style phone, but so clean!)

They're filming now... the trench coated actor is in the phone booth.  I can hear a little from the monitor that several of the crew are clustered around... he's saying something about meeting someone tomorrow.

They shoot the same scene over and over, polishing up the phone booth between each take.

Ah!  I never finished what I started to say.  Overtime!!  It's 8:00 p.m.... almost all the lights are still on in the IBM Building, and the crew works away... how long have they been here?  How long will they be here still?  All for what will edit down to only a minute or two in the final version broadcast out to the waiting antennas (cable is here, but not everywhere, and is the exception rather than the rule).

Another take... "Tomorrow at ten o'clock..." the actor is saying into his cell phone in the booth.  Hmm, so much for reality folks!  The cool actor walks up the dramatically back-lit walkway on the bridge, steps into the sparkling phone booth that isn't really here... not on any night but tonight that is... and coolly whips out his cell phone to ask someone (wife?, girlfriend?, mistress?...) if they can meet him.  (From watching the monitor, it doesn't seem possible to tell that the scene is taking place on a bridge... maybe they're just shooting here because it's convenient?)

Pen and paper!  There's no other way I could record this.  If I had a camera, they'd ask me not to take pictures I'm sure.  As it is, they eye the back-packed stranger here from the nineteen-eighties door of a trans-Pacific 747....

Take after take... I'm beginning to piece the conversation together.  The man rushes into the booth now (a variation on a more purposeful entrance earlier), pulls out the cell phone... dials... a seductive sounding female voice answers... the man says "Can we meet tomorrow?"... the seductive-sounding voice says something about her schedule being open and that "Anytime is okay"... so the man says "Let's meet at ten o'clock".

I talked to three of the crew for a little...  They tell me (I'll believe it when I see it) that it's for a television drama titled "Kenji-tachi no Natsu" [or maybe that's "Keiji-tachi-no-Natsu"], and that it will likely be broadcast in April on channel four (Nihon Television).  I confirmed that they did indeed set up the phone booth themselves, and as the oldest of the three told me "It's preposterous to have a phone on the bridge here... but it's a drama after all".

They asked me what I do for a living - if I was involved with "mass media"; I said no, but explained about the LL Letters... or tried to explain I should say!  They didn't seem to see the picture I tried to paint, but I gave all three of them my card anyway, and offered to send them a copy of what I was writing... blank stares... so I asked if they had e-mail.  They looked at each other and asked back and forth:

"Do you?" "No..."
"Do you?" "No..."
"Do you?" "No..." ............

So much for everyone having e-mail.....

They're still working on the bridge phone booth shot, and I'm on my way!  I think... it's more fun to watch dramas than it is to make them!

20:40  Standing in a playground under an expressway, with the internal combustion machines making booming noises as they zoom by overhead.  This playground, in theory, is a great idea - the expressway acts as a roof, so even in bad weather, it can be used, but the feeling here, standing on asphalt, with the sky shut out by the steel and concrete expressway overhead, and buildings close by on both sides forming a kind of wall... it feels so... sterile - or I guess "lacking life" would be a better term.

(99/01/23)  After writing the above, I put away my notebook and spent another hour and a half walking around, taking in the area, feeling that "Where has the life gone?" feeling engendered by standing on asphalt streets among concrete buildings... the area mostly devoid of either plant, insect, animal, or human life.  Of course there are people in the buildings, and I find myself thinking once again "This is a city to enjoy indoors - the streets are just to get from one indoor place to another".

After a solid hour of that, I was very happy to stumble into a park which contained a shrine, trees, bushes, and dirt.  The difference may seem small, but a street with plants, walking people, and clean air is a completely different world from the same street stripped of it's plants, with most people traveling it enclosed in steel and glass contraptions spewing poisonous gases.  As the area becomes a kind of wasteland, there is no pleasure in walking on it, so people spend as little time on it as possible... further strengthening the wasteland feel of the place.

The thing is, I love cars!  But they really reduce the quality of life in this city.  We look back now to coal burning days and wonder how people could live with that smoke... no doubt future generations will shake their heads at how we are now living in the poison of our beloved automobiles.  Of course it depends on where you are!  For someone living far away from shopping and other essential things, having a car makes life livable, but for a mega-city like Tokyo, it might not be a bad idea to ban fire-breathing vehicles altogether (other than fire engines, police cars, ambulances, etc.), and only allow electric cars within city limits.

Copyright 1999 and 2012 by Lyle H Saxon



"Yurakucho Izakaya - July 6th, 2012 - 20:38"

Sitting at a table in a multi-generation under-the-tracks izakaya.  A Friday night - just past 8:30 p.m.  Happy sounds all around as the trains rumble overhead and people toast the end of the week "お疲れさまです! - お疲れ様!".  The place has become historical and people are busy taking pictures of each other to commemorate being in this very cool spot.  All the seats are taken.  [Putting down notebook and pen in order to make a couple of short video clips of the table in order to get an audio recording of the moment.]  It sounds like this!:  (Video/動画 [A], [B]).

People walk by in the under-tracks tunnel... looking off to my right I see various people walking by the entrance -
many of them looking into the izakaya-filled tunnel as they pass by - continuing down the street along the elevated train tracks.  Another train rumbles overhead... a timeless space with ticking clocks all around....

On the other side of the tunnel, one of the izakaya places has been boarded up.  From what I hear, the landlord is pushing for higher rents, higher rents - as the economy continues its tailspin, the landlord pushes for higher rents, higher rents  - one begins to wonder if their utmost desire is to have all the under-tracks spaces boarded up (as they so hideously are next to Bic Camera next to Yurakucho Station) - but why?  Have they no respect for Tokyo traditions?  Have they no hearts?

- Other clocks --

Beer, yakitori, edamame... I can't sit here for free, and it would be rude and inconsiderate to take up chair and table space over any one drink.  So... I'm on drink number two and yakitori order number two.  The (nearly) full second drink sits in front of me, the mostly empty plate of edamame awaits being completely consumed (not the plate itself, but you know what I mean), and the last plate of yakitori is on the way.  More trains pass overhead with industrial noises echoing past decades.  The people around me animatedly talk....  A nice moment, but the time to leave speedily approaches....



"July 1990, March 1990, Ginza, Nihonbashi, Yurakucho, Keio Line, Izakaya Views, Etc."

There are a fairly large batch of video clips this time, starting with two batches of 1990 views - one batch from March 1990 and the other batch from July 1990.  The July batch is easier to watch, since I had more experience with taking video by then (I began taking video in February 1990) and I had just begun using my second video camera, which was much better than the first one (better exposure control, better night vision, stereo PCM sound, etc.).

2012 video clips are of several train lines - Ginza, Tozai, Chuo, Keio, Seibu, etc., and there are clips of walking through Ginza, Yurakucho, Nihonbashi, etc.  This being summer, I took a few strolls through some open-air (and/or outside) Yurakucho yakitori izakaya places as well.  Also there are some views of art exhibitions - including a very interesting light display by Fuji Hidemasa (藤井秀全) at Lixil Gallery.  What else...  Several views of Yurakucho in the rain and a couple of views from visiting (via cable car) Mt. Takao, etc.

July 1990 Shinjuku Izakaya Evening, Etc. - (900719)

July 1990 Odakyu RC-Express to Machida (900720)

Note that this is the first generation of Odakyu Romance Car express trains.

July 1990 Machida to Shinjuku - Odakyu Line (900720)

Going back to Shinjuku, I took a regular express.  At the time, I had periodical work in Machida, and I would often splurge on the RC-Express train going there and then come back via a regular express.

July 1990 Shinjuku, Kabukicho, Okubo, Takadanobaba (900720)

Walking from Shinjuku through Kabukicho, Okubo and Takadanobaba - including a look at Okubo House near Shin-Okubo Station.  (新宿 歌舞伎町 大久保 高田馬場 大久保ハウス)

If you watch this closely, there are many elements of 1990 Tokyo that have since vanished.

1990 Ikebukuro Night - (900320)

This is mostly interesting for the sound track, since I mainly just left the camera running as i walked around (compared to the high volume of short chips style I utilized later).  Taken with my first video camera, it isn't very smooth, and that camera's auto-exposure system was hypersensitive to any kind of light, so florescent tube lit displays, etc. make the picture dark in many places.  All-in-all, I think this has value as a historical record, but be forewarned that it's not particularly easy and/or fun to watch.

1990 Tamachi Morning - (900319)

1990 - Boats Under Expressway (March)

1990 Type-0 Shinkansen Passing Tamachi Station (March)

1990 Tokyo and Yurakucho Stations - (090319)

1990 Marunouchi Hanzomon Nihonbashi Views - (900320)

1990 Shibuya Night Stroll - (900322)

1990 Hamamatsucho Station - (090319)

1990 Hamamatsucho to Tokyo - (090319)

Izakaya Sounds A 120706

Izakaya Sounds B 120706

Escalator Ride Down Announcement 120706

Ginza Chuo-Dori Stroll - (120706)

Ogawa to Higashi-Murayama - Side Window View - (120706)

Nihonbashi Stroll A 120706

Nihonbashi Stroll B 120706

Group Exhibition at Art Space Rashinban アートスペース羅針盤 (120706)

Masaki Takayama 高山正樹 1932 Lounge Exhibition - 昭和七年談話室展示会 - (120706)

Ginza Side Street Stroll 120706

Rainy Yurakucho Plaza - Tanabata Display (120706)

Yurakucho Station Bound 120706

Yurakucho in the Rain - Tokyo Station Bound (120706)

Reconstructed Tokyo Station Nearing Completion 120706

Reconstruction Zone of New Tokyo Station 120706

Rainy Yurakucho Trackside Walk A 120706

Rainy Yurakucho Trackside Walk B 120706

Rainy Yurakucho Plaza 120706g

Yurakucho Trackside Walk in the Rain 120706g

Rainy Yurakucho Station - Both Sides (120706g)

Yurakucho Reflections in the Rain 120706g

Rain Walk to Yakitori Area in Yurakucho 120706g

Ginza to Yurakucho Walk 120706g

Rainy Ginza Side Streets 120706g

Mogi Tatsuji 茂木達二展 Exhibition - Nabis Gallery なびす画廊 (A) 120711

Mogi Tatsuji 茂木達二展 Exhibition - Nabis Gallery なびす画廊 (B) 120711

Mogi Tatsuji 茂木達二展 Exhibition - Nabis Gallery なびす画廊 (C) 120711

Mogi Tatsuji 茂木達二展 Exhibition at Nabis Gallery なびす画廊 - Quick View - (120711)

15fps recording played back at 30fps...

Kokubunji Station at Night 120711

Keio-Inadazutsumi Station - Train Arriving and Departing (120708)

Kokubunji to Yotsuya - Chuo Line, Left Side View - (120711)

Keio Line 京王線 Side Window View 120708

Musashino Line 武蔵野線 Side Window View 120708

RR-Crossing - (120708)

Fuji Hidemasa 藤井秀全展 Installation at Lixil Gallery (A) - (120710)

Fuji Hidemasa 藤井秀全展 Installation at Lixil Gallery (B) Shadows - (120710)

Fuji Hidemasa 藤井秀全展 Installation at Lixil Gallery (C) - (120710g)

Kamino Nobue 神農乃愛 Exhibition at GOBP-306 (A) - (120710)

Kamino Nobue 神農乃愛 Exhibition at GOBP-306 (B) - (120710)

Ogawa to Hagiyama 120710

Last Cable Car Down Mt. Takao at Night - (120709)

End of the Day at Mt. Takao 120709

Entering Tokyo Station on the Yaesu Side 120710

Chuo Line Train Leaving Platform 120709

Chuo Line Platform at Tokyo Station 120710

Nishimura Toru (西村亨) Exhibition at Shibata Etsuko Gallery (柴田悦子画廊) - (120711)

Arriving at Takadanobaba via Seibu Line 120710

Boarding Cable Car at Top of Mt. Takao - (120709)

Boarding JR Train 120708

Boarding Keio Line at Takaosanguchi 120709

Chuo Line Platform at Shinjuku Station 120710

Exiting South Exit of Shinjuku Station 120710

Inside Chuo Line at Night 120709

Keio Line Interior 120708

Kobori Reiko (小堀令子展) Exhibition at Gallery Kazuki (画廊香月) - (120710)

Keio Line to Minami-Osawa - (120708)

Low Clouds Over Shinjuku 120710

Night Window View from Keio Line Train Near Takao 120709

Nihonbashi to Kyobashi (Ginza Line) -  (120710)

Seibu Line Train Arriving at Ogawa 120710

Seibu Line Zooming by at Crossing 120708

Takao Empty Mountain Cable Car 120709

Seibu Line Rear Cab View 120710

Takao Mysterious Looking Tunnel - Cable Car - (120709)

Tokyo to Kanda 120710

Waiting at Railway Crossing - (120708g)

Yurakucho Stationside (A) 120711

Yurakucho Stationside (B) 120711

Yurakucho Stationside (C) 120711

Yurakucho YSB 120711

Looking Around in Yurakucho (A) 120711

Looking Around in Yurakucho (B) 120711

Low Clouds Drifting by YSB 120711

Chuo Reserved Seat Express Train Zooms Past 120711

Late Night Yurakucho to Tokyo 120711

Izakaya Jungle Walk 120711g

Yurakucho Outside Izakaya Stroll (A) 120711g

Yurakucho Outside Izakaya Stroll (B) 120711

Yurakucho Outside Izakaya Stroll (C) 120711g



"Ginza, Train Scenes, Trip Back to 1990, Art Exhibitions, Etc."

As the title says - although the two main things in this batch are art exhibition views and views of 1990 Tokyo.  Revisiting 1990 has been interesting for me for a number of reasons, from comparing it to the present, to re-experiencing the atmosphere of the time.  As there is a lot to say about the individual clips from 1990, I'll make comments after each one (see below).

Ginza Chuo-Dori Stroll in the Rain (120703)

Higashi-Murayama Station - Seibu Line Train Arriving - (120703)

March 1990 - Shibuya Ice Cream

When I walk into the shop and have the camera rolling, the employees laugh and smile for the camera.  If you tried something like this now, there's a good chance someone would get angry and tell you to erase the clip.  And this wasn't an isolated response.  Typically I'd be taking a video of something outside and people would detour so as to walk in front of the camera and be recorded smiling and waving to the camera.

I turn the camera towards a couple of customers in the shop, who also smile for the camera.  The one woman's hairstyle is of the era as well - long, straight, black (so many people dye their hair now that truly black hair is actually somewhat of a rarity in 2012!), with short front bangs.  Actually, I'm not sure how to properly explain that hairstyle, but I remember it and that it was popular at the time.

And then I turn the camera towards another pair of customers - who ignore it.  Again, this would be very uncool behavior in 2012, but in camera-happy 1990 (when photographs and video were mainly considered purely fun and not something to fear), this was - admittedly - rather bold behavior on my part, but just considered quirky at the time and not something bad.  If it had generated bad reactions at the time, I wouldn't have done it.

Looking back towards the young man behind the counter, he tries speaking with me in English, and I respond in English (although I could have responded in Japanese).  Japan had just entered the era of strong yen - after a long period of it being weak, which basically meant that most people never traveled overseas due to the cost.  And Japan was just beginning to be culturally popular (it had always been interesting, but not in a mainstream way), so there weren't very many foreigners who came here to live.  Basically, at the time, if you saw a foreigner, they were likely to be a tourist, which may be what I was taken for on this occasion.

Looking down the counter as other customers order ice cream.  The young women and their long, straight, black hair.  Looking at the videos I took in 1990-92, that hairstyle almost defines the era for me - it really stands out and quickly identifies an image as being from that time.

When I step out in front of the camera a couple of times, that large bag on my right shoulder is what I carried the (rather large) video camera in.  The first of four analog 8mm (Hi8) cameras I used, it didn't stand up to heavy use very well and needed repairs fairly early on.  Once I bought the next model, I relegated this one to back-up use.

March 1990 - Neon Clarion Sign in Shibuya

Just a (rather complicated) neon sign, but I often worked in Shibuya at the time, and on the way home, I would look up at that sign while waiting for the walk light to change.  It was interesting enough for me that I never got tired of watching it (and so I'm glad I recorded the full cycle of its changes in this clip).  The same sign was there for a fairly long time, but was changed to a regular plain sign a few(?) years ago.

Speaking of large billboard advertisements.  They are increasingly left blank for want of advertisers in 2012.  How much of that is due to the bad economy and how much is due to Internet advertising (and people walking around looking at their cell phones all the time and hardly ever looking up), I'm not sure.

March 1990 - Late Night Shibuya

The visual element of this one should be seen as a backdrop to the audio track.  We've all gotten so used to hearing *something* with even very old footage that was originally taken soundlessly - with fake sound tacked on decades later due to modern people seemingly being unable to bear seeing moving pictures without sound - and then that sound is taken for granted, but it shouldn't be.  Oftentimes the element that has most radically changed with something like this is the sound.  We should *know* this, but after decades of seeing old pictures with fake sounds, our collective mental audio track processing ability has been very heavily damaged - to the point where we hear generic garbage sounds tacked onto old footage and unthinkingly accept that those fake generic sounds are actually connected with the scene we're watching (even though they're completely bogus).

Okay... [taking a deep breath]... I'm doing too much preamble, but if you *really* listen to *real* archival sounds, there is much to learn about the ambiance of the time a sound recording was made.  Getting to specifics, let's listen to some of the elements of this soundtrack from the streets of March 1990 Shibuya.

The first thing that stands out to me when listening to this (and remembering), are the low-fidelity small-speaker generated recordings being played back to passerby to entice them into one shop or another.  The typical technology used at the time was cassette tape, which was capable of reproducing great sound if you were using the most expensive equipment available, recording on high-quality tapes, and then playing the tapes back on well-maintained (degaussed, cleaned, etc.) equipment through good speakers via quality amplification, etc.

Naturally, typical small shops didn't have that sort of budget (or time) to work with and figured that - just for voice - any old recorder would do.  (Actually - some places probably did go to the trouble to make good quality recordings, but playback is another issue.)  For playback, they'd use the cheapest type of tapes (intended for voice only) and then play them back endlessly in cheap tape player/recorders.  So you had bad/low fidelity/quality recordings playing off of low-quality tape through cheap over-used equipment.  The result was so clearly a recording, that you would never confuse a recording with a real person speaking.  It was nice in a way - because when recorded voices are very obviously recorded voices, you can immediately assign them to that role as you pass through the sound waves, and then when a real person speaks, they automatically get higher priority as a fellow right-now living person.  Also, the low-fidelity recordings add their own ambiance to the scene.

In the first 35 seconds or so of this clip, there is first an echoey fairly high-pitched recording and then another recording's sound waves drift into the scene - sounding closer to a real person's voice, but with a muffled sound (likely due to a quality recording being played back on a poorly maintained tape player and/or via a tape that's been played and replayed too many times, which damages the high frequency sounds most off all, so you get increasingly muffled-sounding playback).

Past the old-recording sound waves on the narrow street, the voices of all the people become the predominant sound, and - while I'm still trying to pinpoint what it is that is different about the way the same scene would sound today, I suspect it has something to do with the almost complete lack of cell phones in 1990 (only businesses and rich people had them).  Aside from the element of a single voice talking through a machine to an unseen/unheard person in some other place, even when people are sending text messages, the fact that there's this unceasing connection with far-off people changes everything.  Knowing that you can (and often do) connect with a large number of people, wherever they may be, reduces the importance of being with whoever you are with, not to mention lost attention that would have been focused on your immediate surroundings.

This may be the element of the past I most miss - that when you went somewhere, you were really there.  There was an automatic look-out for public telephones, for when you needed to reach someone regarding something, but even when you used them, the moment you hung up, there was no way someone could reach you.  (Pagers and cell phones existed, but weren't in general use yet.  Pagers became popular not long after this, but in 1990 - most people relied on public telephones if they needed to contact a distant person while outside.)

At about one minute into the tape, three young women laugh and do a quick pose for the camera.  That was quite common at the time - I think the idea of being recorded in motion and with sound was still novel enough that it was just fun - for its own sake.

After 10:00 p.m. - then, as now, a time when a lot of people begin to head for the nearest train station (Shibuya in this case) to begin their (typically) multi-train journey home.

Around four minutes into the tape, I walk past a row of public telephones and there is someone in nearly every last one of them.  Where public telephones still exist today (an increasingly rare item), they usually sit there unused.

Other than that, there are various detail changes (comparing 1990 to 2012), but nothing too radically different.  The camera wasn't held very steadily and I apologize for that - I had just recently begun recording video and wasn't used to taking moving pictures.

1990年「ビヤステーション 恵比寿」の古い電車ビアレスト ラン (900319)

First I should explain the title.  It's "Beer Station Ebisu" [plus details] and shows the old train cars (not far from Ebisu Station) that they were using as a pub at the time (seen from a passing Yamanote Line train).  I went there once and thought it was a great idea.  Unfortunately, when they built Ebisu Garden Place (which didn't exist when I took this), those cool train cars disappeared.  I think the train was initially moved to another location, but apparently that didn't work out, because it vanished not long after that.

1990 Yamanote Line Window View (900319)

Looking out a left-side window of a Yamanote Line train as it runs from Shibuya to Ebisu and then Meguro.  In marked contrast to today, the area between the Yamanote Line and the Toyoko Line is mainly just empty space.  As the train stops at and continues past Ebisu Station, note that there is no Ebisu Garden Place.  Construction for that began not long after this was taken.

1990 Tokyo Morning Trains (900322)

This begins with walking down a flight of stairs in the morning to a crowded railway station platform and shows a few morning trains coming and going.  There's some manual assist from platform people to help people get into very full trains, and lots of standing around waiting for trains to arrive.  I wanted to post this to show a wider spectrum of what it was like riding the crush-rush trains then, since too much attention has ended up focusing on the pack-'em-in aspect of train loading, which was just a momentary part of the commute.

To fully understand the whole picture, there should be pictures of the inside as well, but at that high of a people density and with the fragile and large machine that a video camera was at the time, not to mention that it would have been rude to record people in that unpleasant situation, all the footage of this clip is just from the platform.  (I have taken some interior views before, but only at times like a packed Ginza Line train full of happy people going to a festival, etc.)  The strange thing about it being really intensely crowded, is that when you're packed in with people so tightly that you can't move, the body seems to automatically sense that becoming agitated is counterproductive and it's actually *less* irritating than when the density is less and you find yourself irritatedly wondering "Does that guy really need to have his elbow there?  Can't he move a little bit away from me?!?" etc.

Takaosanguchi to Takao - Empty Train Views Etc (120702)

Off-Schedule Outbound Chuo Line - Shinjuku (120703)

Nighttime Kokubunji Station 120703

Arriving at Takadanobaba Station - Transfer to Tozai Line (120703)

Y's Arts-508 - Plastic Jewelry Exhibition 120702-08

Masaki Takayama 高山正樹 Exhibition at Gallery Kobo 巷房 120625-0707

Amore Ginza Gallery アモーレ銀座ギャラリー Group Exhibition 120702-08 (A) - 120703

Amore Ginza Gallery アモーレ銀座ギャラリー Group Exhibition 120702-08 (B) - 120703

Endo Kazuho 遠藤和帆展 Exhibition at GGICM 120628-0703

Hayashi Kenzo 林建造 New Book (A) 120703

Hayashi Kenzo 林建造 New Book (B) 120703

Hayashi Kenzo 林建造 New Book (C) 120703



"Kabukicho, Shinjuku, Shinjuku-Gyoen, Yotsuya, Ginza, Yurakucho-YSB"

Last Friday, I found myself in Shinjuku much earlier in the day than I am usually there, so I went by Shinjuku-Gyoen gardens, paid the Y200 entrance fee (well worth it, considering how clean and well-tended to the park is) and went in to wander around among the huge old trees on one end of the park.  Shinjuku-Gyoen can be quite crowded - especially during the spring and fall, but on days like Friday, June 29th, 2012, it is mostly empty and is a wonderful place within this mega-city to go in and forget about big-city life for two or three hours (being a big-city person, if you stay longer than that, you begin to worry about your schedule).

I know that pretty well, since I used to work at a high-pressure office in the area and went to the park from time-to-time to reclaim my humanity, but still I hadn't been there for some time, so I - once again - found myself feeling surprised at how nice it is inside - right in the heart of the mega-city....  It also helped that the full July-August heat of Tokyo hasn't kicked into gear yet, and so while it was hot out in the direct sun, it was fairly cool in the shade inside the park.

Another place I walked through that I haven't visited for a while is Kabukicho - and it was strange to see huge open space where the Shinjuku Koma Theater (新宿コマ劇場) building (1956-2008) has been razed and is now a huge open pit where they are still removing the basement foundation of the demolished building.  What's going to be put there in its place?  I don't know, but hopefully something more interesting than yet another sealed-box tower.  (If only those towers that look so interesting from the outside actually had good air circulation inside instead of recirculating the same air over and over - making the people inside like goldfish in a tank that needs to have its water changed.)

What else in this batch of clips....  A sidewalk stroll on a main street in the afternoon near Yotsuya; evening strolls in Ginza and Yurakucho; and train views, including a couple of longer than usual clips (around ten minutes each and marked with a "g" after the date code) that I think show the constant motion and flow of navigating Tokyo by it's comprehensive train system.

June Sky and Pond in Shinjuku Gyoen 120629

Carp Being Fed Bread in Shinjuku Gyoen 120629

Looking Up at Great Trees in Shinjuku Gyoen 120629

Shinjuku Gyoen Pond 120629

Clouds Through Trees in Shinjuku Gyoen 120629

Carp in Pond in Shinjuku Gyoen 120629

June Green of Shinjuku Gyoen 120629

Shinjuku Gyoen Afternoon Stroll 新宿御苑散策 A 120629

Shinjuku Gyoen Afternoon Stroll 新宿御苑散策 B 120629

Shinjuku Gyoen Afternoon Stroll 新宿御苑散策 C 120629

Shinjuku Gyoen Closing Time 120629

Balcony Party Glimpse 120629

Tashiro Hisashi (田代尚展) Exhibition Gallery-58 (A) - (120629)

Tashiro Hisashi
(田代尚展) Exhibition Gallery-58 (B) - (120629)

Path to GoldenGai ゴールデン街までの道 120629

Kabukicho Afternoon Stroll 歌舞伎町のお昼散策 A 120629

Kabukicho Afternoon Stroll 歌舞伎町のお昼散策 B 120629

Kabukicho Afternoon Stroll 歌舞伎町のお昼散策 C 120629

Ogawa to Hagiyama 120629

Shinjuku Afternoon Stroll 新宿のお昼散策 120629

Kabukicho Alley 120629

Shinjuku Side Street Afternoon Stroll 新宿横道散策 120629

Shinjuku Dori Afternoon Stroll 新宿通り散策 A 120629

Shinjuku Dori Afternoon Stroll 新宿通り散策 B 120629

Takadanobaba to Shinjuku via Seibu-Shinjuku Line 120629

Entering Yotsuya Station via Marunouchi Line Entrance 120629

Yotsuya Platform Walk and Ride to Kanda 120629g

Yurakucho Station - Shinkansen Train Passing - Exit - (120629)

Yurakucho SB 120629

Yurakucho SB at Street Level 120629

Tokyo Station Crowds on Friday Night 120629

Yurakucho Afternoon Stroll 有楽町散策 120629

Ginza Chuo-Dori Nighttime Stroll 120629

Ginza Evening Stroll 銀座散策 A 120629

Ginza Evening Stroll 銀座散策 B 120629

Ginza Nighttime Sidestreet Stroll 120629

Yurakucho Plaza at 9:00 P.M. - (120629)

Yurakucho Plaza at 10:00 P.M. - (120629)

Nighttime Yurakucho 夜の有楽町 120629

Kanda to Tokyo and Train Typhoon Etc 120629g

Incidentally, I prefer to have the date code within parenthesis, but YouTube had begun automatically eradicating "(", ")", "-", etc. when a video is uploaded, so although titles can be de-auto-mutated after uploading, I've decided it isn't worth the extra time and frustration to fight the title auto-mutate function and that it's better to just leave the date code sitting out in the open.  It's uglier, but someone has apparently decided that parenthesis shouldn't be used in titles and instigated computer code to eradicate them, so it's probably best not to fight it.



"Ginza, Ginza Art Exhibitions, Train Scenes, Etc."

June weather in Tokyo is not too bad - some rain (sometimes a lot of rain) and some high temperatures, but generally not overly hot.  July and August will be a different story however, so I'm reminding myself to enjoy the more comfortable temperatures this month... since it will be July very soon!  This batch of clips is of typical Tokyo train scenes and some views of Ginza art exhibitions.

Ginza - Sunny June Day - Chuo Dori - (120626)

Boarding Tozai Line in Takadanobaba - (120626)

Otemachi to Nihonbashi - Tozai Line - (120626)

Trains in Stereo - Seibu Line - (120626)

Ginza Line Departing Kyobashi Station - (120626)

New Retro Ginza Line Train at Ginza Station - (120626)

Exiting the South Exit at Shinjuku Station - (120626)

Shinjuku Chuo Line Platform - (120626)

Shinjuku Pedestrians - (120626)

Kei and Kikuchi Megumi 菊池恵 Collaboration - Y's Arts-508 (A) - (120626)

Kei and Kikuchi Megumi 菊池恵 Collaboration - Y's Arts-508 (B) - (120626)

Ogawa to Kodaira - Past New Rail Construction - (120626)

Sakura Shadows - (120626)

Ogasawara Shin 小笠原森展 Installation at Lixil Gallery (A) - (120626)

Ogasawara Shin 小笠原森展 Installation at Lixil Gallery (B) - (120626)

Future Construction Site in Ginza 1-Chome - (120626)

Kobo Under-Stairs Installation - (120626)

Former Lounge in 1930's Building 元談話室 - 昭和七年のビル - (120626)

Exhibition Flowers - (120626)

Boarding Ginza Line at Nihonbashi - (120626)

Walk Through Tokyo Station - (120626)



"Odakyu Line Yoyogi-Hachiman Station, Ginza Art Exhibitions, Train Views, Etc."

Last week, I met an English acquaintance in Yoyogi-Uehara (near to Yoyogi-Hachiman Station) who is headed back to England.  There are fewer and fewer of the old style train stations left in Tokyo, but Yoyogi-Hachiman Station is one.  As the old type stations become rarer and rarer, I'm finding that I like them more and more.  So - since I rode a local Odakyu Line train out to Yoyogi-Hachiman, I took video on the way (front cab views, etc.), and of the station and immediate station area by the entrance/exit gates to the station.

Other views from this batch of video clips:  There are a few gallery exhibition views, other train views, and a couple of "looking-around-while-walking" clips from the Kyobashi area of Tokyo.

But back to the English acquaintance I mentioned at the beginning of this post.  He's been in Japan for about three years, and I thought we'd end up talking a bit about life in Japan, etc., but the desire to get into cultural issues appeared to be solely on my end.  Thinking back on the encounter now, something fundamentally different about living in Tokyo (as a foreigner) in the early eighties and thirty years later in 2012 occurs to me.

Back in the early eighties (in Japan), there was (practically speaking) no Internet (not for the vast majority of people in the world in any case), international telephone calls were very expensive, *domestic* telephone calls outside your immediate area were also very expensive, and even local calls within your area code were expensive if you talked for very long.  And so personal meetings with people were the one time you could communicate with someone as much as you liked for free!  What with a lack of international communication (except for occasional standard letters delivered by post), there was something special and important about meeting other foreigners from time to time and discussing life in Japan.

So, with that background, I thought I'd discuss a number of things with the man from England - since he is about to leave the country and all, but it didn't really happen - and why should it?  If either of us have something to say, it can be done via computer and there's no particular need to say it in person.

I'm very thankful for the Internet and inexpensive international telephone calls, but I also miss the intensity and meaning that personal meetings had before.  In a sense, now it doesn't matter who you are physically with or where you live, since you can communicate with just about anyone just about anywhere.  Would I trade modern telecommunications for the "good old days"?  Absolutely not!  But I sure would like to be able to travel back once-in-a-while via time machine....

Yoyogi-Hachiman to Yoyogi-Uehara - Odakyu Line - (120621)

Yoyogi-Hachiman Station - Waiting for Train - (120621)

Shinjuku to Yoyogi-Hachiman - (120621)

Red Lantern Place by Shinjuku Station - (120621)

Shinjuku Crosswalk - Looking Around at Night- (120621)

Tokyo to Kanda - Chuo Line Night View - (120621)

Tokyo Station - Afternoon Walk-through - (120621)

Afternoon Kyobashi Stroll (A) - (120621)

Afternoon Kyobashi Stroll (B) - (120621)

Usuki Hideyuki and Kamei Jun Exhibition at GGICM (A) - (120621)

Usuki Hideyuki and Kamei Jun Exhibition at GGICM (B) - (120621)

Usuki Hideyuki and Kamei Jun Exhibition at GGICM (C) - (120621)

Construction Cranes - Tokyo Station - (120621)

Entering Okuno Building at 1700 - (120621)

Miyao Mahoko 宮尾茉穂子展 Exhibition - (120621)

Kazami Norifumi 風見規文展 Exhibition - (120621)

K's Gallery - Group Exhibition 表現者たち展 - (120621)

Escalator Passing Lane - Tokyo Station - (120621)

JR to Odakyu Transfer - Shinjuku (Local Train) - (120621)

Shimamura Munemitsu 島村宗充展 Gallery Hinoki ギャラリー檜 (A) - (120621)

Shimamura Munemitsu 島村宗充展 Gallery Hinoki ギャラリー檜 (B) - (120621)

Tokyo Station - Evening Walk-through - (120621)

Odakyu-Shinjuku - Waiting for Local Train - (120621)

Odakyu-Shinjuku Station 360 - (120621)

Odakyu-Shinjuku - Local Train Platform - (120621)

Odakyu-Shinjuku - Main Ticket Gates - (120621)



"June 19th Typhoon (Chuo Line Views), Ginza Exhibitions, Old Concrete, Etc."

The are two main components to this batch of video clips - scenes from (mainly) the Chuo Line during the June 19th typhoon (if you listen with headphones on to a couple of the clips looking out the left side of the train, you can hear the wind strongly hitting the train - which was running way behind schedule and at reduced speed), and a few scenes of Ginza and Kyobashi art exhibitions.

The typhoon was apparently the first June typhoon to make landfall in eight years.  I was in a tall, narrow building for part of it, and the building moved with the winds a little - which felt really weird, because it was almost imperceptible, but definitely swaying at times.  It gave you a feeling of loosing faith in the ground under your feet.  If it had been a faster motion, a ship would be a good comparison, but it was slower than that (although I've never been on a really gigantic ship, so maybe the motion is similar to larger floating objects).  Anyway - it was kind of exciting.  There was also an anti-nuclear fire (to make steam for running turbines to generate electricity) demonstration in Nihonbashi (in the middle of the typhoon).

Shinjuku Station in Typhoon - Outbound Train - (120619)

Arriving at Takadonobaba - Seibu to Tozai Transfer - (120619)

Nakano to Koenji - Rainy Window View - (120619)

Koenji to Asagaya in Typhoon - (120619)

Night Train - Wet Window View - (120619)

Night Typhoon Train Window View - to Kichijoji - (120619)

Boarding Ginza Line at Nihonbashi - (120619)

Nagamoto Hideo 永本秀男展 Exhibition at Shibata Etsuko Gallery (A) - (120619)

Nagamoto Hideo 永本秀男展 Exhibition at Shibata Etsuko Gallery (B) - (120619)

80-Year-Old Concrete - (120619)

アモーレ銀座ギャラリー - グループ展 - (120619)

Storm on the Way (Window View from Exhibition) - (120619)

Okuno Building 奥野ビル - 6th to 1st Floors - (120619)

Walking Through Tokyo Station - (120619)

Noda Tamotsu 野田保展 Exhibition at Art Space Rashinban - (120619)

Train Floor and Sounds - (120619)

Anti-Nuke Demo During Typhoon in Nihonbashi - (120619)

3rd Floor - (120619)

Asagaya to Ogikubo in Typhoon - (120619)

Shinjuku Station South Exit - Rainy Day - (120619)

Nobu Hosana ノブホサナ Exhibition at Y's Arts-508 - (120619)

Departing Kanda Station in the Rain - (120619)



"1991 Naraijuku, Ginza, Light and Shadow Installation, Etc."

The first video in this series of clips is a time trip back to August 1991 - when I stumbled upon Naraijuku on the Kisokaido (otherwise know as Nakasendo) road where they were having some sort of reenactment/summer festival.  The town was one of the old post towns where travelers would stop on their way to and from Edo (former name of Tokyo) and I think the people in period clothing in the video were representing the groups that used to stop there.  It's interesting, because the buildings in the town are authentic old buildings that really did see those kinds of travelers back in the day.  After that are more train views (a few of them recorded in soundless 60fps, with 30fps playback, so they are half-speed), scenes from Ginza and Yurakucho and a look at an installation.

1991 Kisokaido Narai-juku Natsu-Matsuri (910812)

A look at Narai 奈良井 (or Naraijuku 奈良井宿) on August 12th, 1991.  Narai is a traditional town on the old Kisokaido 木曽街道 (or Nakasendo
中山道) road.  This is the 34th (or 35th, there seems to be some dispute about this) stage of the 69 Stages of the Nakasendo series of woodblock prints (中山道六十九次).

Boarding Tozai Line at Takadanobaba - (120615)

Ginza Side Street - (120615)

Hijiribashi 聖橋 (60fps) - (120612)

This soundless half-speed view of the Hijiribashi Bridge was taken from a Chuo Line train as it pulled into Ochanomizu Station.

Tozai Line - Otemachi to Nihonbashi - (120615)

Friday Night - Yurakucho Station - Ride to Tokyo - (120615)

Arase Tetsuya 荒瀬哲也展 Gallery-58 (C) - (120615)

Arase Tetsuya 荒瀬哲也展 Gallery-58 (B) - (120615)

Arase Tetsuya 荒瀬哲也展 Gallery-58 (A) - (120615)

Chuo Line Train Arriving at Tokyo Station - (120615)

Ochanomizu to Tokyo (60fps) - (120612)

In a Park - Waiting for Solar Eclipse (60fps) - (120521)

Late Night Tachikawa Platform - (120616)

Turning a Corner in Ginza - (120615)

Walking Towards Yurakucho - Friday Night - (120615)



"A Few Train Views, and Kyobashi/Ginza Art Scene Views"

This batch of clips consists of (yet more) typical Tokyo train scene views and some Kyobashi and Ginza art scene views of exhibitions and installations.  Given that there are different art exhibitions each week, I always look forward to seeing what the week's exhibitions will be, but when I post a batch of clips like this, I sometimes feel like I'm in a bit of a rut and should vary my routine more.

One of the problems is that art galleries are often hard to find, so you need to have a certain amount of time and energy when looking for them in new areas.  Once you remember where 50 or so of them are in one area, there is so much to see just with that set, that you don't really end up feeling like tracking down yet more galleries, but I suppose I probably should do just that....

Shinjuku Platform Walk - Chuo Line - (120605)

Yurakucho to Tokyo - Late Night Yamanote Line - (120606)

Tokyo to Kanda - Chuo Line Night View - (120605)

The next two clips are from an installation that consisted of a large quantity of rather large nearly-raw lumber arranged in two rooms.  [Art blog post]

Ishizaka 石坂孝雄展 Installation - Gallery Hinoki ギャラリー檜 (A) - (120605)

Ishizaka 石坂孝雄展 Installation - Gallery Hinoki ギャラリー檜 (B) - (120605)

Another half-exhibition, half-installation at Project-306, featuring photos, etc. of an old Meiji-era wooden building that was unfortunately recently torn down.  [Art blog post]

Project-306- GOB 306号室プロジェクト June 2012 (A) - (120606)

Project-306- GOB 306号室プロジェクト June 2012 (B) - (120606)

This scenes depicted in this next set of three videos look rather similar to an art gallery opening-party, but actually took place towards the end of the exhibition.  [Art blog post]

Horikoshi Chiaki 堀越千秋 Exhibition - Gallery Kazuki 画廊香月 (A) - (120605)

Horikoshi Chiaki 堀越千秋 Exhibition - Gallery Kazuki 画廊香月 (B) - (120605)

Horikoshi Chiaki 堀越千秋 Exhibition - Gallery Kazuki 画廊香月 (C) - (120605)

Yurakucho-SB - (120606)

The title is "Train Jogging", but basic running is more like it... in a train.  Maybe not a good idea, but it's only very rarely that you find yourself in train cars with no other people - and given all that empty space, the urge to do something in it arises...

Train Jogging - (120604)

The Yaesu side of Tokyo Station has been under construction for what feels like a very long time, but maybe is only a few years (written via memory reference, without researching it on-line).  They've opened a new waiting room as part of new long-distance highway bus facilities (I wish they were expanding nighttime rail service instead of boring, bloody buses...), and I think a large part of the new construction is geared towards buses.  Personally I think it's a huge mistake.  I think way too many resources are being poured into facilities and ever more black asphalt for internal combustion engine vehicles.  Those bloody things will be the ruin of us all yet....

Walking by Construction Zone to Enter Tokyo Station - (120605)

Yurakucho Street Scene - Short Clip - (120606)



"1991 Takayama, Train Views, Various Exhibitions, Ginza, Takao, Etc."

This batch of clips begins with a couple of views of August 1991 Takayama, showing scenes from a nighttime stroll on August 11th, 1991 and going here and there in the daytime on August 12th. 1991.  After that is a current nighttime view out of the left side of an outbound Chuo Line train running from Tokyo to Kanda; and then a ride-side view out a window of a Tozai Line subway between Otemachi and Nihonbashi.  There are also several art gallery exhibition and/or installation views, as well as train views from the Chuo Line and the Keio Line, etc.

1991 Takayama - Here and There - (910812)

Scenes of 1991 Takayama - Morning market, feudal town, handmade candy, traditional artwork, peeled peach, country roads, etc.

1991 Takayama - Shopping at Night - (910811)

Tokyo to Kanda - Clear Night View on the Chuo Line - (120529)

Otemachi to Nihonbashi - (120529)

Angles - Boarding Train - (120530)

Private Train Ride - Takaosan-guchi to Takao - (120530)

Nakao Ayako 中尾彩子 Installation - Y's Arts-508 - (120529)

Shinjuku Station - Platform to Upper Concourse - (120529)

Ginza Alleyway - (120529)

Yurakucho Station - Ticket Gates to Platform - (120529)

Boarding Ginza Line at Nihonbashi Station - (120529)

Ginza Chuo-Dori - Late May Afternoon Stroll - (120529)

Hachioji to Takao - Chuo Line - (120530)

Tatsumi Yoshitaka (辰巳義隆) Exhibition Art Space Rashinban - (120529)

Kitamura Yasuyo 北村康世 Installation - Ai Gallery 藍ギャラリー (A) - (120529)

Takahashi Toshiaki 高橋俊明 Exhibition - Steps Gallery - (A) - (120529)

Takahashi Toshiaki 高橋俊明 Exhibition - Steps Gallery - (B) - (120529)

Takahashi Toshiaki 高橋俊明 Exhibition - Steps Gallery - (C) - (120529)

Yurakucho to Tokyo - (120529)

Sakaguchi Hirotoshi 坂口寛敏 Installation - Gallery-58 - (A) - (120529)

Sakaguchi Hirotoshi 坂口寛敏 Installation - Gallery-58 - (B) - (120529)

Shirahama Wakana 白濱若奈 Exhibition - Ginza Ono Gallery-2 小野画廊-II - (120529)

Chuo Line Train Arriving at Takao - (120530)

At the Bottom of Mt. Takao - (120530)

Takao to Takaosan-guchi - (120530)



"Ginza Exhibitions, 1920's Hand-Crank Projector, HD-Enoshima, Etc."

This batch of clips includes some from the same time frame as the last batch of clips (featuring Kamakura and Enoshima) - but from a different camera, recorded in a wider aspect ratio and larger size.  The newer clips include typical train scenes (Chuo Line, etc.) and several clips related to exhibitions at art galleries in Kyobashi and Ginza.

Ah!  There is an unusual and interesting subject this time - a 1920's hand-crank movie projector that I was able to try out (along with several others in a group that watched some old movie clips from the 1930's).  There are also a couple of short clips of the old movie (and animation) clips that were shown, which give some idea of the experience of seeing them in Room-508.  The only thing electricity was needed for, was for the illumination behind the film.  The man showing the film clips has been collecting old clips for some four decades, and is quite an expert on movie film, camera, and projector history.  One very interesting thing I learned at the exhibition is that the early Chaplin and Keystone Cops material was filmed at 16fps, and (at the time) shown at 16fps, but sped up later to 24fps for no better reason than that movie film technology had moved from 16fps to 24fps and showing the old films on new projectors resulted in their being 1.5x their intended speed.  I had grown up seeing only the sped-up versions of those very old films, so I thought that was how they had been intended to be seen.

Ginza Demolition Site - (120508) - Another section of Ginza loses several older buildings to make way for (highly probably) yet another over-size sealed-box with a recirculating air system.  Someday humans will realize that it's vastly more humane to make buildings with proper ventilation, rather than making people feel like captive gold fish in a tank that needs to have its water changed.  Meanwhile, most of us suffer in badly designed (air quality wise) sealed boxes while working....

Gawa Kumiko (ガワクミコ) Gallery Ginza 1-Chome (ギャラリー銀座一丁目) - (C) - (120427) - Exhibition of glass art in an installation environment utilizing sculpted cardboard.

Two Exhibitions - Hitotsuyama Chie (一ツ山チエ) and Murakami Ai (村上愛) - (120518)

Hitotsuyama Chie (一ツ山チエ) Lixil Gallery (Lixil ギャラリー) - (120518) - What?!  A herd of buffalo in Kyobashi?!  A surprising installation.

Kanda to Yurakucho - (120518)

Chuo Line Interior - (120518)

Yurakucho Plaza - One Evening - (120518)

Shinagawa Early Morning Yokosuka Line Platform - (120511)

Yokosuka Line Arriving at Shinagawa - Early Morning Platform View - (120511)

Early Morning Train Sleepers - (120511) - Very early in the morning, quite possibly these two men worked all night and were headed home for some much needed sleep?

Outward Bound Yokosuka Line - Early Morning - (120511)

Tsurugaoka-Hachimangu - Short Clip - (120511)

Tsurugaoka-Hachimangu - Traditional Wedding, Traditional Music - (120511)

Evening Enoshima Shotengai - (120511)

Yurakucho Camera Dance - (120518)

Ginza Evening Reflections - (120518)

Enoshima Sunset 江ノ島夕日 - (120511)

Tokyo to Shinjuku - Night Rain View - (120522)

Exploring Park While Waiting for Eclipse - (120521)

Experiencing the Solar Eclipse Without Realizing it Exactly - (120521) - A very boring clip.  If you are feeling like you missed something by not seeing the eclipse, then have a look at this and you may feel better.  While it was interesting to see the effect through dark glasses, the view on the sun-illuminated ground was nothing more than it seeming like it was early evening for a few minutes (which was somewhat interesting, but didn't record into video very well).

Looking at Last Part of Solar Eclipse - (120521)

Ishida Mari 石田眞利 Exhibition at Kobo Gallery - (120522) - An interesting exhibition/installation of hand-carved wooden art objects.

The following four clips are of an interesting installation done with stained glass and mirrors, creatively lit, creating shadows and reflected light on the ceiling, walls, and floor.

Kanbayashi Keiko 上林恵子 Exhibition at Kobo Gallery - Walk Through - (120522)

Kanbayashi Keiko 上林恵子 Exhibition at Kobo Gallery - (A) - (120522)

Kanbayashi Keiko 上林恵子 Exhibition at Kobo Gallery - (B) - (120522)

Kanbayashi Keiko 上林恵子 Stained Glass Installation - (120522)

Boarding 3-Door Seibu Line Train - (120522)

Departing Tokyo Station in the Rain - (120522)

Kawai Etsuko (河合悦子展) Exhibition at Gallery.B Tokyo - (120522) - A side-to-side view of one of this artist's paintings, showing how it looks rather different depending on what angle the picture is viewed at.

Different Angles One Evening - (120521) - Experimenting with camera angles in a nearly empty train.

Glimpse of Art Space Rondo - (120522) - This is a new gallery that - so far - I've only been able to look at through the front door glass.  By-and-by they'll probably have an exhibition and I'll get a chance to have a better look then.  I do wonder a little about the division of the room into what appear to be two nearly equal halves.  The original room size is perfectly good for exhibitions, but only a little over half of the room might be a bit small?  It's a nice room though - too bad the last tenant ripped out the original 1932 wooden flooring.  This is how it looked as the flooring was so tragically being ripped out two years ago: [Destruction of original 1932 flooring in Room-501 (2010)].  Well - the destruction of that wonderful flooring can't be undone now, but I certainly hope that the few rooms in the building which still have the original flooring are protected against this sort of destructive redecorating in the future.

Old Crossover Bridge at Takao Station - (120521)

Mostly Empty Chuo Line Train - (120521)

The following four clips are of an exhibition in which old 1930's film clips were shown in a 1920's hand-cranked projector.  It was an interesting, educational, and fun exhibition to experience!

1920's Hand-Cranked Projector Test - (120522)

Mechanical Projector Mechanism - (120522)

1930's Film Clip in Hand-Cranked Projector - (B) - (120522)

1930's Film Clip in Hand-Cranked Projector - (A) - (120522)

Takadanobaba Arrival Etc. - Seibu Line - (120522)

Temporary Bus Area at Tokyo Station - (120522)

Nihonbashi to Ginza - Left Side View - (120522)

Walking Through Tokyo Station - (120522)

Rain Walk - Nearing Tokyo Station - (120522) - Walking through the rain on the way to Tokyo Station.



"Ginza, Kamakura, Enoshima, and Hachioji"

Okay - I finally got out of Tokyo for a change, and went down to Kamakura and Enoshima.  It was good to do something different, and the weather was about as nice as you could hope for - sunny, but not too hot (pretty close to perfect!).  All in all, it was a great day.  In fact, I was having enough fun that I left the camera off for much of the day, so there isn't very much material from Kamakura, but there are a lot of train views (primarily the Yokosuka Line, Enoden Line, and the Shonan-Enoshima Monorail), and I got myself back into image-record mode by the time I got to Enoshima, so there are some fairly long scenes from there, particularly (recommended), this clip:

Enoshima Evening Side Streets, Etc. - (120511)

Now I've recommended one of the clips (from the long list below), there are a couple of others I should also recommend, starting with a rainy view of a side street in Ginza:

Ginza Side Street in the Rain - (120515)

I also like this view of the elevated plaza beside Hachioji Station - taken on one of the first relatively warm nights of the year - with street musicians out performing and people walking around without their winter coats:

Hachioji Elevated Plaza at Night - (120516)

And since there aren't many views of Kamakura, these three capture a little of the ambiance of the day:

Tsurugaoka-Hachimangu View 鶴岡八幡宮 - (120511)

Priests at Hasedera 長谷寺 - (120511)

Quiet Shrine in Kamakura - (120511)

And - I guess that's about all for what I'd specifically recommend, although, if you're a rail fan, you might want to check out the Shonan Monorail and Enoden Line front cab views, of which there are several long clips.

Well - with that, here are the most recent batch of video clips:

Ogawa to Hagiyama - (120504)

Tokyo to Kanda at Night - Chuo Line - (120501)

Entering Tokyo Station - (Past Temp Bus Zone) - (120508)

Tokyo to Kanda - Chuo Line at Night - (120508)

Platform Walk - Tokyo Station Chuo Line - (120508)

Kyobashi to Ginza - Ginza Line - (120508)

Yokosuka Line (A) Outbound Early Morning - (120511)

Yokosuka Line (B) Outbound Early Morning - (120511)

Yokosuka Line (C) Outbound Early Morning - (120511)

Yokosuka Line (D) Outbound Early Morning - (120511)

Yokosuka Line (E) Outbound Early Morning - (120511)

Yokosuka Line (F) Outbound Early Morning - (120511)

Tsurugaoka-Hachimangu View 鶴岡八幡宮 - (120511)

Priests at Hasedera 長谷寺 - (120511)

Quiet Shrine in Kamakura - (120511)

Arriving at Kamakura via Yokosuka Line - (120511)

Morning Platform Walk at Kamakura Station - (120511)

Kamakura Station - From One Side to the Other (Morning) - (120511)

Shonan Monorail (A) 湘南モノレール - (120511)

Shonan Monorail (B) 湘南モノレール - (120511)

Shonan Monorail (C) 湘南モノレール - (120511)

Shonan Monorail (D) 湘南モノレール - (120511)

Inside of Quiet Monorail at Shonan-Enoshima Station - (120511)

Night Ride - Shonan Monorail (Shonan-Enoshima to Ofuna) - (120511)

Boarding Shonan Monorail in Ofuna - (120511)

Hanging Monorail Departs Ofuna - (120511)

Ofuna to Shonan-Enoshima 大船から湘南江の島まで - (120511)

Early Morning Shinagawa Station - Changing Trains - (120511)

Enoden Line - Gokurakuji to Hase 鎌倉 - (120511)

Enoden Train Leaving Station - (120511)

Enoden Line - Gokurakuji to Hase 鎌倉 - (120511)

Enoden Line Morning Ride - (120511)

Gokurakuji Station (極楽寺駅) in the Morning - (120511)

Kamakura Komachi Dori (Walking Towards Kamakura Station) - (120511)

Kamakura Traditional Wedding People (Short Clip) - (120511)

Kamakura Komachi Dori (鎌倉小町道) - (120511)

Kamakura Morning Path (鎌倉) - (120511)

Kamakura Morning Hillside (鎌倉) - (120511)

Kamakura Station - Against Flow to Enoden Line - (120511)

Path of Shadows and Birdsong - Kamakura - (120511)

Morning Walk to Gokurakuji Station (極楽寺駅) in Kamakura - (120511)

Yurakucho Plaza to KT-Line - Ride to Tokyo, Etc, - (120511)

Tokyo to Kanda - Late Night Chuo Line - (120511)

Rattling Glass in Windowpanes Sound - (120511)

Tokyo Station Concourse - (120511)

Yurakucho SB Area - (120511)

Tokyo to Yurakucho at Night - (120511)

Ofuna Sanpo - Back-streets - (120511)

Ofuna Sanpo - Near Station - (120511)

Ofuna Sanpo - Walk by Karaoke Bar - (120511)

Ofuna Station - Ticket Gates, Train, Etc. - (120511)

Hachioji Taxi Stand - (120516)

Hachioji Station - Ticket Gates to Chuo Line - (120516)

Hachioji Station-side - Looking Around - (120516)

Exploring Plaza by Hachioji Station - (120516)

Yuji - Live in Hachioji ユウジ - ライブ イン 八王子 - (120516)

Hachioji Elevated Plaza at Night - (120516)

Y's Arts-508 堤壽子 Exhibition - Haha-no-Iro 母の彩 - (120515)

Chuo Line - Mostly Empty View - (120516)

Kyobashi to Ginza - Ginza Line - (120515)

Evening PA-Melody on Enoshima Island - (120511)

Rail Crossing by Enoshima Station - Enoden - (120511)

Enoshima Back Road Sunset - (120511)

Enoshima Island Evening Colors - (120511)

Walking Through Kamakura Station - (120511)

Departing Hase Station - Enoden Line - (120511)

Entering Kamakura Station - Enoden Line - (120511)

Kamakura to Hase - Enoden Line 江ノ島電鉄線 - (120511)

Shonan Beach-side Run - Enoden Line - (120511)

Enoshima Bound - Enoden Line - (120511)

Shonan-Enoden Line to Enoshima - Window View - (120511)

Ginza Side Street in the Rain - (120515)

Sunset Over the Water at Enoshima - (120511)

Enoshima Evening Side Streets, Etc. - (120511)



"Art Exhibition Views and Yurakucho Plaza in the Rain"

Friday last week turned out to be a good time to visit Kyobashi and Ginza art galleries - there was really interesting installation by Okawa Mamiko; an innovative exhibition/installation by Gawa Kumiko; and a very interesting exhibition by Moriizumi Shoko.  Fortunately I received permission to record video at all three events (see links below), so the events can be both seen from afar and also seen in the future, long after the events are finished.

It's video's archival value that strikes me as a truly wonderful thing these days.  That has always been photography's main purpose in a way, but so often I've used it for the purpose of showing things to people living very far away, that the archival value ended up being of secondary importance... until recently, when I've been looking over old images and appreciating that it's possible to see things which have long gone.  Video is wonderful for this not only due to the recording of motion, but also because of the sound - or maybe even *especially* because of the sound.  The strange thing I've found with sound is that it seems more difficult to recall than images - yet when a sound is heard again, it is easily remembered as soon as you hear it.  (What is the process/reason for that anyway?  I suppose to recognize people's voices?  There's little need to recall them if they are not present, but it's important to recognize the voice of someone you know/knew when you meet them?)  Anyway - check out the videos below if you have time!

Gawa Kumiko Exhibition at Gallery Ginza 1-Chome A 120427

Gawa Kumiko Exhibition at Gallery Ginza 1-Chome B 120427
http://youtu.be/-gnTlJfIaEo  [Art blog]

Moriizumi Shoko 森泉笙子展 Exhibition at Salon De La サロンドゥラー A 120427

Moriizumi Shoko 森泉笙子展 Exhibition at Salon De La サロンドゥラー B 120427

Moriizumi Shoko 森泉笙子展 Exhibition at Salon De La サロンドゥラー C 120427

Moriizumi Shoko 森泉笙子展 Exhibition at Salon De La サロンドゥラー D 120427
[Art blog]

Okawa Mamiko 大川真美子 Installation at Gallery Hinoki ギャラリー檜 120427
[Art blog]

Artist Making Sketch - (120427)

Wet Nighttime Look at Yurakucho Plaza - (120427)

Yurakucho to Tokyo - (120427)



"Chuo Line Telephoto Cab Views, Ginza Art Exhibitions, Etc."

Something a little different than usual in this one - several telephoto views through the front cab of an inbound Chuo Line train.  It's a different view with different details than the wider angle I usually use.  And then there are views of Ginza and Yurakucho, including a few views of a Ginza art exhibition.  (Regarding the videos with "LV-HD" - that stands for "Long-View, High-Definition".)

Yurakucho-SB in HD - (120416)

Sato Yuichiro 佐藤裕一郎展 Gallery-58 - (120424)

Chuo Line - Ochanomizu to Kanda - (120424) 

Inbound Chuo Line (A) LV-HD - (120424)

Inbound Chuo Line (B) LV-HD - (120424)

Inbound Chuo Line (C) LV-HD - (120424)

Inbound Chuo Line - Central Area (A) LV-HD - (120424)

Tokyo Station Chuo Platform View - (120424) 

Yurakucho Plaza and Walk Towards Harumi-Dori 120424

Sato Yuichiro 佐藤裕一郎展 Gallery-58 Artist Standing by Artwork 120424 

Chuo Line Cab View While Exiting Shinjuku 120424 

Chuo Line from Kanda to Ochanomizu 120424

Chuo Line from Tokyo to Kanda 120424

Construction Site in Ginza 1-Chome by Chuo Dori 120424 

About this construction site (above video) - this is a little depressing actually.  Ginza was traditionally composed of a large number of small shops, but what they keep doing is knocking down about ten of them at a time and then putting up one large sealed-box recirculating-air structure in their place that looks (sort of) okay from the outside, but is stuffy inside, and uncomfortable even to just walk past, since they generally have overpriced "brand" junk for sale - with stern-faced guards in expensive suits guarding the doors and looking sternly out on the street.  What this does is transform a friendly street that is comfortable and fun to walk down into an uncomfortable zone where you feel like you practically need a special security pass to walk - on a public street - past these hideous new boxes.  Progress?  No.  This is regression.

Loading Drink Machine 120424 

Tokyo to Yurakucho via Yamanote Line 120424

Waiting Out of the Rain for Walk Light in Shinjuku 120424 

Walking Through Tokyo Station and Boarding Yamanote Line - (120424)

Ginza Harumi-Dori Stroll 晴海通り散歩 - (120424)



"An Old CD... / Takao Station, Ginza Exhibitions, Chuo Line, Etc."

The passage of time is much in mind this evening - an old CD not listened to for a decade appeared in my hand while going through a dusty pile of old things.  Listening to it now... it's really amazing how many feelings come back with an old CD often listened to in an intense chapter of one's life, and then not listened to at all for around 15 years.  There are other factors as well.  In the 1990's, recordings were high quality, but not as artificial as some more recent stuff?  Not sure about that one, but the sound quality seems more real to me in a way.

Well - by the time I've written the above while listening to it - I've gotten over the nostalgia rush and have come back to 2012.  Okay - time to introduce another batch of video clips:

In-between the usual Tokyo train scenes are a few Kyobashi/Ginza art exhibitions/installations.  There's also a walk across a section of Ginza in the evening and a few views out around Takao Station.  The video titles explain the content fairly well (I hope) - with the exception of "Tokyo Station Temporary Bus Area" of which more than half is walking through busy Tokyo Station in the early evening (after walking past the temporary bus area).

Arriving at Takao Station - (120418)

Old Room Installation - (120417)

Tokyo to Shinjuku - Nighttime Window View - (120417)

Takahashi Toshifumi 高橋俊文展 Ai Gallery 藍ギャラリー - (120417)

Under Tracks Izakaya - (120416)

Ogawa to Kodaira - Construction Zone - (120416)

Ginza Gallery Party - (120416)

Evening Yurakucho YSB - (120416)

Chuo Line Arriving at Shinjuku - (120417)

Arriving at Takao Station - Inbound Keio Line - (120418)

Yo Shimadu シマジヨウ展 Gallery B Tokyo ギャラリービートウキョウ - A - (120416)

Yo Shimadu シマジヨウ展 Gallery B Tokyo ギャラリービートウキョウ - B - (120416)

Tokyo Station Temporary Bus Area, Etc. - (120417)

Kanazawa Midori 金沢碧展 Installation at Gallery Kobo 巷房 - A - (120416)

Kanazawa Midori 金沢碧展 Installation at Gallery Kobo 巷房 - B - (120416)

Chuo Line Arriving at Tokyo Station - (120417)

Takao to Takaosanguchi - (120418)

Ginza Evening Stroll - (120416)



"The Five Sparrows"

I don't feed pigeons in parks (or anywhere else) for a number of reasons; a) It's a bad idea, since the more you feed them, the more they multiply, b) they're dirty, c) they're rudely persistent and irritating, d) I don't like them, e) etc. etc.  But I like sparrows, and so when a tiny sparrow landed by my feet (in a park in central Tokyo) the other day and chirped away endearingly, I contemplated the sandwich I was eating and thought maybe it wouldn't hurt to give the bird a piece of the bread.  While thinking about that, the bold chirper sparrow was joined by four quiet companions and I tossed a piece of the bread over, which the bold one took and flew over to some bushes with, and quickly disappeared under them on foot.

This interested me, because I've never fed a sparrow before (or seen one fed), so my point of reference was pigeons and I expected there to be some competition for the bread among the five, with them breaking it into pieces.  A second surprise was that the remaining four birds made no effort to follow the first.  So I tossed another piece of bread down (air-pressure projected it actually, but whatever) and a second bird grabbed that and flew off to a different area of the park from the first bird.  Intrigued, I made another piece of bread available (air-pressure projection means you don't have to get your fingers oily from handing the sandwich outside the wrapper), which was taken by the third bird, who flew off to still another area of the park.  A fourth piece of bread produced the same result with the fourth bird, and at this point, the last bird turned around and looked into the park (where its companions had gone) with what seemed like a "Hey!  Everyone got a piece but me!"... look?  (Maybe "look" works, although it was a combination of "full body movement" and "radio waves".).  So I thought "Hold on!  I've got one for you too!" and air-launched a final piece of bread near that bird, which didn't notice it right away, since it seemed to have gotten the idea that it had missed out on the action.  But then it noticed, and - bread in beak -  it also flew off, to a fifth section of the park, leaving me in peace.

What I really liked about the experience is that they didn't fight over the bread; they went in turns to their own private part of the park to have lunch, and they didn't come back to harass me the way greedy pigeons do.  All of that said - is it normal for sparrows to come asking for a free lunch?



"1998 Digital Camera Price and DCC Audio in 1993"

Cleaning out some boxes from the back of a closet in a quest for more space in my apartment, I noticed a couple of old magazine ads that caught my attention - one highlighting how much digital cameras have advanced since 1998, and the other an ad for a type of sound recorder I never even knew existed.  First - the camera:

Nikon Coolpix-910 - which recorded pictures at 1,280x960 (1.3MP) and was listed as costing Y99,800 when it went on sale in October of 1998.  The specs of it don't surprise me.  If anything, the size of the image sensor sounds fairly decent for 1998 (I bought a 1MP camera in 2000), but the price really stands out.  You can get such higher specs now for so much less cash!
http://www.letsgodigital.org/en/camera/specification/533/show.html (English)
http://www.nikon.co.jp/news/1998/e910j_98.htm (Japanese)

DCC Audio - Looking in the November 1993 edition of the magazine, "Audio - The Equipment Authority", there's an ad for a pair of DCC (Digital Compact Cassette) machines from Panasonic.  The Panasonic RQ-DP7 portable unit and the Panasonic CQ-DC1 car deck.  I don't even remember DCC audio - was that popular at all?  Apparently you can also still use the machines to play back standard cassettes.
http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1993-10-01/entertainment/9310010055_1_dcc-tapes-analog-cassette-portable (English)
http://panasonic.jp/support/product/audio/RQ-DP7.html (Japanese)



"Tokyo Hanami-2012, Ginza Art Installations, and Train Window Views"

More videos:  The sakura tree blossoms came out later this year than usual - coinciding more with school entrance ceremonies than graduation ceremonies, which is more typical.  In this batch of clips I visited the Yotsuya rampart and also recorded views of sakura trees in a few other places (Nihonbashi, Yurakucho, etc.)  Then there are three art-related clips - two installations and one group exhibition - with the exhibition being at Platform Studio, which is (sadly) closing at the end of this month.  For the record architecturally, there are two clips showing the ceiling of Room-515 in the Okuno Building - in which you can see where the walls of the communal restroom of the 1934 half of the building used to be.  The 1934 building restrooms were obliterated in order to enlarge the back room there (on all floors except the 1st floor - leaving the restrooms in the 1932 half of the building).  Among the train videos are four clips that show the left side window view from an inbound Chuo Line train running from Kokubunji to Yotsuya.

Nihonbashi Hanami-2012 - (120410)

Yotsuya Rampart Hanami-2012 - (B) - (120409)

Yotsuya Rampart Hanami-2012 - (A) - (120409)

Kurota Hirofumi Installation at GOBP-306 (A) - April 2012 (120409)

Kurota Hirofumi Installation at GOBP-306 (B) - April 2012 (120409)

Kurota Hirofumi Installation at GOBP-306 (C) - April 2012 (120409)

Kurota Hirofumi Installation at GOBP-306 (D) - April 2012 (120410)

Kurota Hirofumi (黒多弘文) installation at Ginza Okuno Building Project-306 (銀座奥野ビル306号室プロ ジェクト) - April 2012 - D - (120410)

Last Group Exhibition at Gallery Platform Studio  - (120409)

A look at the last exhibition at Gallery Platform Studio (ギャラリープラットフォーム スタジオ) - (120409)

Otsubo Miho Installation - Gallery Kazuki - (A) - (120409)

Otsubo Miho Installation - Gallery Kazuki - (B) - (120409)

Otsubo Miho (大坪美穂展) Installation (インストレーション) at Gallery Kazuki (画廊香) - (B) - (120409)

Mitaka to Nakano - Inbound Chuo Line - (120409)

Room-515 Ceiling - Okuno Building - (A) - (120409)

Room-515 Ceiling - Okuno Building - (B) - (120409)

Ginza Office Workers - Homeward Bound - (120409)

Kokubunji to Mitaka - Inbound Chuo Line - (120409)

Nakano to Shinjuku - Inbound Chuo Line - (120409)

Kanda to Yurakucho - Yamanote Line - (120409)

Yotsuya Rampart Arrival - Sakura Quest - (120409)

Shinjuku to Yotsuya - Inbound Chuo Line - (120409)

Yotsuya Rampart Hanami-2012 - (C) - (120409)

Evening Ginza 4-Chome - (120410)

Evening Yurakucho to Tokyo - (120410)

Looking Up at Sakura Trees - (120409)

Walking Through Evening Ginza - (120410)

Nihonbashi to Kyobashi - Ginza Line - (120410)

Late Night Yurakucho to Tokyo - (120409)

Kyobashi - New Building Construction - (120410)

Yotsuya Rampart - Back to Street Level - (120409)

Yurakucho Sakura - (120410)



"Live Jazz in Yurakucho; Ginza, Chidorigafuchi Hanami (千鳥ヶ淵花見), Etc."

It's a sign of spring in Tokyo when you start seeing more street bands out performing, so it was great to see a three-piece jazz band enlivening Yurakucho (four clips at the top of this batch, plus a couple of HD clips further down the list).  Then there are a couple of art exhibition clips, and views of a strangely empty Seibu Line train (most likely due to a very powerful storm that had just blown through Tokyo, so people were probably avoiding going out if they could), on which I had the first two cars all to myself (until a few stops down the line, when more people boarded the train).  Add in a few typical train system views, and finally there's a very strong indication of spring (and something fun) - cherry blossom viewing (花見) season!  I visited the area around Kudanshita Station (on the Tozai Line) yesterday evening and had a good time partaking in the yearly ritual of welcoming the coming of spring with parties beneath the cherry blossom trees.  Yearly, except outdoor events were canceled last year due to Fukushima radiation, etc, so this was the first time in two years.

Yurakucho Jazz Band - (C) - Close-up - (120402)

Yurakucho Jazz Band - (B) - (120402)

Yurakucho Jazz Band - (A) - (120402)

Ginza Chuo-Dori Double Shadow - (120402)

横田寛之 Ethnic Minority - Live in Yurakucho - (2C) - (120402)

Yurakucho Jazz Band - Setting Up - (120402)

Yurakucho Jazz Band - (2B) - (120402)

Yurakucho Jazz Band - (2A) - (120402)

Ginza Line Train Floor - (120402)

Tachihara Mariko 立原真理子展 Gallery Kobo 巷房 Screen Door Exhibition - (B) - (120402)

Tachihara Mariko 立原真理子展 Gallery Kobo 巷房 Screen Door Exhibition - (A) - (120402)

Empty Front Carriage - Seibu Line - (120403)

Yamauchi Terue (山内光枝展) Gallery-58 Installation - (120402)

Late-Night Yurakucho to Tokyo - (120402)

Where is Everybody? - Seibu Line - (120403)

Windy Night Station - Seibu Line - (120403)

Yurakucho Below-Tracks Stroll - (120402)

Windy Station - Seibu Train Arrives - (120403)

Cherry Blossoms by Small Temple in Tokyo- (120405)

Chidorigafuchi Hanami 千鳥ヶ淵花見 - (D) - (120405)

Small Temple Cherry Blossoms - (120405)

Side Streets Near Waseda Station - (120405)

Old Water Pump - (120405)

Shadows - (120405)

Kichijoji to Mitaka - Late Night Chuo Line - (120405)

Nakano Late Night Outbound Platform - (120405)

Exiting Kudanshita Station - (120405)

Cherry Blossoms in the Dark - (120405)

Kudanshita to Iidabashi - Tozai Line - (120405)

Entering Yasukuni Hanami Area - (120405)

Crossing Street in Kudanshita - (120405)

Tozai Line Kudanshita Tile Mural - (120405)

Entering Waseda Station - Street->Station->Train - (120405)

Walking Through Yasukuni Grounds During Hanami Season - (120405)

九段北花見 Kudan-Kita Hanami - (A) - (120405)

九段北花見 Kudan-Kita Hanami - (B) - (120405)

九段北花見 Kudan-Kita Hanami - (C) - (120405)

九段北花見 Kudan-Kita Hanami - (D) - (120405)

Hanami Along 302 - Yasukuni-Dori 靖国通り - (120405)

Beautiful Flowers at Hanami in Kudan-Kita - (120405)

Chidorigafuchi Hanami 千鳥ヶ淵花見 - (C) - (120405)

Chidorigafuchi Hanami 千鳥ヶ淵花見 - (B) - (120405)

Chidorigafuchi Hanami 千鳥ヶ淵花見 - (A) - (120405)



"1990 Shibuya, 1991 Takayama, 2012 Ginza, Yurakucho, Tokyo Trains, Etc."

First, I should point out that my summary of this batch of video clips is not in any particular order, so keep that in mind if you go looking for one of the things I mention in this introduction.

More than usual, I have posted several video-time-machine views - this time from May 1990 (Shibuya, Asakusabashi, Shinjuku, Takadanobaba, subway views, Sendagaya, Akabane, etc.), as well as clips from an August 1991 trip to Takayama via a very cool mid-engine micro-car - a Honda Beat.  Unfortunately, since I was driving the car and it had a manual transmission, I couldn't take footage of a very fun fast drive along a mountain road that I took, and only recorded being stuck in a traffic jam and accelerating away from one traffic light.

After spending what felt like a lot of time in the video time machine, I came back to 2012 and took footage of (naturally) train views (Ginza, Chuo, Tozai, Yamanote, Keio, etc. lines), as well as views from Ginza (including a clip from an exhibition and two from exhibition opening parties), and Yurakucho, Shinjuku, etc.

There are three basic formats I uploaded this time - digitized versions of analog material recorded over 20 years ago, HD material, and re-processed material (due to a technical problem at YouTube that allowed uploading of some files with the picture, but only one second of sound).

1990 Harajuku and Shibuya Stations at Night - (900510)

Takao Station at Night - (120312)

Takao to Takaosan-guchi - (120312)

Keio Line Train Arriving at Takao Station - (120312)

Racing the Yamanote Line to Tokyo Station - (120315)

1990 - Sobu and Yamanote Lines (Side Window Views) - (900511)

May 11th, 1990 - Looking out side windows of Sobu Line and Yamanote Line trains (as well as station platform views).  Towards the end is a view of Kanda Station just as they were beginning construction of the Shinkansen tracks towards Omiya.

1990 - Asakusabashi Area - (900511)

May 11th, 1990 - Walking around in Asakusabashi and riding the Sobu Line.

1990 - Shibuya at Night - (900514)

May 14th, 1990 - Walking around in Shibuya at night.

1990 Nightwalk - Yoyogi to Shinjuku - (May 1990)

Walking from Yoyogi to Shinjuku late at night in May 1990.

1990 Takadanobaba May Walkabout

Walking around in May 1990 in Takadanobaba - beginning with a view from the Yamanote Line platform and ending with a view inside a Tozai (subway) train as it departs Takadanobaba.  This shows the atmosphere of May 1990 Takadanobaba.

1990 - May Subway Views (A)

Views of a number of stations and trains on the Tokyo subway system - taken in May 1990.

1990 - Here and There in May (A)

Going about in May 1990 Tokyo.  Missing a train home, meetings friends at an izakaya, etc.

1990 Sendagaya Station Area in May (900522)

May 22nd, 1990 - Looking around the Sendagaya Station Area.

1990 Here and There in May (B) Akabane Station, Etc

May 1990 - Various places, including Shinjuku Station and a several views of Akabane Station.

1991 - Honda Beat Drive - (910811)

August 11th, 1991 - Driving a Honda Beat in the mountains on the way to Takayama.

1991 Takayama Walkabout (910811)

August 11th, 1991 - Walking around in Takayama.

1991 - Takayama Matsuri - (910811)

On the evening of August 11th, 1991, walking around during a festival in the mountain town of Takayama.

Takizawa Tatsushi 滝沢達史展 Steps Gallery - (120323)

Takizawa Tatsushi (滝沢達史) Exhibition/Installation at Steps Gallery. - (120323)

Balcony View in Ginza 1-Chome - (120323)

Mysterious Hallways - (120323)

Yurakucho Station - Waiting for Train - Ride to Tokyo - (120323)

Near Yurakucho Station - Rainy Night - (120323)

Yurakucho Plaza in the Rain - (120323)

Yurakucho Evening Rain Walk - (120323)

YSB Yurakucho Street View - (120315)

Tozai Line Train Departing Nihonbashi Station - (120315)

Hamamatsucho to Shinbashi - Nighttime Yamanote Line - (120326)

Osaki to Gotanda - Nighttime Yamanote Line - (120326)

Shinagawa to Osaki - Nighttime Yamanote Line - (120326)

Tamachi to Shinagawa - Nighttime Yamanote Line - (120326)

Shinbashi to Hamamatsucho - Yamanote Line - (120326)

Yurakucho Station - Yurakucho to Shinbashi - (120326)

Tokyo Station - Yamanote Line Departure - (120326)

Yurakucho to Tokyo - Nighttime Yamanote Line - (120326)

Ginza Harumi-Dori - (120326)

Ginza Chuo-Dori Stroll - (120326)

Ginza Chuo-Dori - Long View - (120326)

Ginza 4-Chome and Harumi-Dori - (120326)

Ogawa to Kodaira - Construction Zone, Etc. - (120326)

Gallery Exhibition Opening Party-A - (120326)

Gallery Exhibition Opening Party-B - (120326)

Abe Chihiro Exhibition at Art Space Rashinban - (120326)

Abe Chihiro (安倍千尋展) Exhibition at Art Space Rashinban (アートスペース羅針盤). - (120326)

Tachikawa Platform - Late at Night - (120326)

Nihonbashi to Ginza - Ginza Line - (120326)

Late Night Chuo Line Interior - (120326)

Edge of Ginza - Evening Stroll - (120326)

Late Night Chuo Line - Departing Tokyo Station - (120326)



"Ginza, Mitaka, Kichijoji, Chuo-Line, Low-Resolution, HD, Etc."

Regarding the picture quality (resolution) of this batch of videos; it is either high in the HD clips (first five below and a few others), or else very low resolution in LD (Low Definition), clips that ended up in that state through YouTube no longer (for a week at least - I'll be doing more testing later) accepting video clips in the AVI format that one of my cameras generates.  I have no idea what the *reason* for this is, but the *result* is that all of the uploaded video clips in that format show up as 1-second videos, so I had to convert the file format before uploading to get YouTube to accept the files - which works, but with very poor picture quality.  Anyway - be forewarned that many of these clips have shockingly bad picture quality.

The first five (HD) videos are of Shinbashi, Ginza, Yurakucho, and Tokyo Station.  Moving into the LD videos, there are views of Tachikawa, Mitaka, the Chuo Line, Kichijoji, etc.

I'm hoping to find a way to upload the files from that camera without losing (so much) picture quality.  I am confident there is some way of doing this, but with the tools I have at hand - I haven't been able to do it... yet!

(HD) Shinbashi Station - Watching Trains Come and Go - (120307)

(HD) Ginza Suzuran-Dori - Construction Noises - (120307)

(HD) Suzuran-Dori - 4:00 PM - (120307)

(HD) Yurakucho to Shinbashi (Looking Back - Yamanote Line) - (120307)

(HD) Tokyo Station - Boarding Yamanote Line - (120307)

Mitaka Shotengai (B) - (120307)

Mitaka Shotengai (A) - (120307)

Tachikawa Station (Inside Ticket Gates) - (120307)

Shinjuku Crosswalk - (120306)

Tokyo to Yurakucho (Looking Back - Yamanote Line) - (120307)

Bus Side of Mitaka Station - (120307)

Chuo Line Side View - To Ogikubo - (120301)

Hayashi Nobuaki (林伸朗) Installation at Gallery Hinoki (ギャラリー檜) Close-Up - (120306)

Mitaka Shotengai Stroll - (120307)

Mitaka Station Mall (and Walk to Platform) - (120307)

Walking Through Mitaka Station - (120307)

Night Side Window View - Chuo Line to Mitaka - (120301)

Ogawa to Hagiyama - Construction Area - (120306)

Yamanote Line - Departing Shinbashi Station - (120307)

In Front of Ogikubo Station-360 - (120301)

Shinbashi Side Street Construction - (120307)

Musashisakai to Mitaka - Chuo Line Side Window View - (120301)

Kichijoji Side Streets (D) - (120301)

Kichijoji Side Streets (C) - (120301)

Kichijoji Side Streets (B) - (120301)

Kichijoji Side Streets (A) - (120301)

Kichijoji Shotengai Stroll (C) - (120301)

Kichijoji Shotengai Stroll (B) - (120301)

Kichijoji Shotengai Stroll (A) - (120301)

Exiting Shinbashi Station - (120307)

Kichijoji Station Area - Construction, Etc. -  - (120301)

Kyobashi Side Street - Construction - (120306)

New-Old Tokyo Station (Under Construction) - (120307)

Kichijoji Evening Shotengai (C) - (120301)

Kichijoji Evening Shotengai (B) - (120301)

Kichijoji Evening Shotengai (A) - (120301)

Nishi-Ogikubo to Kichijoji - Chuo Line, Etc. - (120301)

Entering Kichijoji Station - (120301)

Kichijoji Narrow Passageways - Evening Old Shotengai - (120301)

Chuo Line Escalator at Tokyo Station - (120307)

Chuo Line Arriving at Mitaka - (120307)



"May 1990 Shinjuku and Shibuya, 120229 Snow, Tachikawa, Kichijoji, Mitaka, Ginza, Etc."

A large chunk of the videos in this batch were affected by some kind of issue with AVI format files not uploading properly to YouTube, so I converted many of them to FLV files, which uploaded easily, but have degraded picture quality.  If the next batch of AVI files I attempt to upload doesn't work, then I'll try to (if I understand the process well enough) convert them into MP4 files (rather than FLV).  That technical bit out of the way....

On the last day of February - the 29th this year - there was a pretty big snowfall in Tokyo (big for Tokyo anyway) and I took several clips of the unusual appearance of the city under all that white snow.  Most of the snow scenes are of Tachikawa, but there are some other angles thrown in, including train window views.

I went to both Kichijoji and Mitaka recently and took a few clips of the shotengai areas in each place.  Back in central Tokyo, while checking out art galleries, I took some video of Ginza - including a couple of exhibitions/installations that were interesting and very colorful - "No doubt the artist is thinking of spring" thought I.  And of course there are the usual train views from various lines - primarily the Chuo, Ginza, Tozai, Yamanote, and Keihin-Tohoku lines.

May 1990 - Shinjuku Omoide-Yokocho

May 1990 - Shibuya Station Platform

Tachikawa - Elevated Walkway - (120229)

Snow - Takao Station - (120229)

(x2) Walking from Kyobashi to Ginza - (120228)

Video recorded at 15fps and then played back at 30fps for double-time video with no sound.

(x2) Elevator Up - Stairs Down - (120228)

Video recorded at 15fps and then played back at 30fps for double-time video with no sound.

Kichijoji Mall (Short) - (120301)

Snow - Tachikawa Station Platform - (120229)

Ginza Chuo Dori - Looking Both Ways - (120228)

Snow - Nishi-Kokubunji to Tachikawa - (120229)

Looking at a rare snowfall from a side window of a Chuo Line train while going from Nishi-Kokubunji to Tachikawa.

Path to Tachikawa Shopping Arcade - (120229)

Kono Satomi (河野里美) Exhibition at Y's Arts-508 - (120307)

A beautiful and colorful exhibition.  Someday I hope to have internally illuminated pictures like these on my walls!  For now at least, the artist told me that the pictures are for the exhibition only and are not for sale.

Ginza Chuo-Dori - February 28th, 2012 - (120228)

Yurakucho-SB (A) - (120307)

Yurakucho-SB (B) - (120307)

Yurakucho to Tokyo - (120307)

KT-Line at Yurakucho Station - (120307)

Watching a Keihin-Tohoku Line train at Yurakucho Station.

Nihonbashi to Ginza (Ginza Line) - (120306)

Snow - Tachikawa Station (Both Sides) - (120229)

Snow - Tachikawa Station Area - (120229)

Snow - Tachikawa Station Area and Streets - (120229)

Snow - Tachikawa Station Area Stroll - (120229)

Snow - Tachikawa Streets - (120229)

Snow - Tachikawa to Hachioji - Chuo Line - (120229)

Snow in Tokyo Suburban Park - (120229)

Ginza Line - Nihonbashi to Ginza - (120228)

Tachikawa - Reserved Seat Train Arrival and Departure - (120229)

Tachikawa Station Shops - (120229)

Tachikawa Platform - Old Type Train, Etc

Tachikawa Evening Rush - February 29th, 2012 - (120229)

Tachikawa Station Shopping Arcade - (120229)

Tachikawa Elevated Walkways (With Snow) - (120229)

Tachikawa Platform on Rare Snow Day in Tokyo - (120229)

Tachikawa Side Streets - Evening Slush - (120229)

Tachikawa Station - Ticket Gates to Platform - (120229)

Tachikawa - Shopping Mall to Chuo Line Platform - (120229)

Tachikawa - Walking Towards Station (Some Snow) - (120229)

Tachikawa Outside Escalator (Snow Day) - (120229)

Tozai Window Reflections - Takadanobaba to Waseda - (120228)

Yamada Keiko (山田恵子) Exhibition at Steps Gallery - (120307)

Ginza Harumi-Dori (晴海通り) - (120307)

Ginza Chuo-Dori (A) - (120306)

Ginza Chuo-Dori (B) - (120306)

Hayashi Nobuaki (林伸朗) Installation at Gallery Hinoki (ギャラリー檜) - (120306)

A very colorful and fun installation/exhibition!

Yamanote and Shibuya (May 1990-A)

Views of the Yamanote Line (mainly inside) and Shibuya at night - taken in May 1990.

Train Watching - Shinbashi Station - (120307)

At Shinbashi Station - looking down the tracks towards Kanagawa.  The many tracks and trains are quite an impressive sight - although I wonder why the railway is letting the overhead steel structure that supports the power cables rust.  I suppose there's been a decision to replace them with something else, and so to just let them rust until the point where they need to be replaced....



"Takadanobaba, Ginza, Tokyo, Shinjuku, Yurakucho, Etc."

General winter scenes in Tokyo - with walking scenes in Takadanobaba, Ginza, near Tokyo Station (which is under renovation/reconstruction), in Shinjuku, Yurakucho, Kyobashi, etc.  And at this point a roadblock to further video uploads struck in the form of YouTube's avi reformatter breaking, preventing me from uploading anything else.  I did (in the middle of about 80 failed uploads), somehow luck out and get one short video posted showing a single street during Tokyo's February 29th, 2012 big snowfall, but if the broken avi-reformatter issue isn't solved (I suspect the real issue is that YouTube has reached (surpassed actually?) the breaking point with the vast number of - ever-increasing in intensity - uploads it's been taking in non-stop for all this time...) - if a way to again upload avi files doesn't present itself, this could be the end of most of my video uploading.  I tested a couple of alternative sites - Vimeo and MetaCafe - but in both cases the video plays strangely, and in one case with no sound - so there doesn't appear to be any (practical) alternative to YouTube... although I hear other file formats may be okay, so I need to find a way to convert my avi files into something else (MP4 is best apparently).

Takadanobaba Side Streets - (120221)

Takadanobaba Station Area - (120221)

Ginza Chuo Dori - Afternoon Stroll - (120221)

Winter Shadows Near Tokyo Station - (120221)

Tokyo Station Area - Under Renovation - (120221)

Shinjuku Station Evening Stroll - (120221)

Boarding Seibu Train at Ogawa - (120221)

Kokubunji Station Area - (120220)

Late Night Shinjuku Chuo Line Platform - (120221)

Beside Tokyo Station - (120221)

Edge of Ginza 1-Chome - (120221)

Yurakucho Izakaya Path - (120221)

Yurakucho Evening Stroll - (120221)

Ginza Evening Stroll - 6:00PM - (120221)

Kyobashi Sky - (120221)

Undertracks Izakaya in Yurakucho - (120221)

Yurakucho Electronics Store Stroll - (120221)

Snow In Tokyo Suburb - (120229)

Kokubunji Trains - Snow - (120229)  [via Vimeo]

Looking around at trains at Kokubunji Station on a snowy February 29th, 2012.  (Note: In testing this one, it didn't play back very well on my computer, so I'm not sure how it will look for others....)

Boarding Tozai Line at Takadanobaba - (120228) 
[via MetaCafe]

Watching a Tozai Line come in to Takadanobaba Station and then boarding it.  (Note: This clip also didn't play very well when I tested it, so I'm not sure how it'll do.)



"Roads, Trucks and Cars, Etc. 1959 and 2012"

Continuing to read "All the Best in Japan" by Sydney Clark (published by Sidgwick and Jackson Limited  in 1959), I notice the road and vehicle traffic situation has radically changed, while rail travel has basically the same reputation (with some changes).  Looking at the section entitled: "But There Are Things to Cope with Too":

"In the interest of balanced reporting I have to state that motor touring in Japan, while perfectly practicable almost everywhere - I have enjoyed a lot of it - leaves much to be desired.  From the tourist's angle poor roads are Japan's most noticeable fault and the fact that a vigorous ten-year reconstruction plan has just got under way does not lend much comfort to those who plan to come now or soon.  Great stretches of the roads you'll want to use are narrow and bumpy and many portions are thick with dust in dry weather, gooey with mud in wet.  ......"

Well, ten years from 1959 was 1969, and here we are in 2012, from which I can report that it's exceedingly rare to find any road that isn't covered with smooth asphalt now.  So much so, that when I find myself standing on dirt (an exceedingly rare occurrence), I look down and marvel, "Wow!  Real dirt!  Just think, this dirt may actually have never been buried under asphalt before!  Amazing!", which is unfortunately not even sarcasm (not much anyway).  It really does seem like some kind of wonderful thing to be standing on actual dirt [comment from 1996].

"Statistics before me reveal that of Japan's vehicles officially tallied in a recent year, buses totaled a surprising 10 per cent.  The figure for trucks (but the majority of these are in and near the big cities, not on the open highways) is a whopping 60 per cent, while that for passenger cars is only 25 per cent, the remaining 5 per cent being scored as 'Special'."

There are still a lot of buses and trucks, but certainly trucks are not 60 percent of the vehicles on the road now.  I do remember being struck with the large number of trucks on the road when I first came here though (in the eighties).  In fact, I think there are probably many more trucks on the open highways now than in 1959 (with a lower percentage - but certainly not absolute number - in the cities).  They have cut rail freight use way down (the Shiodome office tower area near Shinbashi Station used to be a freight rail yard, for example), and have been feverishly burying ever more of the country under asphalt over the past 50 years, so it's gotten to the point where I wish for the opposite of what Mr. Clark wished for back then.  It would be an altogether happier situation if they were now making new plans to *reduce* the number of roads in the country and stop doing everything for the sake of petrol-burning internal-combustion machinery.

"..... If highway travel is bad, railway travel is quite wonderful, for Japan is perhaps the most railway-minded great country in the world.  Rail service is excellent in quality and the punctuality of trains, all trains, is nothing less than spectacular.  I think Japan comes the nearest of any country in the world to keeping its trains so precisely on time that 'you can set you watch by them'."

This is still true, although they have been building large new bus terminals beside major rail stations (Tokyo and Shinjuku immediately come to mind) and more and more people are traveling from Tokyo to other areas of Japan via night buses, which is a horrible development in my view (horrible to be using bloody buses when they could be running trains).  Meanwhile, rail travel on many train lines away from the mega-cities is way down.  Making Japan a car culture is one of the more horrible mistakes of the 20th century I think, and - although young people are less interested in owning cars than their age group used to be, the Godzilla construction industry continues to work hard in the 21st century at burying ever more of the country under asphalt for the sake of bloody internal combustion engines.  I hope oil runs out in the world in a hurry - to put a stop to this suicidal madness.



"Looking Over the Horizon in Tokyo via Darwin"

In reading "A Naturalist's Voyage Round the World" by Charles Darwin, M.A., F.R.S., I came across the following paragraph, didn't quite get it the first time, so went back and read it a second time, and then realized something - but first, have a look at this text from Darwin's 1831-36 voyage on the Beagle, referring to a trip he took in Argentina:

"For many leagues north and south of San Nicolas and Rozario, the country is really level. Scarcely anything which travellers have written about its extreme flatness can be considered as exaggeration. Yet I could never find a spot where, by slowly turning round, objects were not seen at greater distances in some directions than in others; and this manifestly proves inequality in the plain. At sea, a person's eye being six feet above the surface of the water, his horizon is two miles and four-fifths distant. In like manner, the more level the plain, the more nearly does the horizon approach within these narrow limits; and this, in my opinion, entirely destroys that grandeur which one would have imagined that a vast level plain would have possessed."

It took me a minute to conceptualize what he was getting at, but then the horizon dropping out of sight due to the roundness of the earth meaning of what he was saying came into mental focus and I realized that - in Tokyo - you very rarely have an opportunity to see very far into the distance at ground level in the first place.  The views can be spectacular from the top of high-rise buildings, but while you're contemplating the view, for some reason the concept of being able to see further over the horizon by virtue of being up high doesn't come to mind.  And the mental picture of being on a vast and empty plain is like a vision from another planet from the perspective of living in Tokyo, with it's (greater area) population of 30,000,000!

Another thing that is strongly evident between the lines of that book from the early 1800s, is how there is no thought of humankind having the power to destroy the planet, and travel on land was generally via walking or on horses - there were no noxious-gas-emitting automobiles poisoning the air.  I love machines and electronics, but I've come to deeply resent the internal combustion engine - and the tremendous damage its use has cased/is causing to the planet.



"Japanese Politeness, Tipping, Population, Etc. 1959/2012"

Another look back at "All the Best in Japan" by Sydney Clark (published by Sidgwick and Jackson Limited  in 1959) - this time about the things that the author liked and suggested visitors would also like.

"Those Things You'll Love - Your first shocks of pleasure, following your initially grim impressions of Tokyo street traffic, occur when your taxi reaches your hotel.  To your amazement you'll find that when you pay the taxi driver - who hasn't, after all, killed you or anybody else in his mad dash - he will promptly pass you your change, all of it, and drive swiftly away in search of his next fare.  He expects no tip and you should offer him none unless he has done some very special service for you.  Where else but in Japan could this phenomenon occur?"

This is still true enough, although I would add that over the years, I've had some bad experiences with taxi drivers in every country I've used them in, including Japan.  Not all drivers are honest, and some find one way or another to overcharge their passengers.  The way that's happened to me here, is with drivers not going directly to the destination.  In one very blatant case, I asked the driver to "Stop here please" and he keep driving until the meter went up, and then stopped (so I had to both pay extra and walk back to where I had asked the scoundrel to stop in the first place).  Of course, from a taxi driver's perspective, they have to put up with abuse from bad passengers, but I've never done that myself and so don't appreciate being a victim.  As it currently stands, I prefer to walk an hour than to take a chance on a taxi driver being honest.

"At the door of your hotel, whether it is the celebrated Imperial, the eagerly desired goal of most American tourists, or some lesser hostelry, bellboys or bellgirls, bowing from the waist, will welcome you and relieve you of your luggage.  After you've registered they'll take you to your room, install you politely, bow again and disappear.  'Wait a minute,' you'll say, calling down the corridor.  'Here.  This is for you,' as you offer a gratuity.  Again he or she will bow and politely decline it.  That, as least, has been my experience over and over again, or it was until I learned not to offer tips.  Even in the Imperial Hotel, the very nucleus of U.S. tourism, exactly this happened to me on three early occasions."

Not having to tip everyone for everything in hotels in Japan is a really wonderful thing.  It's stressful being thrust into the role of direct employer of the people working in hotels and restaurants.  I prefer for them to get their wages from their proper employer and think the employer should pay them enough that they don't have to go around with their hands out all the time for extra cash.  I think tipping is a truly horrible custom.

As for the Imperial Hotel being the "very nucleus of US tourism"; in 1959, you got 360 yen for 1 dollar, but that's down to about 80 yen for 1 dollar now.  As a result, Japan is now a very much more expensive place to visit for someone coming here from a foreign country than it was in 1959.  The Imperial Hotel is a luxury hotel and either people with a lot of money to spend or business people on expense accounts are the type of foreign guest that comes to mind now.

"You'll love the schoolchildren as tourists.  At every Buddhist temple, Shinto shrine or other tourist sight you'll see them being herded along by their teachers, for sightseeing is a very definite part of every child's schooling.  They all wear uniforms, in deference to democracy, so that there shall be no obvious difference between rich and poor.  ......."

This is pretty much still true, although some schools allow regular clothing.  I've had several people tell me that they liked having a uniform, as it eliminated the pressure to competitively dress.  The "at every Buddhist temple" part is the sensation you'll often have when visiting Kyoto and Nara, but not so much in other areas of the country.

"The multitudes of these children-in-uniform, encountered everywhere you go, will constantly amaze you, even when you grow accustomed to the spectacle.  They flow around you like a human river.  Often you have literally to plow your way through them.  To us these giggling kids are a delight, but to the Japanese government they are a constant source of worry, for the country, with some 90 million inhabitants, is already overpopulated and the national tally has been increasing by a million or more a year.  Last year, however, there was a ray of hope, for the net increase was only 935,000, the first time since the war that it has been under a million.  You and I will leave population worries to whom they may concern and will selfishly enjoy these swarming, scurrying, buoyant youngsters."

I admit it took me several years to fully get used to seeing school children in uniform out and about here, there, and everywhere at all hours and even on national holidays.  In the beginning you ask yourself "Why are they in uniform on a holiday?" and gradually it sinks in that there are a vast number of schools in Tokyo, and sometimes the students will wear their uniforms for a school concert, etc., and so, with the very large number of schools, someone is bound to be in uniform pretty much on any given day.

About population growth - the author mentions 90 million and growing in 1959, and mentions that growth was slowing, but that people were worried about overpopulation.  It grew to its current (approximate) 127 million, and now has slowed to the point where it's actually declining, as many people are not having children, or only having one or two children.  The big worry now is that - in the words of hysterical TV talking heads - "Japan will disappear" which is utter nonsense of course, but bloody TV always tries to be sensationalist to get people's attention, and then a certain percentage of the population unthinkingly takes the hysteria at face value.  (Lest this cynical comment be taken out of context, I hasten to say I'm referring to human beings on planet earth, and not criticizing the residents of any particular country.)

"You'll love the built-in courtesy of all Japanese, young or old, rich or poor, for nothing quite like it exists anywhere else in the world.  I'll grant that among the Japanese themselves the formalities of politeness reach heights, or depths, that seem to Westerners absurd.  ......  Self-depreciation is also a part of this traditional formality.  A hostess offering a superb dinner, impeccably served, will apologize for the poor and meager quality of her hospitality.  A person giving a costly and elegant present will ask forgiveness for venturing to proffer so small and worthless a gift.  But you and I won't be often exposed to these traditional customs.  ....."

Yes, being polite is one of the nice aspects of Japan.  As for some aspects seeming "absurd" to Westerners, well - the author had tourists in mind when he wrote "you and I" but as I read this as a long-term resident, I realize that I have fallen into the same habit.  It's not as strange as it sounds, as it's just a matter of not being boastful and not loading guilt onto a person by saying "I'm giving you this wonderful thing", etc.  In short, it's manners, and once you're used to how they're handled here, it's just the way it is.

"And finally - for I must abridge this catalog of virtues - you'll love the Japanese instinct for beauty.  It is an instinct that you'll see, and cannot fail to see, in parks, in works of art, in the widespread passion of flower arrangement .....  We of the West tend always to put comforts first and beauty second.  With the Japanese it's quite the other way around.  In Japanese inns, for instance, which are very rarely blessed with central heating, the rooms will be cruelly cold in winter and bleakly chilly in early spring and late fall, but to the Japanese customer this doesn't much matter.  What does matter very much is that the room shall be decorated with restrained and faultless taste, and there shall be one or two exquisite objects d'art in the elevated alcove (tokonoma), which is an essential of every room, perhaps with one lovely scroll on the wall above it, a scroll having a 17-syllable poem or tradition or an inspirational message painted on it.  And it matters very much that the room's windows shall look out upon a bit of a garden, perhaps with one tenderly groomed pine tree visible, and a mossy stone lantern under it."

While the comments about beauty hold true, people's expectations regarding indoor heating have changed a lot in the past 25 years or so.  In the eighties, I found it pretty much as the author describes it in 1959, but I'm finding that just as I have gotten used to doing without central heat in the winter, the locals have suddenly gotten used to being warm all the time and - for example - some open-air drinking places in Yurakucho now have to put up plastic sheets and place heaters all around the tables, or customers won't come.  So it's come full circle, where they're destroying atmosphere in the quest for comfort.  Personally, I find heaps of irony in the fact that I'm now walking around, shaking my head, and thinking "Young people are so weak!  Where's their will power?  It's as if they think they'll keel over dead if any room they're in is less than 25 degrees.  And they don't appear to see how hideously ugly the plastic sheets and heaters are.  It's a shame - what's becoming of the world?", etc.



"Ginza, Evening Shinbashi, Okuno Building, Shinjuku, Kichijoji, Etc."

This batch of video clips starts off with Ginza street scenes, and goes to Shinbashi, where I walk around in the area that reportedly inspired the director of the movie Blade Runner (in print very soon after the movie was made - but for some reason, people started saying the inspiration was Shinjuku some years later, probably due to the "Omoide-yokocho" izakaya street, combined with the destruction of much of Shinbashi's former back-street izakaya).  While Shinbashi doesn't have nearly as much of a mysterious atmosphere as it used to, there are still some interesting back street places and a little of the old atmosphere (see videos below).

I've posted short clips of the Okuno Building before, but there are two in this batch where I systematically go through the building (actually two buildings combined) one half (1932) first, and then the other half (1934) - explaining some features of the building.  And - further down the page - I go through the whole building, taking a systematic look at the fascinating floors, which are a kind of history book that some people are capable of reading/perceiving.

Then there are some scenes from Shinjuku, and various trains views, from the Chuo, Tozai, Ginza, Keihin-Tohoku, Seibu lines, etc.  February is the coldest time of year, which keeps the camera from overheating while taking extended videos, but really chills my camera hand!  I'm looking forward to spring, but am not so enthusiastic about the coming heat of summer.

Ginza - Walking Towards Shinbashi Station - (120202)

Ginza Main Street Stroll - (120202)

Ginza Side Street Stroll - (120202)

Passing Trains at Yurakucho Station - (120202)

Ochanomizu to Yurakucho - Chuo and Yamanote Lines - (120202)

Walking to Shinbashi Station - (120202)

Evening Ginza 4-Chome Intersection - (120202)

Shinbashi SL-Plaza in February 2012 - (120202)

Shinbashi Side Streets (A) February 2012 - (120202)

Izakaya Quest - Shinbashi (February 2012) - (120202)

Shinbashi Side Streets (B) February 2012 - (120202)

Shinbashi Station Area Night Stroll - (120202)

Shinbashi SL-Plaza - Walk Towards Ginza - (120202)

Shinbashi Walkabout - (120202)

Walking Around in Shinbashi - (120202)

YSB Scene - (120202)

Walking into Yurakucho - (120202)

Yurakucho Night Stroll - (120202)

Okuno Building Tour - 1932 Building - (120207)

Walking through the 1932 half of the Ginza Okuno Building - going from the 7th floor down to the basement and with a quick view of the front exterior of the building.

Okuno Building Tour - 1934 Building - (120207)

Walking through the 1934 half of the Ginza Okuno Building - going from the 1st floor, up to the 7th floor in the elevator, and then back down to the basement (via the stairs) and including a quick view of the front exterior of the building.

Ginza Line - Nihonbashi to Ginza - (120207)

Shinjuku - Waiting for Walk Light - (120207)

Shinjuku South Exit (Evening) - (120207)

In Front of Takadanobaba Station - (120207)

Chuo Line - Tokyo to Kanda - (120207)

Polished Stairs in Ginza - (120207)

Boarding Tozai Line in Takadanobaba - (120207)

Ogawa to Hagiyama (Construction Zone) - (120207)

Yurakucho Plaza Reflections - (120207)

Yurakucho - Evening Sidewalk Stroll - (120207)

Shinjuku Chuo Line Platform - Evening Outbound - (120207)

Yurakucho to Tokyo (Yamanote Line) - (120207)

Nearing Kichijoji on Chuo Line - (120207)

Seibu Line Window View - to Takadanobaba - (120207)

Side Window View - Outbound Chuo Line (Winter) - (120208)

Chuo Line Side Window View - Outbound to Tachikawa - (120208)

Chuo Line to Hachioji - Window View - (120208)

Outbound Chuo Line (Interior) - (120117)

Kichijoji - December 2011 Shopping - (111225)

Kichijoji Sidewalk - (111225)

Kichijoji Station Area - (111225)

Hagiyama to Kodaira - Seibu Line - (120214)

Ogawa to Hagiyama - Construction Zone (Seibu Line) - (120214)

Historical Floors - Ginza Okuno Building - (120214)

Taking a look at the fascinating floors of the Ginza Okuno Building.  80/78 years of people walking on them.  They are a kind of historical record and an accidental piece of art.

Ginza Station - Ginza Line Platform View - (120214)

Waiting for a Subway Train - (120214)

Shiiba Taishi 椎葉泰志展 Installation at Gallery Kobo 巷房 (120214)

Walking Through Tokyo Station in the Evening - (120214)

Tokyo to Kanda - Night View (Left Side) - (120214)

Busy South Exit Area - After Chuo Line - (120214)

Going from the 1st Floor to the 7th Floor - (120214)

Ginza Line - Nihonbashi to Ginza (HD) - (120214)

Chuo Line Night View - Departing Ochanomizu - (120214)

Okuno Building - 1st and 6th Floors - (120216)

Hachioji to Nishi-Hachioji (Chuo Line) - (120215)

Okuno Building - Basement Installations - (120216)

Tokyo Station - Waiting for the Chuo Line - (120216)

Kanda to Yurakucho (Keihin-Tohoku Line) - (120216)



"Here We Go Again...?"

Mental forecasts regarding what you expect someone to say have a lot to do with being able to comprehend what people are trying to communicate, and so, when expectations of the listener are different from what the speaker is saying, typically the listener will either hear something the speaker didn't say, or just not understand them.  When you cross international borders and look different from the locals in the new area you visit (or live in), this sort of problem intensifies.

In the early 1980's in Japan, most foreigners who visited the country were tourists, and so most foreigners, almost by definition, didn't speak the local language (this was before manga and anime caught on overseas, incidentally), and so there were many times when someone would see a foreigner and *expect* them not to speak Japanese, and so wouldn't hear Japanese even when the person was speaking it properly.  (Amusingly, you could call someone on the phone; begin a normal conversation in Japanese, and when you identified yourself as a foreigner, sometimes they were extremely reluctant to believe it, as they basically believed that no foreigner spoke the language well enough to sound like a local.)

In this era, when a large part of tourism to Japan was from North America (north of Mexico) and Europe, there was a fairly reasonable expectation by locals that foreigners spoke English, so there were some (many, actually) strange verbal exchanges (in public, on trains for example) like this (F=Foreigner / LR=Local Resident):

LR: Where are you from?

F: Watashi desu ka?  Igirisu kara kimashita. (Me?  I'm from England.)

LR: Oh.  I've been there before.

F: So desu ka.  Sochira-wa, doko kara kimashita ka?  (Is that right?  Where are you from?)

LR: I'm from Japan!

F: Sore wa wakarimasu ga, Nihon no doko desu ka?  (Yes, I know, but what part of Japan are you from?)

LR: I'm from Osaka.  Do you know Osaka?

F: Mochiron!  (Of course.)

Etc. etc.  And it was a sort of contest in a way, with each side determined to use the other's language.  I had one 25-minute exchange with a businessman on a train, and throughout the entire 25 minutes, I refused to use any English and he refused to use any Japanese, but we were able to communicate that way.  (Come to think of it, that must have been amusing to witness from the sidelines.  I can imagine someone going home and saying "I saw the weirdest thing on the subway today...")

At stores, you could ask for something in Japanese and the clerk would say with some urgency while waving a hand back and forth: "No English!! No English!!"  (As in "I don't speak English!"), but if you said something in English, then they would answer in Japanese saying they didn't understand English(!).  And at restaurants (I had several bad experiences at McDonald's, of all places) you would order one thing (in Japanese) and they would give you something else.

Why?  Your guess might be as good as mine, but what it *felt* like at the time is that some people were fiercely determined to believe that foreigners could *not* speak Japanese, even when they could, and they would kindly *remind* you of this.  Maybe not, or even probably not, but that's certainly how it felt at the time (genba
現場 and ginji 現時 folks! - hop in a time machine if you can and go have a look for yourselves!)  In short, it was often a rather difficult time to try to be a normal part of local society.

And then the value of the yen shot up (more than doubling in a very short time) and suddenly Japan was a much more profitable (in overseas currency terms) place to work.  In came foreigners from far and wide, and many of them didn't speak English, so the only possible way they had of communicating was to learn Japanese - quickly!  So with that group of people, speaking English at them had no effect and locals began to view Japanese as a possible tool for international communication.  I still remember the first time I went to a shop in a train station and asked for something, and the shopkeeper just responded as though I were a regular-issue biped.  ("Far out!  Very cool!" thought I.)  And from that point forward, it began to feel more normal going about the city speaking Japanese... until recently that is.

Maybe the stories of mass numbers of foreigners fleeing the country (to escape Fukushima emissions) are true, because suddenly I've begun having some experiences like those I used to have in the early eighties - a full quarter century ago.  When I say something in Japanese, I'm increasingly getting "Oh, you speak Japanese!" comments, which I was blissfully free of receiving for more than two decades.  I've also begun re-experiencing people in food selling places giving me something radically different from what I asked for.  Just this evening I asked for one thing at a counter (and pointed very clearly at it), and the woman inside the shop very steadfastly refused to understand me.  The high school students standing next to me understood what I was saying with no difficulty, but not the clerk.  Finally, the combination of the high school students telling her she was putting the wrong thing into a bag and the shop owner coming over and telling her what I wanted got me my order.  It was freaky.  It took a team of four people (all speaking Japanese) - myself, two local high school students, and the store owner to force the woman to give me what I ordered.  Weird.  Very weird.  And a similar thing happened last week at a different shop in a different area of town.  Back to the weirdness of the early eighties?  [Big, deep, heavy sigh....]



"Historical Odds and Ends"

I watched some WW-II documentary programs on the Discovery Channel today and they were interesting to watch, although I came away from the material (a couple of different shows) with a mixture of feelings and thoughts.  First, I was struck with how simplistic parts of the coverage were - for example they went on about the Yamato and how it was an amazingly large ship, etc., but completely ignored the existence of the Yamato's sister ship, the Musashi, which was built after the Yamato and included some design changes as improvements.  From Wikipedia:

"Yamato (大和), named after the ancient Japanese Yamato Province, was a battleship of the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II.  Flagship of the Japanese Combined Fleet, she was lead ship of the Yamato class.  She and her sister ship, Musashi, were the largest and heaviest battleships ever constructed, displacing 72,800 tonnes at full load, and armed with nine 46 cm (18.1 inch) main guns."

A different program about kamikaze attacks was quite interesting, although there was a weird situation where, when I tried to listen to the original Japanese of the Japanese survivors from the war, it was a Japanese translation of the English translation of the original Japanese!  (You could just barely hear some bits and pieces of the original in the background.)  Too bad they didn't have access to the original audio that used to be with the original footage, so they