Tuesday, June 03, 2008

"Stepping off the Beaten Path - Jiyugaoka, May 2008"

It's easy to get into a set routine in life, but easy to step outside of it as well - especially in a mega-city like Tokyo. Last week I received an e-mail inviting me to visit an Irish pub in Jiyugaoka (Irish pubs are popular in Tokyo and there are a fair number of them scattered about the city), where I had a couple of glasses of Kilkenny (which I prefer to Guinness), and I took some video clips of the live band there, one of which can be seen here:

"Jiyugaoka Irish Music at Irish Pub"

Backing up a notch - before I met my friend and we went to the Irish pub, I was walking around Jiyugaoka a little and took some videos in the rain. Jiyugaoka is a nice area, with (some) tree-lined streets, fashionable shops, and nice (and expensive) houses nearby. One of the tree-lined streets looks like this:

"Jiyugaoka in the Rain"

It's almost always fun going somewhere off the beaten path, but by the time I'm ready to go home, I always wish I could just step into a transporter and *be* home, and not have to spend an hour or two navigating the train system to get back. And so it was at the Irish Pub - at one point, as I was running very low on energy (I'd only gotten a few hours sleep the night before), I looked off into space (through the wall) and thought "It would be so nice to just have a five minute walk home now....'.

But I don't live in Jiyugaoka and I don't have access to a transporter, so I hiked back to Jiyugaoka Station and began the two-hour multi-train trip back. The first train I got on (Toyoko Line) was strangely not crowded, with only about 60% of the seats taken, so I took the one semi-box seat arrangement (the rest are bench seats with the seat back against the windows), opened the window as far as it would go (only about 40% from the top, pulling down), and stood up between the seats to have a real look at the world outside, without glass getting in the way. And it was a nice (as in big-city interesting, not countryside beautiful) sight, with a cool breeze blowing into the car. When there's nothing but air between yourself and what you're looking at, you really know you're there; but when you're looking through glass, it's as though you're watching it on TV or something.

And... seeing this on a computer screen, it's further still from "being there", but even on the computer, removing the window glass from the chain of actions and technology leading to your screen brings you one step closer to the original scene. It's not the same as being there of course, but....

As I looked out into the electric Tokyo night ("electric" in the sense of everything being electric more than being charged, although there's some of that as well), there was that big-city feeling of being in middle of urban action and adventure. Part of the big-city ambiance of Tokyo comes form the sound of the many trains echoing between the buildings or heard in the distance - steel wheels and electric motors ("screeeech... screeeeech... mmmmmMMMMMM...... MMMMMMmmmmmmm......"). There's a little of that in the following video:

"Approaching Shibuya Station at Night"

In playing that back - there is no screeching exactly, but there is a low-tone sound made by the wheels - hard to describe, but you can hear it in the video. And um... yeah... you're not supposed to stick your head out the window - you could lose it that way.

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

No comments: