Thursday, December 31, 2009

Visiting Ueno Ameyokocho on December 31st, 2009

Walking - very slowly and with many bumps - through Ueno's Ameyokocho market on the afternoon of December 31st, 2009, last chance for shopping before the New Year's holiday (1/1-1/3) begins.

In the old days, stores were all closed then, so it was important to get shopping done by no later than the 31st, since you wouldn't be able to shop again until the 4th, but these days, a lot of stores are open on the 1st and most are open by the 2nd. Still, the old habit is there and even if stores are open, it's good to not have to go out, and just relax at home over those three days. 上野のアメ横丁 (Recorded on Thursday, December 31st, 2009, at 3:22 p.m.)

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

"Christmas Eve in Tokyo, 2009 - Marunouchi, Yurakucho, & Ginza"

Continuing with my trip around Tokyo on December 24th, 2009, I visited the illuminated streets of Marunouchi and walked from there over to Yurakucho (and the International Forum) and Ginza:

"Osaki-Bound Yamanote Line Reflections" (091224-1704)

Vertical window view - interplay between inside and outside scenes as direct external light competes with reflected internal light and the scenes outside merge with the scenes inside. 山手線の夜の光 (Recorded on Wednesday, December 24th, 2009, at 5:04 p.m.)

"Yamanote Line Symphony of Light & Sound" (091224-1709)

From door close to door open, complete vertical view from Shinagawa to Tamachi. Acceleration sounds. Verbal communication competing with cell phone text messaging in reflection. Japanese and English announcements. The nighttime city glides by outside. Opposite direction Yamanote Line train speeds by in a blur. 山手線の夜の光 品川駅から... (Recorded on Wednesday, December 24th, 2009, at 5:09 p.m.)

"Shinbashi to Yurakucho - Horizontal Night View" (091224-1716)

Complete nighttime horizontal window view from Shinbashi to Yurakucho on the Yamanote Line. 山手線の夜の光 新橋駅から、有楽町駅まで (Recorded on Wednesday, December 24th, 2009, at 5:16 p.m.)

"光都東京 Lightopia 2009 - Early Crowds" (091224-1727)

Early crowds of viewers for 光都東京 Lightopia 2009, in Marunouchi, near Tokyo Station. Notice the verbal guidance of the traffic police. (Recorded on Wednesday, December 24th, 2009, at 5:27 p.m.)

"光都東京 Lightopia 2009 - Sidewalk Stroll Before the Crush" (091224-1729)

Walking down a Marunouchi street with Christmas illumination around 5:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve, before the crush of the late evening crowds. 光都東京 Lightopia 2009. (Recorded on Wednesday, December 24th, 2009, at 5:29 p.m.)

"光都東京 Lightopia 2009 - Marunouchi, Towards Yurakucho" (091224-1731)

Walking through Marunouchi, over towards Yurakucho, taking a left to walk into a newly developed area with trees and a fountain, surrounded by office towers. 丸の内 光都東京 Lightopia 2009 (Recorded on Wednesday, December 24th, 2009, at 5:31 p.m.)

"Strasbourg Christmas Market in Tokyo - 2009 (Entering)" (091224-1744)

Stumbling upon the "Strasbourg Christmas Market in Tokyo" from the side, I walk in to see a small merry-go-round, Santa posing for pictures, and a merry atmosphere. 国際フォーラム (Recorded on Wednesday, December 24th, 2009, at 5:44 p.m.)

"Strasbourg Christmas Market in Tokyo - 2009 (Walk-through)" (091224-1747)

Continuing through the "Strasbourg Christmas Market in Tokyo" - finally exiting at the entrance where people are furiously taking pictures of the event and themselves over the light-floor bar near Yurakucho Station. 国際フォーラム (Recorded on Wednesday, December 24th, 2009, at 5:47 p.m.)

"Between Yurakucho & Ginza - December 24th, 2009)" (091224-1840)

Walking down a light-decorated street between Yurakucho and Ginza. 有楽町から、銀座へ向かって (Recorded on Wednesday, December 24th, 2009, at 6:40 p.m.)

"Entering Ginza on December 24th, 2009" (091224-1841)

Continuing my walk into Ginza - crossing a main road and walking by a department store selling sparkling wine (on the street running between Ginza 2-Chome and Ginza-3-Chome). 銀座に到着、万歳! (Recorded on Wednesday, December 24th, 2009, at 6:41 p.m.)

"Early Crowds on Chuo-dori in Ginza - December 24th" (091224-1844)

Walking down Chuo-dori in Ginza as the crowds begin to thicken with the clock approaching 7:00 p.m. 銀座の中央通りのクリスマスイブ散歩 (Recorded on Wednesday, December 24th, 2009, at 6:41 p.m.)

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

Monday, December 28, 2009

"Christmas Eve in Tokyo, 2009 - Ebisu"

Like everything that looks similar to other countries on the surface, there are many detail changes and also fundamental changes in imported culture and ideas. Here are some video clips from December 24th, 2009 Tokyo.

"Seibu-Kokubunji Line Old Three-Door Train" (091224-1232)

View of one of the older type three-door trains on the Seibu-Kokubunji Line as it comes into the station, and then a quick view inside, where you can see that more seating area is the advantage of fewer doors. When it's really crowded though, this is a liability, as it's also more difficult to get on and off the train. (Some train cars have six doors now for exactly this reason.) (Recorded on Wednesday, December 24th, 2009, at 12:32 p.m.)

"Rear Cab Reflections in Old Three-Door Seibu Train" (091224-1235)

View into the rear cab of an older type three-door train on the Seibu-Kokubunji Line. Notice how the conductor hank-cranks the destination sign at the end of the video. This train - being old - actually requires a human being at the controls to operate it. The newer trains are increasingly automated and I get the feeling that drivers and conductors of manually operated trains have much more pride in their jobs than the drivers and conductors of computer-driven trains. With the computer-driven trains, they're not doing much other than sit there monitoring the computer-driven controls. (Recorded on Wednesday, December 24th, 2009, at 12:35 p.m.)

"Racing Chuo Line Trains - Cab View" (091224-1255)

Looking out of the front cab of an inbound Chuo Line train as it runs in parallel with another inbound train. (Recorded on Wednesday, December 24th, 2009, at 12:55 p.m.)

"Boarding Yamanote Line at Shinjuku" (091224-1421)

Watching from a Shinjuku platform as a Yamanote Line train and a Chuo Line train come in - and then getting on the Yamanote Line train. (Recorded on Wednesday, December 24th, 2009, at 2:21 p.m.)

"Ebisu 'Yebisu Skywalk' to Ebisu Garden Place" (091224-1622)

Walking on the moving walkways (one after another) that lead from Ebisu Station to Ebisu Garden Place. An old spelling for "Ebisu" is "Yebisu" and it's still used for beer and the walkway, etc. (and for Ebisu/Yebisu Garden Place, but I'm ignoring the archaic spelling here for Garden Place in the interest of correct pronunciation). (Recorded on Wednesday, December 24th, 2009, at 4:22 p.m.)

"December 24th - Couple's Night at Ebisu Garden Place" (091224-1637)

Couple City in Ebisu. December 24th in Japan is a little like December 31st in western countries in that it's popular for couples to go out for dinner and to certain parts of Tokyo that have Christmas lighting on trees and buildings (such as in Ebisu), etc. Notice the young couples here and there in this clip. This was taken just past 4:30 p.m. - later on it gets much more crowded. (Recorded on Wednesday, December 24th, 2009, at 4:37 p.m.)

"Taking Ebisu Skywalk Back to Ebisu Station" (091224-1643)

Heading back to Ebisu Station in order to have a look at the Christmas lighting in Marunouchi. The moving walkway is a good idea, but I think they should run it about three times faster than it goes now. As it is, it runs slower than walking speed, which is being overly cautious I think.... (Recorded on Wednesday, December 24th, 2009, at 4:43 p.m.)

"'Christmas Cake' & Sparkling Wine for 12/24" (091224-1648)

For whatever reason, it's a tradition in Japan to buy & consume strawberry shortcake and roast chicken on Christmas Eve. The roast chicken part is easy to understand as an import from the west, but the origins of strawberry shortcake (referred to locally as "Christmas Cake") are harder to figure out. A modified import no doubt. In any case, in this video you can see store clerks (some dressed like Santa) selling Christmas cake and sparkling wine. (Recorded on Wednesday, December 24th, 2009, at 4:48 p.m.)

"Ebisu Station Long Escalator to Street Level" (091224-1649)

Continuing down the elevated mall between the two ticket barriers to Ebisu Station (one above the platforms and one below); I then take the long escalator down to street level and have a look at the large Christmas tree on display in front of the station. (Recorded on Wednesday, December 24th, 2009, at 4:49 p.m.)

"Past the Tree, Through the Gates, to Ebisu Station We Go" (091224-1658)

I walk past a Christmas tree and then through the upper level ticket gates (to Ebisu Station) and then down an escalator to the platform to take the Yamanote Line around to Tokyo Station. (Recorded on Wednesday, December 24th, 2009, at 4:58 p.m.)

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

Sunday, December 27, 2009

"Setagaya Tram Cab View, Shimotakaido Crossing, etc."

The last batch of video clips taken on December 16th, 2009, when I visited the Boroichi Street Market in Setagaya:

"Setagaya Line Tram Arriving at Tram Stop" (091216-1332)

Watching a Setagaya Line tram come in, and then walking aboard. The last part shows the ticket and change machine - the same type that is used on buses. (Recorded on Wednesday, December 16th, 2009, at 1:32 p.m.)

"Setagaya Tram - Inside View" (091216-1335)

Looking out the front of a Setagaya Line tram after visiting the Boroichi Street Market. View of the driver's operation of the tram and a view of another tram passing by (going in the opposite direction), etc. (Recorded on Wednesday, December 16th, 2009, at 1:35 p.m.)

"Jingle Bells Crossing - Shimotakaido Station" (091216-1348)

Waiting at the end of the platform for a local Keio Line train at Shimotakaido Station, I listen to Christmas songs coming from a local shopping street's PA speakers, and watch an express pass by. After the express train passes by, the crossing gates open and people walk across the tracks. (Recorded on Wednesday, December 16th, 2009, at 1:48 p.m.)

"Early Afternoon Inbound Local Keio Line Train" (091216-1351)

View of the inside of an early afternoon local inbound Keio Line train, with only about 20% of the seating being used. (Recorded on Wednesday, December 16th, 2009, at 1:51 p.m.)

"Inokashira Express, Kugayama to Kichijoji (091216-1402)

Riding in an Inokashira Line express train from Kugayama Station to Kichijoji Station. View out the cab (over the driver's shoulder) of the trip, including passing a couple of trains going in the other direction. (Recorded on Wednesday, December 16th, 2009, at 2:02 p.m.)

"Kichijoji Inokashira Line Platform to JR Ticket Gates (091216-1406)

Walking from the Inokashira Line platform to the ticket gates for JR (Chuo Line). There's some sort of construction project on the Inokashira Line platform.

This is one reason I think it's important to visually and audibly record this city - things change so quickly, if you don't keep a record of what's going on, the city changes from under your feet and it's hard to remember how it was before.... (Recorded on Wednesday, December 16th, 2009, at 2:06 p.m.)

"Chuo Line Trains at Kichijoji" (091216-1409)

Watching a few trains at Kichijoji as the Chuo Line train I boarded came in. (Recorded on Wednesday, December 16th, 2009, at 2:09 p.m.)

"Chuo Line Train Reflections" (091216)

Watching a reserved seat express train pass by from the front of a Chuo Line train. The passing train is seen directly, through glass, and in reflections. (Recorded on Wednesday, December 16th, 2009, at 2:13 p.m.)

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

Thursday, December 24, 2009

"Setagaya Line & Boroichi Street Market"

Every year, on December 15th & 16th and again on January 15th & 16th, the Boroichi Street Market is held in Setagaya. Being a large market and having a long history (about 430 years!), there is always a bit more on sale than the usual fare at street markets, so it's fun to walk around and see what you can discover. It's sensibly held during the driest period of the year (important for all the old things laid out in the open), but it's also the coldest period of the year. Having vivid memories of getting very cold several times before, I wore a thick sweater under a thick down coat and - helped by there not being much wind - actually wasn't very cold this time around.

The following videos are from my December 16th, 2009 trip out to Boroichi, including scenes on the Setagaya Line and at the market itself:

"Setagaya Line - Shimotakaido to Matsubara" (091216-1123)

Riding the Setagaya Line out to see the Boroichi street market held every year on December 15th & 16th and January 15th & 16th. The Setagaya Line is basically a street car line, but the tracks have their own right-of-way, so the street cars don't run on the street. Interestingly (or should I say "obviously"?), the street cars fall in the same category as buses for the fare system.

The recorded announcement says (in Japanese) "Thank you for using the Setagaya Line" and requests that people sitting in the "priority" seats give them up to pregnant women, old people, etc. The live announcement suggests that those passengers going to Boroichi get off at the fourth station, Kamimachi. (Recorded on Wednesday, December 16th, 2009, at 11:23 a.m.)

"Setagaya Line - Yamashita to Miyanosaka" (091216-1127)

Riding the Setagaya Line from Yamashita to Miyanosaka. The large concrete overpass seen just as the car leaves Yamashita is the Odakyu Line. At the Miyanosaka stop, I didn't go for a closer look, but it looks like they've got one of the older streetcars sitting there for historical reasons. (Recorded on Wednesday, December 16th, 2009, at 11:27 a.m.)

"Setagaya Line - Miyanosaka to Kamimachi" (091216-1129)

Riding the Setagaya Line from Miyanosaka to Kamimachi, where I got off to wander around the Boroichi street market. (Recorded on Wednesday, December 16th, 2009, at 11:29 a.m.)

"Boroichi Street Market - December 16th, 2009-1/5" (091216-1137)

First of five clips of walking around the Boroichi Street Market on December 16th, 2009, the second day of the two-day event, which is held every December 15th & 16th and January 15th & 16th. (Recorded on Wednesday, December 16th, 2009, at 11:37 a.m.)

"Boroichi Street Market - December 16th, 2009-2/5" (091216-1138)

Second of five clips of walking around the Boroichi Street Market on December 16th, 2009, the second day of the two-day event, which is held every year on December 15th & 16th and January 15th & 16th. (Recorded on Wednesday, December 16th, 2009, at 11:38 a.m.)

"Boroichi Street Market - December 16th, 2009-3/5" (091216-1210)

Third of five clips of walking around the Boroichi Street Market on December 16th, 2009, the second day of the two-day event, which is held every year on December 15th & 16th and January 15th & 16th. (Recorded on Wednesday, December 16th, 2009, at 12:10 p.m.) Walking (very slowly!) through a crowded food section of the event.

"Boroichi Street Market - December 16th, 2009-4/5" (091216-1244)

Fourth of five clips of walking around the Boroichi Street Market on December 16th, 2009, the second day of the two-day event, which is held every year on December 15th & 16th and January 15th & 16th. (Recorded on Wednesday, December 16th, 2009, at 12:44 p.m.)

"Boroichi Street Market - December 16th, 2009-5/5" (091216-1309)

Fifth of five clips of walking around the Boroichi Street Market on December 16th, 2009, the second day of the two-day event, which is held every year on December 15th & 16th and January 15th & 16th. (Recorded on Wednesday, December 16th, 2009, at 1:09 p.m.)

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

"Ikegami, Yamanote, Inokashira, & Keio Lines"

Every track is a beaten track in Tokyo, but I've been off of my typical beaten paths, going about in the financial calm before the raging storm on the horizon that I hope to somehow evade....

"Ikegami Line - Coming into Osaki-Hirokoji Station" (091215-1449)

Looking out the cab of an Ikegami Line train as it comes into Osaki-Hirokoji Station. (Recorded on Tuesday, December 15th, 2009, at 2:49 p.m.)

"Ikegami Line - Culverts & Tunnels" (091215-1453)

Running from Ebara-Nakanobu to Hatanodai, the train's old style (voice) recording (actually, not just old "style" but actually old I think) warns the passengers what not to do in ultra-polite Japanese. Recordings on different train lines are similar, but have variations. Unfortunately, new announcements may be becoming more similar and less interesting. (Recorded on Tuesday, December 15th, 2009, at 2:53 p.m.)

"Riding Yamanote Line into Yurakucho Station" (091215-1646)

Looking out a left-side window of a Tokyo/Ueno-bound Yamanote Line train at buildings flowing past. Then getting off the train in Yurakucho and heading for the stairs. (Recorded on Tuesday, December 15th, 2009, at 4:46 p.m.)

"Transfer to Inokashira Line from Chuo Line at Kichijoji" (091216-1040)

Walking off a Chuo Line train and then transferring to an Inokashira Line train at Kichijoji. (Recorded on Wednesday, December 16th, 2009, at 10:40 a.m.)

"Coming into Kugayama on the Inokashira Line" (091216-1052)

Looking through the cab to the view ahead of the Inokashira Line as it speeds to and then stops at Kugayama. (Recorded on Wednesday, December 16th, 2009, at 10:52 a.m.)

"Keio Train Arriving at Meidaimae Station" (091216-1102)

Watching a Keio Line train come into Meidaimae Station and then load/unload. (Recorded on Wednesday, December 16th, 2009, at 11:02 a.m.)

"Keio Line Trains Departing from Meidaimae Station" (091216-1103)

Watching a couple of trains departing from Meidaimae Station. (Recorded on Wednesday, December 16th, 2009, at 11:03 a.m.)

"View from Keio Line near Shimo-Takaido Station" (091216-1105)

Looking out a left-side window of a Keio Line train as it nears and then pulls into Shimo-Takaido Station. (Recorded on Wednesday, December 16th, 2009, at 11:05 a.m.)

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

Monday, December 21, 2009

"Yoyogi, Harajuku Station, Chuo Line, & Nakano"

Continuing some random travels in Tokyo, another batch of video clips:

"Walking to Yoyogi Station" (091218-1448)

This opens with a view of a passing Saikyo Line train at ground level (under the bridge in the back of the picture). The Yamanote Line trains go by via the bridge.

Then I turn around and walk towards Yoyogi Station as a crow cheers me on (halfway down the street). (Recorded on Friday, December 18th, 2009, at 2:48 p.m.)

"Yamanote Line Trains at Yoyogi Station" (091218-1450)

Watching a Shinjuku-bound Yamanote Line train come into Yoyogi Station while waiting for a Shibuya-bound Yamanote Line train. As the Shinjuku-bound train is slowing to a stop, the Shibuya-bound train comes in and I climb aboard.... (Recorded on Friday, December 18th, 2009, at 2:50 p.m.)

"Yamanote Line from Yoyogi to Harajuku, Left Side" (091218-1452)

Looking out a left side window of a Shibuya-bound Yamanote Line train, and getting off the train at Harajuku Station. (Recorded on Friday, December 18th, 2009, at 2:52 p.m.)

"Exiting Harajuku Station" (091218-1454)

Walking down the ramp inside Harajuku Station, then through the ticket barrier at the main entrance/exit and immediately crossing the street. (Recorded on Friday, December 18th, 2009, at 2:54 p.m.)

"Boarding Yamanote Line for Shinjuku at Harajuku" (091218-1541)

I watch a Shinjuku-bound Yamanote Line train come in and then climb aboard. (Recorded on Friday, December 18th, 2009, at 3:41 p.m.)

"Local Between Okubo & Higashi-Nakano Stations" (091218-1549)

Looking back towards Shinjuku (on the left side of the train) while I ride an outbound Sobu Line (or local Chuo Line, depending on what you want to call that line) train between Okubo and Higashi-Nakano stations. (Recorded on Friday, December 18th, 2009, at 3:49 p.m.)

"Higashi-Nakano to Nakano - Right Side View" (091218-1551)

Looking out the right side of an outbound Sobu Line (or local Chuo Line, depending on what you want to call that line) train as it runs between Higashi-Nakano and Nakano Stations. As the train I was on dead-ended at Nakano Station, there are announcements saying so as I get off the train. (Recorded on Friday, December 18th, 2009, at 3:51 p.m.)

"Back Streets of Nakano" (091218-1604)

Walking around on the back streets of Nakano before meeting a friend and having a drink in a small shop in this area. There used to be areas like this here and there throughout Tokyo, but they've been tearing them down at a furious pace and now they are nearly nonexistent. The few places that remain are turning into cheesy areas like theme parks for people to get an easy nostalgia fix, but the very thing they aim to see has been mainly destroyed and all that's left is a facade. This area is actually still real. (Recorded on Friday, December 18th, 2009, at 4:04 p.m.)

"Small Shops & Restaurants in Nakano" (091218-1648)

A quiet area with an atmosphere that feels as though it hasn't changed much in two or three decades. Two or three decades might not sound like very long, but in Tokyo, 20-30 years is like 200-300 years in cities where tearing down anything that is slightly old isn't such a passion. (Recorded on Friday, December 18th, 2009, at 4:48 p.m.)

"Running Parallel on the Chuo Line" (091218-2249)

Looking out the window of a late night Chuo Line kaisoku (rapid) train at a local (or Sobu Line, depending on what you want to call that line) train as the trains go from station to station, running alongside each other. (Recorded on Friday, December 18th, 2009, at 10:49 p.m.)

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

Sunday, December 20, 2009

"Musashikoganei Station, Ogikubo, Shibuya, & Meiji Shrine"

Thrown off the beaten track against my will, I am at least glad to be able to take new images at new locations during the day for a change, since most of my pictures lately have been night images:

"Musashikoganei Station Platform - Lunchtime View" (091217-1123)

Standing on the newly opened inbound platform of the still-under-construction new Musashikoganei Station (it's new in the sense of being rebuilt; there has been a Musashikoganei Station there for a long time) - watching a reserved seat express train pass and looking around at the angles and (near) noontime lighting. (Recorded on Thursday, December 17th, 2009, at 11:23 a.m.)

"View of Old Chuo Line Train from Cab of New Type" (091217-1130)

Looking out the right side of the cab of a new type Chuo Line outbound train as it passes an old type Chuo Line inbound train. Then watching the platform flow by as the train pulls into Kokubunji Station. (Recorded on Thursday, December 17th, 2009, at 11:30 a.m.)

"Ogikubo Station Platform 11:12 a.m." (091218-1112)

Views of light and shadow on the Chuo Line platform at Ogikubo Station while inbound and outbound trains come and go. (Recorded on Friday, December 18th, 2009, at 11:12 a.m.)

"Shibuya Station Platform Jungle Walk" (091218-1249)

Walking down the Shinagawa-bound Yamanote Line platform just after stepping off of a train. The train was a little behind schedule and packed like a morning sardine run train, so the (live) platform announcement is asking people to take the next train, which they say is running right behind this one. And sure enough, before I can walk all the way down the platform, the next train comes in.

Just as loading/unloading begins for both trains, there's a recorded female announcement saying that there are wide gaps between the train and the platform in places (caused by the curvature of the tracks & platform), so to watch your step... I fell into one of those gaps at this station once, so I think that's a valid warning!

A final comment on this one: The sound of marching feet! This sound is the theme music for the morning commute in particular, when people are just focused on getting to work on time and are not talking. (Recorded on Friday, December 18th, 2009, at 12:49 p.m.)

"Shibuya Scramble Crosswalk, Friday, 12:55 p.m." (091218-1255)

Walking across the famous Shibuya "scramble" crosswalk. As usual, there are high school students walking about. I used to wonder why you see high school students (easily identifiable by their school uniforms) walking about all over the city at all times of the day and night, and all days of the year; but with the size of Tokyo (30,000,000 in the greater Tokyo area, including Kanagawa, Chiba, & Saitama), you get used to seeing a little of everything, all the time. Also, what with oddball school holidays, special events, after-school study at jukus, and constantly changing schedules, multiplied by the vast number of schools in Tokyo, I've come to not find the students-everywhere-all-the-time phenomenon unusual. (Recorded on Friday, December 18th, 2009, at 12:55 p.m.)

"Meiji Shrine Drum Beating at 2:00 p.m." (091218-1402)

In Kyoto, Nara, Kamakura, etc., there are large and impressive temples & shrines galore, but not so many in Tokyo. Meiji Shrine, sitting near Shinjuku, Harajuku, and Shibuya is a popular tourist destination and one of the main places people come to in Tokyo during the New Year's holiday to pray for the New Year.

When the drum beater started beating on the drum, I saw the guard wave away some people from the inside area who wanted to take pictures, so I was reluctant to aim the camera through the opening, but you can see someone doing that in the video, so maybe I should have walked the camera up closer.... (Recorded on Friday, December 18th, 2009, at 2:02 p.m.)

"Tree-lined Path at Meiji Shrine" (091218-1429)

Looking at the large trees lining one of the paths into Meiji Shrine while the crows provide part of the background soundtrack. (Recorded on Friday, December 18th, 2009, at 2:29 p.m.)

"Walking Through Light & Shadows at Meiji Shrine" (091218-1430)

The paths into Meiji Shrine are gravel-covered ones like this. At New Year's, there is quite a symphony of gravel crunching as thousands of people march into the shrine. (Recorded on Friday, December 18th, 2009, at 2:30 p.m.)

"Trains Passing by in Shibuya Suburb" (091218-1440)

A Narita Airport Express train passes by headed for Shinjuku, and then a Yamanote Line train headed in the other direction (for Shibuya) passes by. Passing trains, blue sky, white clouds, graffiti, kindergarten, building towering over Lyle, bare trees, harsh light. A typical winter scene in Tokyo. (Recorded on Friday, December 18th, 2009, at 2:40 p.m.)

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

"Street Band, Kinokuniya, Yamanote Line, & Takeshita-dori"

Video clips. From a street band and Kinokuniya Bookstore in Shinjuku, to a few Yamanote Line train clips, and Harajuku's Takeshita-dori. I've been running around off the beaten a path a bit, which I'd like to explain, but it's a bit complicated, so let's just have a look at the videos:

"Shinjuku Street Band - December 8th, 2009"

Two-man street band in Shinjuku - near the south exit/entrance to Shinjuku Station. It might be that I'm going by Shinjuku at the wrong times, but there seem to be far fewer street bands there than when I took a series of Shinjuku street band videos in October of 2008. Of course the weather is nicer in October than December, but I didn't see many this year in October either. Considering how I often saw the police going around last year shutting down performances, maybe it's become nearly impossible to perform there now....

"Foreign Language Section of Kinokuniya Bookstore" (091209-14:40)

Walking around on the foreign language floor of Kinokuniya Bookstore in Shinjuku. Well - actually, this bookstore near Shinjuku Station is sitting within the boundaries of Shibuya, but since there is (or was, I haven't been there in years) a Kinokuniya Bookstore in Shibuya which is not only within Shibuya, but is near Shibuya Station, it's less confusing to refer to this one as one of the Kinokuniya Bookstores in Shinjuku. (There's another Shinjuku Kinokuniya Bookstore near the east exit/entrance of Shinjuku Station that is within the boundaries of Shinjuku.)

Since the vast majority of Tokyo residents get around by train, most places are referred to the name of the nearest surface JR station, unless the area is particularly famous, like Ginza and/or is accessed by subway (which tends to have stations closer together.) In fact, the vast majority of people I've asked have no idea that this bookstore is - address-wise - within Shibuya, since it's right by Shinjuku Station, but once you cross the main road after coming out of the south exit, you're in Shibuya.

"Leaving Shinjuku Station via Yamanote Line" (091209-15:01)

Accelerating out of Shinjuku Station, watching the full length of the platform slide by. This video continues until just after crossing the first bridge out of Shinjuku Station on the way to Shin-Okubo Station.

"Trains Near Shin-Okubo Station" (091209-15:01)

Shin-Okubo Station. View of other trains running in parallel with the Yamanote Line tracks, and then the stop at Shin-Okubo, with the old style "The doors are about to close! Hurry!-Hurry!-Hurry!" bell, which was used all over when I came here in 1984, but has been mostly replaced by more melodic sounds, coded to specific stations. The new system is definitely better, but still, I feel some nostalgia for the old Rush!-Rush!-Rush! bell for some reason....

"Shin-Okubo to Takadanobaba via Yamanote Line" (091209-15:02)

The full run from Shin-Okubo Station to Takadanobaba Station, including all of the Japanese and English announcements about Takadanobaba, and some of the platform announcements in Takadanobaba. There are views of Seibu-Shinjuku Line trains running parallel with the Yamanote Line (from which this video was taken).

"Yamanote Line from Mejiro to Ikebukuro" (091209-15:06)

Leaving Mejiro, a Narita (Airport) Express train goes by in the other direction, followed by (on different tracks) a Yamanote Line train. Nearing Ikebukuro, the train passes under a Seibu-Ikebukuro Line bridge, and a Seibu-Ikebukuro Line train can be seen curving to the left and heading for Ikebukuro.

After arriving in Ikebukuro, I step off the train and have a listen to the station announcements.

"Yamanote Line from Ikebukuro to Otsuka" (091209-15:09)

The full length of the Yamanote Line platform at Ikebukuro Station, and part of the journey to Otsuka Station. View of the inside of the train included.

"Yamanote Line from Otsuka - Partway to Sugamo" (091209-15:12)

Nearly the full length of the platform at Otsuka Station, and part of the journey to Sugamo Station. Both Japanese and English announcements on the way.

"Yamanote Line from Sugamo to Komagome" (091209-15:14)

Accelerating past the platform at Sugamo Station, and rolling over to Komagome Station. Both Japanese and English announcement on the way. Announcements at Komagome Station, as well as Komagome's custom "The doors are about to close" melody and recorded bird sounds (used at many stations unfortunately).

"Yamanote Line from Komagome to Tabata" (091209-15:15)

Accelerating past the platform at Komagome Station, and the trip over to Tabata Station. Both Japanese and English announcement on the way. Announcements at Komagome Station, as well as Komagome's custom "The doors are about to close" melody and (again) recorded bird sounds.

Bird songs.... It's getting so that when I hear bird sounds, I think "Gee - that sounds like the Yamanote Line!". Naturally, the idea is to imagine a nice forest somewhere as you walk down the asphalt platform, but the effect may be to make someone who (eventually) finds themselves in a nice forest, to imagine the asphalt platform when they hear real birds....

"Harajuku Takeshita-dori, Southeast Stroll" (091218-14:57)

Walking away from Harajuku Station down Takeshita-dori in a southeast direction. This clip starts from just before entering the street and ends at the other end. Recorded on Friday, December 18th, 2009, at about 3:00 p.m. In spite of the cold, the women are basically dressed about the way you'd expect them to in summer.

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

Sunday, December 13, 2009

"Chuo Line Left Side Commuter Views"

There are many interesting stations on the Chuo Line, but the passenger density of the line doesn't make for the most relaxing commutes! On December 4th and 7th (Friday & Monday), I ended up near a door, so I could take pictures out the window. December 7th was interesting, as it was the first weekday that the new inbound section between Kokubunji and Mitaka was used. Of the four video clips listed below, the first two were taken from the new inbound elevated section, and the last two were taken further down the line, past Mitaka.

"Chuo Line - Inbound from Kokubunji-A" (091207-08:20)

Looking out the left side of a Chuo Line train running on the newly constructed elevated rails. They elevated the outbound rails first, and then (after constructing the elevated portion for the inbound tracks next to the elevated section for the outbound), the inbound went into use this month. Construction is still ongoing of rebuilt stations.

"Chuo Line - Inbound from Kokubunji-B" (091207-08:25)

Beginning with a diagonal view as the train passes by a newly opened inbound platform at a station still under construction (thus the white background). (As this was a Tokubetsu-tsukin-kaisoku [Special Commuter Rapid], there were no stops between Kokubunji and Shinjuku.) Along with elevating the rails between Mitaka and Kokubunji, they've rebuilt the stations in that section, with construction ongoing.

Also views of residential houses and apartment buildings that are fairly typical for areas within Tokyo, but away from the central area. (Actually, there's still some of this look to central Tokyo, but the central area is increasingly becoming a large high-rise zone.)

The end of the video is where the newly elevated section comes back to ground level just before Mitaka. Just after Mitaka, it is elevated again.

"Chuo Line - Inbound from Mitaka" (091207-08:29)

Diagonal view of built-up area along tracks after passing Mitaka. From here on in to Shinjuku, basically the area around each station in this stretch is build up, and the areas between stations are a mix of individual houses and apartment buildings.

Notice how quiet it is inside the train... people very rarely talk during the morning commute. Late Friday night outbound trains are a different story!

"Chuo Line - Diagonal View, Koenji to Nakano" (091207-08:41)

Between Mitaka and Shinjuku, the only place the main Chuo Line (not the Sobu Line, which is also known as the local version of the Chuo Line) trains can pass other Chuo Line trains is Nakano, so typically, morning rush period express trains creep along after Mitaka until nearing Nakano, where they can pick up speed, pass a train waiting at Nakano Station, and speed on in to Shinjuku Station. This video shows the view from just before Koenji Station (one station from Nakano Station), until just after Nakano Station. The train is still accelerating as the clip ends. (Nakano Station is where the buses are - the waiting train at Nakano Station is on the opposite side of the train from this view.)

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

"Chuo Line Views, Morning Shinjuku Station, Ginza Demonstration, Etc."

More video clips. First of a demonstration I saw on the edge of Ginza, then a few Chuo Line views, a few views of Shinjuku Station during the morning rush, and a couple of Yamanote Line clips.

"Demonstration Near Ginza, December 4th, 2009"

On my way to Ginza I ran into a group of teachers demonstrating against requirements in public schools related to displaying the nation's flag and standing and singing the national anthem. Their stance, if I understand it correctly, is that it's one step towards nationalism, and they believe students and teachers shouldn't have patriotism forced upon them. But I don't know the exact details - for that, I suppose there's something on-line.

"Scrolling Buildings - Chuo Line, December 2009"

Buildings scrolling down through a slightly fogged lens (due to a large number of breathing bipeds on the train, cold temperatures outside, and the proximity of the train window's cold glass to my camera lens).

"Chuo Line - Dramatic Clouds, Autumn Colors" (Dec. 2009)

The view out a left side window of an inbound Chuo Line train during the morning rush - recorded at about 8:36 a.m., on December 4th, 2009. It had rained the day before, so the air was clearer than is often the case (although the air tends to be clear in the winter). The train was running slower than usual due to the large number of trains on the rails in the morning.

"Residences Beside Chuo Line, December 4th, 2009"

Slowly gliding past residences next to the elevated Chuo Line tracks in a morning rush commuter train. Recorded around 8:42 a.m. on December 4th, 2009.

"Picking Up Speed - Chuo Line, 8:47 a.m."

Accelerating in an inbound Tokubetsu Tsukin Kaisoku (Special Rapid Express) on December 4th, 2009. It's special because it makes very few stops, but it's not very rapid, due to there being too many trains on the rails, so it gets stuck behind slow-moving trains. Nearing central Tokyo, there are more large buildings than further out on the line, which has mostly residential housing next to the railway.

"Morning Chuo Line Platform at Shinjuku - 8:52 a.m."

Just after stepping off of a Chuo Line express train at Shinjuku Station - working my way towards the stairs in order to transfer to the Yamanote Line. Unless you're in front of everyone, there's no way to hurry really in these situations; you just have to plod forward with the other sardine bipeds. (Recorded on December 4th, 2009.)

"Morning Transfer to Yamanote Line" (Dec. 4th, 2009)

Transferring from the Chuo Line to the Yamanote Line via the over-the-tracks route (you can also transfer by going under the tracks). (Recorded on December 4th, 2009 at around 8:54 a.m.)

"Shinjuku Yamanote Line platform, Dec. 4th, 2009, 8:55 a.m."

Arriving on the platform for track-14 (Shibuya/Shinagawa-bound Yamanote Line), and Track-13, (Akihabara/Chiba-bound Sobu Line) at 8:55 a.m. During the peak morning rush, they run eleven-car trains on the Yamanote Line (ten cars for the Sobu Line) every two or three minutes, but there are a *lot* of people who use the Yamanote Line, so all of the trains are fairly full (in spite of the large number of them), and if one of them is a couple of minutes late, it ends up looking like the scenes in this video on the platform.

Incidentally, they basically number the edge of the platform next to the tracks here, so - locally - they call track-14 platform-14 and track-13 platform-13. Never mind that tracks 14 & 13 use the same platform.

"Yamanote Line View - 8:58 a.m., Dec. 4th, 2009"

Looking out the left side of a Shibuya/Shinagawa-bound Yamanote Line train at a Sobu Line train (headed for Shinjuku Station) curving to the right to pull parallel with the Yamanote Line (after coming from Akihabara, etc.), and a couple of Tohoku, Utsunomiya, or Shonan-Shinjuku Line trains (which run parallel to the Yamanote Line for several stations) passing by the Yamanote Line train I was on (one in each direction).

"Yamanote Line Zing View - 9:03 a.m., Dec. 4th, 2009"

Looking out a right side window of the Yamanote Line as it zings along between Shibuya and Ebisu - beginning at a mid-way point between Shibuya and Ebisu, and ending as the train pulls into Ebisu Station.

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

Friday, December 11, 2009

"Several Videos - Shinjuku, Shimokitazawa, Harajuku, Ginza, Omotesando, etc."

It's been quite a week, what with full scale war at the jungle warfare office, my freedom from that toxic atmosphere obtained, but my income lost, etc. etc. Too much stuff to explain in detail, so let's just have a look at some videos:

"Morning Toyoko Line - Suit City - November 2009"

A standing room only, but relaxed ride on the Toyoko Line during the morning commute. I ended up on the Toyoko Line due to a "jishin-jiko" (passenger action) on the Yamanote Line. Fortunately the Yamanote Line train I was on was stopped at Shibuya Station when it happened, so I had the option of doing an end run around the problem area via other train trains. This is one of the advantages of the increadible number of train lines in Tokyo - at hub stations, there are usually options to get where you're going via other lines if one of them is not running for some reason. (Recorded on November 16th, 2009.)

"Shinjuku Platform Jungle Walk - November 2009"

Looking out the window of an Ikebukuro-bound Yamanote Line train as it zooms into Shinjuku Station. After getting off the train, walking the full ten-car length of the platform (during rush hours, but after the main peak). (Recorded on November 24th, 2009 at about 7:30 p.m.)

"Evening Ikegami Line - Hatanodai to Ebaranakanobu"

Looking out the front of an Ikegami Line train from its departure in Hatanodai until its arrival in Ebaranakanobu. (Recorded on November 24th, 2009 at about 5:30 p.m.)

"Shimokitazawa Jungle Walk-A - December 1st, 2009"

Walking about in Shimokitazawa on December 1st, 2009. I noticed a number of closed shops - either because it was just after 6:00 or maybe because of the bad economy. I think at least partly due to the bad economy, but I could be wrong. Certainly the economy is bad for me personally, since the large corporation I was working for has begun axing its contract workers, me included....

"Shimokitazawa Jungle Walk-B - December 1st, 2009"

Continuing my walk-about in Shimokitazawa - walking down an old covered shopping street whose days are probably numbered. (Recorded on December 1st, 2009.)

"Shinbashi Train Cyclone - November 2009"

Walking in the opposite direction from my last Shinbashi Station walk video, with trains passing on both sides of the Shinbashi Station Tokaido Line platform, including a couple of 16-car Shinkansen super-express trains.

"Riding Inokashira Line into Shimokitazawa"

Listening to the internal announcement on an Inokashira Line train as it pulls into Shimokitazawa, and then getting off the train and heading for the exit stairs.

"Outside Cooking Display & Microvan in Shimokitazawa"

While jungle walking in Shimokitazawa, pausing to watch an outside cooking... show? display? in front of a... restaurant (I think). A microvan drives by, etc....

"Running for the Train - Ebisu Station" November 2009

Running down the platform at Ebisu Station to get to the front of a Shinjuku-bound Yamanote Line train. (I don't make a habit of doing this, and I don't recommend it, but this is what is looks like.)

"Vertical Running Reflections - Yamanote Line" November 2009

Watching the light show in the window of a Shinjuku-bound Yamanote Line Train.

"Vertical & Horizontal Yamanote Line Reflections" November 2009

Looking outside/inside a Yamanote Line train window at night, and looking over at a fellow passenger's book. Typical nighttime Tokyo train travel....

"Arriving at Harajuku Station (Announcement)" November 2009

Arriving at Harajuku Station. Notice the sound level change of the "Harajuku... Harajuku desu. Gojosha, arigato gozaimasu" announcement from inside the train before the door opens (the first "Harajuku..." part of the announcement) and after (the rest of the announcement/recording).

"Shinjuku Station Jungle Walk - November 2009"

Walking through Shinjuku Station from near the South Exit to the South-East Exit around 7:45 p.m.

"Shinjuku Southern Terrace Blue Lights - November 24th, 2009"

Part of the year-end light displays put up all around the Southern Terrace ("Shinjuku '09-'10 Southern Lights"). Apparently this year, this sort of illumination is done with LED lights, with blue being the color of choice (along with white).

"Ginza Jungle Walk - November 2009"

Walking down a nighttime side street in fashionable Ginza, recorded on November 27th, 2009. The main streets of Ginza are full of "brand" company shops with insanely expensive and often ugly mass-marketed... stuff. Fortunately there are still some interesting galleries and small shops on back and side streets.

"Yurakucho Sax Player - November 27th, 2009"

Listening to a sax player under the tracks between the plaza on the Ginza side of Yurakucho Station and the entrance to the station (off to the side). Trains go by above, people walk by - some stop and listen. Typical Tokyo scene.

"Autumn Colors in a Tokyo Park - November 2009"

Trying to unwind from the stresses of office jungle warfare. Maybe if people spent more time contemplating natural things, they would be less bloodthirsty in the office?

"Harajuku Takeshita Dori (Other Direction) - November 2009

Recorded on a different date from a recent post covering the same street, and walking in the other direction this time - away from Harajuku Station.

"Tree Lights Quest (Omotesando) December 2009"

A decade ago, they stopped putting lights on the trees in Omotesando due to complaints of people living in the area who were inconvenienced by the large crowds that came to see the lights. The story goes that the neighborhood assoication then reversed their ealier decision and decided to put them up again this year to add some cheer to counter the gloomy economic news, etc.

"Old Double Decker Bus Cruising Omotesando Light-up"

I'm not sure, but I suspect this bus was conducting a tour of the lights. The upper deck would be a great place to observe the lights from. (Recorded on December 2nd, 2009 at around 6:30 p.m.)

"Omotesando Jungle Walk - December 2nd, 2009"

Walking with the crowd - with many likely there half to have a look at the trees, and half to know they haven't missed out on the event. (Truth be told, I wanted to get some pictures for those same reasons, basically.)

"Shinjuku Rush Hours Platform, 18:44 December 2009"

Rush hours (it's certainly not over in one single hour!) in Shinjuku see a lot of people moving about. Unless some other station has surpassed it, Shinjuku has the largest number of people passing through it each day - calculated (I think) by the number who set foot off of trains there (both for transfers or when actually going somewhere in Shinjuku).

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon