Sunday, February 15, 2009

"Last of a Long Day at the 1991 Tokyo Motor Show"

Watching only the edited set of videos I took on Saturday, October 26th, 1991, the four clips only amount to around 25 minutes, but if I add up the time I spent editing out those 25 minutes from the original two hours I took in 1991, it amounts to about the same length of time I spent with video camera in hand on the day itself in real time (all day that is). That, combined with watching the entire thing (a few times) intently, has brought the day to the forefront of my mind, and I remember the fatigue of the day. Tired here in 2009 from the editing process and remembering how it was to be banging around in 1991 in that crowded show all day (fun, but headache-inducing) leaves me feeling like I've now had quite enough of the 1991 Tokyo Motor show!

I might even have forgotten the headache, but there I am on the screen (not in the edited material posted to YouTube) taking a break in the middle of the day and telling the camera (and 2009 me) that I have a headache and I'm getting tired of the still photographers banging into me as they physically force their way to the front, while I'm trying to take video scenes.

Watching my 1991 self and the 1991 scenes and sounds; and then thinking about it, the specific memory of the headache (and escaping outside for a break) come back. The headache had three causes basically - 1) the incessant, competing, loud, and conflicting noises of the show, 2) being continually banged into as I attempted to hold the camera steady for video recording, and 3) the heat - the exhibition halls were overheated... no doubt for the many scantily clad show-women.

All-in-all, taking a good look at my 1991 material keeps leaving me with (among a flood of related memories) thinking of the following:

1) It's a different era! A seamless flow of time between 1991 and 2008/2009, but there is a great wall somewhere in-between now and then. Different clothes, different hairstyles, different feeling in the air, different thinking, and different this, that, and other things.

2) The "bubble years" are always portrayed on Japanese TV as something akin to "the roaring twenties" in the US, but for most people at the time, it was just news stories of excess on TV, and most people's lives were - shock & surprise - a carryover from a few years before. I have video of children playing in the street in the "shitamachi" area of town (sometimes/often radically-wrongly translated as "downtown" - a more accurate translation would be "low area of town" or "the far side of the tracks", "the poor side of town" etc.) and old 1950's style buildings, etc. What people don't seem to generally comprehend is that the plans laid in that era are what resulted in the modern Tokyo of today. So to around-20 people who say "I wish I could experience what it was like in the roaring 'bubble' years", I say "Take a look around - you've got it! They didn't then, but the results of their plans for shiny new structures and modern lifestyle have arrived! You're there! Now!"

3) The fragility of memory. After watching several 21st century fictional portrayals of the "bubble years", I had begun to see the era as having been (somewhat) that way. This has been the biggest surprise of all for me - since I was here for the entire time, I should know very well how it was, but it has taken watching hours and hours of my life then (recorded by me at the time), to bring back the authentic memories of how it felt and what the atmosphere was, and that atmosphere is radically different from what comes across in modern fictional depictions of the era on TV and in movies.

Number three in particular should give one cause to pause and think hard about... things - all things. If you can be pushed away from reality by fictional depictions of something you lived through (and should know as well as anyone), how can you correctly understand a reality you have had no proper exposure to?

4) From the evidence of young modern actors faultily attempting to portray young people of a different era, it would seem it's no easy task to comprehend how it felt to live in a particular era. (How I wish I had a time machine to go back and sample different eras! I would especially like to go back for photos of certain key events. Better yet, video! Actual video of ancient peoples - would they seem more familiar than expected, or more alien? Of course, to really do the job properly, you would have to be invisible. The sudden appearance of a biped with a picture & sound recording device wouldn't exactly be taken in stride....)

Derailing here... so I'll stop. Here's the link to the fourth & final (unless at some point I use parts of the 90 minutes cut out in editing) of the 1991 Tokyo Motor Show series:

And if you'd like to follow October 26th, 1991's Lyle through the day, here are five videos (the fifth one being a short clip of riding in a car that evening) that cover nearly the entire day. There's one gap between leaving Tokyo Station at the end of 1991-TMS #4 and getting in the car - maybe I'll get to that at some point.

"Tokyo Auto Show - 1991 #1" (I misnamed it; it should be "motor", not "auto")

"Tokyo Motor Show - 1991 #2"

"Tokyo Motor Show - 1991 #3"

"Tokyo Motor Show - 1991 #4"

"Driving in Tokyo - October 26th, 1991"

And here are some still photos from the 2003 and 2005 shows:

Tokyo Motor Show - 2003 (a couple of photos at the top & one at the bottom)

Tokyo Motor Show - 2005

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

PS - Valentine's Day in Japan - when women give chocolate to men. I considered posting some pictures of stores selling chocolate, but then I thought "Naw - why do that? It's just a local way of handling a foreign import."

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