Monday, July 27, 2009

"Long Summer Dresses"

I've been interacting with the closest thing I have to a time machine - my old video recordings - and it's a strange feeling looking at the scenes I recorded while walking around in Tokyo back then. I've spent my life watching recorded images from (nearly?) all years in which moving pictures were recordable, but it's always been someone else's viewpoint. There's something almost eerie about seeing the very same scenes I saw in real time 18 years ago, from the very same vantage point and recorded by myself. So many things that I'd forgotten about come back into active memory while watching the scenes again.

I've mentioned before (several times?) the realization that most, not some, but *most* of what we experience day by day goes missing in the dusty archives of our minds, but with a few recent video clips that I edited and posted to YouTube, women's clothing fashions stand out. I didn't notice it quite so much with 1991 winter clothing, but the summer clothing of 1991 Tokyo women looks quite different from what women are wearing in summer 2009. The most striking thing is probably the large number of women wearing long skirts. That and the different hair styles of the time make it look like such a different era....

I'm looking at what were young and modern women in 1991, thinking how they are now middle-aged women, and thinking how current modern women in 2009 will be middle aged women in their time, and I'm beginning to think that the whole concept of "modern" is a mistake. What is called "modern" is supposed to be what is coming, but more often it's just what is now that wasn't yesterday, but it won't make it to tomorrow.

Yawn... I'm putting myself to sleep writing this, so it must be even worse for people reading it! Sorry.....

Oh - here are a couple of videos that I haven't introduced in the blog yet:

"Gotanda to Nishimagome to Gotanda" - July 1991

Trip to Nishimagome from Gotanda, and then back to Gotanda.

On the way to Nishimagome: Nearly empty train (going away from central Tokyo). Since the subway is not air-conditioned, most of the windows are open. The sounds are completely different from newer air conditioned trains.

At the top of the escalator, there are creaky old escalator noises.

Near Nishimagome Station, a pair ride by on a bicycle, with a man standing on hub extenders on the back. I don't think this was ever exactly legal, but you used to see it from time to time. I haven't seen this at all lately. Maybe the police put a stop to it.


"Gotanda to Shinjuku (& Ikebukuro)" - July 1991

Taking the Yamanote Line from Gotanda to Shinjuku, shopping in Shinjuku, and then taking the Saikyo Line from Shinjuku to Ikebukuro.

Of note - many women in long summer dresses that look really old fashioned by today's standards. A good look at the platform at Ebisu Station - just an open-air platform when this video was taken in July 1991 (now radically different). When coming into Shibuya Station, the view over to the Toyoko Line is unobstructed - this was before the Saikyo Line was extended to Ebisu.

July 25th, 1991... and posted to YouTube on July 25th, 2009. Eighteen years later....

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

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