The cherry blossom viewing season in Japan is vastly over-photographed, but I still decided to cover it myself this year, and I've finally put together a collection of photos from this week-and-a-half period when I ran around with my camera photographing things. I'm not especially happy with the results, but I think they show (somewhat anyway) many of the types of scenes you typically see when going about Tokyo during that time of year. I deliberately put in some non-sakura photos just to show some of the backdrop (and thus contrast) with which Tokyo residents view the sakura flowers every spring:
"Hibarigaoka Natsu Matsuri - August 1991"
Back in the video time machine - to August of 1991 to see the annual shotengai (shopping street) summer festival (natsu-matsuri), complete with taiko drums, kimono-clad (well... yukata actually) dancers, and children having fun at the food stalls, goldfish pool, etc. As one of the last shotengai natsu-matsuri events before the Parco department store opened (it was in the beginning stages of construction when this video was taken, but not opened until October of 1993), and before the full realization of the depth of stock market woes had sunk in, it feels a lot more optimistic and fun than some later ones there I experienced. Basically, from this point forward, business began to fall off on this shopping street, particularly once Hibarigaoka Parco opened. I think they still have this (I haven't been by there at the end of August to see it for myself for about eight years now), but there are fewer stores on that street now and business isn't very good for most of them (I went by and spoke with a couple of the shopkeepers there last winter), so there's less money to spend on events like this. Also keep in mind that the scenes depicted in this video are basically the Japan of one generation ago - the little two-year-old kids at the festival (there with their siblings and parents) are now twenty-year-old adults (twenty is the legal age of becoming an adult in Japan):
"Inbound Chuo Line - August 2009"
Some mundane views out the window of a Chuo Line Tokubetsu-Tsukin-Kaisoku (Special Commuter Rapid Express - the very fast-sounding name actually just means that there are very few stops; the train has to run slow because of the high number of trains on the tracks and the limited number of stations where they can be passed). Of interest in a factual way is a view of a Tozai Line subway diving underground just after Nakano Station, and just beyond that, train maintenance sheds and then some views of Shinjuku's high-rise office buildings.
Oh - and one other thing might be interesting for people interested in Tokyo's train system. The video opens with a train running beside the train the video was taken from at almost the same speed. I imagine that two passenger trains running side-by-side at the same speed isn't all that common outside of Tokyo... or am I wrong? If there are many systems like this in other mega-cities, let me know. I know a fair bit about the Tokyo trains, but not much about other cities' trains, other than in San Francisco, where I used to live:
Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon