Monday, February 15, 2010

"Shimo-Ochiai, Takadanobaba, & the Tozai Line"

Part of my travels on February 9th, 2010 - starting at Higashi-Murayama, where I took a Seibu-Shinjuku Line train to Shimo-Ochiai Station, and then continued on to Takadanobaba, where I looked around for a bit and then went underground and got on an eastbound Tozai Line train.

"Waiting for Seibu-Shinjuku Line Train at Higashi-Murayama Station" (100209-1004)

10:04 a.m. - just past the morning rush, waiting for a Seibu-Shinjuku Line train at Higashi-Murayama Station.  Riding the morning trains at this time is a whole different experience from the crush-rush hours before this.  I was even able to get a seat on this train....

東村山駅で西武新宿線の電車を待っている  東京  (Recorded on Tuesday, February 9th, 2010, at 10:04 a.m.)

"Crossing Near Shimo-Ochiai Station" (100209-1044)

Waiting for a train to pass at a crossing near Shimo-Ochiai Station on the Seibu-Shinjuku Line.  Section by section, ground tracks are being elevated, but there are still a fair number of non-elevated surface tracks here and there throughout Tokyo.

西武新宿線の下落合駅の近くの踏切  東京  (Recorded on Tuesday, February 9th, 2010, at 10:44 a.m.)

"Seseragi-no-Sato Park in Kami-Ochiai" (100209-1047)

February 9th 2010 was unseasonably warm, and so when I walked through Seseragi-no-Sato Park, the many chirping sparrows there made it feel like spring had arrived.  This park may not look very exciting, but in Tokyo, even small areas of green like this are greatly appreciated!

下落合駅の近くの上落合一丁目のせせらぎの里公園  東京  (Recorded on Tuesday, February 9th, 2010, at 10:47 a.m.)

"Takadanobaba Stroll - Takadanobaba Station Bound" (100209-1306)

Walking down the main street in Takadanobaba that forms the boundary between Takadanobaba 3-chome and Takadanobaba 4-chome - heading towards Takadanobaba Station.

高田馬場三丁目 - 高田馬場駅に向かう  東京  (Recorded on Tuesday, February 9th, 2010, at 1:06 p.m.)

"Wide and Narrow Streets Near Takadanobaba Station" (100209-1308)

Continuing down the street towards Takadanobaba Station, the station platform - which is on a bridge over the road - comes into view as the station melodies and announcements begin to be heard.  The train stations used to all be like this - open to the air and providing an unhindered view in both directions.  Increasingly though, stations are enclosed - which make them warmer in winter and safer, but also more sterile somehow, and more boring.

Just as I'm almost across the street on my way to the station, I decide to make a U-turn and explore a narrow street running off at an angle from the station.  As I do so, a Yamanote Line train pulls into the station above.

高田馬場三丁目 - 歩きながら、高田馬場駅に向かう  駅の近くになると、細い道を探検する  東京  (Recorded on Tuesday, February 9th, 2010, at 1:08 p.m.)

"Takadanobaba Narrow Student Street" (100209-1310)

Walking along a narrow diagonal street in a steady stream of students.  It should go without saying that the number of students on streets like this depends on the time of day and the time of year, but in Tokyo, it's easy to forget, since there are always people out and about most times of the day and very nearly all times of the year.

As there are an amazing number of all kinds of schools scattered about all over Tokyo, the effect of the students from one or another school being out of school is often not noticed due to other schools still holding classes, not to mention all the after-hours activities students are involved in on and off campus, and the juku (cram) schools, which operate late into the night.

高田馬場三丁目 - 細い道の学生散歩  東京  (Recorded on Tuesday, February 9th, 2010, at 1:10 p.m.)

"Takadanobaba Station - From JR to Subway" (100209-1315)

Takadanobaba Station - from the main ticket gates, to the area in front of the station, and then down the stairs into the subway up to the ticket gates for the Tozai Line.

高田馬場駅、JRから、地下鉄の東西線まで  東京  (Recorded on Tuesday, February 9th, 2010, at 1:15 p.m.)

"Tozai Line - Platform Wait & Ride in Tunnel" (100209-1320)

Starting on the platform of the Tozai Line at Takadanobaba Station.  First a westbound train comes in on the other side and then an eastbound train comes in, that I board.  The camera stays on as the train enters and runs through the tunnel.

A highly irritating thing I noticed on this ride on the Tozai Line (that they never used to do) is that they wait *after* the doors are closed before starting the train.  The old process was: 1) Close the doors, 2) Go!.  The new process is 1) Close the doors, 2) Wait... (why?), and finally 3) Go.  There's probably some new safety procedure that's been implemented stating something like "Wait a full five seconds after closing the doors before starting the train."  Hey guys - why not two or three seconds?  That's enough to see if the doors are clear.  Or better still, instead of a blanket time-wasting long interval, why not just have a rule that states "Double check that the doors are clear before starting the train", which would prevent wasting time at every station when its not crowded.

What's that?  What's a few seconds?  On trips within Tokyo with multiple train rides and dozens of stops, adding in five seconds of wasted time at each and every station adds up.  Tokyo's trains *used to* run like clockwork, but due to inane overly cautions procedures being introduced, the times the trains fall off schedule are increasing.  Do I see car drivers shaking their heads?  Yeah... right.  Like you guys are tranquil and happy when you miss a light!  There's almost never enough time in a day - it's better not to waste it!  If nothing else, the feeling of sitting there for no good reason is just plain irritating!  We have brains!  Let's use 'em!

Incidentally, this clip contains a lot of audio information, such as platform announcements (male voice for westbound trains and female voice for eastbound), the sound of an approaching train in the distance, the rush of the train coming into the station, the announcement inside the train, the various tunnel and motor noises as the train progresses (scrapping noises as the train goes through a tight right curve, etc.), both recorded and live announcements, etc.

高田馬場駅 (地下鉄の東西線)  待っている時間から、トンネルの中に走るまで  東京  (Recorded on Tuesday, February 9th, 2010, at 1:20 p.m.)

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

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