Thursday, July 29, 2010

"Ueno Ameyokocho Area - Walking Around"

Starting with exiting Ueno Station at the exit nearest to Ameyokocho (Shinobazu Exit), and then walking around a bit in the Ameyokocho area (formerly a black market), and finally heading back onto the train system by entering Okachimachi Station (which is under construction).

"Exiting Ueno Station" (100723-1529)

Exiting Ueno Station and heading towards the Ameyokocho shopping area (former black market).

上野駅を出て、アメ横丁に向かう  東京

"Ueno Area - Trackside Walk" (100723-1604)

Walking beside the elevated tracks near Ameyokocho (which is on the other side of the tracks).

上野駅の近く、アメ横丁の反対側  東京

"Exiting Ueno Yodobashi Camera" (100723-1624)

Going down a few flights of escalators and then walking out the first floor exit of the Ueno Yodobashi Camera.

上野のヨドバシカメラを出るところ  東京

"Ameyokocho Stroll-A" (100723-1626)

Walking through part of Ueno's Ameyokocho. (A)

上野のアメ横丁散歩-A  東京

"Ameyokocho Stroll-B" (100723-1628)

"Ameyokocho Stroll-C" (100723-1629)

"Ameyokocho Stroll-D" (100723-1637)

"Entering Okachimachi Station" (100723-1639)

Entering Okachimachi Station and heading for the  elevated platforms via an escalator.

御徒町駅に入るところ  東京

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

"SS-Okuno - June 2010"

While I've never actually traveled internationally by ship, I've wandered around the Hikawa-maru (built in 1929, launched in 1930) passenger liner - now permanently moored in Yokohama as a museum, and imagined how it must have felt to spend a week crossing the Pacific Ocean, as opposed to half a day in an airplane.

It was probably wonderful and awful - wonderful if you were enjoying the trip, and awful if you just wanted to be where you were going and were stuck waiting.

Not having ever made such a journey myself, naturally I imagine traveling either in first class or second class, eating good meals in a fancy dining room, visiting the lounge, the library, etc.  (Probably 3rd class wasn't so much fun!)

Part of the experience of traveling is making temporary friends with fellow travelers... and this brings me to my ten-day "voyage" on the SS-Okuno (real name Okuno Building, formerly Ginza Apartment[s]).
The Okuno Building was built (1934) in the same era as the Hikawa-maru, and with its steam heat, boiler room in the basement, lounge on the sixth floor, and rooms basically about the same size as a ship's cabins, there are a lot of parallels.  Add in the building's current use, with many art galleries, each displaying art by living authors for (usually) one week at a time (sometimes less, sometimes more), the experience of the artists who spend their days in the small galleries meeting visitors and talking about their art - is similar in a way to people spending a week in a ship, taking a journey across  the Pacific together.

And like a ship continuing on to another port in the same country after most of the passengers have gotten off at one port - by being there for ten days, I met two different groups of fellow "passengers".  During slow periods of the day, we would visit each others "cabins" and talk, etc.  Friends for the week, and then likely to never again meet....

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

"'Avatar' & 'Last Samurai' Disease"

There's a strange thing that happens with people who go ocean jumping - boarding an air ship and jetting across oceans to far-off distant lands.  After they're there for a few years, they begin to believe that they understand the country better than any other foreigner (to the country they landed in) ever has before.

I've had this disease myself (not still I hope, but you never know), and either because of that, or in spite of that, it's often quite irritating running into other foreigners here, as they... how to put this nicely?... seem to be living the "Last Samurai"/"Avatar" delusion.  You know the story, how the outsider becomes more local than the locals and is accepted by the locals after initial resistance once they realize how tuned-in the outsider is?

Certainly you really can make more friends in any given culture once you're tuned into it, but the depending-on-the-individual problems you knew so well back in the old country (wherever that might be), are equally in play in the new land.

Wait... relatives!  Now there's a problem!  They support you (naturally); admire your foreign adventure, and look upon you as an expert (which - relative their near zero comprehension of the foreign land you are in - you are), and combined with movie theater dreams of being the hero, their support can help push you into ALSD (Avatar and Last Samurai Disease).

Well - whatever!  Just felt like ranting about that for some reason.

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

Monday, July 26, 2010

"Yushima-Seido (Below the Hill), and Akihabara (July 2010)"

Walking into the grounds of Yushima-Seido - near Ochanomizu Station - and having a look around in what looks tree-shade-cool in the video, but was a rather hot day (even in the shade).  After that, I continued down the hill to Akihabara and there are views of both the main street there and also side streets.

"Entering Yushima-Seido Grounds" (100723Fr-1359)

Starting from one of the streets that runs alongside Yushima-Seido, and then entering the Yushima-Seido grounds.  This kind of green is much appreciated when living in a mega-city!

湯島聖堂の緑の中に入る  東京

"Yushima-Seido Lower Area" (100723Fr-1412)

Taking a quick look around at the base of the hill in Yushima-Seido.

湯島聖堂 - 坂の下の所  東京

"Yushima-Seido Lower Area 360" (100723Fr-1416)

Taking a 360-degree look around at the base of the hill within Yushima-Seido.

湯島聖堂 - 坂の下の所 - 360  東京

"Confucius Stature at Yushima-Seido" (100723Fr-1418)

Walking over and having a look at the Confucius statue within the Yushima-Seido grounds.

湯島聖堂の孔子  東京

"Walking Towards Akihabara from Ochanomizu" (100723Fr-1420)

Walking midway between Ochanomizu Station and the Akihabara electronics area.

御茶ノ水がスタートで、秋葉原に向かう  東京

"Entering Akihabara" (100723Fr-1426)

Walking into the Akihabara electronics (and other things...) area.

歩いて、秋葉原に入る  東京

"Akihabara Main Street Stroll-A" (100723Fr-1431)

Walking along the main street in Akihabara. (A)

秋葉原の大通り散歩-A  東京

"Akihabara Main Street Stroll-B" (100723Fr-1433)

Walking along the main street in Akihabara. (B)

秋葉原の大通り散歩-B  東京

"Akihabara Main Street Stroll-C" (100723Fr-1434)

Walking along the main street in Akihabara. (C)

秋葉原の大通り散歩-C  東京

"Akihabara Side Street Stroll-A" (100723Fr-1443)

Exploring side streets in Akihabara. (A)

秋葉原の裏道散歩-A  東京

"Akihabara Side Street Stroll-B" (100723Fr-1449)

Exploring side streets in Akihabara. (B)

秋葉原の裏道散歩-B  東京

"Akihabara - Back to the Main Street" (100723Fr-1501)

Returning to the main street in Akihabara after walking around on a few side streets.

秋葉原の裏道から、また大通りに戻る  東京

"Religious Advertisement Bullhorn Speaker Van" (100723Fr-1519)

One of the world's many religions being rather loudly advertised in Akihabara via a bullhorn speaker-van.

秋葉原の宗教広告スピーカー・カー  東京

"Promotional Something-or-Other in Akihabara Station" (100723Fr-1525)

Some sort of advertising campaign within Akihabara Station.  Since the privatization of JNR (now JR), they have been very inventive in ways of making money, but I notice that the bridges near Akihabara are rusting.  I hope they're not cutting costs on maintenance - which saves money short-term and costs even more money long term....

秋葉原駅内の何とかキャンペーン  東京

"Akihabara to Ueno via Keihin-Tohoku Kaisoku" (100723Fr-1526)

Taking a kaisoku (rapid) Keihin-Tohoku Line train from Akihabara to Ueno (bypassing Okachimachi).

快速京浜東北線で、秋葉原駅から、上野駅まで  東京

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

Sunday, July 25, 2010

"Tachikawa Morning Rush, Chuo Line, Yamanote Line, Ginza, Yurakucho, Etc."

Starting off with a view of the morning rush at Tachikawa Station, and then riding trains (Chuo Line, Yamanote Line, and Keihin-Tohoku Line), as well as walking around in Ginza and Yurakucho.  July - it's summer now for sure.  In June there were both hot and fairly cool days, but now it's definitely hot - 32C as I write this.

"Exiting Tachikawa Station During Morning Rush" (100721We-0849)

Exiting Tachikawa Station during the morning rush.  This sort of last-second collision-avoidance walking is typical when it's crowded.

朝ラッシュの時に立川駅を出る  東京

"Kanda to Tokyo via Chuo Line" (100721We-1036)

Looking out the left side of a Chuo Line train while rolling from Kanda Station to Tokyo Station.  (New construction over the Shinkansen Line tracks can be clearly seen.)

中央線で神田駅から、東京駅まで  東京

"Tokyo Station Platform - Ride From Tokyo to Yurakucho" (100721We-1039)

I look around on a platform at Tokyo Station while waiting for the Yamanote Line, and then watch the Yamanote Line train come in, whereupon I board it and watch the world roll away through the rear cab window while riding to Yurakucho Station.  After getting off in Yurakucho, I walk down the platform as the train continues on its way.

東京駅ホームで山手線を待って、乗って、有楽町駅まで  東京

"Walking Down Late-Morning Street in Ginza" (100721We-1048)

Walking down a street in Ginza just before 11:00 a.m.  After the morning rush and before the noontime crowds.

銀座の昼近くの散歩  東京

"Evening Ginza Stroll" (100721We-1817)

Walking through one end of Ginza in the evening.

銀座の昼近くの散歩  東京

"Walking Towards Yurakucho Station" (100721We-1819)

Walking towards Yurakucho Station in the evening (from Ginza).

歩きながら、有楽町駅に向かう  東京

"Escaping the Heat in Yurakucho (Tachiyomi)" (100721We-1829)

Diving into an air-conditioned space to escape the July heat for a couple of minutes - I walk through a bookstore and notice a lot of people doing the "tachiyomi" routine (standing in a bookstore reading things without necessarily buying them).

有楽町駅近く - 涼しい本屋さんで立ち読みの人たち  東京

"Racing the Yamanote Line to Tokyo Station" (100721We-2257)

The Keihin-Tohoku Line train I got on left Yurakucho Station at the same time as a Yamanote Line train going in the same direction, so the two trains ran side-by-side from Yurakucho Station to Tokyo Station.

京浜東北線と山手線のレース (京浜東北線の中)  東京

"Boarding Late-Night Chuo Line at Tokyo Station" (100721We-2301)

Boarding a Chuo Line train just after 11:00 p.m. at Tokyo Station.

夜の遅く東京駅で、中央線を乗る  東京

"Kokubunji Street Band 'Haruka and Traffic Jams'" (100722We-0006)

Listening to the street band "Haruka & Traffic Jams" in late night Kokubunji.

国分寺ストリートバンド「陽春 & Traffic Jams」  東京

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

Thursday, July 22, 2010

"Seibu Front Cab Views - June 15th, 2010"

This batch of videos is all from the Seibu Line - or more specifically, from the Seibu-Haijima Line and then the Seibu-Shinjuku Line.  So... there's not much to say other than that.

I posted a set of front cab videos of this same stretch of track a few months ago, but they were taken from an older train with small front windows, so you can't see much.  Most of this set (the part taken on the Seibu-Shinjuku Line) was taken on a newer train with a very large front windscreen, so you can see the area the train is rolling through much more clearly than the earlier set.

The clips taken on the Seibu-Haijima Line were taken in an older train, but while looking over the driver's shoulder - not out the middle.

"Seibu - Ogawa to Hagiyama - Front Cab View" (100615Tu-1204)

Looking over the shoulder of the driver of a manually controlled Seibu-Haijima Line train as it runs from Ogawa to Hagiyama.

西武拝島線の前風景 - 小川駅から萩山駅まで  東京

"Seibu - Hagiyama to Kodaira - Front Cab View" (100615Tu-1208)

Still looking over the shoulder of the driver of a manually controlled Seibu-Haijima Line train, and then changing to the Seibu-Shinjuku Line in Kodaira (which was a newer type train).

西武拝島線の前風景 - 萩山駅から小平駅まで  東京

"Seibu - Kodaira to Hanakoganei - Front Cab Wide-Window View" (100615Tu-1209)

Looking out the front of a wide-window cab on a Seibu-Shinjuku Line train as it runs from Kodaira to Hanakoganei.

西武新宿線の前風景 - 小平駅から花小金井駅まで  東京

"Seibu - Hanakoganei to Tanashi - Front Cab Wide-Window View" (100615Tu-1213)

Looking out the front of a wide-window cab on a Seibu-Shinjuku Line train as it runs from Hanakoganei to Tanashi.

西武新宿線の前風景 - 花小金井駅から田無駅まで  東京

"Seibu - Tanashi to Seibu-Yagisawa - Front Cab Wide-Window View" (100615Tu-1215)

Looking out the front of a wide-window cab on a Seibu-Shinjuku Line train as it runs from Tanashi to Seibu-Yagisawa.

西武新宿線の前風景 - 田無駅から西武柳沢駅まで  東京

"Seibu - Seibu-Yagisawa to Higashi-Fushimi - Front Cab Wide-Window View" (100615Tu-1217)

Looking out the front of a wide-window cab on a Seibu-Shinjuku Line train as it runs from Seibu-Yagisawa to Higashi-Fushimi.

西武新宿線の前風景 - 西武柳沢駅から東伏見駅まで  東京

"Seibu - Higashi-Fushimi to Musashiseki - Front Cab Wide-Window View" (100615Tu-1219)

Looking out the front of a wide-window cab on a Seibu-Shinjuku Line train as it runs from Higashi-Fushimi to Musashiseki.

西武新宿線の前風景 - 東伏見駅から武蔵関駅まで  東京

"Seibu - Musashiseki to Kamishakuji - Front Cab Wide-Window View" (100615Tu-1220)

Looking out the front of a wide-window cab on a Seibu-Shinjuku Line train as it runs from Musashiseki to Kamishakuji.

西武新宿線の前風景 - 武蔵関駅から上石神井駅まで  東京

"Seibu - Kamishakuji to Saginomiya - Front Cab Wide-Window View" (100615Tu-1223)

Looking out the front of a wide-window cab on a Seibu-Shinjuku Line train as it runs from Kamishakuji to Saginomiya.

西武新宿線の前風景 - 上石神井駅から鷺ノ宮駅まで  東京

"Seibu - Saginomiya to Takadanobaba - Front Cab Wide-Window View" (100615Tu-1227)

Looking out the front of a wide-window cab on a Seibu-Shinjuku Line train as it runs from Saginomiya to Takadanobaba.

西武新宿線の前風景 - 鷺ノ宮駅から高田馬場駅まで  東京

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

"Ginza Okuno Building Details (July 20th 2010)"

There are a lot of details to the Okuno Building (奥野ビル), and I'm still working on fitting the pieces together.  In the meantime, here are some details I've learned about the building that I've decided to go ahead and put on-line, in case someone is interested in learning about this interesting building in Ginza 1-chome.  (The date in the title for this post is unfortunate, as I keep updating this, but it can't be changed unless I delete this post and repost it as a new post, and I don't want to break links, etc., so I'm leaving it as it is.) - LHS

Built in two stages, construction of the left half of the building was from April 3rd, 1931, until April 15th, 1932, and construction of the right half of the building was from February 2nd, 1933, until January 22nd, 1934.  It is internally joined and not immediately identifiable as two buildings joined to become one - although one sinking slightly relative to the other has made it easier to tell with the telltale crack that identifies everywhere the two buildings were originally (seamlessly) joined.

The building began life as 銀座アパートメント (Ginza Apartments), a luxury apartment building with steam heat and a telephone in every room, a sento in the basement, beds that folded down from the walls, a "danwashitsu" (lounge) on the 6th floor, an elevator (still with manually operated doors today) and by one report I've heard, a club on the 7th floor (but a more plausible explanation I've heard of that old room - now used as an office - is that it was a laundry room).  From different sources, I've heard it said that two different rooms on the 7th floor were the lounge, but I think neither.  One was the laundry room, and I think the other was used by the owner of the building as a place to stay in Ginza - a kind of second house.

The man who had the building constructed lived and worked on the land until the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, when the buildings in the area were destroyed by fire.  He moved his residence and business down to Oimachi and then - several years later - had the Ginza Apartments building (current Okuno Building) constructed.  So - while I haven't found any strong evidence to prove the idea, I think he kept the rooms at the back of the seventh floor in the 1932 building for family use.  Certainly that's what I would have done.  When (if?) I find solid evidence to prove this theory, I'll post it here.  In the meantime, one piece of evidence is the old piping (on the seventh floor).  While all of the rooms had running water, none of them had bathrooms, which that piping seems to suggest the rear seventh floor room did have.

There's a lot of history in that building, so it's difficult to pick a starting place.  But since the 7th floor is controversial, I'll start with that.

Having had several very close looks at the seventh floor (from both inside and outside), I think it's very clear that the elevator tower and a section at the back of the building were part of the original structure.  This is an issue, because there is a new section on the front side of the building that was obviously added later, and most people I've talked with seem to see the new 7th floor section sitting on top of the sixth floor (as seen from the front of the building), and assume that the entire seventh floor was added later.  If you closely observe the details of the structure however, you can see that this is highly unlikely (I'll go further and say it's impossible).  The rear part was seven-stories high, and you could take the elevator up to the seventh floor and then - after opening a door next to the elevator - walk out onto the roof of the sixth floor, where there was a kind of rooftop garden.  (There is obvious physical evidence for this from both inside the building and outside, when looking at the building from the rear - which is nearly impossible now due to new construction on that side, but there are photographs).

In fact, there's a ladder that leads up to what is effectively the 8th floor, where the water tanks (both the rusted out and no-longer-used original pair, and a newer pair) and (now disused) TV antennas are.

Dropping down to the basement, another unique aspect of the building must be explained.  The building is striking with two internal staircases with (now always open) windows between them.  The current building was built in two halves, with (from the standpoint of facing the building) the left side built first (1931-32), and then the right half built afterward (1933-34).  The internal hallway is joined, so it's not overly obvious that the structure is in fact two buildings, but once you understand that it is, and pay attention to details, it's fairly obvious.

(And it's becoming more obvious since the foundation was damaged by construction of the large building to the side and behind the Okuno Building, with the two halves of the Okuno Building now separating - creating very obvious cracks all the way through the building where the two halves were joined some 78 years ago and have begun to come apart in conjunction with the very deep and very large hole that was dug for the construction of the new building next door.)

I bring all of this up, because there are two separate basements.  And again there is controversy regarding the sento (bath), with some people thinking that there was a sento in each of the basements, and some thinking it was only in the right side basement.  To ponder this, let's look at what can be observed in the current state of the building.

The left side building, which is where the single elevator is, has a well.  This well had fresh-looking, clear water up to the top of a 1.2-meter-deep square hole (in the floor of the well room) up until a construction company working on a site immediately behind and on the left side of the Okuno Building, dug out a huge three-story deep foundation for the monstrosity being put up (still under construction as I write this in May of 2010 - [Completed as I edit this in early 2011]).  As the gigantic and very deep hole in the ground sat there in the open air, I think they pumped out ground water - so much so in fact, that the sidewalk in front of the Okuno Building and the building on the corner (with a Doutor Coffee Shop on the first floor) sank about two centimeters, many new cracks appeared within the Okuno Building, and the well water level began to drop.

There are three motors with pumps in the well room [2012 update: All three old pumps were removed and a new one installed at the end of 2011], so it appears water was pumped out of the well and then used... how?  Originally possibly for all the water use in the building, but more recently... for the toilets maybe?  Or maybe not used, but just maintained since it was functional equipment?  In any case, the construction of the monster new building behind the Okuno Building not only partially dried out the well, but damaged the foundation of the Okuno Building.  [2011/04/01 - Further investigation indicates that the water level is natural and is self-filling - to be (formerly) pumped out for whatever use.  On March 12th, 2011, the day after the 9.0 earthquake (around 5 in Tokyo apparently, which still seemed rather strong), the water level dropped way down, and a few days after that, I observed water trickling back into the well and it's now back to the level it was at before the March 11th, 2011 earthquake.]

But that irritating recent history aside - looking back at the original function of the left side basement, it's likely that the well water was used at least for the building's sento and its steam heat.  Drinking water (each room had/has its own sink with running water) I'm not so sure about.  Probably that came from the city water mains?

The rooms themselves are not very large - most have what would be maybe six tatami mats?  (I'll try to bring a tape measure and measure one of the rooms sometime for a precise figure.)  Looking at the front of the building, the original left-side building had (per floor) four rooms across (several of which have had the side walls knocked out to make double-sized rooms, or a door put in-between, with one side an art gallery, and the other an office for the art gallery), and the right-side building had two of the front rooms made the same size as the left-side building, and one double-sized room, so there were three rooms across at the front of the building.

The left-side building has a slightly longer depth than the right, and had/has three rooms along the left side (as seen after entering the building), with a restroom at the very back.  The right-side building had/has two rooms along the right side of the building (as seen from inside the building), and had (not has) a restroom at the end of the hall on the right.  They have since smashed out the walls between the right-side building restroom, removed all the plumbing, and made the room at the rear larger.

So - as far as I can tell, there were seven rooms per floor in the left-side building, and five per floor in the right-side building.  With the danwashitsu (lounge) on the sixth floor taking up the space of two rooms, I think there were 58 rooms from the 2nd to the 6th floors.  The first floor appears to have been used by businesses, and didn't have residents (although I imagine a building manager probably lived in one of the rooms at the back of the first floor, in the left-side building).  A large commercial space at the front of the 1934 building has an internal connecting door that led (since blocked off) to a room that may have been lived in - which was a popular way for many small businesses to operate - living either behind or over the work space.

The rooms on the far ends of the connected hallway have angled hinged doors, and the doors of the rooms in the middle are sliding doors.  All original doors (many have unfortunately been changed) are of solid, heavy wood, with glass panes and open-able air vents.

The last tenant to live in the building was named Yoshiko/Yoshi Suda (some of the official certificates the 306-Project have found indicate her first name as "Yoshi" and then - in later documents - as "Yoshiko"), who lived in room 306 (where I am typing this sentence) until the beginning of 2009, when she died at the age of 100.  Apparently, she was one of the original tenants when the building was new in 1932 [2011/04/01 - Actually 1934, since room 306 is in the 1934 building], and she rented three rooms - one (306) for her business (a beauty salon), one to live in, and one for guests.  When she quit working in the 1980's, she gave up the other two rooms and moved into room 306, where she lived the rest of her life.

One story I heard that I'm fairly certain is not true, was from a current gallery owner who said the man who was renting the space next to her used to live there.  Apparently he told her that the river that used to run in front of the Okuno Building was so close, that he could fish in it from his fifth story window.  Assuming that the river was right in front of the building, this would almost be possible, but from talking with another former tenant (directly) and hearing other accounts, it seems that there was a street in front of the building, with two-story wooden izakaya on the other side of the street, and with the river on the other side of the izakaya.

[2010/07/20]: I have since discovered an old postcard with an aerial view of Ginza that very clearly shows the river.  The buildings on the other side of the street from the Okuno Building were quite narrow, so it just might have been possible, although it still seems unlikely.

During WW-II, when Tokyo was fire-bombed, there was some fire damage to the rear of the building, but not the front, with internal steel fire doors apparently helping to protect the side away from the fire-damaged side.

Originally the building was an exclusive ultra-modern building, and (according to what Ms. Suda told one of the third-floor gallery owners), when she moved into the building, only about half the rooms were occupied (since they were fairly expensive to rent).

During the war, most of Tokyo was fire-bombed and burned to the ground, at which time the tenants of the Okuno Building must have felt very lucky - living in a solid concrete building.

Speaking with a tenant who moved into the building in 1952 when she married (a time when housing was still in short supply and the building was completely full), she said that there was one family of four she knew of living in one of the rooms.  In her case, she and her husband were renting three rooms for their family and business.  It's a little hard to imagine a family of four living in one of those small rooms now, but looking at pictures of Tokyo from that time frame, and reading accounts of how things were, it isn't hard to imagine even the family of four living in one room feeling fortunate to have a room at all, and in Ginza, the most fashionable area of the city (and with more concrete buildings that survived the fire-bombing of Tokyo than other areas).

I haven't found anyone who knows at exactly what point the building owners stopping allowing new residence tenants in and only allowed in commercial renters (first as office space and recently as gallery space), but in any case, that transition is complete, now that the final tenant, Ms. Suda, has died.  As I sit here writing this in the space she used for some 77 years, there is a definitely a feeling of history in the air, and - once again - I find myself wishing I could talk to Ms. Suda about the full history of this building, which she alone experienced.  (And - naturally - it would be very interesting to hear about the eras she lived in/through; WW-I, WW-II, the immediate post-war period, the booming economy years, etc. etc.)

In talking with the former residence-tenant (and current gallery-tenant, who I'll refer to as FT2 - Former-Tenant-2) who moved into the building in 1952, several interesting details surfaced [June 2011 Note: Ms. Ishii died in spring, 2011, but her son is carrying on with Ishii Gallery (Room 206), although the office (Room-208) was closed and is now a French antique shop.]

[From interview I had with Ms. Ishii.]:
There was no meter for the electricity!  Electricity was just part of the monthly rent.  Thinking of electric heaters and whatnot, this might seem strange, but remember that the building had steam heat in all the rooms when it was new, and non-heat use probably didn't burn all that much power.  By the 1950's though, when FT2 moved in, electricity use was up and the fuses often blew.

Another issue in the immediate postwar period was the plumbing.  There were some issues with water leaking from one apartment to another (every room had/has its own sink with running water), and the restroom that FT2's family used (communal per building, per floor) didn't flush on its own, so they had to take a bucket of water from their apartment to flush it each time.

As there began to be fewer resident tenants in the building, and more businesses, it was decided to remove the restroom in the right-side building, and have everyone use the communal restrooms on each floor of the the left-side building (remember that - functionally, the Okuno Building is one building, but structurally, the left side was built as an independent building first, and then the right side, and then they were internally joined).  This suddenly explained something I'd been puzzling over for about 18 months!

Every time I visited a gallery in RSB (Right Side Building) that was located at the rear of the building, I had puzzled over the ceiling, which had cut off pipes and the remains of a smashed out concrete wall.  After talking with FT2, I immediately rushed upstairs to the 5th floor gallery and took another look at the ceiling.  Suddenly I could see what those pipes were about!  Taking a new look at the removed walls, and noting that the door frame to the room was different from the other rooms (as was each rear room door frame in the building), and this evening (June 16th, 2010), I spoke with a man who has had an exhibition in the 5th floor RB and was helping out there today, and he told me that a few weeks ago, while he was there, an old man visited the gallery who used to live there.

As I had suspected, the restroom door was right on the hallway, and the door to the room next to the restroom was recessed about a meter, with a hallway that led back to the room which was behind the RB restroom.

Now that the RB restrooms are no more, their former space has been added to the room at the back to make for a larger room.

That's fine, except that, while the restrooms were co-use (for male and female) until only  few months ago, now that they've made half of them men's restrooms and half women's, if your gender is on the wrong floor, you find yourself forever having to hike up and down the stairs.  Too bad they didn't keep both the LB and RB restrooms and make one a men's room and the other a women's room....

There was a row of two-story wooden izakaya across the street from the Okuno Building, and just behind the izakaya, a river (the river has since either been put underground or rerouted).  FT2 said that it was sometimes interesting to watch the goings on across the street from her family's apartment window.

There used to be a row of nice trees on the street, giving it a nicer atmosphere than now (there are currently some small trees on the the other side of the street, but not on the side of the street the Okuno Building is on.  Apparently it was known as "Ginza no Matsushima" (a term I wasn't aware of, but have been told means "The nicest area of something" - in this case Ginza).


There was a laundry service in the building?  Or someone on the roof who was in change of... of... how clothing was hung to dry, etc.(?)

The current antique shop was a pearl shop before (as one space, not two).

The far right ground floor space was used by a lawyer.

The boiler lost parts in the war and the sento was not used post-war.  Tenants used a public bath in another part of Ginza.

FT has no recollection of steam heat or radiators.  Probably the building's radiators and boiler were requisitioned during the war for scrap metal.

FT's husband had lived in the building since it was new, and in the postwar era, referred to how the building had become as a slum.

Laundry was hung on poles from the fire escape and the up on the roof.

Ice-based refrigerator.  FT's husband liked to drink cool beer, so they had an ice box with a delivery of ice once a week, that would be left in the hallway outside their door if they weren't home when the delivery came.

Other tenants:

 - Typing service.  Taking hand-written material from offices and typing it up (English? Japanese? Both?)

 - Shamisen teacher.  Tenants enjoyed hearing the music.

 - [Boston Shoes?]

The current Doutor coffee shop was a glass shop (as in window glass).

The stairs used to have red carpeting.  Possibly also the hallways, although that's not certain.

Visual evidence and building usage contemplation would suggest that the original owner of the building lived in (as a second residence I think) the left-side building on the 7th floor, which occupied the rear half of the first building (the current configuration includes a newly added second half on the 7th floor on the front of the building).

     Due to damage to the foundation caused by construction of the new building next to the Okuno Building, there is a water leak problem with the left-side basement room at the front of the building, next to the well/pump room.
     It appears that the contractors of the new building next door are shirking their rightful responsibility to repair the damage they caused, so that room may become unusable (unless the tenant doesn't mind water leaking into the room from time to time...).
     A photo exhibit at Shashin Ginko (the current tenant [July 2010]) was ruined by a recent water leak, as you can see here:
Polaroid Exhibit in Water (水の中のポラロイド) at Shashin Ginko (写真銀行)

I started a new (Japanese language) blog devoted to the Okuno Building, entitled: 奥野ビル.  The website for it is here:

[2011/01/28] - I knew that old buildings from around the era that the Okuno Building was built had telephone switchboards, but that detail had not jumped out of my memory until I met a tenant who told me that his room in the Okuno Building used to be the telephone switchboard room for the Okuno Building.  I had a look inside and it's quite a nice room now - with no trace of its former function as a switchboard room that I could see.

Other details... I've found what appear to be original cupboards in two rooms; one of the rooms having cupboards with wooden doors that pull out (with no glass), and the other with glass paned sliding doors that look a bit nicer.

What else - the confusion continues regarding whether the seventh floor existed or not until a couple of decades ago.  Unfortunately, a large number of people I talk to don't understand that the rear part of the building had a seventh floor from the very beginning.  I'm searching for photos of the building when it was new - does anyone have some or know where I can find them?

[2012/03/03] - I walked through each of the buildings narrating a video as I walked - making a simple tour of the entire structure (if you put the two together):

Okuno Building Tour - 1932 Building - (120207)

Okuno Building Tour - 1934 Building - (120207)

I also did a walk-through in the building recording the historical and fascinating time-worn floors:

Historical Floors - Ginza Okuno Building - (120214)

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

Monday, July 19, 2010

Buildings in Ginza (Sealed Boxes vs. Fully Ventilated)

Modern buildings can look interesting from outside - slick, polished-looking boxes sitting neatly reaching skyward.  Being able to see out is definitely nice, but when you can't upon the windows, it's kind of like being in a fishbowl.

This strangely shaped (built around other buildings) structure is to be a furniture showroom I hear... which is why there seem to be few windows I guess.  Sunlight isn't good for furniture and why put in windows if you don't need them(?)...?

And here is the 1932 Okuno Building, built with every single window open-able - and it shows.  The building looks more like a living, breathing thing.
Can't we get back to building structures that are comfortable to be in, that allow for air flow and don't require people to be like goldfish in someone's fish bowl?

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

Sunday, July 18, 2010

"Takadanobaba, Yurakucho, Chuo Line, Sobu Line, Yotsuya, etc."

Scenes from on and around several trains lines - including the Seibu-Shinjuku, Tozai, Ginza, Chuo, Yamanote, and Sobu Lines.  Places visited include Takadanobaba, Ginza, Yurakucho, Shinjuku, Ebisu and Yotsuya.  A good batch for train and in-motion fans.  There are street scenes in Yurakucho and Shinjuku, and one view of an art exhibition/installation (in Ginza).

"Takadanobaba - Seibu to Tozai" (100713Tu-1442)

Riding into Takadanobaba Station on a Seibu-Shinjuku Line train, and then transferring to a Tozai (subway) line train.

高田馬場駅で、西武新宿線から地下鉄東西線までの乗り換え  東京

"Tozai Line Arriving at Takadanobaba Station" (100713Tu-1448)

Watching a Tozai Line subway train arrive at Takadanobaba Station and then climbing aboard.  (Some of these trains seamlessly connect with the Chuo Line at Nakano.)

高田馬場駅で、地下鉄東西線が遣って来る  東京

"Boarding Ginza Line at Nihonbashi" (100713Tu-1505)

Watching a Ginza Line train arrive at Nihonbashi Station, and then boarding the train.

日本橋駅で銀座線を乗ります  東京

"Under-Stairs Vibrations..." (100713Tu-1718)

Humming at vibration-producing frequencies in space under staircase.

階段下の音響く  東京

"Mogi Tatsuji (茂木達二展) Exhibit at Nabis Gallery (なびす画廊) - Video" (100713Tu-1802)

Walking around and exploring various angles at Mogi Tatsuji's exhibition in Ginza at Nabis Gallery.

なびす画廊で、茂木達二の展示会  東京

"Evening Yurakucho Plaza - July 2010" (100713Tu-1816)

Watching passing Shinkansen trains and people in the plaza in front of Yurakucho Station.

夕方有楽町広場、2010年7月  東京

"Sidewalk Stroll in Yurakucho" (100713Tu-1817)

As trains rumble into overhead Yurakucho Station, I stroll down an evening sidewalk near the Denki Building.

夕方有楽町の散歩、2010年7月  東京

"Evening Yamanote Line - Yurakucho to Tokyo" (100713Tu-1835)

Riding an evening Yamanote Line train from Yurakucho to Tokyo Station, where I get off for a transfer.

夕方山手線 - 有楽町駅から、東京駅まで  東京

"Evening Chuo Line - Tokyo to Kanda" (100713Tu-1840)

Riding an evening Chuo Line train from Tokyo Station to Kanda Station.  As this stretch is parallel to several other lines, there are views of other trains going by - including the Yamanote Line and a Shinkansen train.

夕方中央線の窓ビュー、東京駅から、神田駅まで  東京

"Evening Chuo Line - Kanda to Ochanomizu" (100713Tu-1842)

Riding an evening Chuo Line train from Kanda Station to Ochanomizu Station - while looking out a right side window at the passing scenery.

夕方中央線の窓ビュー、神田駅から、御茶ノ水駅まで  東京

"Evening Chuo Line - Partway to Yotsuya (from Ochanomizu)" (100713Tu-1844)

Riding an evening Chuo Line train most of the way towards Yotsuya from Ochanomizu.

The train stopped before arriving at Yotsuya Station.  Apparently someone pushed a platform emergency stop button in Shinjuku - which threw all the trains off schedule.  From what I've seen - 999 times out a 1000 - when someone presses one of the emergency stop buttons, it's for some frivolous reason and not for an actual emergency.  It could be said that one single instance of the button being pushed in an emergency is worth 999 frivolous pushes, but it could also be said that everyone staying home and off the trains and roads altogether would save lives....

夕方中央線の窓ビュー、御茶ノ水駅から、四谷駅の近くまで  東京

"Shinjuku Station Chuo Line Platform Walk" (100713Tu-1856)

Beginning just as the Chuo Line train I'm on pulls into Shinjuku Station, and ending after walking down the platform as it unloads, loads, and proceeds on its outbound run.

新宿駅中央線プラットフォーム散歩  東京

"Shinjuku Station Doutor Coffee Shop" (100713Tu-1859)

A brief look inside the Doutor Coffee Shop that's within Shinjuku Station on the upper lever near the South Exit.

新宿駅の中のドトールコーヒー店の中  東京

"Exiting Shinjuku Station Via South Exit" (100713Tu-1911)

Walking through Shinjuku Station, exiting via the South Exit ticket gates and then heading downhill towards Nishi-Shinjuku.

新宿駅の南口から駅を出る  東京

"Crossing Street in Shinjuku - Nishi-Shinjuku Bound" (100713Tu-1913)

As a pedestrian walk signal turns green, I walk across the crosswalk and into a group of people going the other way - likely to Shinjuku Station.

新宿駅南口の近くの横断歩道を渉る  東京

"Shinjuku - Waiting for Yamanote Line" (100713Tu-2143)

Looking around on a platform in Shinjuku Station while waiting for the next Yamanote Line train to arrive.

You get spoiled with the Yamanote Line - so even one minute feels like a long time to wait.  What seems normal is that the train is there as you arrive on the platform - seemingly waiting for you.  Having to wait for the train to arrive seems strange.

新宿駅の山手線プラットフォームで次の山手線電車を待つ  東京

"Inside Uchimawari Yamanote Line (Approaching Yoyogi)" (100713Tu-2145)

A short inside view of an "uchimawari" (inside track of the one-hour circle that the Yamanote Line consists of) Yamanote Line train - running between Shinjuku and Yoyogi Stations.

山手線の中 (内回り - 代々木駅の近く)  東京

"Ebisu Station - Ticket Gates, New Platform Doors, Etc." (100713Tu-2235)

Walking through the upper ticket gates of Ebisu Station, then going down the escalator to the Yamanote Line platform, where there is a view of the new platform wall doors opening, followed by the train doors.

恵比寿駅 - 改札口、プラットフォームの新しいドアなど  東京

"Departing Ebisu Station on Yamanote Line" (100713Tu-2236)

Night view from inside a Yamanote Line train of the Ebisu Station platform going by the window as the train heads towards Shibuya.

山手線が恵比寿駅からの出発  東京

"Departing Shibuya Station on Yamanote Line" (20100713Tu-2239)

Night view from inside Yamanote Line train of Shibuya Station platform as train heads towards Harajuku.

山手線が渋谷駅からの出発  東京

"Arriving at Harajuku - On to Yoyogi" (100713Tu-2240)

Beginning inside a sotomawari (outside track) Yamanote Line train as it approaches Harajuku.  Then watching the train (from inside) arrive at and depart from Harajuku Station, and make the run to Yoyogi Station.

外回りの山手線を乗って、原宿駅に到着、出発、代々木駅に到着  東京

"Watching Yamanote Line Depart Yoyogi Station" (20100713Tu-2244)

View from a Yoyogi Station platform of a Yamanote Line train departing Yoyogi Station for Shinjuku.

山手線が代々木駅からの出発 (プラットフォームの見方)  東京

"Yoyogi Transfer - Yamanote Line to Sobu Line" (100713Tu-2245)

Transferring from the Yamanote Line to the Sobu Line (local Chuo Line) at Yoyogi Station.

代々木駅で山手線から、総武線までの乗り換え  東京

"Yoyogi Station - Waiting for a Train" (100713Tu-2245)

Waiting at Yoyogi Station for a Sobu Line train to arrive from Shinjuku Station.

代々木駅で総武線電車が来るのを待っている  東京

"Walking Down Platform at Yoyogi Station" (100713Tu-2246)

Walking down the rather narrow platform for the inbound Sobu Line (while waiting for my train to arrive).

代々木駅細いプラットフォームの散歩  東京

"Yoyogi Platform Train Watching" (100713Tu-2248)

Watching trains running between Yoyogi and Shinjuku just before an inbound Sobu Line train arrives.  As it arrives, I step back from the end of the platform (to keep the camera dry - it was raining), watch the train come in, and then board it.

代々木駅のプラットフォームから電車ウオッチング  東京

"Sobu Line - Sendagaya to Shinanomachi (Late at Night)" (100713Tu-2251)

Rear cab view of a late night Sobu Line train as it runs from Sendagaya to Shinanomachi Stations.

夜の総武線 - 千駄ヶ谷駅から、信濃町駅まで  東京

"Sobu Line - Shinanomachi to Yotsuya (Late at Night)" (100713Tu-2253)

Rear cab view of a late night Sobu Line train as it runs from Shinanomachi to Yotsuya Stations.

夜の総武線 - 信濃町駅から、四谷駅まで  東京

"Yotsuya Station Ticket Gates (Chuo and Marunouchi Lines)" (100713Tu-2257)

After exiting the JR ticket gates, walking from there to the nearby Marunouchi Line (subway) ticket gates.  (Incidentally, the Marunouchi Line subway is above ground at Yotsuya.)

夜の四谷駅の改札口 (JR線と丸の内線)  東京

"Rain Walk in Late Night Yotsuya" (100713Tu-2258)

Walking through the rain near Yotsuya Station at around 11:00 p.m.

夜の四谷駅近くの散歩  東京

"Yotsuya Station - Outbound Chuo Line Arrival" (100713Tu-2321)

Watching an outbound Chuo Line train arrive at Yotsuya Station.  (The clip ends just before I climb aboard.)

夜の四谷駅 - 下り中央線が遣って来る  東京

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

Thursday, July 15, 2010

"Chuo Line, Yamanote Line, and Tokyo-1990 Exhibition on June 12th, 2010"

Beginning with a view of Chuo Line trains leaving and arriving at Kokubunji Station, and then showing rear-cab Yamanote Line views between Kanda and Yurakucho stations.  Finally, a couple of clips from the Saturday, June 12th day of my exhibit/installation "Tokyo 1990" (「20年前の東京」).

"Chuo Line Trains at Kokubunji Station- June 2010" (100612Sa-1142)

While watching an outbound Chuo Line train depart, an inbound train approaches and stops at Kokubunji Station (that I then board).

国分寺駅のプラットフォームで待っている時の出発や到着中央線  東京

"From Kanda Platform to Tokyo Station" (100612Sa-1217)

Watching a Yamanote Line train arrive at Kanda Station and then boarding it for the ride to Tokyo Station.  On the way, watching the scenery go by through the rear cab.

神田駅のプラットフォームから、山手線の電車が遣って来るのを見て、乗って、東京駅まで後の風景を見る  東京

"Tokyo to Yurakucho - Rear Cab View" (100612Sa-1220)

Looking out the rear cab of a Yamanote Line train as it runs from Tokyo Station to Yurakucho Station.  At Yurakucho Station, just after I get off the train, a special type inbound train (not used for regularly scheduled runs I don't think) goes by as an outbound Shinkansen is going in the other direction.

東京駅から有楽町駅まで、山手線の後向き風景  東京

"Kaisoku Keihin-Tohoku Line Train Passing Yurakucho Station" (100612Sa-1222)

Watching a kaisoku Keihin-Tohoku Line train pass by Yurakucho Station (from the Yurakucho Station platform).

快速京浜東北線電車が、有楽町駅を通過する  東京

"'Tokyo-1990 Exhibition' June 12th, 2010 (A-1/2)" (100612Sa-1850)

A late Saturday evening (June 12th, 2010) view of the June 2010 exhibition/installation "Tokyo 1990" (A-1/2).  This clip also shows the two internal staircases in the Okuno Building.

「20年前の東京」展示会/インスタレーション 2010年6月12日 (A-1/2)  東京

"'Tokyo-1990 Exhibition' June 12th, 2010 (B-2/2)" (100612Sa-1851)

A late Saturday evening (June 12th, 2010) view of the June 2010 exhibition/installation "Tokyo 1990" (B-2/2).

「20年前の東京」展示会/インスタレーション 2010年6月12日 (B-2/2)  東京

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

Monday, July 12, 2010

"The Okuno Building - Summer 2010"

The 1932 Okuno Building - or buildings really.  The left side was constructed first, and then the right.  Since they are internally connected with a hallway seamlessly running the length of both buildings, it's effectively a single building.
Some details.  The left side has a well in the basement (the pump system falling into disrepair in conjunction with the early-construction-phase digging (three-stories deep!) for the new large building to the side and behind it.  They apparently pumped so much water out of the ground that the sidewalk sank by about three centimeters in places, the well pump system was ruined, and the foundation to the left half of the Okuno Building was damaged (the two buildings are beginning to separate after over 70 years of sitting seamlessly together...).
The stairwell of the right side building.  The left side curves around in stages to accommodate the elevator shaft.
And that's the big beast (behind and to the side) that has damaged the Okuno Building.  In this picture, the new big beast looks like more than one building, but the structure on the left *and* behind the left side of the Okuno Building is one building (which is much wider on the other side of the block than this side).  Considering how they dug down three stories and then left the gaping hole open for several months, this level of excavation was too close to the Okuno Building.  Hopefully they'll be responsible and repair the damage they've done to the foundation - which won't be easy, but isn't impossible.


Friday, July 09, 2010

"Several Views of 'Tokyo-1990' Exhibition/Installation, Etc."

Opening with a view at Kokubunji Station of a tokkyu special express train passing, then showing a walk under a rail bridge in Yurakucho.  After that, several walk around views of the 'Tokyo-1990' exhibition/installation - probably more than most people have an interest in viewing, but I wanted to show the atmosphere of the room.  And the last couple of clips are of an outgoing old orange 201-type Chuo Line train.

"Tokkyu Express Train Passing Kokubunji Station" (100610Th-1224)

A Tokkyu (Special Express) train zooms through Kokubunji Station.

特急電車が国分寺駅を通過する  東京

"Yurakucho Rail Bridge Sounds" (100610Th-1317)

Listening to the sound of trains passing overhead as I walk under a train bridge in Yurakucho.

有楽町鉄道橋の音  東京

"'Tokyo-1990 Exhibition' June 10th, 2010 (A-1/2)" (100610Th-1352)

An early afternoon view from June 10th (the 2nd day) of my June 2010 exhibition/installation "Tokyo 1990".

「20年前の東京」展示会/インスタレーション 2010年6月10日 (A-1/2)  東京

"'Tokyo-1990 Exhibition' June 10th, 2010 (B-2/2)" (100610Th-1356)

Another early afternoon view from the exhibition/installation, featuring scenes from a Hibarigaoka Natsu-Matsuri (on the wall).

「20年前の東京」展示会/インスタレーション 2010年6月10日 (B-2/2)  東京

"Morning Sun on the Ginza Okuno Building" (100611Fr-1033)

The morning sun hits the Okuno Building.  Sitting among taller buildings, the sun only hits the building directly for two or three hours in the morning, and (briefly) via reflections from the windows of the building on the opposite side of the street in the afternoon.

朝日が銀座奥野ビルに当たる  東京

"'Tokyo-1990 Exhibition' June 11th, 2010 (A-1/6)" (100611Fr_1727)

An afternoon view from June 11th (the 3rd day) of my June 2010 exhibition/installation "Tokyo 1990", featuring (again) scenes from a Hibarigaoka Natsu-Matsuri.

「20年前の東京」展示会/インスタレーション 2010年6月11日 (A-1/6)  東京

Several more views of the exhibition:

"'Tokyo-1990 Exhibition' June 11th, 2010 (B-2/6)" (100611Fr-1729)

"'Tokyo-1990 Exhibition' June 11th, 2010 (C-3/6)" (100611Fr-1732)

"'Tokyo-1990 Exhibition' June 11th, 2010 (D-4/6)" (100611Fr-1830)

"'Tokyo-1990 Exhibition' June 11th, 2010 (E-5/6)" (100611Fr-1839)

"'Tokyo-1990 Exhibition' June 11th, 2010 (F-6/6)" (100611Fr-1840)

"Ginza Asahi Beer Extra Cold -2.0C Place" (100611Fr-2151)

Walking by the new Asahi Beer Extra Cold -2.0 shop in Ginza.

銀座の新しい朝日ビール-2.0店  東京

"Late Night Chuo Line Train" (100611Fr-2248)

Looking out a left-side door window of a late night Chuo Line Train.

夜遅く乗った中央線  東京

"Old Chuo Line Night Train" (100611Fr-2254)

Riding an old 201-type orange Chuo Line train into Kokubunji.  As I'm looking outside from the inside of the train, the main clues it's an old type Chuo Line train (until the end of the clip, where I get off the train) are the noises it makes - principally (in this clip anyway) the air conditioning system.  Also there is an announcement by (gasp!) a real live human being, instead of the really horrible E-recordings they use on the new Chuo Line trains.

夜遅く乗った古い201型中央線  東京

"Old Type 201 Chuo Line Train Departs Kokubunji" (100611Fr-2257)

And old type 201 orange Chuo Line outbound train leaves Kokubunji Station just before 11:00 p.m.

夜遅く乗った古い201型中央線が国分寺駅から出発  東京

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

Thursday, July 08, 2010

"Ginza, Yurakucho, Shinjuku, Ginza 'Tokyo-1990' Exhibition"

This batch gets into the beginning of the "Tokyo-1990" Exhibition, so there are a number of clips of the Yurakucho-Ginza area, as well as a couple of clips from/of the exhibition itself, in Room-306 of the Okuno Building.  And - by request - there's a quick stroll through the first floor of the Yurakucho Bic Camera and a view of a Yamanote Line train coming into Yurakucho Station - not a sight to take for granted, since they have begun walling off the Yamanote Line platforms - good for safety and cheaper labor costs (they generally ax the conductors once they get all the platforms on a line walled in, like on the Marunouchi Line), but bad for speed and photography.

"Nihonbashi Station - Waiting for the Ginza Line" (100608Tu-1436)

Looking around on the platform at Nihonbashi Station while waiting for the Ginza Line to arrive.

"Ginza Chuo-Dori - Midday Stroll" (100608Tu-1441)

Walking down Ginza's Chuo-Dori in the afternoon (on June 8th, 2010).

銀座中央通りの昼散歩  東京

"Ginza Side Street Stroll" (100608Tu-1443)

Turning right and walking away from Ginza's Chuo-Dori - heading down one of the more pleasant side streets.

銀座中央通りから離れて、横道を散歩にする  東京

"Yurakucho Plaza Political Speaker Truck" (100608Tu-1824)

Walking through the plaza in front of Yurakucho Station while a politician makes a speech from a speaker truck.

有楽町駅前広場で、政治家が、どんじゃらこんじゃら  東京

"Yamanote Line Train Arrives at Yurakucho - 6:33 p.m." (100608Tu-1833)

Watching a Yamanote Line train arrive at Yurakucho Station at 6:33 p.m., and getting ready to board it.

有楽町駅で山手線が遣って来る  東京

"Yurakucho to Tokyo - Yamanote Left-Side Evening View" (100608Tu-1834)

Riding a Yamanote Line train from Yurakucho to Tokyo - watching the evening skyline roll by from the left side of the train.

山手線を乗って、有楽町駅から、東京駅までに行く 左側の風景  東京

"Waiting for Chuo Line at Tokyo Station" (100608Tu-1838)

Waiting on the platform at Tokyo Station for the next Chuo Line train to arrive, and then waiting while they clear everyone off the train (to discourage people from Kanda and Ochanomizu from backtracking for a seat).

東京駅で次の中央線電車を乗る前に待つ時間  東京

"Disembarking from Chuo Line at Shinjuku" (100608Tu-1853)

Getting off of a Chuo Line train at Shinjuku Station and then looking around a little at the scene on the platform.

中央線から新宿駅で降りて、プラットフォームの様子を見る  東京

"Evening Shinjuku Station South Exit" (100608Tu-1856)

Exiting Shinjuku Station via the south exit, and looking around at the evening scene there.

夕方新宿駅の南口風景  東京

"Shinjuku Omoide-Yokocho (and Entrance Street)" (100608Tu-2158)

Walking along a main street in Shinjuku; turning down a side street, and then walking into the izakaya alley, Omoide-Yokocho.

新宿思い出横丁居酒屋の夜風景  東京

"Green Area Near Ochanomizu Station (Chuo Line View)" (100609We-1242)

Looking out a left-side window of an inbound Chuo Line train at the green next to the water of Kanda River as the train approaches and pulls into Ochanomizu Station.

中央線からの御茶ノ水駅あたりの神田川隣緑風景  東京

"Yamanote Line Arriving at Noontime Kanda Station" (100609We-1248)

While waiting for a Yamanote Line train to stop, a Shinkansen train passes by to the side and above.  As the doors-about-to-close melody plays, I head for the Yamanote Line.

お昼の神田駅プラットフォームから見て、山手線が遣って来る  東京

"Kanda to Tokyo (Yamanote Left-Rear View)" (100609We-1249)

Looking towards the rear from the left side of a Yamanote Line train as it runs from Kanda Station to Tokyo Station.

山手線で、神田駅から、東京駅まで (左後見方)  東京

"Under the Tracks in Yurakucho" (100609We-1255)

Walking under the railway in Yurakucho as trains pass overhead.  This sort of thing is what gives Yurakucho its atmosphere.

有楽町のガード下で歩く  東京

"Stroll Through Yurakucho Bic Camera (1st Floor)" (100609We-1301)

A quick stroll through the first floor of Yurakucho Bic Camera (formerly a Sogo Department Store building).

有楽町ビックカメラ内の散歩  東京

"'Tokyo-1990 Exhibition' June 9th, 2010 (A-1/2)" (100609We-1416)

A view of the first day of my June 2010 exhibition/installation "Tokyo 1990".  (A-1/2)

「20年前の東京」展示会/インスタレーション 2010年6月9日 (A-1/2)  東京

"'Tokyo-1990 Exhibition' June 9th, 2010 (B-2/2)" (100609We-1741)

Another view of the first day of my June 2010 exhibition/installation "Tokyo 1990".  (B-2/2)

「20年前の東京」展示会/インスタレーション 2010年6月9日 (B-2/2)  東京

"Watching Yamanote Line Train Arrive at Yurakucho" (100609We-2159)

Standing on the elevated platform at Yurakucho Station - watching a Yamanote Line train come in.

The sounds of the train are not interfered with by announcements, loud talking, or other noises, so this is a good clip for listening to the sounds a Yamanote Line train makes as it pulls into a station.

有楽町駅で山手線が遣って来る (この動画の音が良く電車の音が記録しました)  東京

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

Monday, July 05, 2010

"Akihabara, Keihin-Tohoku Line, Yurakucho, Etc."

Beginning with a look down the inside of an inbound Chuo Line train late in the morning, when it wasn't very crowded.  Then a trackside walk in Ochanomizu towards Akihabara, and a few Akihabara (aka Akiba) scenes, including a couple of "maid" women handing out flyers. And then wrapping up this bunch with some train views from the Keihin-Tohoku Line and a couple of walking views in Yurakucho.

"Inside Late Morning Chuo Line Train" (100602We-1045)

A brief look inside an inbound Chuo Line train during a weekday late morning ride.

朝と昼の間の上り中央線内  東京

"Ochanomizu Trackside Walk by Former Hitachi Building Site" (100602We-1115)

Walking above (drifting downward to below) and to the side of the railway near Ochanomizu Station, with the tracks on my left and the site of a former Hitachi building on my right.

線路隣と元日立建物の間の散歩  東京

"Electronic Component-Stalls Cruise" (100602We-1121)

Walking past a collection of electrical-component stalls near Akihabara Station.

秋葉原電気部品の小店の散歩  東京

"Tokyo to Kanda - Keihin-Tohoku Line, Right Side" (100602We-1748)

View out right side of Keihin-Tohoku Line train as it runs from Tokyo Station to Kanda Station.

(Good view of new construction over Shinkansen tracks.)

京浜東北線の右側風景 - 東京駅から、神田駅まで  東京

"Kanda to Akihabara - Keihin-Tohoku Line, Right Side" (100602We-1750)

View out right side of Keihin-Tohoku Line train as it runs from Kanda Station to Akihabara Station.

京浜東北線の右側風景 - 神田駅から秋葉原駅まで  東京

"Akihabara Used Computer Street (360)" (100602We-1812)

This street has a number of shops that sell used computers and used computer parts.  It used to have a lot more such shops, but they've been disappearing one by one.  One reason may be that leasing companies are working with corporations to sell former lease machines (which used to land on the street via used shops) within the companies, so they don't make it to the street any more.  There are many possible reasons for this type of change - but this is not the place to discuss them.  (Over a beer in Yurakucho perhaps?)

秋葉原中古コンピューター通り  東京

"Akihabara Evening Stroll (Maid Women)-A" (100602We-1816)

(1/2) An evening stroll through Akihabara - including a view of some "maid" women handing out flyers.

秋葉原夕方散歩 (メード女たち)  東京

"Akihabara Evening Stroll (Maid Women)-B" (100602We-1820)

(2/2) An evening stroll through Akihabara - including a view of some "maid" women handing out flyers.

秋葉原夕方散歩 (メード女たち)  東京

"Akihabara to Kanda (Keihin-Tohoku Line Cab-View)" (100602We-1828)

Climbing aboard the first car of a Keihin-Tohoku Line train at Akihabara Station, and looking through the cab window during the ride to Kanda (the next station).

秋葉原駅から、神田駅まで、京浜東北線の前風景  東京

"Kanda to Tokyo (Keihin-Tohoku Line Cab-View)" (100602We-1831)

Looking through the front cab of a Keihin-Tohoku Line train while riding from Kanda to Tokyo.

神田駅から、東京駅まで、京浜東北線の前風景  東京

"Tokyo to Yurakucho (Keihin-Tohoku Line Cab-View)" (100602We-1833)

Looking through the front cab of a Keihin-Tohoku Line train while riding from Tokyo to Yurakucho.

東京駅から、有楽町駅まで、京浜東北線の前風景  東京

"Yurakucho Evening Stroll (Near Bic Camera)" (100602We-1845)

Walking away from the Bic Camera in front of Yurakucho Station in the evening.

有楽町駅近くの夕方散歩  東京

"Petal Cab in Yurakucho" (100602We-1850)

A petal cab rolls by in Yurakucho....

有楽町自転車タクシー  東京

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

"Tokyo Station Construction, Chuo Line, Old Seibu Train Motor Noise, Etc."

Beginning with views out the window of an inbound Chuo Line train running in central Tokyo.  The Chuo Line is unique in that it's the only surface line (along with its local version running in parallel) that runs within the Yamanote Line.  Other lines stop when they reach the Yamanote Line or go underground there.  The subway system is extensive enough that a visiting friend joked the ground might collapse - since there are so many tunnels running underground.

After that there are some views in and around Tokyo Station (including construction in Kyobashi), then more central-area Chuo Line window views - this time through an open window, followed by watching one of the old type Chuo Line trains arriving and departing Shinjuku Station, and then a Shinjuku street view, and - finally - a night window view (and listen) on one of the old three-door Seibu Line trains, which produces rather prominent engine noises, making for a more interesting ride (I almost said "exciting", but that's probably overstating it a little).

"Chuo Line Window View Between Yotsuya and Ochanomizu" (100601Tu-1439)

Watching central Tokyo flow by from a left side window of an early afternoon Chuo Line train.

中央線左側窓の風景 - 四谷駅と御茶ノ水駅の間  東京

"Chuo Line Window View Between Ochanomizu and Tokyo" (100601Tu-1443)

Looking out a left-side window of a Chuo Line train as it goes from Ochanomizu to Kanda, and then from Kanda to Tokyo.  As the tracks curve to the right, the line pulls alongside and runs in parallel with Yamanote, Keihin-Tohoku and Shinkansen Line tracks - above which there is construction for... more Shinkansen Line tracks?

中央線左側窓の風景 - 御茶ノ水駅と神田駅と東京駅の間  東京

"Tokyo Station - Chuo Line Platform to Lower Transit Area" (100601Tu-1447)

Riding one of the long escalators at Tokyo Station from the Chuo Line platform, down to the transit area beneath the tracks, and then walking over towards the Yaesu Exit.

東京駅中央線から、長いエスカレーターを下りて、線路下の乗り換え所を通って、八重洲口の近くまで歩く  東京

"Tokyo Station Yaesu Exit - June 1st, 2010" (100601Tu-1449)

Exiting Tokyo Station via the Yaesu Exit, turning right, and walking (towards Ginza) in front of the ongoing construction on the Yaesu side.

東京駅八重洲口から駅を出て、工事の前を歩く  東京

"Crossing Street to Yaesu 2-Chome" (100601Tu-1451)

Crossing the main street (405) that runs in front of Tokyo Station, and then turning right and walking along the edge of Yaesu 2-Chome.

東京駅から道を渉って、八重洲二丁目まで  東京

"Yaesu 2-Chome Edge Walk" (100601Tu-1453)

Continuing walking along the edge of Yaesu 2-Chome (on the way to Ginza).

銀座に向かって、八重洲二丁目散歩  東京

"Walking Into Yaesu 2-Chome" (100601Tu-1454)

Turning away from the main street and walking into Yaesu 2-Chome.

八重洲二丁目に入る  東京

"Construction in Kyobashi" (100601Tu-1456)

Walking between Yaesu 2-Chome and Kyobashi 3-Chome, with construction on the Kyobashi side.  The construction industry never sleeps in Tokyo - always tearing things down on the one hand, and building something new on the other.  There are far too many hideous parking lots in Kyobashi and Ginza now - temporarily vacant land that the owners are waiting to augment by tearing down nearby buildings so they can build large, sealed air, hideous boxes....  Someone should explain to the Godzilla construction industry that bigger and newer are not always better.  Very often, they are worse - much worse.

八重洲二丁目と京橋三丁目の間の散歩 (京橋側に工事がある)  東京

"Tokyo Station - Bus and Construction Area" (100601Tu-1831)

Walking by the highway-bus area in front of the construction zone at the Yaesu Entrance to Tokyo Station, and then entering the station and heading towards the ticket gates.

夕方東京駅の八重洲口と工事  東京

"Tokyo Station Evening Transit Area" (100601Tu-1833)

Walking through the below-tracks transit area at Tokyo Station in the evening (in the early part of the evening rush).

夕方東京駅の乗り換え所  東京

"Ochanomizu to Yotsuya (Open Window)" (100601Tu-1839)

Looking out through an open right-side window of a Chuo Line train as it runs from Ochanomizu Station to Yotsuya Station.

中央線の右側開いている窓からの風景 - 御茶ノ水駅から四谷駅まで  東京

"Yotsuya to Shinjuku (Open Window)" (100601Tu-1844)

Looking out through an open right-side window of a Chuo Line train as it runs from Yotsuya Station to Shinjuku Station.

中央線の右側開いている窓からの風景 - 四谷駅から新宿駅まで  東京

"Shinjuku Station Chuo Line Platform Walk" (100601Tu-1851)

Walking down the Chuo Line platform at Shinjuku Station.  I knew one of the old type orange Chuo Line trains was behind the train I got on, so I walked down to the end of the platform to watch it come in.

新宿駅の中央線プラットフォーム散歩  東京

"Old 201 Chuo Line Train at Shinjuku Station" (100601Tu-1852)

As photographers get busy with their cameras, an (outbound) old type orange Chuo Line train (201-Series) arrives at Shinjuku Station, unloads, loads, and departs.

Quick note: Some (apparently) color-blind people seem to think the train is red, but it's not - it's a dark orange.  Not that it matters so much, but I used to drive a similarly colored car, and it always irritated me when people called it "red".  It wasn't - and neither are the old Chuo Line trains!

新宿駅の中央線プラットフォームで古いタイプの電車が到着  東京

"West Side of Shinjuku Station - Short Stroll" (100601Tu-1901)

A short evening stroll down the sidewalk on the west side of Shinjuku Station.

新宿駅の西側短い散歩  東京

"Seibu-Shinjuku Line Night Express - Motor Tunes-A" (100601Tu-2205)

(1/3) Looking out the window of an old type 3-door Seibu-Shinjuku Line express as it heads out into suburbia.  The sound of the motors is quite prominent in this type of train, and so you get a heightened sense of speed with the howling of the motors at speed.

夜西武新宿線3ドア急行のモーターシンフォニー  東京

"Seibu-Shinjuku Line Night Express - Motor Tunes-B" (100601Tu-2209)

(2/3) Looking out the window of an old type 3-door Seibu-Shinjuku Line express as it heads out into suburbia.  The sound of the motors is quite prominent in this type of train, and so you get a heightened sense of speed with the howling of the motors at speed.

The human announcements are also greatly appreciated!  Much better than the typically horrible recordings used for announcements recently.

Right at the end of the clip are also some typical air conditioning noises (distinct, but very short).

夜西武新宿線3ドア急行のモーターシンフォニー  東京

"Seibu-Shinjuku Line Night Express - Motor Tunes-C" (100601Tu-2215)

(3/3) Looking out the window of an old type 3-door Seibu-Shinjuku Line express as it heads out into suburbia.  The sound of the motors is quite prominent in this type of train, and so you get a heightened sense of speed with the howling of the motors at speed.  (You can hear the air compressor in the first part of this clip as well.)

夜西武新宿線3ドア急行のモーターシンフォニー  東京

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon