Sunday, December 30, 2012

"Tokyo Station Dome (2012/10)"

"Tokyo Station Dome (2012/10)"
Copyright 2012 by Lyle H Saxon

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

"December Illumination: Marunouchi, Ebisu, Shinjuku, Etc.; Ikebukuro, Harajuku, Shibuya, Etc."

The main theme of this batch of clips is "end-of-the-year" and "colorfully-illuminated-areas".  Through promotion, the Marunouchi area gets a lot of attention, but (this year included) it's never been my favorite.  Also well-known is Ebisu Garden Place, and I enjoyed it a lot this year, although I don't personally think the central illuminated chandelier is very interesting, but it provides a kind of focal point and reason to walk by the more interesting areas.  A surprise for me this year was just accidentally stumbling upon a rather nice display in the alley-like path that leads by shops and restaurants between the south and west exits of Shinjuku Station.  Mid-way through the complex was a sign that said "Shinjuku Terrace City - Illumination '12 - '13", so I guess that walkway is called "Shinjuku Terrace City".  I've been walking on it from time-to-time for 28 years now, but I never knew the name!  Let me verify the name... [Google...] According to Wikipedia: "Shinjuku Southern Terrace is the southern portion of Shinjuku Terrace City, a continuous piece of real estate property owned by Odakyu Group in and around Shinjuku Station."  Continuous?  I guess... except there's a four lane main road that runs between one part and the other!  That doesn't seem very "continuous" to me....

Another pleasant discovery this month was Tokyu Plaza Omotesando-Harajuku, which has a very nice roof that is kind of a park in the sky, with trees and a nice atmosphere.

And of course there are various views of trains, and views of the station areas near Otsuka, Ikebukuro, Harajuku, Shibuya, Ebisu, Tokyo, and Yurakucho.  With that initial introduction out of the way, here are the videos (with additional comments for some of them).

Shinjuku - South Exit to Odakyu Illumination Area 新宿光 (121227g)

I had a meeting on the west side of Shinjuku Station, so since I exited the station via the south exit, I walked through this passageway simply to get to the west side, and was very pleasantly surprised to come upon one of the best illuminations I've seen this year.  This is the type of thing that keeps Tokyo interesting.  You can never quite learn the whole city.  You get used to an area, and know it pretty well, and then you don't go there for a few months or a few years, and when you return - generally things have changed.  Of course, in this case, it's not exactly a change really, just a seasonal thing, but I had no idea they would use the area for that kind of illumination.

This video begins near the south exit of Shinjuku Station and then I walk through the narrow passage that has various small shops and whatnot towards the other end of the passage (which opens onto the west side station-front plaza).  (I think the first part is basically a kind of tunnel through a building and then the rest is a narrow passageway between buildings, with shops along one side.)  I had never noticed the name of this area before, but apparently it's Shinjuku Terrace City, and the "Shinjuku Southern Terrace" (which is located in Shibuya-ku actually!) is considered an extension of it - although the two parts are separated by a main road.  (The passageway part is along buildings owned by Odakyu and the Southern Terrace part is a large platform built over Odakyu Railway tracks.)

Shinjuku Twilight - Raining LED Illumination 新宿LEDライトアップ (121227)

Illuminated 1914 Tokyo Station Building and 360 View 東京駅冬光 (121227g)

The "illuminated" part of the title above refers to standard illumination of the building, by the way, not the recent light show that was canceled after only a few performances due to its being overly popular!  For that, you might want to check out this video (from another YouTube poster, not from me BTW), which was recorded before things got crazy and the event was canceled:

Tokyo Michiterasu (東京 ミチテラス) 2012 HIKARI VISION (high contrast version)

After looking at the standard illumination of the 1914 Tokyo Station building, I went over to the Shin-Marunouchi Building and the Marunouchi Building to sample the bonenkai atmosphere and then had a look at the Marunouchi illumination exhibition.

Marunouchi - Tokyo Station at Night, Etc 丸の内夜の東京駅など (121227g)

Marunouchi Night View (Tokyo) 丸の内夜風景 (Marunouchi Terrace) 121227g

Bonenkai can be translated in different ways - a fairly direct translation is "forget-the-year party", but I think I prefer "end-of-year party", although it's not exactly a party, but more "going out for drinks at an izakaya", so... why not just use "bonen-kai" (party)!  Anyway...

Bonenkai Mode - Marunouchi 忘年会モード丸の内 (121227g)

I was initially unhappy to hear that the original Marunouchi Building had been torn down, but I've since (some ten years after the new one opened!) warmed up to the replacement with the same name.  In the case of the Shin-Marunouchi Building (where the video above was taken), I rather liked the new building from the first time I went inside, and I (unfortunately) never had an opportunity to go inside the original Shin-Marunouchi Building, so - not knowing what disappeared - there's nothing in my memory about it other than the outside shape.  With the original Marunouchi Building though, I went inside and thought the building had a lot of character.

Anyway - the Shin-Marunouchi Building - with its collection of restaurants and izakaya places (in the lower retail section of the building) is a very nice modern version of the old small izakaya places that Japan does so well.  The Marunouchi Building has a more settled, majestic atmosphere, and I've finally accepted it as an inevitable part of what Tokyo is - a constantly evolving city.

That said, I think (and I hear the same opinion from many of my Tokyo friends) that a little more effort should go into preserving what remains of historical Tokyo.  To highlight this concept, I think just about everyone would agree that if the 1914 Tokyo Station building had been demolished, and if the old Central Post Office building had been completely demolished (the rear part of the building was demolished, but the front part of it was preserved and incorporated into a new office tower), and... (there's one more building that they preserved the facade of that I don't know the name of), then the area would be much less attractive.  The combination of old and new is important - giving a sense of time and history.  When *everything* is new, it's mundane due to lack of contrast.

Marunouchi Building Night Walkabout 丸の内ビル散歩 (121227g)

Marunouchi Building Night Stroll 丸の内ビル夜散歩 (121227)

Marunouchi Mode-2012 丸の内モード2012年 (121227)

Exiting Marunouchi Building-2012 丸の内ビルを出る2012年 (121227)

I've mentioned this before, but here's the link again for my 1991 visit to the old Marunouchi Building.  At the end of this 1991 video, I walk out of the original Marunouchi Building in the same place that I come out of the new version of the building in 2012, so it's a way of seeing how radically the area has changed.

Marunouchi Building - March 1991

Marunouchi Starlight Walk-2012 丸の内スターライトウォーク (121227)

After taking in the visually beautiful Marunouchi area, this was interesting, but seemed like... desert after the main course?  The main course being the 1914 Tokyo Station building, the facade of the Central Post Office, and the various new buildings in the area.

Kanda Lights and Reflections 内神田光と反射 (121227g)

I was sitting on a Chuo Line train, and when I turned and looked out the window, I saw this view.  I'm not sure how this looks to other people, but it seemed quite beautiful to me at the time.  The clear winter air makes the lights look so clear and... sparkling maybe (for want of a better term)?  I don't know what term to use to describe it, but you can have a look at the video and see what it looked like for yourself.

Shinjuku Station - Chuo Platform to South Exit 新宿駅南口 (121225)

Under-Construction Shinjuku Bus Terminal (South Exit) 新宿駅 121225

It depresses me that so much effort is going into promoting travel by internal combustion engine machinery.  I really wish the same effort were going into promoting rail travel!  It's gotten to the point where the first method people think of when wanting to travel to another city in Japan is by an all-night bus, which is currently the cheapest way to get to other cities.  I used one myself (to get to Nagoya to take pictures of the 2005 Aichi World Expo) for the same reason everyone does - it was cheaper than rail - but I really hated it.  You're stuck in a narrow seat (some more expensive buses have individual seats, but not the cheapest ones) and they curtain off the entire seating area, even the front, so you can't see forward!  It gives me a feeling of claustrophobia and after that one trip to Nagoya, I will try my hardest to never ride on one of those things again!  "Never say never" they say, and if you *have* to be somewhere and the *only* thing you can afford is a horrible curtained-off narrow seat on a bloody bus, then you do what you have to do, but I think it's a horrible mistake to promote fossil-fuel-burning internal combustion engined buses over trains.

Shinjuku Shin-Minamiguchi (Under Construction) 新宿新南口 (121225)

Exiting Shinjuku Station via Shin-Minamiguchi 新宿新南口 (121225na)

Bridge to Southern Terrace 新宿サザンテラス橋 (121225)

Shin-Minamiguchi to Narita Express Platform (Shinjuku) 新宿新南口 (121225)

Narita Express (NEX) to Shin-Minamiguchi and Southern Terrace 121225

This is basically an update to a video I posted in November 2009 showing the route to Hotel Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku (ホテルサンルートプラザ新宿) from Shinjuku Station (assuming that you go to Shinjuku via the Narita Express train and exit via the Southern Terrace Exit).  The basic route hasn't changed, but there is now a new exit called Shin-Minamiguchi Exit (新南口) [New-South Exit].  Even if you take it though, it still leads you (after turning to the right after going through the ticket gates) to the Southern Terrace Entrance/Exit (サザンテラス口) which is shown in this video.  So either way, you come out in the same place.  (For reference, I'm also including the 2009 video below):

Shinjuku Station to Hotel Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku (ホテルサンルートプラザ新宿) - (2009)

Also for reference, here's the hotel's address and website (click on "English" at the site for English):

Hotel Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku
2-3-1 Yoyogi, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 151-0053

Ikebukuro - From Central Exit (JR) to Seibu-Ikebukuro Line JR池袋駅中央改札から西武池袋線まで (121225)

Evening Stroll by Ikebukuro Station 池袋駅前夕方散歩 (121225)

Ikebukuro Station Walk-through 池袋駅12月内部 (121225)

Ikebukuro Station Connection Tunnel 池袋駅 (121225)

Ikebukuro is a large station, and has a couple of large east-west concourses - with north-south passages that connect the large concourses - this video shows one of the connecting passageways that I called "tunnel" for some reason....

Ikebukuro Station on Christmas Day (121225)

Shinjuku - Yamanote Platform to South Exit Concourse Area 新宿駅 (121225)

Shinjuku Yamanote Line Daytime Platform Walk 新宿山手線ホーム散歩 (121225)

Shinjuku Station - Borderline With Shibuya-ku 新宿駅 (121225)

Areas in central Tokyo generally go by the name of the nearest train station and so the area around Shinjuku Station is referred to as "Shinjuku", but once you cross over the main road by the South Exit, you're in Shibuya!  In fact, the new Shinjuku Station exits that connect to the Southern Terrace are in Shibuya.  In this view, I start off standing in Shibuya (with the Southern Terrace behind me), looking across the street towards the South Entrance to Shinjuku Station, which is just inside Shinjuku-ku.  When the light finally changes, I walk over into Shinjuku.

Harajuku Station - Inside View (Main Exit) 原宿駅内部表参道口 (121225)

Walking to Entrance of Takeshita-Dori 原宿の竹下通り入り口 (121225)

I had originally planned to walk down the full length of Takeshita-Dori, but after seeing how densely packed the street was (see below), I changed my mind and headed off in another direction.  Narrow shopping streets are more interesting with more people... up to a point, and beyond that, you can't do anything but shuffle along in the crowd.  You can't see what's in the stores, you can't see anything well enough to take pictures (other than pictures of the mass of people by holding a camera up high over your head), and you can't stop.  In the old days, when people did all their shopping from physical stores (as opposed to ordering things on-line), then the shops did good business when it was crowded, but these days, it seems to me (after a few experiences of crowd-diving into dense conditions like this) that most of the people are there to experience the *event* of the street being crowded and could care less about shopping.  The result is the shop owners are stuck in their shops looking at a dense river of people flowing by, but not doing much in the way of business....

Harajuku Takeshita-Dori Crowds (Long View) 原宿竹下通り望遠ビュー (121225na)

Harajuku Jingumae Main Street Winter Stroll 原宿神宮前散歩 (121225)

Approaching Jingumae Intersection 神宮前交差点に近づく (121225)

What was otherwise a nice day was marred somewhat by a religious group advertising their particular religion from very loud and very obnoxious speaker trucks.  This sort of public harassment via speaker trucks ought to be illegal.

Entrance to Tokyu Plaza (Omotesando Harajuku) Mirror City (121225na)

I'm not sure how to write the name of this place.  I've seen it as "Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku" and "Tokyu Plaza Omotesando / Harajuku"... but it could also be "Tokyu Plaza Omotesando-Harajuku" or "Tokyu Plaza (Omotesando Harajuku)" etc.  In any event, it's a Tokyu Plaza that is located near to both Omotesando Station (subway) and Harajuku (JR).  People tend to refer to much of the area as "Omotesando", but - looking at a map - the address appears to be "Jingumae".

Jingumae Intersection (River of People) 神宮前交差点人間川 (121225)

Inside of Harajuku Retail Store - December 2012 (121225)

People Waiting for Light Show in Rooftop Park in Harajuku (121225)

Sidewalk in Front of Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku (121225)

Shibuya Station and Hachiko Plaza 渋谷駅と駅前ハチ子広場 (121225)

Shibuya Evening Stroll 渋谷夕方散歩 (121225)

Shibuya - Crossing Over to Hachiko Plaza 渋谷ハチ子広場へ向かう (121225)

Ebisu Christmas Cake, Etc (Near Ebisu Station) 恵比寿駅クリスマスケーキ (121225)

Ebisu Garden Place - People Photographing Chandelier Display (121225)

Ebisu Station - Upper Level Ticket Gates to Yamanote Line Platform 恵比寿駅 (121225)

Bipedal Shadows in Jingumae 神宮前の影 (121225)

Shibuya Station Walk-through (West to East) 渋谷駅 (西側から東側へ) 121225g

Shibuya Station and the area around Shibuya Station is always interesting to walk around in.

Entering Shinjuku Station via South Entrance 新宿駅を入る南口 (121225g)

Crisscross Shadows in Shinjuku 新宿のマルチ影 (121225g)

Shinjuku Illuminated Walkway - Winter Lights (121225)

Entering Shinjuku Station via Temporary New South Entrance (121225)

Shinjuku to Yoyogi (Yamanote Line) 新宿から代々木まで (山手線) 121225

Yoyogi to Harajuku (Yamanote Line) 代々木から原宿まで (山手線) 121225

Rooftop Winter Shadows (Harajuku Omotesando) 原宿 (121225)

Looking Into the Distance from Rooftop (Harajuku Omotesando) 原宿 (121225)

Harajuku Jingumae - Walking to Station 原宿神宮前 - 原宿駅へ向かう (121225)

Harajuku to Shibuya (Yamanote Line) 原宿から渋谷まで (山手線) 121225

Shibuya Scramble Crosswalk and Hachiko Plaza 夕方渋谷ハチ子など (121225)

British Pub in Ebisu (121225)

This British style pub in Ebisu is a good place to experience a completely different atmosphere than most pubs and izakaya places in Tokyo.  If I worked in the area, I'd probably come here more often.  They also often have live music.  Here's a view of the place in 2007:

Dancing Tokyo Man in Ebisu - (2007/04)

Back Onto the Streets of Ebisu (121225)

Walking Towards Ebisu Station 恵比寿駅へ向かう (121225)

Ebisu Garden Place (Lights at the Back) Christmas Day 2012 (121225)

Moving Walkway Ride/Walk Back to Ebisu Station 恵比寿 (121225)

Evening Yamanote Line Side Window Night View (Shibuya) 渋谷山手線 (121225)

Otsuka Station - One Cold Evening 大塚駅 - ある寒い夜 (121225)

Zebra Streetcar Passing in Otsuka 大塚市電 (121225)

New Building Construction in Otsuka 大塚駅あたりの工事 (121225)

Blue Light Tree in Otsuka 大塚青い光の木 (121225)

Entering Otsuka Station to Board Yamanote Line 大塚駅改札 (121225)

Exiting Yamanote Line at Shinjuku 新宿駅で山手線を降りる (121225)

Boarding Yamanote Line at Ikebukuro 池袋駅で山手線を乗る (121225)

Shinjuku Out-of-Tune Singer - Southern Terrace Etc 新宿駅南口の音痴など (121225)

Shibuya-Shinjuku Border Walk 渋谷から新宿へと西新宿 (121225)

Walking down the border street between Shibuya and Shinjuku - on the Shibuya side, and then crossing over to Shinjuku, and then to Nishi-Shinjuku (formerly Yodobashi - 淀橋).

Shinjuku Southern Terrace End-of-Year Light-up (新宿) 121225

I rather liked the light-up on the Southern Terrace this year.  I guess it pays to not have high expectations, since then you're easier to please!  I just had a vague picture in mind of lights on trees and wasn't initially very enthusiastic about going to see the illuminated areas, but when I did, I really enjoyed the experience and found the various types of illumination to be quite nice.

Illuminated Walkway - Shinjuku Southern Terrace 新宿の冬光 (121225)

Lucky Pyramid - Winter Shinjuku Southern Terrace (新宿) 121225

They gear many of these type of things towards young couples and this pyramid was set up so couples could go through, one couple at a time, holding hands.  In the middle, each person put one hand onto a plaque and made a wish as a "wish-being-granted" type of sound came from speakers somewhere and an electric light masqueraded as a shooting star....

Harajuku Station and Platform Walk 原宿駅とホーム散歩 (121225g)

Shibuya Center Street (Evening) 渋谷センター街 (夕方) 121225g

This street kind of draws you in when you cross the big scramble intersection in Shibuya - and since the side streets lead off to wherever, it's as good a place to start as any if you want to explore Shibuya by walking around.

Shibuya to Ebisu (Yamanote Line) 渋谷から恵比寿まで_夕方山手線 (121225g)

Ebisu Shopping Mall - Dash to Ebisu Garden Place 恵比寿散歩 (121225g)

I began recording this one in the shopping mall that is level with the upper exit of Ebisu Station, and then hurried along the Yebisu Skywalk (恵比寿スカイウォーク) that leads to Ebisu Garden Place (恵比寿ガーデンプレイス).  (The video ends once I get over by the Christmas tree and the illuminated area.)

Ebisu Garden Place Christmas Tree and Lights 恵比寿ガーデンプレース (121225g)

Ebisu Garden Place - Night Lights Walkabout on Christmas Day (121225g)

Cameras-Cameras at Ebisu Garden Place (Walking Up Hill on Christmas Day) 121225g

Just about everyone seemed to want to take pictures of the big chandelier - I'm not sure sure why really, but it did provide a focal point for the event as a whole.  "I have reached the chandelier!  Goal accomplished!" - or something!

Christmas Tree Lookaround - Ebisu Garden Place on Christmas Day (121225g)

Ikebukuro Station Area (East Side Sidewalk) 池袋駅東口の道 (121225g)

Shinjuku Station Quick Views (South Exit) 新宿駅南口急見回り (121225g)

My familiarity with Shinjuku lead me to try something a little different with the camera than my usual style.  Basically it's [scene]->whoosh!->[scene]->whoosh!->[scene], etc.  I like the way the first 25 seconds turned out.

Pedestrian Shadows in Shinjuku (121225g)

Omotesando Multi-Mirror View 鏡鏡鏡 (121225g)

Mirrors are always fun!  And the arrangement of so many of them at this store is quite visually entertaining/interesting.

Rooftop Park (Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku) 121225g-hd

Checking out a very nice rooftop of a new building in Harajuku - the Tokyu Plaza Omotesando-Harajuku building.  (4-30-3 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0001

Chuo Line Arriving and Departing from Shinjuku Station 新宿駅中央線 (121227)

Southern Terrace Illuminated Tree Path in December 2012 新宿サザンテラス (121227)

Closeup Look at Illuminated Trees - Shinjuku Southern Terrace 新宿サザンテラス (121227)

Entering Shinjuku Station (South Side) 南口から新宿駅を入る (121227)

Shinjuku South Entrance to Inbound Chuo Line Platform 新宿駅南口から中央線まで (121227)

Tokyo Station Evening Walkabout 東京駅夕方散歩 (121227)

Tokyo Station - Right-Side Dome Space Lookaround 東京駅ドーム内部 (121227)

Tokyo Station - 360 in Front of Station (Brief Look) 121227

Entering Tokyo Station from Dome Area 東京駅ドーム改札口 (121227)

Outbound and Inbound Chuo Line Trains Arriving at Kokubunji (121227)

Nishi-Ogikubo to Shinjuku (Chuo Line) 西荻窪から新宿まで (中央線) 121227

Seibu-Tamako Line (Late at Night) 西武多摩湖線 (夜遅く) 121227

December 27th 2012 Hallways (121227)

December Illumination - Yurakucho Plaza 12月の有楽町駅前イルミネーション (121227)

Copyright 2012 by Lyle H Saxon

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

Monday, December 24, 2012

"Reconstructed Tokyo Station - 2012/10)"

"Reconstructed Tokyo Station - 2012/10)"
Copyright 2012 by Lyle H Saxon

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

"Tokyo Station (HD), Uenohara Station, and Old-Type JR Train"

The first few videos are of Tokyo Station (in HD), basically covering the inside from the Chuo Line platform to the Yaesu Exit area, with a quick look at the front of the Yaesu side from the street, showing the construction cranes, etc.  (That particular construction project has been going on for a loooong time!)  There are early morning views of Uenohara Station, and views from one of the old-type JR trains that runs between Otsuki and Takao.

Chuo Line Train Departing Tokyo Station 中央線東京駅から出発 (121222hd)

Tokyo Station - Chuo Line to Yaesu Exit 東京駅中央線から八重洲出口まで (121222hd)

Tokyo Station as shopping mall.  I'm still not quite used to the combination of station and sparkling department store food section, but it does give the station a more interesting atmosphere.

Temporary Pedestrian Tunnel (Tokyo Station Yaesu-Guchi) 東京駅八重洲口 (121222hd)

The white tunnel goes through the construction zone.  Periodically, the location of these temporary tunnels changes as they proceed with the large construction project on that side of the station.

Waiting for Chuo Line Train to Depart Tokyo Station (121222hd)

Glimpse of Ginza-One Exhibition Closing Party - December 2012 (121222)

1115 PM Tokyo Station Concourse 東京駅夜遅く (121222)

A late-night view of the inside of Tokyo Station.  With all the stores closed, this is similar in a way to how most train stations were before.

Uenohara Station Walkabout (515AM) 山梨県の上野原駅 (朝早く) 121223

Uenohara Station is in Yamanashi Prefecture - just over the border with a narrow arm of Kanagawa Prefecture which the Chuo Line cuts through.  Coming from Tokyo, you pass through Kanagawa Prefecture (Sagamiko and Fujino Stations) and cross into Yamanashi Prefecture just before Uenohara Station.

Uenohara Station Platform View (Early Morning) 山梨県の上野原駅 (始発電車) 121223

This is a good example of how most stations used to be - with the central area of the platform roofed and well-lit, while the extreme ends of the platform are out in the open air and sparsely illuminated.  I generally like this layout better than the new ones.  With this arrangement, you can wander around and go into different atmospheres while waiting for the train to arrive.  The more modern arrangement with 100% over-lighting of every centimeter of the platform and with all areas roofed (and even walled) cuts people off from the world.  It's good to be able to walk out under the stars and away from unpleasant over-lighting....

Uenohara First [of the day] Chuo Main Line Train 中央本線始発電車が遣って来る (121223)

Watching the first train of the day arrive.

Old Type JR Train Departing Uenohara (Inside View) 懐かしいJR電車 (上野原駅) 121223

Speaking of liking an old design better than newer ones - the design, layout, sounds, and general feel of these old JR (put into service when it was JNR) trains I much prefer to the newer, poorly ventilated, over-illuminated trains.  The seating arrangement I can't complain about too much, as it's obviously more practical to have the long bench seats along the windows than to have them in cubicles (to better handle large numbers of people riding the trains), but the direct, harsh, overly powerful lighting and poor ventilation (no ceiling vents, fewer openable windows, etc.) doesn't seem to me to be really necessary.  Regarding lighting, I can tell you - as a photographer - that blasting bright light directly into a camera lens doesn't make for good pictures, and the same principal applies for eyes.

Fujino to Sagamiko and Takao 藤野から相模湖と高尾まで (中央本線で) 121223g

The variety afforded by different types of seats, openable vents in the ceiling, openable windows, and more interesting noises makes riding in these old type trains a more enjoyable experience than riding in the new ones.

Copyright 2012 by Lyle H Saxon

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

Saturday, December 22, 2012

"Shadows in Shibuya - 2012"

"Shadows in Shibuya - 2012"
Copyright 2012 by Lyle H Saxon

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

"Old House in Shinagawa - 2012"

"Old House in Shinagawa - 2012"
Copyright 2012 by Lyle H Saxon

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

"Time; December Lights in Shinjuku, Ginza, etc.; Ogikubo Shotengai, Etc."

So it's December... and another year is almost over.  This year has gone by very quickly for me, so I find myself looking at "December" (12月) on my calendar and feeling a sense of disbelief.  ".....  Is it really December?  It feels like I mistakenly tore off an extra page of the calendar.  An entire year has passed since last year's holiday season?  Really?  ....."

Actually, last year (2011) was one with a number of changes, and it actually felt like it was a pretty long year - and I think that's the key.  If there are a lot of new things in any given year, then it feels like a long year, but if a year is basically a continuation of the previous year's activities, then the brain doesn't need to do a lot of updating, and so when you get to the end of the year and look back, since the daily pattern is stored under the category/template of previous years, the current year gives the sensation of having a paucity of events, and thus "What?!  A whole year has passed already?!  Seriously!!?  But where did the time go?"

Not to get too wrapped up in this line of thinking, but the issue of people saying that "Time seemed to slow down" when they encountered some momentous or dangerous event, is related, although for slightly different reasons.  Since the brain allocates information processing resources in a variable manner - depending on where they are needed, when you are in danger, and being able to respond speedily to fast-moving objects can mean the difference between life and death, a lot more resources go into visual processing than usual in times of emergency.

And then you end up - when thinking back on an emergency situation - replaying events at the usual playback frame-rate, resulting in a perceived lengthening of time.

On to the videos!  The main thing that stands out in the Ginza and Shinjuku views are all the seasonal lights installed along major roads, etc.  I also spent some time exploring shotengai shopping streets in Ogikubo, and I'm afraid I came away with a reinforced feeling that times are hard and small businesses are not doing well.  Most people either have less money to spend and/or are very worried about having enough money to spend in the future, and so the focus is on "Spend less!  Spend less!  Spend less!!"  This being a prevalent reality for a lot of people spells disaster for small shops, who nearly always get undercut price-wise by larger stores.

Entering Shinjuku Station via East Entrance 新宿駅東口を入る (121217g)

In nearly three decades of living in Tokyo, Shinjuku has always been part of my schedule for one reason or another.  In the early days, I went there in order to get English language books at the Kinokuniya Bookstore on the east side, and it was a good place to meet friends for dinner and movies... and then there was the Dug jazz coffee shop, which was a great place to meet people to discuss whatever.

I really miss the Dug coffee shop - the following video is what it looked like late at night - when it functioned as a pub.  I recently had to meet someone in Shinjuku, and we ended up going to a soulless and smokey coffee shop... too bad we couldn't have gone to the good-old Dug.

1990 Dug Jazz Coffee House (Original Dug, Bubble Shinjuku) 901122g

Tokyo Station - Typical Busy Evening いつもの忙しい東京駅 (121217g)

Back when I first encountered Tokyo Station in the early eighties, it was sort of a sleepy station in a way.  There was no Keiyo Line, the northern Shinkansen trains only went as far as Omiya, there was no Narita Express train to the airport, etc.  So while it served as the gateway to the Marunouchi business area and was one of Tokyo's central hub stations (and was/is the terminal station for both the Tokaido Line and the Chuo Line), it seemed somewhat like a relic from the past in a way.  Now that they've rebuilt so much of the Marunouchi area, made Tokyo Station basically into a shopping mall, and there are more train lines going there, etc., it feels like "The Central Station" for the city in a way similar to how I imagine it originally did.  This video captures the atmosphere somewhat.

Ogikubo - South Side Evening Stroll (Shotengai Etc.) 荻窪南側散歩 (商店街) 121218g

Kanda Station - Ride to Yurakucho 神田駅から有楽町駅まで (121218g)

I began this clip (above) with the intent of just showing the transfer from the Chuo Line to the Yamanote Line, but since a train came fairly quickly, I left the camera on and recorded the ride to Yurakucho (stopping at Tokyo Station along the way).  Also of note is how Kanda Station is under construction.  Pay attention to that one quick glimpse up the stairs towards the middle platform, as that view is one that hasn't changed in decades, but will probably radically change in the not-too-distant future.

Personally, I think they'd be doing everyone a big favor to leave some parts/elements of the station alone as they rebuild/remodel the rest.  It's disorienting and - dare I say - boring when everything is new-new-new!  New next to new is just monotony, but new next to old accentuates both the old and the new and gives context to each.  I really think there should be a little more effort in Tokyo not to eradicate everything old; and to stop building forever more roads and parking lots....

Exiting Yurakucho Station 有楽町駅を出る (121218g)

Yurakucho Under-Bridge Train Noises 有楽町橋下の電車音 (121218g)

When I lived in San Francisco, I loved the sound of the fog horns emanating history and mystery into a foggy night - which were that much better if you were on a street with a cable-car cable moving along, making its metallic sounds in the street....

And since crossing the Pacific and living here in Tokyo, I find the metallic echoing sounds heard under old steel bridges in central Tokyo to be my favorite timeless/historical/time-slip/something symphony-of-noises. (The sound fidelity of the camera I used isn't all that wide, so some (low) elements of the symphony are missing, but you can get the general drift from this clip nonetheless.)

Ginza Chuo-Dori December Lights 銀座中央通の十二月夜光 (121218g)

There are lights put up at various places all over the city every December (much more so since LED lights were invented, since they require so little power), but Ginza is one of the best places to see them.  You get the ambiance of Ginza's interesting history, and the place still has class, although an awful lot of the area has gone over to low-class, overpriced "brand" stores that have thuggish looking men standing just inside the doors - looking out, projecting the impression that they own not only the bloody "brand" store/building, but the sidewalk and street outside and you're trespassing by walking past the building.

Personally?  I think the world would be a vastly better place if all of those snooty over-priced "brand" companies went out of business.  Those "brand" bags make me sick - they're hideously ugly for one thing.

Oops!  Sorry to have gone off on that tangent, but unfortunately, that's also a part of what Ginza is today.

Yurakucho-SB - 1000PM 有楽町-SB (121218g)

It's hoped that this scene can continue into the future, but watching one small shop after another being driven out of the area, it may get to a point where there are nothing but chain stores there.  If that happens, Yurakucho will probably become a drab place.  A sparkling clean, spiffy drab place, but a drab place nonetheless, because the small shops give the area its soul, so if they're driven out, then....

Takadanobaba Tozai Line (Platform Walk) 高田馬場東西線 (121215)

Otemachi to Nihonbashi (Tozai Line) 大手町から日本橋まで (東西線) 121215

Iidabashi to Takadanobaba - Front Cab View (Tozai Line) 飯田橋から高田馬場まで (121215)

Suburbs from Train Window (121215)

Night View of Suburbs from Train Side Window (Vertical) 121215

Kodaira to Ogawa (Seibu Line) 小平から小川まで (西武線) 121215

Entering Nihonbashi Station (Platform Walk) 日本橋駅を入る (121215)

Large Construction Site in Nihonbashi 日本橋の大きい工事現場 (121215)

The construction industry never sleeps, and two of the areas being energetically rebuilt these days are Nihonbashi and Kyobashi.  The above and below videos are a few glimpses of this construction fever.

Nihonbashi Construction 日本橋の工事 (121215)

Kyobashi Construction 京橋の工事 (121215)

Nihonbashi to Takebashi (Tozai Line) 日本橋から竹橋まで (121215)

Onodera Sumino Exhibition at GOBP-306 小野寺純乃 (銀座奥野ビル306号室) 121215

This installation had an interesting element - the artist used an old out-of-ink pen to write invisible things onto the white strips of paper.  After she explained that, I contemplated what I would do if I were writing something that no one would ever read, and I said something to the effect of (I remember the concept of what I said very well, but not the exact wording), "If I did that, I would write the kind of things that I'd like to say to people, but cannot for whatever reason (desire for world peace, etc.).  What did you write?", and she confirmed that she had indeed written the type of things that feel good to write, but not to have someone read!

Tozai to Ginza Transfer at Nihonbashi (Ride to Kyobashi Station) 121215

Takadanobaba Station (Saturday Night) 土曜日の夜の高田馬場駅 (121215)

Since Waseda University is just down the road from Takadanobaba (closest to Waseda Station on the Tozai Line, but walkable from Takadanobaba), there tend to be a lot of college students at the station - especially on Friday and Saturday nights.

Takadanobaba Saturday Evening 高田馬場駅あたり (121215g)

Seibu-Takadanobaba Station Platform Walk 西武高田馬場駅散歩 (121215)

I would have preferred to have just gotten straight onto a train, but since I had to wait a few minutes before the next one arrived, I decided to walk the length of the platform while I waited.  Ten train cars may not sound like much, but each one is fairly long and so it's a bit of a hike walking past ten long ones.  Still, it's much easier than the 15 cars of some lines, like the Tokaido Line, the Joban Line, and the Yokosuka Line, etc.

Shinjuku Station - Lower Concourse and Chuo Line Platform (121217hd)

Shinjuku - East Exit Plaza (Light December Rain and Wind) 121217hd

Arriving at Shinjuku Station (Chuo Line) 121217hd

Outbound Chuo Line Train Arriving at Kokubunji Station (121217hd)

Gallery Ginza-One Opening Party - December 17th, 2012A (121217hd)

Several clips of the opening party for a group exhibition at Gallery Ginza-One (taken with two different cameras).

Gallery Ginza-One Opening Party - December 17th, 2012B (121217hd)

Gallery Ginza-One December 2012 Exhibition (A) 銀座ワン展示会 2012年12月 (121217)

Gallery Ginza-One December 2012 Exhibition (B) 銀座ワン展示会 2012年12月 (121217)

Gallery Ginza-One - December 2012 Exhibition Preview (121215)

Shinjuku Sidewalk Stroll (East Side) 121217hd

Some thirty years ago, this sidewalk was really narrow and it was hard to walk on this street, but they (very sensibly I think) did away with two of the fire-breathing machinery lanes and made the sidewalks wider.

Tokyo Station Construction Zone and Bus Area on Yaesu Side (121217hd)

Tokyo Station Walkabout - Food Retail Section, Concourse, Etc. (121217hd)

Tokyo Station as shopping mall!  Thinking about how convenient the station has become for shopping, I find myself wondering what effect this has on local area businesses - who are at a real disadvantage logistically.  Most people use the stations, so they're already there (no need to get people to come to the area).  For businesses around the stations, people have to walk to them - through the weather and whatnot.  Probably a lot of people never bother to even see what's available around the stations when they can get what they need in the stations.  Work over - just go straight to the station, and once there you can eat, drink, shop for clothes, food, souvenirs, etc., and then walk another 60 seconds or so and get on your train.

Shinjuku Station East Ticket Gate Area (Lower Concourse) 新宿駅東口 (121217hdg)

Ogikubo Bright Light Shotengai 荻窪北口駅前通商店街 (121218)

Above and below - shotengai shopping streets in Ogikubo - not appearing to be doing a lot of business.  I hope these small shops can stay in business, but having a tight budget myself, I also focus on how to not spend money... and then idly fantasize about making a pile of money so I can try out old-style coffee shops and shop wherever I want to, without worrying about going over-budget.  In the meantime, I wander around and watch the decline of the once thriving streets of small shops and wonder about what kind of city Tokyo will become in the future....

Ogikubo-Ginza Shotengai (A) 荻窪銀座商店街(飲食など) 121218hd

Ogikubo Sanpo (Ome-Kaido, Etc.) 荻窪散歩 (青梅街道など) 121218hd

Exiting Kokubunji Station 国分寺駅のJR-改札口 (121219)

Asakadai Station Platform View 朝霞台駅ホームビュー 武蔵野線 (121219hd)

Basically a transfer station - with the Musashino Line crossing the Tobu-Tojo Line here.

Kawagoeshi Station Platform View (Train Going Out of Service, Etc.) 川越市駅 (121219)

1145 PM Waiting for a Train at Tokyo Station 東京駅 (中央線電車が遣って来る) 121218

11:45 p.m.... this is about as late as you can still catch a train to go home from central Tokyo.  If you miss the last train, there are basically two main options: 1) Take a taxi home (if you're rich and/or your company will pay for the very expensive ride, or 2) Find somewhere (coffee shop, restaurant, pub, etc.) that's open until 5:00 a.m. - when the trains start up again.  There is also the option of checking into a hotel, but that's for either rich people or people who need a hotel.  Finally, there's the option of wandering around on the streets for four or five hours, which is a viable (although not recommended) option in the summer, but not a very good idea in the winter.

Late Night Chuo Line - Looking Around from Inside Train 夜遅く中央線 (121218hd)

Ginza Chuo-Dori Christmas Lights 銀座中央通の12月光 (121218)

People Photographing Christmas Tree on Ginza Chuo-Dori (Ginza 4-Chome) 121218

Inbound Chuo Line - Kokubunji to Mitaka 中央線国分寺から三鷹まで (121218)

Inoue Baku (井上麦) Exhibition/Installation - Gallery Kobo (巷房) December 2012 (121217)

An interesting exhibition/installation consisting of stone artwork and the shadows the pieces cast (from a single spotlight placed on the floor near the door).  This exhibition was (*is* actually - it's still taking place as I write this) in all three of Gallery Kobo's exhibition rooms, but I only the saw the two in the basement.  (Hopefully I can check out the third-floor space before this exhibition is over.)

From Ogikubo Station to Kyokai-Dori 荻窪駅から教会通りまで (121218)

Kyokai-Dori is another shotengai shopping street - not far from Ogikubo Station.

Arriving and Departing from Yotsuya Station (Midnight Chuo Line) 121218

Inside Midnight Chuo Line Train at Shinjuku Station (121219)

530 a.m. - Hachioji Station Platform (Narita Express) 成田エクスプレス (121219)

Shinjuku Evening Sidewalk Stroll (East Side) 新宿夕方散歩 (東口) 121217

Mitaka to Ogikubo (Chuo Line) 三鷹から荻窪まで (中央線) 121218

Symphony of Recordings in Empty Discount Shop (121219)

This was a kind of weird experience - I was looking around in a discount store and going from floor to floor.  When I got to this floor, I suddenly realized there were an amazing number of recordings all playing simultaneously!  I stopped, listened and couldn't help but laugh.  It was a bizarre atmosphere.  Nobody there but me - me and an army of recorded voices....

Waiting for and Riding Inbound Chuo Line Train (121218)

Shinjuku Station - East Ticket Gate Area Walkabout 新宿駅東口改札 (121217)

Nakano to Shinjuku (Night Right-Side Window View) 夜の中央線中野-新宿 (121218)

Yurakucho to Tokyo 夜中の京浜東北線 (有楽町から東京まで) 121218

Late Night Chuo Line Train - Tokyo to Kanda 夜中中央線 (東京-神田) 121218

Vertical Flags in the Wind 荻窪 (121218)

Ogikubo Food Section Near Ticket Gates 荻窪駅にあるフードコート (121218)

Yurakucho Under-Track Stroll (Small Shops Disappear) 121218

Ginza Side Street Lights (A) 銀座横道の夜光 (121218)

Ginza Side Street Lights (B) 銀座横道の夜光 (121218)

Copyright 2012 by Lyle H Saxon

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

Monday, December 17, 2012

"Yurakucho Twilight - 2012"

"Yurakucho Twilight - 2012"
Copyright 2012 by Lyle H Saxon

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

"2012 Chuo Line, Kami-Nakazato, Etc.; 1990 Shinjuku, Hibarigaoka, Omiya, Etc."

This batch of video clips includes typical 2012 scenes of Tokyo, riding around on trains, etc., and I visited Kami-Nakazato for (I think) the first time ever, but after nearly three decades of going here and there in Tokyo, I'm not entirely sure.  Being December, there are Christmas decorations here and there.  And there are several views from 1990 - mostly taken around Shinjuku, although there are a couple of short clips from Omiya (in Saitama).  In one clip, I visit the old Dug coffee shop and bar, which was going strong at the time, but has mostly disappeared (only the basement remains).

Tokyo to Shinjuku (Chuo Line) 東京から新宿まで (中央線) 121211g

Looking out a side window (at night) of a Chuo Line train as it rolls from Tokyo Station to Shinjuku Station.

Marunouchi Building Lobby and Area in Front of Building (121211g)

After walking through the Marunouchi Building and finding myself on the front sidewalk, I looked off to the left and had a flashback to visiting the original Marunouchi Building....  At the time, it seemed like such a solid piece of Tokyo that I never imagined that they would tear it down.  When they did, I was busy with other things and didn't find out until it was gone.  Looking down that same sidewalk today, almost all the buildings that were visible at the time have been demolished and new ones built in their place.  Fortunately the Tokyo Station Building was repaired/rebuilt (some parts of the original structure remain) and the front part of the former Central Post Office was preserved, so in looking straight ahead and to the right there's some form of visual reference that ties the present to the past.

Actually, I can show you one of my 20th century visits to the original version of the building - here's a video I took back in 1991:

"Marunouchi Building - March 1991"

The point where I walk out onto the street in 1991 is the same spot I walk out onto the street in the 2012 video.  So much has changed since then - and so the facade of the old post office building and rebuilt Tokyo Station are much appreciated!  Without those, it would be disorienting/depressing for anyone who remembers how it was before.  I think it's important to have at least a few links to the past.

Kanda Central Platform Stroll 神田駅真ん中ホーム散歩 (121211g)

Walking around on the middle of Kanda Station's three platforms.  The old platform roof pillars and beams are a welcome change from newer designs.  It's hard to conceptualize the exact reason, but there's something quite nostalgic about the remaining old structures in Tokyo.  Is it simply because there is so little of anything old in Tokyo, and/or is there something of the past that emanates from the old iron - providing a needed time reference and a kind of anchor to maintain balance while change swirls all around?

Kanda Station Under Construction 工事中の神田駅 (121211g)

This construction has been going on for a long time... and seems to be related to the construction of new Shinkansen line tracks over the station, but (based on what has been done with other JR stations in Tokyo), they are probably converting the station into a mini-mall/restaurant complex.  I've been told that JR makes more money from it's retail operations in the stations than it does from running the trains, and - judging from the way more and more stations are becoming mini-shopping malls - this may indeed be the case.  In which case, Kanda Station may end up being completely transformed into something different than what it is now.

New Track Construction Beside Kanda Station (121211)

1990 - A Night on the Town (Bubble Era Shinjuku) 新宿の夜 (901122)

Taken on Thursday, November 22nd, 1990 - towards the end of the "bubble" era, a time when a lot of money was being spent on after-work entertainment, etc.  I was just recording my own evening, but a little of the atmosphere of the time is perceptible in this.  There are also some scenes from inside the legendary Dug coffee shop and bar - from inside the above-ground section, which was closed some years ago, leaving only the basement as a bar.  It was a great place to go for coffee, jazz music and conversation with friends.

1990 - Hibarigaoka to Shinjuku ひばりが丘から新宿まで (901122)

1990 - Omiya, Miyahara Car Ride 大宮市宮原 (埼玉県) 901121

1990 - Bus Ride Near Omiya 大宮あたりのバス (901121)

Historical now that they've introduced lower-riding buses and these old ones are off the roads (in Tokyo anyway).

1990 - Train Scenes from Trip to Saitama (901121)

1990 - Late Night Transfers and Trains, Etc. (901120)

1990 - Shinjuku to Ikebukuro (Saikyo Line) 埼京線 (901120)

1990 - Saikyo Line Platform Walk (Under Construction) 901120

It was around this time that they began running Takasaki Line and Utsunomiya Line trains through to Shinjuku, and I think the signs of construction you can see on the Saikyo Line platform in this clip were connected with the extension of the platform to handle the 15-car trains from those two lines.  Also they were working on the new exits (at Shinjuku Station) that are on the Shibuya side of the station - across the main road from the South Exit.

1990 - Shinjuku Station - Lower Concourse (Late at Night) 901120

1990 - Shinjuku Manual Ticket Gates 新宿手動改札口 (901120)

Before they installed the automatic ticket gates, it was just a part of riding the trains in Tokyo to have a station employee manually punch your ticket at the ticket gates.  Some other cities in Japan had automated ticket gates sooner than Tokyo - probably the vastness and complexity of Tokyo's rail system prevented it from becoming automated until computers caught up with the complexity.

1990 - Shinjuku Izakaya, Etc. 新宿居酒屋など (901120)

1990 Walking Into Nishi-Shinjuku 西新宿に入る (901120)

1990 - Shinjuku Station (South Exit) 新宿駅南口 (901120)

1990 - Hibarigaoka Station Area at Night (901119)

1990 - Hibarigaoka to Ikebukuro (901120)

1990 - Ikebukuro Station - Evening Rush 池袋駅 (901120g)

Ikebukuro Station is similar to Shinjuku in that there are a number of train lines that converge on the station, and large numbers of people who use the station every day.  This clip shows how the station is during a busy period.

1990 - Nishi-Ikebukuro 西池袋 (901120)

1990 - New Automatic Ticket Gates (Ikebukuro) 池袋新改札口 (901120)

In 1990, they were just beginning to install the automatic ticket gates, and there were a lot of ticket types that couldn't be used in the machines, so they had people standing by the early installations to help people out - directing people without magnetic tickets to the window were a person manually checked tickets, and telling others to just insert their tickets into the machine, etc.

1990 - Ikebukuro to Shinjuku 池袋から新宿まで (901120)

Small Park with Water Fountain Geyser (121211)

The type of water fountain shown in these two clips (above and below) I really like, but there are fewer and fewer of them as they replace them with ones that only allow a very low flow rate.  Aside from it being fun to crank one of these open and see the water shoot up high in the air, you can quickly get the hot water out of them in the summer and then drink cooler water.

Geyser Water Fountain Explanation (121211)

Kanda to Kami-Nakazato 神田から上中里まで (山手線と京浜東北線) 121211

In the non-rush afternoon hours, they run the Keihin-Tohoku Line trains as kaisoku (rapid) trains that skip several stations (meaning they are basically express trains), and so I took a Yamanote Line train to where I could transfer to the faster Keihin-Tohoku Line (and I needed to be on the Keihin-Tohoku Line anyway in order to get to Kami-Nakazato Station).

Kami-Nakazato Station (Afternoon) 上中里駅 (午後散歩) 121211

Kami-Nakazato Station Area 上中里駅辺り (121211)

Kami-Nakazato Residential Area (121211)

Hiratsuka Shrine Kami-Nakazato 平塚神社 (上中里) 121211

Train Arriving at Kawagoeshi Station (Tobu-Tojo Line) 121212

Shinjuku Station South Exit 新宿駅南口 (121211)

Outgoing Chuo Line Platform (Shinjuku) 中央線 (新宿) 121211

Nishigahara Side Street 西ヶ原横道 (121211)

Walking to Kami-Nakazato Station 上中里駅に向かう (121211)

Kami-Nakazato to Tabata 上中里から田端まで (121211)

Tabata to Ueno (Keihin-Tohoku Line) 田端から上野まで (京浜東北線) 121211

Ueno to Tokyo 上野から東京まで (快速京浜東北線) 121211

Tokyo to Yurakucho (Elevator) 東京から有楽町まで (山手線) 121211

Normally I don't take elevators just one level down like this, but I had never used an elevator at Yurakucho Station before, so I wanted to try it out (there didn't use to be elevators or escalators at the stations).

Ginza Evening Side Streets 夕方の銀座 (121211)

Yurakucho Lottery Ticket Line (121211)

When they are selling lottery tickets, this location in Yurakucho tends to be crowded - I hear that lottery winners in the past are reported to have bought their lottery tickets here, and so people think it's a lucky place to buy the tickets?  Something like that.  In any case, it's often crowded like this.

Yurakucho Plaza - Evening of December 11th, 2012 (121211)

Yurakucho Station (Waiting for a Train) 121211

Tokyo Station (Yamanote Platform and Concourse) 121211

Ramen Stand Between Tokyo Station and Marunouchi Building (121211)

This kind of thing dates back to a completely different era.  I hesitate to comment on what that era was, although I feel that I witnessed a tiny part of it when I first came here in the early eighties.  Whatever it was, it's at least partly (maybe mostly?) a nostalgia trip now.  As I walked by, I noticed a bowl of ramen was being sold for Y700 - which isn't the cheapest ramen out there... but you get the time-trip aspect and that makes it worth it probably.  (I've always wanted to try out one of those portable restaurants, but have never actually done so...)

Marunouchi Illuminated Trees and Marunouchi Building Lobby (121211)

Since both the Marunouchi Building and the Shin-Marunouchi Building were torn down and new buildings with the exact same names were constructed where the old ones were torn down, I've often visited the Shin-Marunouchi Building, but not the Marunouchi Building, so when I looked over and noticed that I was standing by the back side of the Marunouchi Building, I decided to walk through.  The new one depresses me a little, because the old one had a lot of character and was one of those buildings in Tokyo that I wish was still here....

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

Saturday, December 15, 2012

"1990 - Former Time-Slip Zone by Shinjuku Station (South Exit)"

This area is currently an open plaza, so it's hard to believe this even existed, but before they built the open plaza, there was a time-slip zone of old wooden buildings - which you can see a little of in this screen capture image from an analog video I took in November 1990.
"1990 - Former Time-Slip Zone by Shinjuku Station (South Exit)"
Copyright 1990 and 2012 by Lyle H Saxon

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

"Darwin's Time in Tahiti"

In reading "A Naturalist's Voyage Round the World" by Charles Darwin, M.A., F.R.S., which details Darwin's 1831-36 voyage around the world on the Beagle; I thought this section on Tahiti was interesting:

Chapter XVIII

Tahiti - Pass through the Low Archipelago—Tahiti—Aspect—Vegetation on the mountains—View of Eimeo—Excursion into the interior—Profound ravines—Succession of waterfalls—Number of wild useful plants—Temperance of the inhabitants—Their moral state—Parliament convened

October 20th.—The survey of the Galapagos Archipelago being concluded, we steered towards Tahiti and commenced our long passage of 3200 miles. In the course of a few days we sailed out of the gloomy and clouded ocean-district which extends during the winter far from the coast of South America. We then enjoyed bright and clear weather, while running pleasantly along at the rate of 150 or 160 miles a day before the steady trade-wind. The temperature in this more central part of the Pacific is higher than near the American shore. The thermometer in the poop cabin, by night and day, ranged between 80° and 83°, which feels very pleasant; but with one degree or two higher, the heat becomes oppressive. We passed through the Low or Dangerous Archipelago, and saw several of those most curious rings of coral land, just rising above the water's edge, which have been called Lagoon Islands. A long and brilliantly-white beach is capped by a margin of green vegetation; and the strip, looking either way, rapidly narrows away in the distance, and sinks beneath the horizon. From the mast-head a wide expanse of smooth water can be seen within the ring. These low hollow coral islands bear no proportion to the vast ocean out of which they abruptly rise; and it seems wonderful that such weak invaders are not overwhelmed by the all-powerful and never-tiring waves of that great sea, miscalled the Pacific.

November 15th.—At daylight, Tahiti, an island which must for ever remain classical to the voyager in the South Sea, was in view. At a distance the appearance was not attractive. The luxuriant vegetation of the lower part could not yet be seen, and as the clouds rolled past, the wildest and most precipitous peaks showed themselves towards the centre of the island. As soon as we anchored in Matavai Bay, we were surrounded by canoes. This was our Sunday, but the Monday of Tahiti: if the case had been reversed, we should not have received a single visit; for the injunction not to launch a canoe on the Sabbath is rigidly obeyed. After dinner we landed to enjoy all the delights produced by the first impressions of a new country, and that country the charming Tahiti. A crowd of men, women, and children, was collected on the memorable Point Venus, ready to receive us with laughing, merry faces. They marshalled us towards the house of Mr. Wilson, the missionary of the district, who met us on the road, and gave us a very friendly reception. After sitting a short time in his house, we separated to walk about, but returned there in the evening.

The land capable of cultivation is scarcely in any part more than a fringe of low alluvial soil, accumulated round the base of the mountains, and protected from the waves of the sea by a coral reef, which encircles the entire line of coast. Within the reef there is an expanse of smooth water, like that of a lake,
where the canoes of the natives can ply with safety and where ships anchor. The low land which comes down to the beach of coral-sand is covered by the most beautiful productions of the intertropical regions. In the midst of bananas, orange, cocoa-nut, and bread-fruit trees, spots are cleared where yams, sweet potatoes, the sugar-cane, and pine-apples are cultivated. Even the brushwood is an imported fruit-tree, namely, the guava, which from its abundance has become as noxious as a weed. In Brazil I have often admired the varied beauty of the bananas, palms, and orange-trees contrasted together; and here we also have the bread-fruit, conspicuous from its large, glossy, and deeply digitated leaf. It is admirable to behold groves of a tree, sending forth its branches with the vigour of an English oak, loaded with large and most nutritious fruit. However seldom the usefulness of an object can account for the pleasure of beholding it, in the case of these beautiful woods, the knowledge of their high productiveness no doubt enters largely into the feeling of admiration. The little winding paths, cool from the surrounding shade, led to the scattered houses; the owners of which everywhere gave us a cheerful and most hospitable reception.

I was pleased with nothing so much as with the inhabitants. There is a mildness in the expression of their countenances which at once banishes the idea of a savage; and an intelligence which shows that they are advancing in civilisation. The common people, when working, keep the upper part of their bodies quite naked; and it is then that the Tahitians are seen to advantage. They are very tall, broad-shouldered, athletic, and well-proportioned. It has been remarked that it requires little habit to make a dark skin more pleasing and natural to the eye of a European than his own colour. A white man bathing by the side of a Tahitian was like a plant bleached by the gardener's art compared with a fine dark green one growing vigorously in the open fields. Most of the men are tattooed, and the ornaments follow the curvature of the body so gracefully that they have a very elegant effect. One common pattern, varying in its details, is somewhat like the crown of a palm-tree. It springs from the central line of the back, and gracefully curls round both sides. The simile may be a fanciful one, but I thought the body of a man thus ornamented was like the trunk of a noble tree embraced by a delicate creeper.

Many of the elder people had their feet covered with small figures, so placed as to resemble a sock. This fashion, however, is partly gone by, and has been succeeded by others. Here, although fashion is far from immutable, every one must abide by that prevailing in his youth. An old man has thus his age for ever stamped on his body, and he cannot assume the airs of a young dandy. The women are tattooed in the same manner as the men, and very commonly on their fingers. One unbecoming fashion is now almost universal: namely, shaving the hair from the upper part of the head, in a circular form, so as to leave only an outer ring. The missionaries have tried to persuade the people to change this habit; but it is the fashion, and that is a sufficient answer at Tahiti, as well as at Paris. I was much disappointed in the personal appearance of the women: they are far inferior in every respect to the men. The custom of wearing a white or scarlet flower in the back of the head, or through a small hole in each ear, is pretty. A crown of woven cocoa-nut leaves is also worn as a shade for the eyes. The women appear to be in greater want of some becoming costume even than the men.

Nearly all the natives understand a little English—that is, they know the names of common things; and by the aid of this, together with signs, a lame sort of conversation could be carried on. In returning in the evening to the boat, we stopped to witness a very pretty scene. Numbers of children were playing on the beach, and had lighted bonfires which illumined the placid sea and surrounding trees; others, in circles, were singing Tahitian verses. We seated ourselves on the sand, and joined their party. The songs were impromptu, and I believe related to our arrival: one little girl sang a line, which the rest took up in parts, forming a very pretty chorus. The whole scene made us unequivocally aware that we were seated on the shores of an island in the far-famed South Sea.

17th.—This day is reckoned in the log-book as Tuesday the 17th, instead of Monday the 16th, owing to our, so far, successful chase of the sun. Before breakfast the ship was hemmed in by a flotilla of canoes; and when the natives were allowed to come on board, I suppose there could not have been less than two hundred. It was the opinion of every one that it would have been difficult to have picked out an equal number from any other nation, who would have given so little trouble. Everybody brought something for sale: shells were the main article of trade. The Tahitians now fully understand the value of money, and prefer it to old clothes or other articles. The various coins, however, of English and Spanish denomination puzzle them, and they never seemed to think the small silver quite secure until changed into dollars. Some of the chiefs have accumulated considerable sums of money. One chief, not long since, offered 800 dollars (about £160 sterling) for a small vessel; and frequently they purchase whale-boats and horses at the rate of from 50 to 100 dollars.

After breakfast I went on shore, and ascended the nearest slope to a height of between two and three thousand feet. The outer mountains are smooth and conical, but steep; and the old volcanic rocks, of which they are formed, have been cut through by many profound ravines, diverging from the central broken parts of the island to the coast. Having crossed the narrow low girt of inhabited and fertile land, I followed a smooth steep ridge between two of the deep ravines. The vegetation was singular, consisting almost exclusively of small dwarf ferns, mingled, higher up, with coarse grass; it was not very dissimilar from that on some of the Welsh hills, and this so close above the orchard of tropical plants on the coast was very surprising. At the highest point which I reached trees again appeared. Of the three zones of comparative luxuriance, the lower one owes its moisture, and therefore fertility, to its flatness; for, being scarcely raised above the level of the sea, the water from the higher land drains away slowly. The intermediate zone does not, like the upper one, reach into a damp and cloudy atmosphere, and therefore remains sterile. The woods in the upper zone are very pretty, tree-ferns replacing the cocoa-nuts on the coast. It must not, however, be supposed that these woods at all equal in splendour the forests of Brazil. The vast number of productions, which characterise a continent, cannot be expected to occur in an island.

From the highest point which I attained there was a good view of the distant island of Eimeo, dependent on the same sovereign with Tahiti. On the lofty and broken pinnacles white massive clouds were piled up, which formed an island in the blue sky, as Eimeo itself did in the blue ocean. The island, with the exception of one small gateway, is completely encircled by a reef. At this distance, a narrow but well-defined brilliantly white line was alone visible, where the waves first encountered the wall of coral. The mountains rose abruptly out of the glassy expanse of the lagoon, included within this narrow white line, outside which the heaving waters of the ocean were dark-coloured. The view was striking: it may aptly be compared to a framed engraving, where the frame represents the breakers, the marginal paper the smooth lagoon, and the drawing the island itself. When in the evening I descended from the mountain, a man, whom I had pleased with a trifling gift, met me, bringing with him hot roasted bananas, a pine-apple, and cocoa-nuts. After walking under a burning sun, I do not know anything more delicious than the milk of a young cocoa-nut. Pine-apples are here so abundant that the people eat them in the same wasteful manner as we might turnips. They are of an excellent flavour—perhaps even better than those cultivated in England; and this I believe is the highest compliment which can be paid to any fruit. Before going on board, Mr. Wilson interpreted for me to the Tahitian who had paid me so adroit an attention, that I wanted him and another man to accompany me on a short excursion into the mountains.

18th.—In the morning I came on shore early, bringing with me some provisions in a bag, and two blankets for myself and servant. These were lashed to each end of a long pole, which was alternately carried by my Tahitian companions on their shoulders. These men are accustomed thus to carry, for a whole day, as much as fifty pounds at each end of their poles. I told my guides to provide themselves with food and clothing; but they said that there was plenty of food in the mountains, and for clothing, that their skins were sufficient. Our line of march was the valley of Tia-auru, down which a river flows into the sea by Point Venus. This is one of the principal streams in the island, and its source lies at the base of the loftiest central pinnacles, which rise to a height of about 7000 feet. The whole island is so mountainous that the only way to penetrate into the interior is to follow up the valleys. Our road, at first, lay through woods which bordered each side of the river; and the glimpses of the lofty central peaks, seen as through an avenue, with here and there a waving cocoa-nut tree on one side, were extremely picturesque. The valley soon began to narrow, and the sides to grow lofty and more precipitous. After having walked between three and four hours, we found the width of the ravine scarcely exceeded that of the bed of the stream. On each hand the walls were nearly vertical; yet from the soft nature of the volcanic strata, trees and a rank vegetation sprung from every projecting ledge. These precipices must have been some thousand feet high; and the whole formed a mountain gorge far more magnificent than anything which I had ever before beheld. Until the mid-day sun stood vertically over the ravine, the air felt cool and damp, but now it became very sultry. Shaded by a ledge of rock, beneath a facade of columnar lava, we ate our dinner. My guides had already procured a dish of small fish and fresh-water prawns. They carried with them a small net stretched on a hoop; and where the water was deep and in eddies, they dived, and like otters, with their eyes open followed the fish into holes and corners, and thus caught them.

The Tahitians have the dexterity of amphibious animals in the water. An anecdote mentioned by Ellis shows how much they feel at home in this element. When a horse was landing for Pomarre in 1817, the slings broke, and it fell into the water; immediately the natives jumped overboard, and by their cries and vain efforts at assistance almost drowned it. As soon, however, as it reached the shore, the whole population took to flight, and tried to hide themselves from the man-carrying pig, as they christened the horse.

A little higher up, the river divided itself into three little streams. The two northern ones were impracticable, owing to a succession of waterfalls which descended from the jagged summit of the highest mountain; the other to all appearance was equally inaccessible, but we managed to ascend it by a most extraordinary road. The sides of the valley were here nearly precipitous; but, as frequently happens with stratified rocks, small ledges projected, which were thickly covered by wild bananas, liliaceous plants, and other luxuriant productions of the tropics. The Tahitians, by climbing amongst these ledges, searching for fruit, had discovered a track by which the whole precipice could be scaled. The first ascent from the valley was very dangerous; for it was necessary to pass a steeply inclined face of naked rock by the aid of ropes which we brought with us. How any person discovered that this formidable spot was the only point where the side of the mountain was practicable, I cannot imagine. We then cautiously walked along one of the ledges till we came to one of the three streams. This ledge formed a flat spot above which a beautiful cascade, some hundred feet in height, poured down its waters, and beneath, another high cascade fell into the main stream in the valley below. From this cool and shady recess we made a circuit to avoid the overhanging waterfall. As before, we followed little projecting ledges, the danger being partly concealed by the thickness of the vegetation. In passing from one of the ledges to another there was a vertical wall of rock. One of the Tahitians, a fine active man, placed the trunk of a tree against this, climbed up it, and then by the aid of crevices reached the summit. He fixed the ropes to a projecting point, and lowered them for our dog and luggage, and then we clambered up ourselves. Beneath the ledge on which the dead tree was placed, the precipice must have been five or six hundred feet deep; and if the abyss had not been partly concealed by the overhanging ferns and lilies my head would have turned giddy, and nothing should have induced me to have attempted it. We continued to ascend, sometimes along ledges, and sometimes along knife-edged ridges, having on each hand profound ravines. In the Cordillera I have seen mountains on a far grander scale, but for abruptness nothing at all comparable with this. In the evening we reached a flat little spot on the banks of the same stream which we had continued to follow, and which descends in a chain of waterfalls: here we bivouacked for the night. On each side of the ravine there were great beds of the mountain-banana, covered with ripe fruit. Many of these plants were from twenty to twenty-five feet high, and from three to four in circumference. By the aid of strips of bark for rope, the stems of bamboos for rafters, and the large leaf of the banana for a thatch, the Tahitians in a few minutes built us an excellent house; and with withered leaves made a soft bed.

They then proceeded to make a fire, and cook our evening meal. A light was procured by rubbing a blunt pointed stick in a groove made in another, as if with intention of deepening it, until by the friction the dust became ignited. A peculiarly white and very light wood (the Hibiscus tiliaceus) is alone used for this purpose: it is the same which serves for poles to carry any burden, and for the floating out-riggers to their canoes. The fire was produced in a few seconds: but to a person who does not understand the art, it requires, as I found, the greatest exertion; but at last, to my great pride, I succeeded in igniting the dust. The Gaucho in the Pampas uses a different method: taking an elastic stick about eighteen inches long, he presses one end on his breast, and the other pointed end into a hole in a piece of wood, and then rapidly turns the curved part like a carpenter's centre-bit. The Tahitians having made a small fire of sticks, placed a score of stones of about the size of cricket-balls, on the burning wood. In about ten minutes the sticks were consumed, and the stones hot. They had previously folded up in small parcels of leaves, pieces of beef, fish, ripe and unripe bananas, and the tops of the wild arum. These green parcels were laid in a layer between two layers of the hot stones, and the whole then covered up with earth, so that no smoke or steam could escape. In about a quarter of an hour the whole was most deliciously cooked. The choice green parcels were now laid on a cloth of banana leaves, and with a cocoa-nut shell we drank the cool water of the running stream; and thus we enjoyed our rustic meal.

I could not look on the surrounding plants without admiration. On every side were forests of bananas; the fruit of which, though serving for food in various ways, lay in heaps decaying on the ground. In front of us there was an extensive brake of wild sugar-cane; and the stream was shaded by the dark green knotted stem of the Ava,—so famous in former days for its powerful intoxicating effects. I chewed a piece, and found that it had an acrid and unpleasant taste, which would have induced any one at once to have pronounced it poisonous. Thanks to the missionaries, this plant now thrives only in these deep ravines, innocuous to every one. Close by I saw the wild arum, the roots of which, when well baked, are good to eat, and the young leaves better than spinach. There was the wild yam, and a liliaceous plant called Ti, which grows in abundance, and has a soft brown root, in shape and size like a huge log of wood: this served us for dessert, for it is as sweet as treacle, and with a pleasant taste. There were, moreover, several other wild fruits, and useful vegetables. The little stream, besides its cool water, produced eels and crayfish. I did indeed admire this scene, when I compared it with an uncultivated one in the temperate zones. I felt the force of the remark that man, at least savage man, with his reasoning powers only partly developed, is the child of the tropics.

As the evening drew to a close, I strolled beneath the gloomy shade of the bananas up the course of the stream. My walk was soon brought to a close by coming to a waterfall between two and three hundred feet high; and again above this there was another. I mention all these waterfalls in this one brook to give a general idea of the inclination of the land. In the little recess where the water fell, it did not appear that a breath of wind had ever blown. The thin edges of the great leaves of the banana, damp with spray, were unbroken, instead of being, as is so generally the case, split into a thousand shreds. From our position, almost suspended on the mountain-side, there were glimpses into the depths of the neighbouring valleys; and the lofty points of the central mountains, towering up within sixty degrees of the zenith, hid half the evening sky. Thus seated, it was a sublime spectacle to watch the shades of night gradually obscuring the last and highest pinnacles.

Before we laid ourselves down to sleep, the elder Tahitian fell on his knees, and with closed eyes repeated a long prayer in his native tongue. He prayed as a Christian should do, with fitting reverence, and without the fear of ridicule or any ostentation of piety. At our meals neither of the men would taste food, without saying beforehand a short grace. Those travellers who think that a Tahitian prays only when the eyes of the missionary are fixed on him, should have slept with us that night on the mountain-side. Before morning it rained very heavily; but the good thatch of banana-leaves kept us dry.

November 19th.—At daylight my friends, after their morning prayer, prepared an excellent breakfast in the same manner as in the evening. They themselves certainly partook of it largely; indeed I never saw any men eat near so much. I suppose such enormously capacious stomachs must be the effect of a large part of their diet consisting of fruit and vegetables which contain, in a given bulk, a comparatively small portion of nutriment. Unwittingly, I was the means of my companions breaking, as I afterwards learned, one of their own laws and resolutions: I took with me a flask of spirits, which they could not refuse to partake of; but as often as they drank a little, they put their fingers before their mouths, and uttered the word "Missionary." About two years ago, although the use of the ava was prevented, drunkenness from the introduction of spirits became very prevalent. The missionaries prevailed on a few good men who saw that their country was rapidly going to ruin, to join with them in a Temperance Society. From good sense or shame, all the chiefs and the queen were at last persuaded to join. Immediately a law was passed that no spirits should be allowed to be introduced into the island, and that he who sold and he who bought the forbidden article should be punished by a fine. With remarkable justice, a certain period was allowed for stock in hand to be sold, before the law came into effect. But when it did, a general search was made, in which even the houses of the missionaries were not exempted, and all the ava (as the natives call all ardent spirits) was poured on the ground. When one reflects on the effect of intemperance on the aborigines of the two Americas, I think it will be acknowledged that every well-wisher of Tahiti owes no common debt of gratitude to the missionaries. As long as the little island of St. Helena remained under the government of the East India Company, spirits, owing to the great injury they had produced, were not allowed to be imported; but wine was supplied from the Cape of Good Hope. It is rather a striking, and not very gratifying fact, that in the same year that spirits were allowed to be sold in St. Helena, their use was banished from Tahiti by the free will of the people.

After breakfast we proceeded on our journey. As my object was merely to see a little of the interior scenery, we returned by another track, which descended into the main valley lower down. For some distance we wound, by a most intricate path, along the side of the mountain which formed the valley. In the less precipitous parts we passed through extensive groves of the wild banana. The Tahitians, with their naked, tattooed bodies, their heads ornamented with flowers, and seen in the dark shade of these groves, would have formed a fine picture of man inhabiting some primeval land. In our descent we followed the line of ridges; these were exceedingly narrow, and for considerable lengths steep as a ladder; but all clothed with vegetation. The extreme care necessary in poising each step rendered the walk fatiguing. I did not cease to wonder at these ravines and precipices: when viewing the country from one of the knife-edged ridges, the point of support was so small that the effect was nearly the same as it must be from a balloon. In this descent we had occasion to use the ropes only once, at the point where we entered the main valley. We slept under the same ledge of rock where we had dined the day before: the night was fine, but from the depth and narrowness of the gorge, profoundly dark.

Before actually seeing this country, I found it difficult to understand two facts mentioned by Ellis; namely, that after the murderous battles of former times, the survivors on the conquered side retired into the mountains, where a handful of men could resist a multitude. Certainly half a dozen men, at the spot where the Tahitian reared the old tree, could easily have repulsed thousands. Secondly, that after the introduction of Christianity, there were wild men who lived in the mountains, and whose retreats were unknown to the more civilised inhabitants.

November 20th.—In the morning we started early, and reached Matavai at noon. On the road we met a large party of noble athletic men, going for wild bananas. I found that the ship, on account of the difficulty in watering, had moved to the harbour of Papawa, to which place I immediately walked. This is a very pretty spot. The cove is surrounded by reefs, and the water as smooth as in a lake. The cultivated ground, with its beautiful productions, interspersed with cottages, comes close down to the water's edge.

From the varying accounts which I had read before reaching these islands, I was very anxious to form, from my own observation, a judgment of their moral state,—although such judgment would necessarily be very imperfect. First impressions at all times very much depend on one's previously acquired ideas. My notions were drawn from Ellis's Polynesian Researches—an admirable and most interesting work, but naturally looking at everything under a favourable point of view, from Beechey's Voyage; and from that of Kotzebue, which is strongly adverse to the whole missionary system. He who compares these three accounts will, I think, form a tolerably accurate conception of the present state of Tahiti. One of my impressions, which I took from the two last authorities, was decidedly incorrect; namely, that the Tahitians had become a gloomy race, and lived in fear of the missionaries. Of the latter feeling I saw no trace, unless, indeed, fear and respect be confounded under one name. Instead of discontent being a common feeling, it would be difficult in Europe to pick out of a crowd half so many merry and happy faces. The prohibition of the flute and dancing is inveighed against as wrong and foolish;—the more than presbyterian manner of keeping the Sabbath is looked at in a similar light. On these points I will not pretend to offer any opinion, in opposition to men who have resided as many years as I was days on the island.

On the whole, it appears to me that the morality and religion of the inhabitants are highly creditable. There are many who attack, even more acrimoniously than Kotzebue, both the missionaries, their system, and the effects produced by it. Such reasoners never compare the present state with that of the island only twenty years ago; nor even with that of Europe at this day; but they compare it with the high standard of Gospel perfection. They expect the missionaries to effect that which the Apostles themselves failed to do. Inasmuch as the condition of the people falls short of this high standard, blame is attached to the missionary, instead of credit for that which he has effected. They forget, or will not remember, that human sacrifices, and the power of an idolatrous priesthood—a system of profligacy unparalleled in any other part of the world—infanticide a consequence of that system—bloody wars, where the conquerors spared neither women nor children—that all these have been abolished; and that dishonesty, intemperance, and licentiousness have been greatly reduced by the introduction of Christianity. In a voyager to forget these things is base ingratitude; for should he chance to be at the point of shipwreck on some unknown coast, he will most devoutly pray that the lesson of the missionary may have extended thus far.

In point of morality, the virtue of the women, it has been often said, is most open to exception. But before they are blamed too severely, it will be well distinctly to call to mind the scenes described by Captain Cook and Mr. Banks, in which the grandmothers and mothers of the present race played a part. Those who are most severe, should consider how much of the morality of the women in Europe is owing to the system early impressed by mothers on their daughters, and how much in each individual case to the precepts of religion. But it is useless to argue against such reasoners;—I believe that, disappointed in not finding the field of licentiousness quite so open as formerly, they will not give credit to a morality which they do not wish to practise, or to a religion which they undervalue, if not despise.

Sunday 22nd.—The harbour of Papiete, where the queen resides, may be considered as the capital of the island: it is also the seat of government, and the chief resort of shipping. Captain Fitz Roy took a party there this day to hear divine service, first in the Tahitian language, and afterwards in our own. Mr. Pritchard, the leading missionary in the island, performed the service. The chapel consisted of a large airy framework of wood; and it was filled to excess by tidy, clean people, of all ages and both sexes. I was rather disappointed in the apparent degree of attention; but I believe my expectations were raised too high. At all events the appearance was quite equal to that in a country church in England. The singing of the hymns was decidedly very pleasing, but the language from the pulpit, although fluently delivered, did not sound well: a constant repetition of words, like "tata ta, mata mai," rendered it monotonous. After English service, a party returned on foot to Matavai. It was a pleasant walk, sometimes along the sea-beach and sometimes under the shade of the many beautiful trees.

About two years ago, a small vessel under English colours was plundered by some of the inhabitants of the Low Islands, which were then under the dominion of the Queen of Tahiti. It was believed that the perpetrators were instigated to this act by some indiscreet laws issued by her majesty. The British government demanded compensation; which was acceded to, and a sum of nearly three thousand dollars was agreed to be paid on the first of last September. The Commodore at Lima ordered Captain Fitz Roy to inquire concerning this debt, and to demand satisfaction if it were not paid. Captain Fitz Roy accordingly requested an interview with the Queen Pomarre, since famous from the ill-treatment she has received from the French; and a parliament was held to consider the question, at which all the principal chiefs of the island and the queen were assembled. I will not attempt to describe what took place, after the interesting account given by Captain Fitz Roy. The money, it appeared, had not been paid; perhaps the alleged reasons were rather equivocal; but otherwise I cannot sufficiently express our general surprise at the extreme good sense, the reasoning powers, moderation, candour, and prompt resolution, which were displayed on all sides. I believe we all left the meeting with a very different opinion of the Tahitians from what we entertained when we entered. The chiefs and people resolved to subscribe and complete the sum which was wanting; Captain Fitz Roy urged that it was hard that their private property should be sacrificed for the crimes of distant islanders. They replied that they were grateful for his consideration, but that Pomarre was their Queen, and that they were determined to help her in this her difficulty. This resolution and its prompt execution, for a book was opened early the next morning, made a perfect conclusion to this very remarkable scene of loyalty and good feeling.

After the main discussion was ended, several of the chiefs took the opportunity of asking Captain Fitz Roy many intelligent questions on international customs and laws, relating to the treatment of ships and foreigners. On some points, as soon as the decision was made, the law was issued verbally on the spot. This Tahitian parliament lasted for several hours; and when it was over Captain Fitz Roy invited Queen Pomarre to pay the Beagle a visit.

November 25th.—In the evening four boats were sent for her majesty; the ship was dressed with flags, and the yards manned on her coming on board. She was accompanied by most of the chiefs. The behaviour of all was very proper: they begged for nothing, and seemed much pleased with Captain Fitz Roy's presents. The Queen is a large awkward woman, without any beauty, grace or dignity. She has only one royal attribute: a perfect immovability of expression under all circumstances, and that rather a sullen one. The rockets were most admired, and a deep "Oh!" could be heard from the shore, all round the dark bay, after each explosion. The sailors' songs were also much admired; and the queen said she thought that one of the most boisterous ones certainly could not be a hymn! The royal party did not return on shore till past midnight.

26th.—In the evening, with a gentle land-breeze, a course was steered for New Zealand; and as the sun set, we had a farewell view of the mountains of Tahiti—the island to which every voyager has offered up his tribute of admiration.