Monday, July 30, 2012

"Nihonbashi Evening - July 2012"

"Nihonbashi Evening - July 2012"
Copyright 2012 by Lyle H Saxon

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

"July 1990 Otsuka, Ikebukuro, Nishi-Nippori, Etc; 2012 Mt. Takao"

The 2012 component of this batch of video clips is basically just a trip to Mt. Takao (riding the cable-car up and down the mountain, and walking around on the mountain trails), but there are several places viewed in the July 1990 clips - including an Otsuka to Ikebukuro walk (covering the things I saw along the way), and views from Nihonbashi to Nishi-Nippori (transport to Nishi-Nippori by train, not foot).  Incidentally, the Otsuka to Ikebukuro video is 30:55, which is on the long side, so I also posted three excerpts from that, one showing an old streetcar in a park, another an old shopping street as people began their evening shopping, and the last of the three showing Ikebukuro - focusing on the area between the Sunshine City area and Ikebukuro Station.  The Nishi-Nippori video is also long - at 32:03, but I didn't see the need to isolate any particular component of it, so it's just that one long video.  One comment though - watching it, notice how the JR stations have the "Bee!!!-Bee!!!-Bee!!!-Bee!!!-Bee!!!" warning sound just before they close the doors.  That used to be used at all the JR stations before they went to (mostly) the more relaxed melodies used now.

July 1990 Otsuka to Ikebukuro - 900728

Old Streetcar in Park 900728

Old Shopping Street - Higashi-Ikebukuro - (900728)

July 1990 Ikebukuro - (900728)

Mt. Takao Cable Car - Ascending - (120728)

Mt. Takao Cable Car - Descending - (120728)

Boarding Cable Car at Mt. Takao - (120728)

Electric Trains at Night - (120728)

July Flowers and Trees - (120728)

Evening Mt. Takao - (120728)

Leaning Tree and New Staircase - (120728)

Mt. Takao - Late Afternoon - (120728)

Mt. Takao - Waiting for Cable Car (Motor Noises) 120728

Waiting for Cable Car to Start - (120728)

Mt. Takao Temple Bell (Evening) - 120728

Mt. Takao Temple - Looking Around - (120728)

Mt. Takao Trail (A) 120728

Mt. Takao Trail (B) - 120728

Mt. Takao Trail Suspension Bridge - (120728)

1990 Night Stroll - Nishi-Nippori, Etc. - (900730)

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

Thursday, July 26, 2012

"Bus Ride" - July 2012

"Bus Ride" - July 2012
Copyright 2012 by Lyle H Saxon

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

"Tachikawa via Bicycle, July 1990 Views, Kichijoji, Ginza, Etc."

There are a number of different areas covered in this batch of video clips.  I rode around Tachikawa on a bicycle, recording a number of scenes around both sides of the station, and (on another day) walked around Kichijoji, recording some views of the busy areas there.  As for time-tripping, there are several trips back to July 1990, recording walks in different parts of Tokyo, visiting a summer festival in Hamamatsucho, etc.  And there are views from various train lines, scenes from Ginza and a look at some art exhibitions, etc.

July 1990 Waseda to Shinjuku Walk (900720)

Tokyo to Yotsuya - Evening Chuo Line - (120717)

Ogawa to Hagiyama 120717

Entering Tokyo Station from Yaesu Side 120717

Tachikawa Bicycle Ride (A) - (120718)

Tachikawa Bicycle Ride (B) - (120718)

Tachikawa Bicycle Ride (C) - (120718g)

Tachikawa Bicycle Ride (D) - (120718g)

Tachikawa Bicycle Ride (E)  (120718)

Tachikawa Bicycle Ride (F) - (120718)

Tachikawa Bicycle Ride (G) - (120718)

Tachikawa Bicycle Ride (H) - (120718g)

Tachikawa Bicycle Ride (I) - (120718)

July 1990 Tamachi - (900723)

July 1990 Shibuya Evening Izakaya - (900720)

Fuji Hidemasa 藤井秀全展 Installation at Lixil Gallery (D) - (120717)

Kokubunji Street Musician 120717

Tozai Takadanobaba Platform Walk 120717

Tachikawa Cinema Street 立川シネマ通り 120718

Tachikawa Pedestrian Tunnel 120718

July Ginza Chuo-Dori Stroll - (120717)

Nihonbashi to Ginza - Ginza Line - (120717)

Shinjuku Platform Walk - Chuo Line - (120717)

Roadside Bike Ride 120718

Boarding Chuo Line at Tokyo Station 120717

Evening Main Roads - Nihonbashi - (120717)

Ginza Side Street 120717

Kyobashi Evening Side Streets 120717

Nihonbashi Evening Lights 120717

Nihonbashi Evening Side Streets 120717

Otemachi to Nihonbashi - Tozai Line (120717)

July 1990 Nihonbashi and Ueno - (900723)

July 1990 Hamamatsucho, Shinjuku, Etc. - (900724)

July 1990 Shinjuku, Machida, Etc. - (900725)

July 1990 Trains, Shinjuku, Trains - (900726)

July 1990: Uguisudani to Minowa - (900727)

July 1990: Minowa Rooftop, Etc. - (900727)

July 1990: Hamamatsucho Matsuri (To and From) - (900727)

Tokyo to Shinjuku - Chuo Line - (120724)

Ginza One Tokyo-Ten サロンど東京展 July 2012 (Quick Look) - (120724)

Tomikawa Kazuhiko (富川和彦) Exhibition at Gallery-403 - (120724)

Kichijoji Stroll (A) - (120720)

Kichijoji Stroll (B) - (120720)

Kichijoji Stroll (C) - (120720)

Kichijoji Stroll (D) - (120720g)

Nihonbashi Stroll 120724

Don't Walk Behind Me (Umbrella Jabber) - (120720)

July 1990: Sugamo Sanpo - (900728)

Walking by Sento in Kichijoji 120720

Nihonbashi Up Escalator 120724

Shinjuku Crosswalk 120724

Street Musician by Shinjuku Station 120724

Tozai Line Arriving at Takadanobaba 120724

Kichijoji JR Station Platform 120720

Trying to Listen to Bell 120724

Chuo Line Arriving at Kichijoji Station 120720

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

Sunday, July 22, 2012

"Listening to the Wind" and "Hibiya Park" (1999)

"Listening to the Wind"

(990212) I worked in a strange frame of mind today, mulling over a number of issues that have recently come up.  Getting off work, I put my backpack on, took the elevator down to the first floor, and walked through the expensive stone lobby, with its music and atmosphere putting one in a certain frame of mind... (interesting how quickly nice things feel so natural, and are so easy to get used to)...  Pausing near the revolving door that automatically starts revolving as you approach, I looked over at the golden colored escalators going down to the basement restaurants, feeling the guard's eyes watching my paused form... I continued on through the revolving door, and stepped out into the cold and windy evening.

Outside, I let the wind carry me, as it were, and found myself walking down a (comparatively) dark side street... as I paused to see if a Prelude parked on the left had a manual or an automatic transmission (automatic unfortunately), I started walking again just as a guard with a flashlight checking out the bushes around one of the buildings seemed about to come over.  (Ever since the poison gas attack on the Tokyo subways a few years back, security people and guards all over the city go on regular patrols to check if there are any suspicious objects left lying about.  The caution is good, but the feeling in the air is not.)

I walked to the end of the street, and saw that I was heading in the direction of the Imperial Palace.  At the main road that runs between the palace grounds and the business district, I turned left, walked past the old Palace Hotel (I wonder how they picked that name...) and suddenly found myself in a new park (on the left) constructed on part of what was once one of the outer moats of Edo Castle (now the Imperial Palace).  The park consists of a sort of open stone plaza with artificial streams running across it, pools with fountains (turned off when I was there) and little blue lights everywhere shining up out of the stone.  On the other side of the plaza is a restaurant (closed last night - only open during the day?), and a remnant of the moat on the other side of a tree topped high stone wall from the castle days.  After walking around the plaza a little (empty except for a few couples braving the cold), I stopped by the old wall, looking up at the large trees growing up on top... rather like a natural hill... and... I'm not too sure you're really supposed to do this, but I climbed up a flight of steep stone steps built into part of the old barrier, and found myself on top of the three or four meter thick wall, standing on dried leaves, small sticks, and dirt, under the large old trees.  The feeling there was quite interesting... something like a cross between standing on a busy street in a huge city, and standing among the trees on a deserted mountain somewhere!!  In the clear air, I looked over the ancient moat and the road running along it at the business district on the other side....

I must really be used to living in Tokyo, as there didn't seem to be anything incompatible about standing on an outer wall of a feudal castle and looking at cars whizzing back and forth on a busy road with high rise electric office buildings beyond......  Hmmm.  I walked around awhile on the wall, looking down the almost vertical slope of it to the waters of the moat down below... and then to the city on the other side... to the past... to the future....  The winter winds in Tokyo make it very cold, but they also blow the internal combustion engine exhaust away someplace, and so that feeling of being up on a mountain as I listened to the wind in the leaves overhead (some of the trees were a type that doesn't shed its leaves in the cold) could only happen in the winter I think.

I walked over to the other end of the wall, and looked up the wide road (the center section blocked to traffic, and only opened for the Emperor I hear) to Tokyo Station.  Tokyo Station... for the first time, I understood why it's not considered worthy of saving by some.  Personally, I think it is, but as I stood there on the moat wall, it didn't seem important.  In the clear, cold, windy air, standing under the trees, there seemed to be a connection between the blue lights in the new stone, the artificial streams, the old trees growing on the outer moat wall, the moat, the new bridge built across the moat in the old style, and the electric office buildings.  But try as I might, I couldn't get either the cars, or Tokyo Station to fit neatly into that connected picture.

What does it mean?  I don't know... that's just the way it seemed!

It was a timeless time up there... I never once thought of looking at my watch to see the time, so I can't say how long I was up there really, but somewhere between fifteen minutes and an hour.

I climbed back down the steep stone steps, and looking back up to the top of the wall from the ground, it was really quite amazing how low the wall looked - how could it seem so high from the top, and so low from the ground.....

I walked around the plaza a bit, and looking across the street to the area close enough to the Imperial Palace that guards are always on duty, with powerful floodlights lighting the entrance roads, I turned left and walked over to an area of the "Imperial Palace Outer Garden" with trees and walk lanes (wide enough for a car) winding through them.  I walked down one of the roads, past the empty park benches neatly lining both sides, and as I looked at the trees, I wondered:

"..... the trees look healthy - what is it exactly that is unsettling about this area...."

And then suddenly it hit me...  No bushes!  There are lots of trees, but the grass is clipped very short, and there are no bushes or anything at all that it would be possible to hide behind.  Being near the Imperial Palace, that might well be by design, but it gives the wooded area a strange barren feel to it, which made neighboring Hibiya Park (my next stop) seem positively like a jungle.

"Hibiya Park"

I've been through Hibiya Park many times before, but always from one of the other three corners, so it felt like being somewhere I had never been as I walked in from the entrance closest to the palace.

I walked up a small hill, and then down the other side, where I was surprised to discover a replica of the (American) "Liberty Bell".  There was a stone plaque in Japanese on the front, and a smaller brass one in English on the back, saying (taken from the English plaque):

"Dedicated to you, a free citizen in a free land.
     This reproduction of the famous Liberty Bell in Independence Hall, Philadelphia, was presented to the people of Japan by a group of American companies at the suggestion of General Douglas MacArthur.  This presentation was arranged by the honorable John W. Snyder, Secretary of the United States Treasury.
     The dimensions and tone are identical with that of the original Liberty Bell when it rang out the Independence of America in 1776.  Becoming thereby a symbol of freedom to not only Americans, but all mankind.
     In standing before this symbol, you have the opportunity to dedicate yourself, as did the founding fathers of the United States, to the principles of freedom which you share with free citizens everywhere."

And while the text was the same, the Japanese side carried the additional information that it was put there in 1952, and that the "Nihon Shinbun" (Nihon Newspaper) was involved as well.

It's interesting to stumble onto something like that.....  I wonder how people here feel about that monument in Hibiya Park.  I think I'll try asking people I know, and see what they say.  Personally, I thought of Fukuzawa Yukichi (1835-1901), a really fascinating man - (his autobiography is one of the most interesting ones I've read).  Properly explaining his life would take too long, but here's an excerpt from "Japan - An Illustrated Encyclopedia" (Kodansha):

".............. that he came to realize his mission in life.  This was nothing less than to educate his countrymen to an entirely new way of thinking based on the principles of Western civilization.  Japan was weak and backward, he decided, because its culture lacked two things possessed by Western nations: science and the spirit of independence.  Inculcate these things into the Japanese nation and it would soon grow in power and wealth so as to rival Great Britain and be secure from any threat of Western attack and exploitation.
     To the task of enlightening (keimo) the Japanese people in this manner Fukuzawa devoted the rest of his life.  In his teaching at Keio Gijuku (already one of the largest schools in the country), through the policy of his newspaper, in his personal life, and above all in his voluminous and lucid writings, he constantly strove to show that traditional Japanese ideas and values were wrong and to replace them with others derived from Western positivism and liberalism.  To this end, he defined a new concept of jitsugaku, or practical knowledge, and propounded new views of history, ethics, politics, and international relations.  He proposed a new scheme of family relationships, championing particularly the cause of women.
     Fukuzawa never accepted any government post, remaining a private citizen all his life.  By the time of his death he was a national figure, with former pupils in all walks of life, and revered as one of the founders of the new Japan.  ............."

In his autobiography, the thing that I like best about the guy is his opposition to the class system... and the saying of his that he seems best known for in Japan (judging by the response from the people I've asked) is:


(Which is in Latin in an arch at Keio University as:

This means (I'm going from the Japanese here BTW, not the Latin) - basically - "Position yourself not above, nor below others."  (There are different ways to translate this, but it's the same concept as "All men are created equal".)

I spent an hour or so wandering around Hibiya Park, stumbling into a set of five tennis courts that I must have noticed at some point several years ago, but didn't remember.  The night seemed dark and clear... people few and far between... and the past and future seemed to hang in the air.  I stopped in front of a very old looking sign on the corner of a snack stand that said "Public Phone" in Japanese, and imagined the era that it was put up in... an era when not everyone necessarily had their own phone, and no one had a cell phone.  I think I can imagine that era fairly well, as my own past includes a cell phone-less era, a time when you would walk around searching for a public phone somewhere when you needed to make a call, and wish someone to be off the thing when finding it in use.  Public phones are all over, but I've hardly used one in the past two years, and the old habit of mentally noting where they were has died, so if they were all gone tomorrow, I might not even notice.

By the time I walked out of the park onto a busy street near the Imperial Hotel, I felt as though I had been hiking in the mountains or something, and had to mentally reassure myself that I was presentable looking in my suit and overcoat.

I walked past the Imperial Hotel and turned left at the elevated tracks on the narrow street that runs by the drinking place under the tracks in the tunnel.  The street is lined with restaurants and drinking places, and looked lively and clean in the windy clear air.

And then... suddenly, I became cold.  It was strange, after all that time in the parks, as I stood in one place or another, I didn't feel really cold until I was walking around on the busy streets.  There is something about being away from plants that is fatiguing I think... or is it walking on concrete?

I went underground, walked through passageways this way and that, and eventually came to my train, which turned out to be a mostly nice ride.

There are times in the winter, when you come out of the cold, and sit down on a warm train... and the people around you seem to be in a good mood - sometimes a quiet good mood, and sometimes a conversationally noisy one.  It was a conversationally noisy, but happy train car that I was lucky enough to find a seat in, and as I began to warm up, I fell asleep... until towards the end of the ride, when someone who didn't like the warmth, opened a window on the other side, and then I was cold and awake, with the constant thought "I want to be warm - I want to be warm...".

My own apartment never gets very warm in the winter, but the hot bath I took when I got home saved the day.

Copyright 1999 and 2012 by Lyle H Saxon

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

"Honda Beat Air Intake" - (July 2012)

"Honda Beat Air Intake"
Copyright 2012 by Lyle H Saxon

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

"Ghostly Building from Bubble Era" and "Drama on the Bridge..." (1999)

(990222) On Wednesday (the 20th), after leaving a contract job in Nihonbashi, I headed towards Sumida River, walking past the dark hulk of the empty Yamaichi Building, and over to the river, by the large IBM building.  The river used to run between concrete walls in such a way that you couldn't even see the water even if you were standing right by it, but they built a walkway over the concrete dike, and built a kind of park - a narrow strip that runs near the river on the water side of the barrier.  It's quite an improvement; now you can walk over the wall, down to the strip, and walk (or jog) along the river.

99/01/20 Sumida-Gawa Terrace  18:49  The steel bridge arch's blue illumination reflecting on the river... the sound of passing motorboats echoes off of the concrete buildings... beyond the bridge, expensive high rise apartment towers rise optimistically into the cold clear night... just behind where I stand by the river, a sea of lit square windows in the IBM Building.  Ahead and to my right, the empty, dark Yamaichi Building, with its exterior red lights flashing an echo of a former pride into the night... as though the building itself doesn't believe the end has come, and calls out to the former inhabitants... not understanding why they don't return.

19:25  In front of the "Terminal Hotel"... a spooky name to be sure, but no doubt taken from "Bus Terminal", as in the express bus terminal (somewhere not far away), for the buses to the airport.  No one is visible in the front lobby... nor are there any customers in the first floor coffee shop/restaurant.  The cook(?) sits at a table in the empty room, reading a newspaper.  I'm standing behind an idling truck, breathing its diesel exhaust fumes, getting dizzy.

Time to move on!

In front of the truck now, which has "Orix Rent-a-Car" on the door.  The driver sleeps.  Ah... the front desk guy, now standing behind the front desk, looking "stand-fatigued" and curious... eying the back-packed foreigner outside taking notes.

A helicopter flies by over the large rainbow colored CASIO sign on the top of a building on the opposite side of the street.  Traffic noise... always traffic noise.  Standing here by a main road and near an overhead expressway, breathing exhaust laden air, the world seems truly ruled by the internal combustion engine.  Times like now, I can only think that the city would be infinitely nicer without cars.  There would be more plants, cleaner air, less noise... and I myself love to drive....

"Drama on the Bridge..."

19:45  Standing over the water in the middle of a bridge (Kiyosu-bashi), breathing marginally better air.  There's a camera crew of about twenty people who are moving lights, cables, and cameras around.

Something just occurred to me...  I've often enjoyed watching Japanese television dramas just to watch the visual entertainment they provide; whether the dialog makes much sense or not.  The outside shots!  Much more interesting to watch than things filmed indoors, and so difficult for the video (film?) crew!  All these people!  One of the actors poses in the bright lights... looking cool... a bicycle approaches... a crew member calls out "Bicycle coming through!" and everything is on hold while they wait for the bicycle rider to pass through the set-up on this public walkway on the bridge.

They've put a phone booth right in the center of the bridge, looking almost like it belongs there... or is there really one there?  I don't think so... they keep polishing the glass to make it transparent for the camera... I've never seen such a squeaky clean phone booth before.  (It's an old style phone, but so clean!)

They're filming now... the trench coated actor is in the phone booth.  I can hear a little from the monitor that several of the crew are clustered around... he's saying something about meeting someone tomorrow.

They shoot the same scene over and over, polishing up the phone booth between each take.

Ah!  I never finished what I started to say.  Overtime!!  It's 8:00 p.m.... almost all the lights are still on in the IBM Building, and the crew works away... how long have they been here?  How long will they be here still?  All for what will edit down to only a minute or two in the final version broadcast out to the waiting antennas (cable is here, but not everywhere, and is the exception rather than the rule).

Another take... "Tomorrow at ten o'clock..." the actor is saying into his cell phone in the booth.  Hmm, so much for reality folks!  The cool actor walks up the dramatically back-lit walkway on the bridge, steps into the sparkling phone booth that isn't really here... not on any night but tonight that is... and coolly whips out his cell phone to ask someone (wife?, girlfriend?, mistress?...) if they can meet him.  (From watching the monitor, it doesn't seem possible to tell that the scene is taking place on a bridge... maybe they're just shooting here because it's convenient?)

Pen and paper!  There's no other way I could record this.  If I had a camera, they'd ask me not to take pictures I'm sure.  As it is, they eye the back-packed stranger here from the nineteen-eighties door of a trans-Pacific 747....

Take after take... I'm beginning to piece the conversation together.  The man rushes into the booth now (a variation on a more purposeful entrance earlier), pulls out the cell phone... dials... a seductive sounding female voice answers... the man says "Can we meet tomorrow?"... the seductive-sounding voice says something about her schedule being open and that "Anytime is okay"... so the man says "Let's meet at ten o'clock".

I talked to three of the crew for a little...  They tell me (I'll believe it when I see it) that it's for a television drama titled "Kenji-tachi no Natsu" [or maybe that's "Keiji-tachi-no-Natsu"], and that it will likely be broadcast in April on channel four (Nihon Television).  I confirmed that they did indeed set up the phone booth themselves, and as the oldest of the three told me "It's preposterous to have a phone on the bridge here... but it's a drama after all".

They asked me what I do for a living - if I was involved with "mass media"; I said no, but explained about the LL Letters... or tried to explain I should say!  They didn't seem to see the picture I tried to paint, but I gave all three of them my card anyway, and offered to send them a copy of what I was writing... blank stares... so I asked if they had e-mail.  They looked at each other and asked back and forth:

"Do you?" "No..."
"Do you?" "No..."
"Do you?" "No..." ............

So much for everyone having e-mail.....

They're still working on the bridge phone booth shot, and I'm on my way!  I think... it's more fun to watch dramas than it is to make them!

20:40  Standing in a playground under an expressway, with the internal combustion machines making booming noises as they zoom by overhead.  This playground, in theory, is a great idea - the expressway acts as a roof, so even in bad weather, it can be used, but the feeling here, standing on asphalt, with the sky shut out by the steel and concrete expressway overhead, and buildings close by on both sides forming a kind of wall... it feels so... sterile - or I guess "lacking life" would be a better term.

(99/01/23)  After writing the above, I put away my notebook and spent another hour and a half walking around, taking in the area, feeling that "Where has the life gone?" feeling engendered by standing on asphalt streets among concrete buildings... the area mostly devoid of either plant, insect, animal, or human life.  Of course there are people in the buildings, and I find myself thinking once again "This is a city to enjoy indoors - the streets are just to get from one indoor place to another".

After a solid hour of that, I was very happy to stumble into a park which contained a shrine, trees, bushes, and dirt.  The difference may seem small, but a street with plants, walking people, and clean air is a completely different world from the same street stripped of it's plants, with most people traveling it enclosed in steel and glass contraptions spewing poisonous gases.  As the area becomes a kind of wasteland, there is no pleasure in walking on it, so people spend as little time on it as possible... further strengthening the wasteland feel of the place.

The thing is, I love cars!  But they really reduce the quality of life in this city.  We look back now to coal burning days and wonder how people could live with that smoke... no doubt future generations will shake their heads at how we are now living in the poison of our beloved automobiles.  Of course it depends on where you are!  For someone living far away from shopping and other essential things, having a car makes life livable, but for a mega-city like Tokyo, it might not be a bad idea to ban fire-breathing vehicles altogether (other than fire engines, police cars, ambulances, etc.), and only allow electric cars within city limits.

Copyright 1999 and 2012 by Lyle H Saxon

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

"Yurakucho Izakaya - July 6th, 2012"

"Yurakucho Izakaya - July 6th, 2012 - 20:38"

Sitting at a table in a multi-generation under-the-tracks izakaya.  A Friday night - just past 8:30 p.m.  Happy sounds all around as the trains rumble overhead and people toast the end of the week "お疲れさまです! - お疲れ様!".  The place has become historical and people are busy taking pictures of each other to commemorate being in this very cool spot.  All the seats are taken.  [Putting down notebook and pen in order to make a couple of short video clips of the table in order to get an audio recording of the moment.]  It sounds like this!:  (Video/動画 [A], [B]).

People walk by in the under-tracks tunnel... looking off to my right I see various people walking by the entrance - many of them looking into the izakaya-filled tunnel as they pass by - continuing down the street along the elevated train tracks.  Another train rumbles overhead... a timeless space with ticking clocks all around....

On the other side of the tunnel, one of the izakaya places has been boarded up.  From what I hear, the landlord is pushing for higher rents, higher rents - as the economy continues its tailspin, the landlord pushes for higher rents, higher rents - one begins to wonder if their utmost desire is to have all the under-tracks spaces boarded up (as they so hideously are next to Bic Camera next to Yurakucho Station) - but why?  Have they no respect for Tokyo traditions?  Have they no hearts?

- Other clocks --

Beer, yakitori, edamame... I can't sit here for free, and it would be rude and inconsiderate to take up chair and table space over any one drink.  So... I'm on drink number two and yakitori order number two.  The (nearly) full second drink sits in front of me, the mostly empty plate of edamame awaits being completely consumed (not the plate itself, but you know what I mean), and the last plate of yakitori is on the way.  More trains pass overhead with industrial noises echoing past decades.  The people around me animatedly talk....  A nice moment, but the time to leave speedily approaches....

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

Thursday, July 19, 2012

"Honda Beat Dashboard" - (July 2012)

"Honda Beat Dashboard" - (July 2012)
Copyright 2012 by Lyle H Saxon

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

"July 1990, March 1990, Ginza, Nihonbashi, Yurakucho, Keio Line, Izakaya Views, Etc."

There are a fairly large batch of video clips this time, starting with two batches of 1990 views - one batch from March 1990 and the other batch from July 1990.  The July batch is easier to watch, since I had more experience with taking video by then (I began taking video in February 1990) and I had just begun using my second video camera, which was much better than the first one (better exposure control, better night vision, stereo PCM sound, etc.).

2012 video clips are of several train lines - Ginza, Tozai, Chuo, Keio, Seibu, etc., and there are clips of walking through Ginza, Yurakucho, Nihonbashi, etc.  This being summer, I took a few strolls through some open-air (and/or outside) Yurakucho yakitori izakaya places as well.  Also there are some views of art exhibitions - including a very interesting light display by Fuji Hidemasa (藤井秀全) at Lixil Gallery.  What else...  Several views of Yurakucho in the rain and a couple of views from visiting (via cable car) Mt. Takao, etc.

July 1990 Shinjuku Izakaya Evening, Etc. - (900719)

July 1990 Odakyu RC-Express to Machida (900720)

Note that this is the first generation of Odakyu Romance Car express trains.

July 1990 Machida to Shinjuku - Odakyu Line (900720)

Going back to Shinjuku, I took a regular express.  At the time, I had periodical work in Machida, and I would often splurge on the RC-Express train going there and then come back via a regular express.

July 1990 Shinjuku, Kabukicho, Okubo, Takadanobaba (900720)

Walking from Shinjuku through Kabukicho, Okubo and Takadanobaba - including a look at Okubo House near Shin-Okubo Station.  (新宿 歌舞伎町 大久保高田馬場 大久保ハウス)

If you watch this closely, there are many elements of 1990 Tokyo that have since vanished.

1990 Ikebukuro Night - (900320)

This is mostly interesting for the sound track, since I mainly just left the camera running as i walked around (compared to the high volume of short chips style I utilized later).  Taken with my first video camera, it isn't very smooth, and that camera's auto-exposure system was hypersensitive to any kind of light, so florescent tube lit displays, etc. make the picture dark in many places.  All-in-all, I think this has value as a historical record, but be forewarned that it's not particularly easy and/or fun to watch.

1990 Tamachi Morning - (900319)

1990 - Boats Under Expressway (March)

1990 Type-0 Shinkansen Passing Tamachi Station (March)

1990 Tokyo and Yurakucho Stations - (090319)

1990 Marunouchi Hanzomon Nihonbashi Views - (900320)

1990 Shibuya Night Stroll - (900322)

1990 Hamamatsucho Station - (090319)

1990 Hamamatsucho to Tokyo - (090319)

Izakaya Sounds A 120706

Izakaya Sounds B 120706

Escalator Ride Down Announcement 120706

Ginza Chuo-Dori Stroll - (120706)

Ogawa to Higashi-Murayama - Side Window View - (120706)

Nihonbashi Stroll A 120706

Nihonbashi Stroll B 120706

Group Exhibition at Art Space Rashinban アートスペース羅針盤 (120706)

Masaki Takayama 高山正樹 1932 Lounge Exhibition - 昭和七年談話室展示会 - (120706)

Ginza Side Street Stroll 120706

Rainy Yurakucho Plaza - Tanabata Display (120706)

Yurakucho Station Bound 120706

Yurakucho in the Rain - Tokyo Station Bound (120706)

Reconstructed Tokyo Station Nearing Completion 120706

Reconstruction Zone of New Tokyo Station 120706

Rainy Yurakucho Trackside Walk A 120706

Rainy Yurakucho Trackside Walk B 120706

Rainy Yurakucho Plaza 120706g

Yurakucho Trackside Walk in the Rain 120706g

Rainy Yurakucho Station - Both Sides (120706g)

Yurakucho Reflections in the Rain 120706g

Rain Walk to Yakitori Area in Yurakucho 120706g

Ginza to Yurakucho Walk 120706g

Rainy Ginza Side Streets 120706g

Mogi Tatsuji 茂木達二展 Exhibition - Nabis Gallery なびす画廊 (A) 120711

Mogi Tatsuji 茂木達二展 Exhibition - Nabis Gallery なびす画廊 (B) 120711

Mogi Tatsuji 茂木達二展 Exhibition - Nabis Gallery なびす画廊 (C) 120711

Mogi Tatsuji 茂木達二展 Exhibition at Nabis Gallery なびす画廊 - Quick View - (120711)

15fps recording played back at 30fps...

Kokubunji Station at Night 120711

Keio-Inadazutsumi Station - Train Arriving and Departing (120708)

Kokubunji to Yotsuya - Chuo Line, Left Side View - (120711)

Keio Line 京王線 Side Window View 120708

Musashino Line 武蔵野線 Side Window View 120708

RR-Crossing - (120708)

Fuji Hidemasa 藤井秀全展 Installation at Lixil Gallery (A) - (120710)

Fuji Hidemasa 藤井秀全展 Installation at Lixil Gallery (B) Shadows - (120710)

Fuji Hidemasa 藤井秀全展 Installation at Lixil Gallery (C) - (120710g)

Kamino Nobue 神農乃愛 Exhibition at GOBP-306 (A) - (120710)

Kamino Nobue 神農乃愛 Exhibition at GOBP-306 (B) - (120710)

Ogawa to Hagiyama 120710

Last Cable Car Down Mt. Takao at Night - (120709)

End of the Day at Mt. Takao 120709

Entering Tokyo Station on the Yaesu Side 120710

Chuo Line Train Leaving Platform 120709

Chuo Line Platform at Tokyo Station 120710

Nishimura Toru (西村亨) Exhibition at Shibata Etsuko Gallery (柴田悦子画廊) - (120711)

Arriving at Takadanobaba via Seibu Line 120710

Boarding Cable Car at Top of Mt. Takao - (120709)

Boarding JR Train 120708

Boarding Keio Line at Takaosanguchi 120709

Chuo Line Platform at Shinjuku Station 120710

Exiting South Exit of Shinjuku Station 120710

Inside Chuo Line at Night 120709

Keio Line Interior 120708

Kobori Reiko (小堀令子展) Exhibition at Gallery Kazuki (画廊香月) - (120710)

Keio Line to Minami-Osawa - (120708)

Low Clouds Over Shinjuku 120710

Night Window View from Keio Line Train Near Takao 120709

Nihonbashi to Kyobashi (Ginza Line) -  (120710)

Seibu Line Train Arriving at Ogawa 120710

Seibu Line Zooming by at Crossing 120708

Takao Empty Mountain Cable Car 120709

Seibu Line Rear Cab View 120710

Takao Mysterious Looking Tunnel - Cable Car - (120709)

Tokyo to Kanda 120710

Waiting at Railway Crossing - (120708g)

Yurakucho Stationside (A) 120711

Yurakucho Stationside (B) 120711

Yurakucho Stationside (C) 120711

Yurakucho YSB 120711

Looking Around in Yurakucho (A) 120711

Looking Around in Yurakucho (B) 120711

Low Clouds Drifting by YSB 120711

Chuo Reserved Seat Express Train Zooms Past 120711

Late Night Yurakucho to Tokyo 120711

Izakaya Jungle Walk 120711g

Yurakucho Outside Izakaya Stroll (A) 120711g

Yurakucho Outside Izakaya Stroll (B) 120711

Yurakucho Outside Izakaya Stroll (C) 120711g

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

"An Overcast July Day" - (120708)

"An Overcast July Day" - (120708)
Copyright 2012 by Lyle H Saxon

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

"February 20th, 1835 Valdivia Earthquake" - Charles Darwin

After experiencing the March 11th, 2011 earthquake in Japan, I stumbled onto Charles Darwin's account of the February 20th, 1835 earthquake in Valdivia.  The account follows:

February 20th, 1835 Valdivia Earthquake - Charles Darwin

February 20th, [1835].—This day has been memorable in the annals of Valdivia, for the most severe earthquake experienced by the oldest inhabitant. I happened to be on shore, and was lying down in the wood to rest myself. It came on suddenly, and lasted two minutes, but the time appeared much longer. The rocking of the ground was very sensible. The undulations appeared to my companion and myself to come from due east, whilst others thought they proceeded from south-west: this shows how difficult it sometimes is to perceive the direction of the vibrations. There was no difficulty in standing upright, but the motion made me almost giddy: it was something like the movement of a vessel in a little cross-ripple, or still more like that felt by a person skating over thin ice, which bends under the weight of his body.

A bad earthquake at once destroys our oldest associations: the earth, the very emblem of solidity, has moved beneath our feet like a thin crust over a fluid;—one second of time has created in the mind a strange idea of insecurity, which hours of reflection would not have produced. In the forest, as a breeze moved the trees, I felt only the earth tremble, but saw no other effect. Captain Fitz Roy and some officers were at the town during the shock, and there the scene was more striking; for although the houses, from being built of wood, did not fall, they were violently shaken, and the boards creaked and rattled together. The people rushed out of doors in the greatest alarm. It is these accompaniments that create that perfect horror of earthquakes, experienced by all who have thus seen, as well as felt, their effects. Within the forest it was a deeply interesting, but by no means an awe-exciting phenomenon. The tides were very curiously affected. The great shock took place at the time of low water; and an old woman who was on the beach told me that the water flowed very quickly, but not in great waves, to high-water mark, and then as quickly returned to its proper level; this was also evident by the line of wet sand. The same kind of quick but quiet movement in the tide happened a few years since at Chiloe, during a slight earthquake, and created much causeless alarm. In the course of the evening there were many weaker shocks, which seemed to produce in the harbour the most complicated currents, and some of great strength.

March 4th.—We entered the harbour of Concepcion.

While the ship was beating up to the anchorage, I landed on the island of Quiriquina. The mayor-domo of the estate quickly rode down to tell me the terrible news of the great earthquake of the 20th:—"That not a house in Concepcion or Talcahuano (the port) was standing; that seventy villages were destroyed; and that a great wave had almost washed away the ruins of Talcahuano." Of this latter statement I soon saw abundant proofs—the whole coast being strewed over with timber and furniture as if a thousand ships had been wrecked. Besides chairs, tables, book-shelves, etc., in great numbers, there were several roofs of cottages, which had been transported almost whole. The storehouses at Talcahuano had been burst open, and great bags of cotton, yerba, and other valuable merchandise were scattered on the shore. During my walk round the island, I observed that numerous fragments of rock, which, from the marine productions adhering to them, must recently have been lying in deep water, had been cast up high on the beach; one of these was six feet long, three broad, and two thick.

The island itself as plainly showed the overwhelming power of the earthquake, as the beach did that of the consequent great wave. The ground in many parts was fissured in north and south lines, perhaps caused by the yielding of the parallel and steep sides of this narrow island. Some of the fissures near the cliffs were a yard wide. Many enormous masses had already fallen on the beach; and the inhabitants thought that when the rains commenced far greater slips would happen. The effect of the vibration on the hard primary slate, which composes the foundation of the island, was still more curious: the superficial parts of some narrow ridges were as completely shivered as if they had been blasted by gunpowder. This effect, which was rendered conspicuous by the fresh fractures and displaced soil, must be confined to near the surface, for otherwise there would not exist a block of solid rock throughout Chile; nor is this improbable, as it is known that the surface of a vibrating body is affected differently from the central part. It is, perhaps, owing to this same reason that earthquakes do not cause quite such terrific havoc within deep mines as would be expected. I believe this convulsion has been more effectual in lessening the size of the island of Quiriquina, than the ordinary wear-and-tear of the sea and weather during the course of a whole century.

The next day I landed at Talcahuano, and afterwards rode to Concepcion. Both towns presented the most awful yet interesting spectacle I ever beheld. To a person who had formerly known them, it possibly might have been still more impressive; for the ruins were so mingled together, and the whole scene possessed so little the air of a habitable place, that it was scarcely possible to imagine its former condition. The earthquake commenced at half-past eleven o'clock in the forenoon. If it had happened in the middle of the night, the greater number of the inhabitants (which in this one province amount to many thousands) must have perished, instead of less than a hundred: as it was, the invariable practice of running out of doors at the first trembling of the ground, alone saved them. In Concepcion each house, or row of houses, stood by itself, a heap or line of ruins; but in Talcahuano, owing to the great wave, little more than one layer of bricks, tiles, and timber, with here and there part of a wall left standing, could be distinguished. From this circumstance Concepcion, although not so completely desolated, was a more terrible, and if I may so call it, picturesque sight. The first shock was very sudden. The mayor-domo at Quiriquina told me that the first notice he received of it, was finding both the horse he rode and himself rolling together on the ground. Rising up, he was again thrown down. He also told me that some cows which were standing on the steep side of the island were rolled into the sea. The great wave caused the destruction of many cattle; on one low island near the head of the bay, seventy animals were washed off and drowned. It is generally thought that this has been the worst earthquake ever recorded in Chile; but as the very severe ones occur only after long intervals, this cannot easily be known; nor indeed would a much worse shock have made any great difference, for the ruin was now complete. Innumerable small tremblings followed the great earthquake, and within the first twelve days no less than three hundred were counted.

After viewing Concepcion, I cannot understand how the greater number of inhabitants escaped unhurt. The houses in many parts fell outwards; thus forming in the middle of the streets little hillocks of brickwork and rubbish. Mr. Rouse, the English consul, told us that he was at breakfast when the first movement warned him to run out. He had scarcely reached the middle of the courtyard, when one side of his house came thundering down. He retained presence of mind to remember that, if he once got on the top of that part which had already fallen, he would be safe. Not being able from the motion of the ground to stand, he crawled up on his hands and knees; and no sooner had he ascended this little eminence, than the other side of the house fell in, the great beams sweeping close in front of his head. With his eyes blinded and his mouth choked with the cloud of dust which darkened the sky, at last he gained the street. As shock succeeded shock, at the interval of a few minutes, no one dared approach the shattered ruins, and no one knew whether his dearest friends and relations were not perishing from the want of help. Those who had saved any property were obliged to keep a constant watch, for thieves prowled about, and at each little trembling of the ground, with one hand they beat their breasts and cried "misericordia!" and then with the other filched what they could from the ruins. The thatched roofs fell over the fires, and flames burst forth in all parts. Hundreds knew themselves ruined, and few had the means of providing food for the day.

Earthquakes alone are sufficient to destroy the prosperity of any country. If beneath England the now inert subterranean forces should exert those powers which most assuredly in former geological ages they have exerted, how completely would the entire condition of the country be changed! What would become of the lofty houses, thickly packed cities, great manufactories, the beautiful public and private edifices? If the new period of disturbance were first to commence by some great earthquake in the dead of the night, how terrific would be the carnage! England would at once be bankrupt; all papers, records, and accounts would from that moment be lost. Government being unable to collect the taxes, and failing to maintain its authority, the hand of violence and rapine would remain uncontrolled. In every large town famine would go forth, pestilence and death following in its train.

Shortly after the shock, a great wave was seen from the distance of three or four miles, approaching in the middle of the bay with a smooth outline; but along the shore it tore up cottages and trees, as it swept onwards with irresistible force. At the head of the bay it broke in a fearful line of white breakers, which rushed up to a height of 23 vertical feet above the highest spring-tides. Their force must have been prodigious; for at the Fort a cannon with its carriage, estimated at four tons in weight, was moved 15 feet inwards. A schooner was left in the midst of the ruins, 200 yards from the beach. The first wave was followed by two others, which in their retreat carried away a vast wreck of floating objects. In one part of the bay, a ship was pitched high and dry on shore, was carried off, again driven on shore, and again carried off. In another part two large vessels anchored near together were whirled about, and their cables were thrice wound round each other: though anchored at a depth of 36 feet, they were for some minutes aground. The great wave must have travelled slowly, for the inhabitants of Talcahuano had time to run up the hills behind the town; and some sailors pulled out seaward, trusting successfully to their boat riding securely over the swell, if they could reach it before it broke. One old woman with a little boy, four or five years old, ran into a boat, but there was nobody to row it out: the boat was consequently dashed against an anchor and cut in twain; the old woman was drowned, but the child was picked up some hours afterwards clinging to the wreck. Pools of salt-water were still standing amidst the ruins of the houses, and children, making boats with old tables and chairs, appeared as happy as their parents were miserable. It was, however, exceedingly interesting to observe, how much more active and cheerful all appeared than could have been expected. It was remarked with much truth, that from the destruction being universal, no one individual was humbled more than another, or could suspect his friends of coldness—that most grievous result of the loss of wealth. Mr. Rouse, and a large party whom he kindly took under his protection, lived for the first week in a garden beneath some apple-trees. At first they were as merry as if it had been a picnic; but soon afterwards heavy rain caused much discomfort, for they were absolutely without shelter.

In Captain Fitz Roy's excellent account of the earthquake it is said that two explosions, one like a column of smoke and another like the blowing of a great whale, were seen in the bay. The water also appeared everywhere to be boiling; and it "became black, and exhaled a most disagreeable sulphureous smell." These latter circumstances were observed in the Bay of Valparaiso during the earthquake of 1822; they may, I think, be accounted for by the disturbance of the mud at the bottom of the sea containing organic matter in decay. In the Bay of Callao, during a calm day, I noticed, that as the ship dragged her cable over the bottom, its course was marked by a line of bubbles. The lower orders in Talcahuano thought that the earthquake was caused by some old Indian women, who two years ago, being offended, stopped the volcano of Antuco. This silly belief is curious, because it shows that experience has taught them to observe that there exists a relation between the suppressed action of the volcanos, and the trembling of the ground. It was necessary to apply the witchcraft to the point where their perception of cause and effect failed; and this was the closing of the volcanic vent. This belief is the more singular in this particular instance because, according to Captain Fitz Roy, there is reason to believe that Antuco was noways affected.

The town of Concepcion was built in the usual Spanish fashion, with all the streets running at right angles to each other; one set ranging south-west by west, and the other set north-west by north. The walls in the former direction certainly stood better than those in the latter; the greater number of the masses of brickwork were thrown down towards the N.E. Both these circumstances perfectly agree with the general idea of the undulations having come from the S.W.; in which quarter subterranean noises were also heard; for it is evident that the walls running S.W. and N.E. which presented their ends to the point whence the undulations came, would be much less likely to fall than those walls which, running N.W. and S.E., must in their whole lengths have been at the same instant thrown out of the perpendicular; for the undulations, coming from the S.W., must have extended in N.W. and S.E. waves, as they passed under the foundations. This may be illustrated by placing books edgeways on a carpet, and then, after the manner suggested by Michell, imitating the undulations of an earthquake: it will be found that they fall with more or less readiness, according as their direction more or less nearly coincides with the line of the waves. The fissures in the ground generally, though not uniformly, extended in a S.E. and N.W. direction, and therefore corresponded to the lines of undulation or of principal flexure. Bearing in mind all these circumstances, which so clearly point to the S.W. as the chief focus of disturbance, it is a very interesting fact that the island of S. Maria, situated in that quarter, was, during the general uplifting of the land, raised to nearly three times the height of any other part of the coast.

The different resistance offered by the walls, according to their direction, was well exemplified in the case of the Cathedral. The side which fronted the N.E. presented a grand pile of ruins, in the midst of which door-cases and masses of timber stood up, as if floating in a stream. Some of the angular blocks of brickwork were of great dimensions; and they were rolled to a distance on the level plaza, like fragments of rock at the base of some high mountain. The side walls (running S.W. and N.E.), though exceedingly fractured, yet remained standing; but the vast buttresses (at right angles to them, and therefore parallel to the walls that fell) were in many cases cut clean off, as if by a chisel, and hurled to the ground. Some square ornaments on the coping of these same walls were moved by the earthquake into a diagonal position. A similar circumstance was observed after an earthquake at Valparaiso, Calabria, and other places, including some of the ancient Greek temples.1 This twisting displacement at first appears to indicate a vorticose movement beneath each point thus affected; but this is highly improbable. May it not be caused by a tendency in each stone to arrange itself in some particular position with respect to the lines of vibration,—in a manner somewhat similar to pins on a sheet of paper when shaken? Generally speaking, arched doorways or windows stood much better than any other part of the buildings. Nevertheless, a poor lame old man, who had been in the habit, during trifling shocks, of crawling to a certain doorway, was this time crushed to pieces.

I have not attempted to give any detailed description of the appearance of Concepcion, for I feel that it is quite impossible to convey the mingled feelings which I experienced.  [1. M. Arago in L'Institut, 1839, p. 337. See also Miers's Chile, vol. i, p. 392; also Lyell's Principles of Geology, chap. xv, book ii.]  Several of the officers visited it before me, but their strongest language failed to give a just idea of the scene of desolation. It is a bitter and humiliating thing to see works, which have cost man so much time and labour, overthrown in one minute; yet compassion for the inhabitants was almost instantly banished, by the surprise in seeing a state of things produced in a moment of time, which one was accustomed to attribute to a succession of ages. In my opinion, we have scarcely beheld, since leaving England, any sight so deeply interesting.

In almost every severe earthquake, the neighbouring waters of the sea are said to have been greatly agitated. The disturbance seems generally, as in the case of Concepcion, to have been of two kinds: first, at the instant of the shock, the water swells high up on the beach with a gentle motion, and then as quietly retreats; secondly, some time afterwards, the whole body of the sea retires from the coast, and then returns in waves of overwhelming force. The first movement seems to be an immediate consequence of the earthquake affecting differently a fluid and a solid, so that their respective levels are slightly deranged: but the second case is a far more important phenomenon. During most earthquakes, and especially during those on the west coast of America, it is certain that the first great movement of the waters has been a retirement. Some authors have attempted to explain this, by supposing that the water retains its level, whilst the land oscillates upwards; but surely the water close to the land, even on a rather steep coast, would partake of the motion of the bottom: moreover, as urged by Mr. Lyell, similar movements of the sea have occurred at islands far distant from the chief line of disturbance, as was the case with Juan Fernandez during this earthquake, and with Madeira during the famous Lisbon shock. I suspect (but the subject is a very obscure one) that a wave, however produced, first draws the water from the shore, on which it is advancing to break: I have observed that this happens with the little waves from the paddles of a steam-boat. It is remarkable that whilst Talcahuano and Callao (near Lima), both situated at the head of large shallow bays, have suffered during every severe earthquake from great waves, Valparaiso, seated close to the edge of profoundly deep water, has never been overwhelmed, though so often shaken by the severest shocks. From the great wave not immediately following the earthquake, but sometimes after the interval of even half an hour, and from distant islands being affected similarly with the coasts near the focus of the disturbance, it appears that the wave first rises in the offing; and as this is of general occurrence, the cause must be general: I suspect we must look to the line where the less disturbed waters of the deep ocean join the water nearer the coast, which has partaken of the movements of the land, as the place where the great wave is first generated; it would also appear that the wave is larger or smaller, according to the extent of shoal water which has been agitated together with the bottom on which it rested.

The most remarkable effect of this earthquake was the permanent elevation of the land; it would probably be far more correct to speak of it as the cause. There can be no doubt that the land round the Bay of Concepcion was upraised two or three feet; but it deserves notice, that owing to the wave having obliterated the old lines of tidal action on the sloping sandy shores, I could discover no evidence of this fact, except in the united testimony of the inhabitants, that one little rocky shoal, now exposed, was formerly covered with water. At the island of S. Maria (about thirty miles distant) the elevation was greater; on one part, Captain Fitz Roy found beds of putrid mussel-shells still adhering to the rocks, ten feet above high-water mark: the inhabitants had formerly dived at lower-water spring-tides for these shells. The elevation of this province is particularly interesting, from its having been the theatre of several other violent earthquakes, and from the vast numbers of sea-shells scattered over the land, up to a height of certainly 600, and I believe, of 1000 feet. At Valparaiso, as I have remarked, similar shells are found at the height of 1300 feet: it is hardly possible to doubt that this great elevation has been effected by successive small uprisings, such as that which accompanied or caused the earthquake of this year, and likewise by an insensibly slow rise, which is certainly in progress on some parts of this coast.

The island of Juan Fernandez, 360 miles to the N.E., was, at the time of the great shock of the 20th, violently shaken, so that the trees beat against each other, and a volcano burst forth under water close to the shore: these facts are remarkable because this island, during the earthquake of 1751, was then also affected more violently than other places at an equal distance from Concepcion, and this seems to show some subterranean connexion between these two points. Chiloe, about 340 miles southward of Concepcion, appears to have been shaken more strongly than the intermediate district of Valdivia, where the volcano of Villarica was noways affected, whilst in the Cordillera in front of Chiloe two of the volcanos burst forth at the same instant in violent action. These two volcanos, and some neighbouring ones, continued for a long time in eruption, and ten months afterwards were again influenced by an earthquake at Concepcion. Some men cutting wood near the base of one of these volcanos, did not perceive the shock of the 20th, although the whole surrounding Province was then trembling; here we have an eruption relieving and taking the place of an earthquake, as would have happened at Concepcion, according to the belief of the lower orders, if the volcano at Antuco had not been closed by witchcraft. Two years and three-quarters afterwards Valdivia and Chiloe were again shaken, more violently than on the 20th, and an island in the Chonos Archipelago was permanently elevated more than eight feet. It will give a better idea of the scale of these phenomena, if (as in the case of the glaciers) we suppose them to have taken place at corresponding distances in Europe:—then would the land from the North Sea to the Mediterranean have been violently shaken, and at the same instant of time a large tract of the eastern coast of England would have been permanently elevated, together with some outlying islands,—a train of volcanos on the coast of Holland would have burst forth in action, and an eruption taken place at the bottom of the sea, near the northern extremity of Ireland—and lastly, the ancient vents of Auvergne, Cantal, and Mont d'Or would each have sent up to the sky a dark column of smoke, and have long remained in fierce action. Two years and three-quarters afterwards, France, from its centre to the English Channel, would have been again desolated by an earthquake, and an island permanently upraised in the Mediterranean.

The space, from under which volcanic matter on the 20th was actually erupted, is 720 miles in one line, and 400 miles in another line at right angles to the first: hence, in all probability, a subterranean lake of lava is here stretched out, of nearly double the area of the Black Sea. From the intimate and complicated manner in which the elevatory and eruptive forces were shown to be connected during this train of phenomena, we may confidently come to the conclusion that the forces which slowly and by little starts uplift continents, and those which at successive periods pour forth volcanic matter from open orifices, are identical. From many reasons, I believe that the frequent quakings of the earth on this line of coast are caused by the rending of the strata, necessarily consequent on the tension of the land when upraised, and their injection by fluidified rock. This rending and injection would, if repeated often enough (and we know that earthquakes repeatedly affect the same areas in the same manner), form a chain of hills;—and the linear island of St. Mary, which was upraised thrice the height of the neighbouring country, seems to be undergoing this process. I believe that the solid axis of a mountain differs in its manner of formation from a volcanic hill, only in the molten stone having been repeatedly injected, instead of having been repeatedly ejected. Moreover, I believe that it is impossible to explain the structure of great mountain-chains, such as that of the Cordillera, where the strata, capping the injected axis of plutonic rock, have been thrown on their edges along several parallel and neighbouring lines of elevation, except on this view of the rock of the axis having been repeatedly injected, after intervals sufficiently long to allow the upper parts or wedges to cool and become solid;—for if the strata had been thrown into their present highly-inclined, vertical, and even inverted positions, by a single blow, the very bowels of the earth would have gushed out; and instead of beholding abrupt mountain-axes of rock solidified under great pressure, deluges of lava would have flowed out at innumerable points on every line of elevation.


Thursday, July 12, 2012

"The Four Little Pigs"

Do you know the story of "The Four Little Pigs"?  The story was never completed.  Many of you probably know about the first three, but I'll go over the story here again, and fill you in on the fourth guy.

There once were four little pigs who lived at home with their parents until their parents could stand them no longer and kicked them out into the wild.

The first little pig threw up a house of sticks, and enjoyed life until the Big Bad Wolf came, blew his house down, and had him for lunch.

The second little pig built a house of wood, which was stronger than sticks, but still he suffered the same fate as the first little pig.

The third little pig spent a lot of time and money putting up a brick house that the Big Bad Wolf couldn't blow down.  Then, the wolf was stupid enough, and small enough apparently (despite his name), that he went down the chimney into a waiting pot of boiling water....  The third little pig, being of a cannibalistic bent, ate the wolf who had eaten two of his brothers.

He enjoyed a quiet life for a few years until a big earthquake brought his brick house down on top of him, ending his life.

The fourth little pig, who had realized the area was prone to earthquakes, had put up a five story, steel reinforced concrete house, with a home theater on the fifth floor.  He was the only one of the four to live a long happy life.

How did the fourth little pig get enough money to put up such a cool house?  I don't know.  I wish someone would tell me.  And how about the third little pig, how did he get his mitts on all those bricks anyway?

Copyright 1997 & 2012 by:
Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

Friday, July 06, 2012

"Shop Near Yoyogi-Hachiman Station" - (120621)

Shop Near Yoyogi-Hachiman Station
Copyright 2012 by Lyle H Saxon

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

"Ginza, Train Scenes, Trip Back to 1990, Art Exhibitions, Etc."

As the title says - although the two main things in this batch are art exhibition views and views of 1990 Tokyo.  Revisiting 1990 has been interesting for me for a number of reasons, from comparing it to the present, to re-experiencing the atmosphere of the time.  As there is a lot to say about the individual clips from 1990, I'll make comments after each one (see below).

Ginza Chuo-Dori Stroll in the Rain (120703)

Higashi-Murayama Station - Seibu Line Train Arriving - (120703)

March 1990 - Shibuya Ice Cream

When I walk into the shop and have the camera rolling, the employees laugh and smile for the camera.  If you tried something like this now, there's a good chance someone would get angry and tell you to erase the clip.  And this wasn't an isolated response.  Typically I'd be taking a video of something outside and people would detour so as to walk in front of the camera and be recorded smiling and waving to the camera.

I turn the camera towards a couple of customers in the shop, who also smile for the camera.  The one woman's hairstyle is of the era as well - long, straight, black (so many people dye their hair now that truly black hair is actually somewhat of a rarity in 2012!), with short front bangs.  Actually, I'm not sure how to properly explain that hairstyle, but I remember it and that it was popular at the time.

And then I turn the camera towards another pair of customers - who ignore it.  Again, this would be very uncool behavior in 2012, but in camera-happy 1990 (when photographs and video were mainly considered purely fun and not something to fear), this was - admittedly - rather bold behavior on my part, but just considered quirky at the time and not something bad.  If it had generated bad reactions at the time, I wouldn't have done it.

Looking back towards the young man behind the counter, he tries speaking with me in English, and I respond in English (although I could have responded in Japanese).  Japan had just entered the era of strong yen - after a long period of it being weak, which basically meant that most people never traveled overseas due to the cost.  And Japan was just beginning to be culturally popular (it had always been interesting, but not in a mainstream way), so there weren't very many foreigners who came here to live.  Basically, at the time, if you saw a foreigner, they were likely to be a tourist, which may be what I was taken for on this occasion.

Looking down the counter as other customers order ice cream.  The young women and their long, straight, black hair.  Looking at the videos I took in 1990-92, that hairstyle almost defines the era for me - it really stands out and quickly identifies an image as being from that time.

When I step out in front of the camera a couple of times, that large bag on my right shoulder is what I carried the (rather large) video camera in.  The first of four analog 8mm (Hi8) cameras I used, it didn't stand up to heavy use very well and needed repairs fairly early on.  Once I bought the next model, I relegated this one to back-up use.

March 1990 - Neon Clarion Sign in Shibuya

Just a (rather complicated) neon sign, but I often worked in Shibuya at the time, and on the way home, I would look up at that sign while waiting for the walk light to change.  It was interesting enough for me that I never got tired of watching it (and so I'm glad I recorded the full cycle of its changes in this clip).  The same sign was there for a fairly long time, but was changed to a regular plain sign a few(?) years ago.

Speaking of large billboard advertisements.  They are increasingly left blank for want of advertisers in 2012.  How much of that is due to the bad economy and how much is due to Internet advertising (and people walking around looking at their cell phones all the time and hardly ever looking up), I'm not sure.

March 1990 - Late Night Shibuya

The visual element of this one should be seen as a backdrop to the audio track.  We've all gotten so used to hearing *something* with even very old footage that was originally taken soundlessly - with fake sound tacked on decades later due to modern people seemingly being unable to bear seeing moving pictures without sound - and then that sound is taken for granted, but it shouldn't be.  Oftentimes the element that has most radically changed with something like this is the sound.  We should *know* this, but after decades of seeing old pictures with fake sounds, our collective mental audio track processing ability has been very heavily damaged - to the point where we hear generic garbage sounds tacked onto old footage and unthinkingly accept that those fake generic sounds are actually connected with the scene we're watching (even though they're completely bogus).

Okay... [taking a deep breath]... I'm doing too much preamble, but if you *really* listen to *real* archival sounds, there is much to learn about the ambiance of the time a sound recording was made.  Getting to specifics, let's listen to some of the elements of this soundtrack from the streets of March 1990 Shibuya.

The first thing that stands out to me when listening to this (and remembering), are the low-fidelity small-speaker generated recordings being played back to passerby to entice them into one shop or another.  The typical technology used at the time was cassette tape, which was capable of reproducing great sound if you were using the most expensive equipment available, recording on high-quality tapes, and then playing the tapes back on well-maintained (degaussed, cleaned, etc.) equipment through good speakers via quality amplification, etc.

Naturally, typical small shops didn't have that sort of budget (or time) to work with and figured that - just for voice - any old recorder would do.  (Actually - some places probably did go to the trouble to make good quality recordings, but playback is another issue.)  For playback, they'd use the cheapest type of tapes (intended for voice only) and then play them back endlessly in cheap tape player/recorders.  So you had bad/low fidelity/quality recordings playing off of low-quality tape through cheap over-used equipment.  The result was so clearly a recording, that you would never confuse a recording with a real person speaking.  It was nice in a way - because when recorded voices are very obviously recorded voices, you can immediately assign them to that role as you pass through the sound waves, and then when a real person speaks, they automatically get higher priority as a fellow right-now living person.  Also, the low-fidelity recordings add their own ambiance to the scene.

In the first 35 seconds or so of this clip, there is first an echoey fairly high-pitched recording and then another recording's sound waves drift into the scene - sounding closer to a real person's voice, but with a muffled sound (likely due to a quality recording being played back on a poorly maintained tape player and/or via a tape that's been played and replayed too many times, which damages the high frequency sounds most off all, so you get increasingly muffled-sounding playback).

Past the old-recording sound waves on the narrow street, the voices of all the people become the predominant sound, and - while I'm still trying to pinpoint what it is that is different about the way the same scene would sound today, I suspect it has something to do with the almost complete lack of cell phones in 1990 (only businesses and rich people had them).  Aside from the element of a single voice talking through a machine to an unseen/unheard person in some other place, even when people are sending text messages, the fact that there's this unceasing connection with far-off people changes everything.  Knowing that you can (and often do) connect with a large number of people, wherever they may be, reduces the importance of being with whoever you are with, not to mention lost attention that would have been focused on your immediate surroundings.

This may be the element of the past I most miss - that when you went somewhere, you were really there.  There was an automatic look-out for public telephones, for when you needed to reach someone regarding something, but even when you used them, the moment you hung up, there was no way someone could reach you.  (Pagers and cell phones existed, but weren't in general use yet.  Pagers became popular not long after this, but in 1990 - most people relied on public telephones if they needed to contact a distant person while outside.)

At about one minute into the tape, three young women laugh and do a quick pose for the camera.  That was quite common at the time - I think the idea of being recorded in motion and with sound was still novel enough that it was just fun - for its own sake.

After 10:00 p.m. - then, as now, a time when a lot of people begin to head for the nearest train station (Shibuya in this case) to begin their (typically) multi-train journey home.

Around four minutes into the tape, I walk past a row of public telephones and there is someone in nearly every last one of them.  Where public telephones still exist today (an increasingly rare item), they usually sit there unused.

Other than that, there are various detail changes (comparing 1990 to 2012), but nothing too radically different.  The camera wasn't held very steadily and I apologize for that - I had just recently begun recording video and wasn't used to taking moving pictures.

1990年「ビヤステーション恵比寿」の古い電車ビアレストラン (900319)

First I should explain the title.  It's "Beer Station Ebisu" [plus details] and shows the old train cars (not far from Ebisu Station) that they were using as a pub at the time (seen from a passing Yamanote Line train).  I went there once and thought it was a great idea.  Unfortunately, when they built Ebisu Garden Place (which didn't exist when I took this), those cool train cars disappeared.  I think the train was initially moved to another location, but apparently that didn't work out, because it vanished not long after that.

1990 Yamanote Line Window View (900319)

Looking out a left-side window of a Yamanote Line train as it runs from Shibuya to Ebisu and then Meguro.  In marked contrast to today, the area between the Yamanote Line and the Toyoko Line is mainly just empty space.  As the train stops at and continues past Ebisu Station, note that there is no Ebisu Garden Place.  Construction for that began not long after this was taken.

1990 Tokyo Morning Trains (900322)

This begins with walking down a flight of stairs in the morning to a crowded railway station platform and shows a few morning trains coming and going.  There's some manual assist from platform people to help people get into very full trains, and lots of standing around waiting for trains to arrive.  I wanted to post this to show a wider spectrum of what it was like riding the crush-rush trains then, since too much attention has ended up focusing on the pack-'em-in aspect of train loading, which was just a momentary part of the commute.

To fully understand the whole picture, there should be pictures of the inside as well, but at that high of a people density and with the fragile and large machine that a video camera was at the time, not to mention that it would have been rude to record people in that unpleasant situation, all the footage of this clip is just from the platform.  (I have taken some interior views before, but only at times like a packed Ginza Line train full of happy people going to a festival, etc.)  The strange thing about it being really intensely crowded, is that when you're packed in with people so tightly that you can't move, the body seems to automatically sense that becoming agitated is counterproductive and it's actually *less* irritating than when the density is less and you find yourself irritatedly wondering "Does that guy really need to have his elbow there?  Can't he move a little bit away from me?!?" etc.

Takaosanguchi to Takao - Empty Train Views Etc (120702)

Off-Schedule Outbound Chuo Line - Shinjuku (120703)

Nighttime Kokubunji Station 120703

Arriving at Takadanobaba Station - Transfer to Tozai Line (120703)

Y's Arts-508 - Plastic Jewelry Exhibition 120702-08

Masaki Takayama 高山正樹 Exhibition at Gallery Kobo 巷房 120625-0707

Amore Ginza Gallery アモーレ銀座ギャラリー Group Exhibition 120702-08 (A) - 120703

Amore Ginza Gallery アモーレ銀座ギャラリー Group Exhibition 120702-08 (B) - 120703

Endo Kazuho 遠藤和帆展 Exhibition at GGICM 120628-0703

Hayashi Kenzo 林建造 New Book (A) 120703

Hayashi Kenzo 林建造 New Book (B) 120703

Hayashi Kenzo 林建造 New Book (C) 120703

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon