Sunday, December 30, 2012

"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

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