Saturday, December 22, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Suburbs from Train Window (121215)

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

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

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

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

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

Nihonbashi Construction 日本橋の工事 (121215)

Kyobashi Construction 京橋の工事 (121215)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Arriving at Shinjuku Station (Chuo Line) 121217hd

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shinjuku Sidewalk Stroll (East Side) 121217hd

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inside Midnight Chuo Line Train at Shinjuku Station (121219)

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

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

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

Symphony of Recordings in Empty Discount Shop (121219)

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

Waiting for and Riding Inbound Chuo Line Train (121218)

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

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

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

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

Vertical Flags in the Wind 荻窪 (121218)

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

Yurakucho Under-Track Stroll (Small Shops Disappear) 121218

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

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

Copyright 2012 by Lyle H Saxon

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

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