Monday, January 14, 2013

"Shibuya, Zojoji Temple, Asaka, Yurakucho, Shinagawa, Shinjuku, Keisei-Narita Airport Line, Etc"

No time-tripping in this batch - all the videos are from January 2013 - with typical views from here and there in central Tokyo.  What stands out for me are the videos taken near Asakadai and Kita-Asaka Stations; the twilight views of Zojoji (with Tokyo Tower in the background); the new Keisei Narita Airport Line (why names of new lines have to be so long, I don't know...); and a fully mechanical rope-making machine that I recorded in action.  Otherwise are pretty typically visited areas: Shibuya, Shinjuku, Yurakucho, Ginza, Shinagawa, Tokyo, Hamamatsucho, etc., as well as train views (Chuo Line, Yamanote Line, Hibiya Line, Keisei Line(s), etc.

Shibuya Hachiko Square - Afternoon View 渋谷八個広場 (午後) 130110g

The type of train carriage this opens with is unusual in that the base is wider than the top - it looks pretty cool, but I always ended up banging my head on the glass when sitting down, since I expected it to be where it was on other trains, and it was angled in towards the top on this type.  I'm glad they have this cab version of that type of train sitting in Hachiko Plaza/Square, but always find myself wishing they had left its wheels on.  This is definitely more practical, but....

After looking in the old train carriage (which is used as a waiting area now, which is a great idea), I walk around a little in the eternal meeting spot that the area around Hachiko Stature is.  One thing about it that has changed is that it wasn't really well known outside Japan a few decades back, but now it's a standard tourist destination and appears to be well-known worldwide.

Shibuya to Ebisu (Yamanote Line) 渋谷から恵比寿まで (山手線) 130110g

How many times have I walked down this Yamanote Line platform at Shibuya Station?  It feels like my whole life, but has been only ("only?") about 30 years.  As I look at this video now and think back to my early experiences in Shibuya Station in the 1980's, I have a feeling of the area having been vacated by the people who crowded there three decades ago, who were replaced by another set of young people... and that's pretty much exactly what has happened.  There's a weird feeling of some kind of disconnect - of the place not being used to the new crowd yet and the new crowd not knowing the history of the place very well (if at all)...?  Or something else... something about the group-think of the new crowd being so different than before.  At what point do the mental broadcast frequencies change so radically?

Riding to Ebisu... with the bland (and in the case of the English-language version, extraordinarily irritating) recorded announcement instead of the conductor speaking to everyone on the train live, as was the case before.  And Ebisu Station!  In 1991, it was just a single open platform - as you can see in this video from July 1991 (which also has the tail end of a live announcement at the beginning):

Ebisu Station in July 1991 - 1991年7月の恵比寿駅

Listening again to the 2013 English announcement... man I hate that announcement!  "This is a Yamanote Line train BOUND For [Station names]...."  Yuck!  If you're going to force people to listen to something over-and-over-and-over-and-over again, day-after-day-after-day, week-after-week-after-week, month-after-month-after-month, year-after-year-after-year, you should put some effort into finding someone with a pleasing voice who can read announcements professionally!

Twilight View of Tokyo Tower Behind Zojoji Temple 夕方の東京タワーと増上寺 (130110g)

Twilight - with the temple, clouds overhead, and illuminated Tokyo Tower in the background, made for that feeling of magic in the air.  I had only intended to take the short video above, but then I heard the bell toll and went back to take the following video to get the sound of the temple bell and the surrounding twilight scene....

Something I hadn't noticed before is how the large post (correct term?) used for ringing the bell has to be handled carefully to keep it from hitting the bell a second time - which stands to reason - it's a really large and heavy object - basically a long log in size and weight.

Zojoji Temple - Twilight Bell Ringing 夕方の増上寺鐘が鳴る (130110g)

Asakadai Station Platform View 朝霞台ホームビュー (130109hdg)

The train that pulls out of the station at the beginning of the video is one of the oldest types still in use on the Tobu-Tojo Line.  I've been riding in that type of train carriage (on and off) for close to 30 years now, so I feel some sense of nostalgia watching it and knowing that its days are numbered.  The train that pulls out just past the one minute mark is one of the trains that run seamlessly into the subway (becoming the Yurakucho Line).

Side Road Trackside Night Stroll (Asaka) 夜の朝霞鉄道隣見 (130109g)

The two stations (Asakadai and Kita-Asaka) and the cluster of companies around them form the center of the area, so walking up to the stations is like entering the center of a small town in a way.

Mechanical Rope-Making Machine 素晴らしいメカ縄作り機械 (130108g)

This machine was quite impressive!  Fully mechanical with no electronics and no need for electricity, all you need is plant material (in this case rice plant stalks), and to rotate it via the foot petal (there are two pedals, but he was operating it with just the front one), and you can make your own rope.  One older guy came by and said that there used to be one in the town he lived in while growing up, and people in the neighborhood would all use it to make their own rope.

Yurakucho Station Area Night Sights and Sounds 有楽町駅街頭の風景 (130110g)

Walking under a rail bridge towards Ginza as a Shinkansen passes by overhead - the end-of-year seasonal illumination still installed.

Bookstore Aisle Cruising 本屋通路散歩 (130110g)

While you can't beat the convenience of clicking on a title you want on your computer and having it delivered to your door, you also can't beat the pleasure of wandering around a good-sized bookstore and seeing a large collection of books that you can pick up, look through, and buy Right Now, as opposed to waiting for a delivery.

Yurakucho Izakaya Cold and Slow Night 有楽町居酒屋寒い夜 (130110g)

It was a cold and windy evening - and on a cold and windy evening, people are much less inclined to want to go to an outside izakaya.  The izakaya places in this video have set up heaters and curtained off the outside areas, but it's not the same as going somewhere that is just Warm, and not semi-warm, with regular cold blasts of winter air as people come and go.  However, the two places in that tunnel under the tracks seem to do good business all year round.

Yurakucho Trains in the Night 有楽町夜の電車を見る (130110g)

Looking around from one of the platforms of Yurakucho Station.  The clear winter air makes the lights seem brighter and the gleaming Shinkansen looks nice as it goes by....

夜の品川駅前 Area in Front of Shinagawa Station at Night (130110g)

Walking out of Shinagawa Station and into the winter night.

22:00 Tokyo Station (Tokaido Line, Etc) 夜の東京駅 (東海道線など) 130110g

Taking the Tokaido Line to Tokyo Station and then walking down into one of the station concourses.

Waiting for a Train (Shinjuku) 電車来るまでを待っている (新宿) 130108

I walked onto the platform at a gap in the schedule, when there were almost no trains at the station (and none at all for a little between Yamanote Line trains).  Depending on the ebb and flow of people, gaps like this can produce quite a crowd on the platforms, but it wasn't crowded this particular time - nevertheless the timed recording read with the overly-smooth forced-informal and artificially-jovial tone saying to please properly deal with crowded conditions drones on....

Visually, you might want to take a good hard look at how the open platforms look in this one, because they're constructing platform walls (just over a meter high, so like a fence) on the Yamanote Line now, so it's only a matter of time before this takes on a completely different appearance.

I can't argue that platform walls are safer, and given how crowded the platforms sometimes become, combined with a reduced number of railway employees on hand, it's probably a great idea, but the current open platforms are more interesting visually and photographically.

And then there's energy... for one Yamanote Line platform at one station, if each platform wall door (two per opening) uses one motor, how much power is consumed each time a train comes in?  Eleven carriages, four double-doors per carriage, so 44 openings, doubled to 88 since the platform wall doors are also double doors.  88 electric motors running for each and every train (every few minutes on the Yamanote Line) at each and every station.  It seems to me it would have made more sense to install platform walls with openings where the train doors are, and skipped the platform doors.  With a door-gapped wall, there's something to grab onto even if you start to fall where one of the gaps are.  When I used the Ikegami Line, that's the system they use (and still do I think).  It's safer than an open platform and you don't have the tremendous financial costs and waste of energy that the powered door version requires.  Here's what the Ikegami Line looked like in 2010 (and presumably still does):

Hatanodai Station - People Getting On & Off an Ikegami Line Train 池上線 - (100112)

And back to the general appearance of the platforms at Shinjuku Station on the evening I took this video.  This view gives you an idea of how long the platforms are for 10-car (and 11 for the Yamanote Line) trains are.  (Some main JR line stations have platforms that accommodate 15-car trains.)

Shinjuku Station Late-Night Stroll (South Exit Area) 130108

Walking around on the concourse near the south exit.  I spent a little too much time on the team of advertisement changers working to remove a cover-everything advertisement, but I thought it was kind of interesting at the time and hadn't seen that process before.  After spending too much time on the concourse, I walk down to one of the Yamanote Line platforms.

Keisei-Nippori Station Platform View - Boarding Train 日暮里駅 (130108hd)

I went out to Narita Airport and tried out (midway, after transferring from the first Keisei train I took) the new speedier Keisei line (which goes in more of a straight line to the airport and runs up to about 120kph) to the airport.  It costs Y200 more than the fastest non-Skyliner Keisei train that runs on the original Keisei tracks, but gets you there ten minutes faster (by regular train express, not Skyliner - the new Skyliner goes up to 160kph and takes much less time). The new line confusingly goes by three (or more?!) names:

"Keisei Narita Airport Line" and "Narita Sky Access" and "Access Express", etc.
(京成成田空港線 - 成田スカイアクセス - 成田空港アクセス, etc.)

On a map at this link, the two lines are labeled "Keisei Main Line" and "Access Express":

The history is interesting - apparently part of the new track was laid on what was originally right-of-way intended for a Shinkansen link to the airport (the Keisei Line runs on wider gauge than most rail lines in Tokyo, by the way, using the same gauge as the Shinkansen tracks I think):

The new line is really cool, but why are there so many different names for it?  What are we supposed to call it?  Given that there are at least three names for it, I guess we can call it whatever we like?  Free-for-all in naming?  Not trying to be unfriendly here, but having three (or more?) different names for the same thing is really confusing.

Stopping at New Station on Keisei-Narita Airport Line (130108hd)

Yurakucho Station Platform (Afternoon View) 午後の有楽町駅 (130108hd)

Again, have a good look at how the open platforms look, because this scene won't last forever.

Yurakucho Under-Bridge View 有楽町橋下ビュー (130108hd)

Walking through that little time-slip alley right by the station.  It's quite short, but really feels like it's from a completely different era.

Kita-Asaka to Asakadai Transfer, Etc 北朝霞駅から朝霞台駅までなど (130109hd)

With a transfer like this, it seems like it would have been better to have used the same station name for the two stations that people regularly transfer to and from.  As it is, the Tobu-Tojo Line station is called Asakadai Station, and the JR station is called Kita-Asaka.

The next several videos are all from the area around the Kita-Asaka and Asakadai pair of stations.  I transfer here from time-to-time, but I hadn't really taken a good look at the area before, so I slotted in some time to just walk around and see what it's like.

Trains, Cars, and Bicycles 電車, 自動車と自転車 (130109hd)

Freight Train Passing Through Kita-Asaka Station 北朝霞駅 (130109hd)

Looking Around in Front of Kita-Asaka Station 北朝霞駅前 (130109hd)

Taxis, Sidewalk, Buildings and a Train 北朝霞駅前 (130109hd)

Asakadai Station Concourse and Transfer to Kita-Asaka 朝霞台駅と北朝霞駅 (130109hd)

The next several videos are from my recent trip out to Narita Airport:

Keisei Tokkyu to Aoto (Narita Bound) 京成特急 (青砥駅へ, 成田行き) 130108

Keisei Line Racing Another Train 京成線電車のレース (130108)

Keisei Narita Airport Line - Speeding Towards Narita Airport (1of4) 130108

Keisei Narita Airport Line - Speeding Towards Narita Airport (2of4) 130108

Keisei Narita Airport Line - Speeding Towards Narita Airport (3of4) 130108

Keisei Narita Airport Line - Speeding Towards Narita Airport (4of4) 130108

Daytime Tunnel Reflections (130108)

Keisei Narita Airport Line - Arriving at Narita Airport 空港第2ビル駅 (130108)

Narita Airport Keisei Station Platform - Building Number Two 空港第2ビル駅 (130108)

Be sure to pay attention to platform numbers when getting on a train.

The next three videos are side window views from a Chuo Line train.

Chuo Line - Mitaka to Nakano 中央線三鷹から中野まで (130108)

Chuo Line - Nakano to Yotsuya 中央線 - 中野から四谷まで (130108)

Chuo Line - Yotsuya to Kanda 中央線四谷から神田まで (130108)

Kanda Station Under Construction - Ride to Yurakucho (130108)

This is a fairly long video - I had originally intended to just show the transfer from the Chuo Line to the Yamanote Line at Kanda Station, but it appears to have entered a difference phase of reconstruction than the last time I passed through, so I paused to look around a little inside the station, and then went up to catch a Yamanote Line train.  Since a train came pretty soon after I got there, I left the camera running and also recorded the run to Yurakucho.

About the recorded birdsong in the stations - I haven't done any research into this, but while I thought it was an attempt at making a pleasant atmosphere at first, now I think it might be an anti-pigeon measure?  If a pigeon thinks an area is already claimed territory by other birds, maybe it stays away?  Just conjecture, but the way the recorded birdsong is used at so many stations, there must be some reason for it.

On the way to Yurakucho, the train stops at Tokyo Station - and regarding that platform, which still has (over most of the platform) a wooden roof and support beams, I think this is the last platform with this old type roof (dating back to?) left at Tokyo Station.  I remember the skylights as having been installed in the late eighties, by the way.  They didn't originally have those.

Those bloody recorded announcements... "The doors on the LEFT SIDE will open."  Ugh!  Yuck!  Man I hate those horrible English announcements!  気持ち悪いよ! 止めてくれ!

Kyobashi New Building Construction 京橋ビル工事 (130108)

This is a short one, but if you look closely you can see them lifting one of the outside sections into place, which I thought was sort of interesting.

Bamboo Installation at Kobo - January2013 竹のインスタレーション (130108)

An installation of bundles of split bamboo.

Tobu-Tojo Line - Side Window View 東武東上線左側の景色 (130109)

Looking out a left-side window of an outgoing Tobu-Tojo Line train.  There's enough open space along the railway line where I took this video, that it's kind of relaxing to watch the scenery go by.  When there are large buildings right next to a train line, there's nothing you can rest your eyes on, since the entire scene going by the windows is constantly changing.  It's interesting, but also kind of stressful to try and keep track of.  With open space though, you can stare off into the distance and drift into one deep thought or another.

Speaking of deep thoughts... one of the attractions of going out into the crowds in Tokyo is that basic navigation requirements and constantly changing surroundings prevent you from thinking about anything very deeply - which is a good way to not be depressed!

Okay - here we come to a long stretch of videos showing various views of the area around Asakadai and Kita-Asaka.  "Wait - didn't that already happen further up the page?" - It did, but those were taken with a different camera than this batch.  The titles are pretty self-explanatory, so I won't comment much on this batch.

Exiting Asakadai Station 朝霞台駅の改札口 (130109)

Underground Bicycle Parking (A) 自転車駐車場 (130109)

Underground Bicycle Parking (B) 自転車駐車場 (130109)

Asakadai to Kita-Asaka Transfer 朝霞台駅-北朝霞駅乗り換え (130109)

Elevator Ride (A) Looking Around (Asaka) 朝霞 (130109)

Atrium Views and Kita-Asaka Station 北朝霞駅 (130109)

Elevator Ride (B) Looking Around (Asaka) 朝霞 (130109)

Area In Front of Kita-Asaka Station 北朝霞駅前 (130109)

Asaka Trackside Lookaround 朝霞鉄道隣の見回り (130109)

Tobu Line Train Passing Vertical Flags 東武東上線電車が通り過ぎる (130109)

Twilight Asakadai Station Concourse 夕方の朝霞台駅 (130109)

Outbound Commuter Train Passing in the Night 夜の電車通り過ぎる (130109)

Outbound Commuter Train Passing in the Night 夜の電車が通り過ぎる (130109)

Flags and Trains in the Night 夜の電車が行ったり来たり (130109)

Pedestrian Spiral Stairs and Passing Night Train 夜の電車 (130109)

Atmosphere is something that is hard to convey to people in far-off lands, but I suppose moving pictures with sound go some way towards conveying something of the experience.  For me watching this video reminds me how your perception of the world changes when you live a car-free (except all the fire-breathing beasts everywhere... I mean "car-free" in the sense of doing without one yourself) existence.  You get around by train, and when on the street, instead of nervously thinking about the place you left the car - whether a parking meter might run out, whether the paint will get scratched, whether it will be vandalized, how much parking will cost, etc. etc. etc., you are completely free to just take in your surroundings.  I'm sure my car-breathing friends will not agree/comprehend with that, but take it from a former car-addict - there are very real advantages to doing without your very own fire-breathing beast on wheels.

Anyway - I think I blasted right off into a tirade there without properly explaining my point.  Oh well.

One detail comment about this one - notice the ramp on the side of the stairs?  That's for bicycles - not to ride them of course, but to wheel them up and down the ramp while you walk on the stairs.

People Boarding Bus by Asakadai Station 朝霞台駅隣のバス停人々 (130109)

I generally don't like riding in buses, but they provide some welcome variation from the train experience from time to time.

Bus Departs Asakadai Station Bus Stop 朝霞台駅隣のバスが出発 (130109)

Crowds of Evening Commuters Transferring at Asakadai and Kita-Asaka (130109)

Evening Rush Transfer - Asakadai--Kita-Asaka 朝霞台駅-北朝霞駅夜乗り換え (130109)

Joining River of People Flowing By 人々川に入る (130109)

The title of this one refers to when I got into a steady flow of people heading from Asakadai Station to Kita-Asaka Station, but it goes all the through to arriving on the elevated platform of Kita-Asaka Station.

Evening Rush Musashino Line Train Arrives at Kita-Asaka 夜ラッシューの北朝霞駅 (130109)

After walking around Asaka for a while, finally I get back on a train and continue on my way.

Hibiya Line Front Cab View (Ebisu-Kasumigaseki) 日比谷線 (恵比寿-霞ヶ関) 130110

Looking into the tunnel through the front cab (via the small window on the far right away from the driver).  There's something fascinating about looking into the tunnel and imagining the work of building it - and the train rolling along the rails down in the earth with the city above....

Shinjuku South Exit Concourse (Afternoon) お昼すぎの新宿駅 (130110)

Shinjuku to Shibuya (Yamanote Line) 新宿から渋谷まで (山手線) 130110

Walking down a Yamanote Line platform in the afternoon and then boarding a train and riding to Shibuya while looking out a left-side window.

Entering the Subway System at Ebisu Station (Hibiya Line) 恵比寿駅 日比谷線 (130110)

Kasumigaseki to Kayabacho (Hibiya Line) 霞ヶ関から神谷町まで (日比谷線) 130110

Taking a Hibiya Line subway ride from Kasumigaseki to Kayabacho - looking into the tunnel along the way.  Not exciting, but the pattern of lights and shadows passing by is a part of the experience of riding in subway trains.

Small Park in Minato-ku 港区にある公園 (130110)

LED Archway at Base of Tokyo Tower 東京タワー (130110)

Night Yamanote Line - Front Cab View (Yurakucho to Shinagawa) 130110

Looking out the front of the train between Yurakucho and Shinagawa.  Central Tokyo is more interesting in a way at night, what with all the lights.  On this run all the platforms were open, which is something that will change before long.

Hamamatsucho - Ticket Gates to Platform 浜松町駅_改札からホームまで (130110)

Evening Yurakucho Station 夕方有楽町駅 (130110)

Ginza Side Street Glimpse (130110)

Quick Walk Through Ginza Inz (130110)

These shops are below an elevated expressway.

Snow Sculpture in Yurakucho Plaza 有楽町広場の雪彫刻 (130110)

The snow used to make these snow sculptures was either transported to Tokyo or artificially manufactured.  (Either that or they used a time machine to grab some January 14th snow and take it back to January 10th!)

Yurakucho 2nd Floor Seasonal Illumination 有楽町イルミネーション (130110)

Light Display and Books (Yurakucho) イルミネーションと本 (有楽町) 130110

After walking around looking at part of an illumination display up close, I walked into a large bookstore and walked abound a bit.  This bookstore is in a great location - very near to Yurakucho Station, and it always seems to be quite busy.  Small bookshops seem not to be doing so well - just about every time I walk past one and look in, it's empty.

Bookstore Stroll 本屋散歩 (130110)

Shinkansen Passing Illuminated Yurakucho 新幹線と夜の有楽町 (130110)

Tokyo Kotsu Kaikan Illumination 東京交通会館イルミネーション (130110)

Yurakucho 1-Chome Night Stroll 有楽町一丁目夜散歩 (130110)

Walking towards Yurakucho Station one cold January day.

Shinagawa Station Around 900PM 九時ごろの品川駅 (130110)

Walking Towards Shinagawa GOOS 京急EXイン品川駅前に近づく (130110)

I spent some time in this building back in 1984, when it was the Meridien Pacific Hotel - now it's an acronym hotel called Shinagawa GOOS (GOOS - Gate, Occasion, Oasis, and Satisfaction).  Too bad about the name (not the greatest *sounding* acronym when spoken as a word, and does *everything* have to be an acronym now?), but I'm glad the building is still in use.  I went to the top floor restaurant in 1984, and it's nice to know I can still do that.  The website for the building is:

In spite of my general lack of enthusiasm for acronyms (just about everyone overuses them I think), the concept for the hotel is good - on their website, the name is explained this way:

「Shinagawa GOOS」は、品川の街の入口として(Gate)、品川を訪れる方々や品川で暮らす方々に、記憶に残る特別な時間(Occasion)、都心での落ち着いた環境(Oasis)、当施設ならではの満足(Satisfaction)を提供する場所にしたいという想いを込めて名付けました。


Hallways and an Elevator (130110)

Nighttime Shinagawa - Looking Around (130110)

Looking around in Shinagawa from a pedestrian bridge near Shinagawa Station.

One View of Shinagawa at Night (130110)

Old Stairwell 古い階段 (130110)

Walking to Shinagawa Station from West Side at Night 夜の品川 (130110)

Tokyo Snow - January 14th, 2013 - (130114)

This is part of the Tamagawa-Josui Canal (玉川上水) that was built over 300 years ago to supply extra water for Edo.  From the air, it appears as a narrow strip that runs from western Tokyo to Kichijoji (although it forks and I'm not sure where the other fork goes).  From the ground, it's a nice oasis in Tokyo for walking, jogging etc.  (It seems much bigger from the ground than from the air.)

Here are a couple of views of Tamagawa-Josui in warmer weather:

Tamagawa-Josui Walk 玉川上水散歩 (100526)

Bicycle Ride Along Tamagawa Josui Canal 玉川上水隣のサイクリング - (100124)

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

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