I didn't think of any new places to go to this past week, so I just revisited some places I haven't been spending much time in lately. This being Tokyo, if you don't go somewhere for a little while, it's almost a sure bet that when you get around to returning, there will be changes - sometimes to a disorienting degree.
[A cautionary note about the time figures I've used below - they were taken from video file playback software running the original files on my computer, and not from the YouTube upload, so I'm not entirely certain they will always be accurate, although one file I tested was exactly the same. The time figure *should* be exactly the same, but thought I'd mention this production detail just in case.]
Akihabara to Yurakucho 秋葉原から有楽町まで (130124g5)
This starts on the plaza in front of Akihabara Station and then I walk through the busy ticket gates (with area commuters heading home for the day), and then board a Keihin-Tohoku Line train that takes me to Yurakucho. Getting around the city, I generally don't even think about sitting down (which you more often than not can't do anyway), but instead stand at a door so I can look out the window. Some rides are more visually interesting than others - this particular ride was a good one, with lots of trains running to handle the evening rush of homeward-bound commuters, so there was nearly constant motion outside the window (as you can see in the video).
Regarding standing by a door in order to look out a window... the problem with the efficient seating method of having long seats along the windows facing the center of the train, is it kind of forces you to look across the train and between the heads of the people sitting on the other side (with each side facing each other across the center of the train). It's not much fun visually, so you have to pick comfort (*if* there's a seat available) or stand by the door if you want to have a good look at what's going on/by outside.
[Audio note, I appear to have accidentally gotten in the way of the microphone in a couple of places on this one, causing the audio level to drop way down - sorry about that. Most of it is okay though.]
Yurakucho Plaza to YSB-Zone 有楽町プラザからYSBゾーンまでの散歩 (130124g)
From the middle of Yurakucho Plaza, I walk under the newer Shinkansen rail bridge and then immediately afterward through the old arch of the Yamanote and Keihin-Tohoku Lines. In the middle I look back to see/verify that the motor noise was from heating/cooling equipment, and then at about the 1:08 mark I follow a man into a soba-noodle place, do a zoom-twist, and continue on towards the YSB Zone.
At 1:25 (and 2:25), note the appearance of the overhead railway cars going past - it's a view that is likely doomed to be hidden. From the appearance of functional and sensible, but rather ugly walls put up near the Ameyokocho area between Ueno and Okachimachi stations, it appears that they intend to wall in the overhead railways - to cut down noise (and maybe also to keep trains from crashing down in the case of a severe earthquake) presumably. A necessary progression I suppose, but a disaster visually. One of the major visual attractions of Tokyo are the clear views of overhead trains running through the city.
Walking Towards Akihabara Station at Night 秋葉原駅に向かう (130124g)
Typical winter crowds during the evening rush-hour(s) time in Akihabara. Turning to look back away from the station, the clarity of the winter evening is apparent....
Spring isn't so far off, and the local tree pollen along with air pollution from China will begin blowing through town sometime in February. The quality of air in the world gets worse and worse. When will we stop worshiping short-term convenience over everything else and head in some direction other than destroying the planet, which is a form of mass-suicide? Better to live I think.
Yurakucho Izakaya Stroll 有楽町居酒屋散歩 (130124g)
Walking through the outside izakaya places in Yurakucho. The street of tents doesn't appear to be doing very good business, but I'm not surprised. They are crowded in the spring because it's nice to be outside, with the sound of the trains going by and the unobstructed sky overhead. What's the attraction of sitting in a semi-heated enclosed plastic tent? If you have to be under a roof and behind walls, it might as well be a real roof and real walls. I'd consider visiting those places if they were out in the open - even in the winter (if you drink something warm and don't stay long, it can still be enjoyable in the cold), but those plastic tents don't look inviting at all. And since they nearly always appear to be empty when I walk by, it looks like I'm not the only one who thinks so. Notice how the always-inside with real walls and real roof place (seen at 1:24 through a window in the narrow passageway under the tracks) is full. If you want to be warm in the winter, best to go for the real thing!
Nakano Station to Nakano Back Streets 中野駅から横道まで (130124g)
Walking down one of the platforms at Nakano Station, going through the ticket gates on the north side (北口 - North Exit), walking towards the entrance to Sun Mall, turning right, and then diving into a narrow alley that leads back to the back street izakaya area of Nakano. [There is more from this area of Nakano further down the page.]
Tokyo to Akihabara - 50th Anniversary Green Yamanote Train (130124g)
It was a weird feeling when I went to board a Yamanote Line train and noticed that it was all-green! For a second I thought "They're running one of the old trains! Far out!!", feeling like an old friend had suddenly appeared after they were reported lost in the jungle twenty years before. But as I took a closer look, I quickly realized it was just a (temporary) paint scheme on one of the current generation trains, with this explanatory text helpfully on the train (on the side - towards the top, which I record in this video): "50周年みどりの山手線, 103系電車誕生" which means "50th Anniversary Green Yamanote Line Train ([From] introduction of type-103 electric train)".
It's hard to tell in the video, but as the train pulled into each station, people were staring at it with "What? Wait... huh? What's this?" looks on their faces. Probably some of the young crowd (who never experienced the old type of all-green train cars) were wondering if it was a new-type of Yamanote Line train? In any case, it certainly surprised people. The effect was something like if you walked into your workplace one day and noticed it had suddenly been repainted to a completely different color with no warning. For a second, you might well wonder if you had mistakenly walked into the wrong office by mistake.
Notice all the evidence of construction at Kanda - that station is headed for a radical rebuild I think. In the future it will probably look completely different. I understand and cheer on (often reluctantly I must admit) the never-ending rebuilding of Tokyo, but I really wish they would leave at least a little of past structures. I like the current Kanda Station precisely because there's a solid connection with the past in its design and time-soaked structure. *Everything* being new is really depressing.
Chuo Line Front View - Passing Old Type Tokkyu Train (130122hd)
Looking out the front cab of an inbound Chuo Line train - which passes an old type JR (from the JNR days) reserved-seat express train going in the other direction just before the Chuo Line train arrives at Ochanomizu Station.
Chuo Line Front View - Ochanomizu to Kanda 中央線の御茶ノ水-神田 (130122hd)
The ongoing construction of overhead new Shinkansen tracks is visible though the front cab as the train curves to the right to run in parallel with the Yamanote Line, etc.
Kanda Station - Platform Sights and Sounds 神田駅の音と風景 (130122hd)
Kanda Station Under Construction (B) 工事中の神田駅 (130122)
Okay, so the naming is confusing here, but this "B" video comes before the next video (taken with a different camera). This starts on the inside of the ticket gates and continues (after going through the ticket gates) within the station, as well as walking to both streetside exits.
Kanda Station Area - Walking Around 神田駅辺り散歩 (130122g)
Kanda Under-Bridge Sounds 神田橋の下音音 (130122g)
One of my favorite aspects to Tokyo - the industrial sounds of the overhead trains as heard from under steel rail bridges.
Kanda Station Under Construction 工事中の神田駅 (130122hd)
Looking around in Kanda Station on the outside of the ticket gates and then going through the gates and walking up to one of the Yamanote Line platforms. There's so much construction going on in and over Kanda Station, that I'm increasingly wondering what sort of dramatically transformed station it will become. (Being one of the first stations that I often used in Tokyo, it has some nostalgic value for me.)
Kanda - Construction Tunnel to Platform 神田駅工事通路からホームまで (130122g)
My second trip (on this day) to one of the Yamanote Line (and Keihin-Tohoku Line) platforms... I went to the wrong one the first time.
Kanda to Ueno (Keihin-Tohoku Line) 神田駅から上野駅まで (京浜東北線) 130122
Looking out a right side window of a Keihin-Tohoku Line train I took from Kanda to Ueno. For this stretch, the Yamanote Line and Keihin-Tohoku Line trains run in parallel, so I tend to think of them as the same, but the view is slightly different (naturally) due to the (slightly) different location of the tracks.
Ueno Station - Yamanote Line Platform 上野駅山手線ホーム (130122hd)
The advertisements on the side of the Yamanote Line train stand out to me when I review this (I didn't really notice them while I was recording the scene at the time). While the number of printed (or painted) advertisements outside have been steadily declining, advertising on the sides of Yamanote Line trains is fairly common (and was never done before JNR became JR). As advertising goes, it doesn't get (locally) much more visible than on the side of a Yamanote Line train. For street billboards though, people don't even notice their surroundings while walking now - since they're always staring at their micro-computers (formerly known as "telephones"). While many people still continue to stare at their micro-computer screens even while a huge train comes blasting into the station, most people tend to look up and watch a train come in - noting how crowded (or not) it is and making mental preparations for how things are going to be once they get inside, so they generally notice advertising on the outside of the train.
Ueno Station Walkabout (Inside and Out) 上野駅散歩 130122g
Ueno Station handles a lot of train lines and is correspondingly confusing, but this shows a few parts of the station, including the original Ueno Station building and how it looks from the elevated plaza next to the station.
Ueno Station Front-360 上野駅前360度 (130122hd)
Standing on the elevated plaza, looking down on the many taxis lined up outside Ueno Station - near the original old Ueno Station building.
Ueno Elevated Plaza - Evening Passing Trains Etc 上野駅前 (130122hd)
Walking into Higashi-Ueno 東上野に入る (130122)
Walking under a sculpture and then taking an outside escalator down to street level on the side of the elevated Ueno Plaza. Walking away from Ueno Station, I passed mainly people headed towards the station (likely headed for home).
Cars, Asphalt, and Side Streets 車アスファルトと横道 (上野) 130122
Looking around on a nondescript side street in Higashi-Ueno. Not sure what to say about it - it's pretty typical for much of central Tokyo... well, most of Tokyo maybe, but not the far western part.
Escalator to Ueno Plaza 上野プラザまでのエスカレーター (130122)
Riding the external escalator back up to the elevated plaza in front of Ueno Station - and then walking towards the station - passing an outside smoking area along the way, and pausing to look down on the black road for internal-combustion machinery.
Entering Ueno Side-Streets 上野横道を入る (130122)
Walking down a flight of stairs from the elevated plaza - past the remnants of the big January 14th snowstorm - and entering a side street. Ueno isn't one the areas I've tended to spend much time in, but its side streets are rather interesting to walk through.
Ueno Izakaya Stroll 上野居酒屋散歩 (130122)
Walking through an area with a lot of izakaya places in Ueno in the early evening. Watching this video now at home as I type this, I find myself wondering why I've always felt like it's fine to walk through Ueno, but never felt like I belonged there. I've been partial to Shinjuku, Shibuya, Yurakucho, Ginza, etc., but not Ueno and Ikebukuro, etc. There seems to be some sort of barrier there for me, but I'm not sure what it is exactly. And I'm a bit warmer towards Ikebukuro than Ueno, come to think of it, but only the east side of Ikebukuro.
Ueno Evening Ameyokocho 上野夕方アメ横丁 (130122)
More cool train rumbling-by overhead sounds while looking at the under-track shops. After the train (music machine) passed by, I went out to the main Ameyokocho street and headed towards the big fork in the road - with the right side being lined with clothing shops and the left with fish (and other food) shops.
Walking past the food stalls, I see the area as being a victim of it's past success. It was an area where people came from afar to shop in the tough years just after WW-II, when there were shortages of so many things. Now that whatever is available just about anywhere in the city - and typically cheaply - people shop for different reasons than before; because they like a shop and don't care what things cost, or because things are cheap; or because it's convenient, etc. Those don't fit in with this area so well any more, so you have to wonder what the future holds.
At 03:03 you can see the rather ugly rail-bed wall they've installed. I can't argue that a wall is a good idea, especially since everyone is expecting a very powerful earthquake to strike either sooner or later (predictions are for sooner...), but couldn't they have come up with something that looks a little nicer? Just sayin'...
Old Glass-Show-Window Shop in Ueno 昔風の上野店のショーウィンドー (130122)
This used to be the norm for retail shops - big glass cases facing the street so people could look in the show windows and ponder what was for sale without having to enter the shop. It's very rare now, so I thought it was important to get this one recorded while it's still in existence.
Ueno Ameyokocho and Under-Track Space 上野のアメ横丁とガード下 (130122)
Starting out on the main shopping street, I walk under a rail bridge, and then into part of the long under-railway retail space, and finally back out onto the twilight streets. "Twilight"... I can't help thinking that this area as it now exists, with its amazing number of small shops under the tracks, might also be in its own twilight....
Twilight Ueno Side Streets 夕方上野横道 (130122hdg)
This is one my favorite videos in this batch - the combination of late twilight, colorfully chaotic street scene with lights everywhere, and to top it all off (and I swear I didn't deliberately time this or anticipate her presence) a woman in kimono walks by in wooden shoes at about the 0:05 second mark (and can be seen again at 0:22 walking away under the rail bridge). Actually - the same woman (I think) was in another video clip walking in the other direction (see next video - placed out-of-order - below this one), but I just assumed she had continued on in the same direction. When I saw her walk by out of the corner of my eye, I thought "(!)The kimono woman again!" I'm glad I didn't notice she was coming, as I probably (in order not to be rude) wouldn't have had the camera recording.
At 0:44 is a stand bar (or "standing bar", whatever). These have become popular (again) due to the bad economy. The shop doesn't need to have chairs, more people can fit inside, and since everyone is standing, people have a tendency not to stay as long. From the customers' perspective, they can enjoy going to an izakaya with friends for a reasonable price - which is more important in these hard times than it would be if the economy were stronger.
Wooden Shoe Sounds in Ueno 上野 (130122)
Entering Ueno Under-Rail Passageways 上野ガード下通路を入る (130122)
The thing about having a look at places like this with the camera rolling, is that since they tend to not have many customers these days (or they never do every time I look...), the shopkeepers are standing around bored and they look over everyone who comes by. I can easily imagine their frame of mind - business is bad and they're probably not in the mood to be picturesque subject matter for tourists' cameras. But... I strongly feel it's important for future understanding of the past that this type of thing be recorded at least a little - how else are people in the future to understand the past? Still, it didn't seem like a good idea to continue in any further, so I backed out quickly and tried again with the next video.
Ueno Under-Rail Passageways 上野ガード下通路 (130122)
On the one hand, I like the atmosphere of these narrow passageways through all the small shops, but on the other hand, always feel strange regarding the lack of customers. It's not polite to hang out too much without being a customer, but - again - I strongly think these things should be recorded for future understanding of what the past consisted of and (as much as a video can convey such a thing) what it felt like at the time the video was recorded (thank you color and sound!).
Okachimachi Station Bound 御徒町駅向き (130122)
More views of new railway side walls - these at least looking slightly better with windows (which is good, considering how much higher they are than the not-very-attractive wall I noticed further down the tracks).
Okachimachi Station Outside Ticket Gates 御徒町駅 (130122)
Walking into Okachimachi Station and looking around the station on the outside of the ticket gates - and then wandering over to where a cool old department store used to stand, but is now a new construction site.
御徒町駅隣の工事現場 Construction Site Beside Okachimachi Station (130122)
As I mentioned above, this construction site marks the spot where a cool old department store used to be. In the summer they had a beer garden on the roof and the building as a whole had a lot of character. Now that it's gone, I really wish I'd recorded it while it was still a part of Tokyo, including the pleasant atmosphere of the rooftop beer garden in the summer....
Okachimachi Station 御徒町駅を入る (130122)
Entering Okachimachi Station and going up to one of the platforms.
Okachimachi to Kanda (Yamanote Line) 御徒町駅から神田駅まで (山手線) 130122
Boarding a Yamanote Line train and heading towards Kanda. The sound that is almost like that of an old steam locomotive gathering speed is (I think) a wheel with a flat spot. That used to be more common... and maybe I'm mistaken, but I get the feeling that it's becoming a little more common again... maybe they've changed something regarding regularly scheduled maintenance?
Yamanote Line Night View (Flat Spot Wheel) 夜の山手線 (音音) 130122
Departing Kanda Station on a Yamanote Line train at night and riding to Tokyo (the next station).
Tokyo to Yurakucho (Yamanote Line) 東京から有楽町まで (山手線) 130122
Still on the same train with a flat-spot wheel on the train car I'm in, I ride from Tokyo to Yurakucho, where I get off and walk down the platform.
東京駅の八重洲側 Yaesu Side of Tokyo Station (130122)
Walking past illuminated trees towards the Yaesu side entrance to Tokyo Station. The long stretch of long-distance buses parked in front of the construction zone is always depressing to walk through. There's an unfortunate trend for people to travel long distance by bus instead of rail - this in Japan with it's fantastic rail system. Anyway, after the bus zone, I enter the station and begin walking through one of its concourses.
新宿駅に到着 (下り中央線) Arriving at Shinjuku Station (Chuo Line) 130122
Beginning with a brief look down the middle of a Chuo Line train, followed by the scene out a side window as the train pulls into Shinjuku Station. Getting off the train, I go up to the south exit concourse.
Nighttime Stroll Along Shinjuku Southern Terrace with Illumination Still Up (130122)
Probably due to the low power consumption of LED lights, they leave the end-of-the-year seasonal lighting up a lot longer than they used to. In the case of lighting along Shinjuku Southern Terrace, I think it will be there until the end of this month. It's cool that they leave it up for a while - it really does look nice.
Magic Pyramid of Love Operation (Shinjuku Terrace) 130122
Around Christmas, there were a line of couples trying this... attraction(?) out - the arrangement being that they needed to hold hands and each one would touch their free hand to one of the pedestals, and the short light and sound show would occur. So... since there was no-one there at all when I went by this evening, I decided to try it out. Since I don't have three hands, I held the camera in my teeth while touching the sensors on the pedestals (to complete the electrical connection and start the mini-show going).
西新宿 (元淀橋) に入る Crossing into Nishi-Shinjuku (130122)
Looking around in Shinjuku while waiting for the walk light to change - and then crossing over into Nishi-Shinjuku.
Ochanomizu to Hamamatsucho - Chuo and Yamanote Lines (130124)
This is a fairly long clip - starting on the Chuo Line just after departing Ochanomizu Station, covering the transfer at Kanda Station, and then the ride to Hamamatsucho Station.
At the 00:16 mark, hit the pause and you can see an exposed stairwell of Manseibashi Station (万世橋駅). A while back they allowed a limited number of people into the remains of the closed station to take photos, and now they're doing something with the remains - hopefully preserving enough of the original station to keep things interesting. The station used to be a terminal station, and was similar in style to the 1914 Tokyo Station. According to Wikipedia:
"The private Kobu Railway (甲武鉄道) between Tachikawa and Shinjuku was opened on April 11, 1889. The line was gradually extended east towards the center of Tokyo and was nationalized on October 1, 1906. The line was further extended to Manseibashi Station, which was opened on April 1, 1912 and remained the eastern terminal station of the line for seven years.
"The first station building was designed by Tatsuno Kingo in a style inspired by the Amsterdam Centraal and repeated in his design of Tokyo Station, opened two years later. A statue of Takeo Hirose was erected in front of the station."
"After the 1914 opening of Tokyo Station, Manseibashi still served as the eastern terminal station of the Chuo Main Line until March 1, 1919, when the line was further extended and Kanda Station opened. The 1923 Great Kanto earthquake destroyed the original station building, and a simpler station building was erected in its place. The statue of Hirose was left standing.
"In 1925, the elevated railway running through Ueno Station and Akihabara Station was opened for passenger traffic. Since both Akihabara and Kanda stations were within walking distance of Manseibashi, passenger numbers at Manseibashi decreased. On April 26, 1936, the Railway Museum moved into Manseibashi Station, and the station building itself was scaled back in November 1936. The station was officially closed on November 1, 1943 and the station building was completely torn down. The statue was removed after World War II."
"The train line continues to run through the site, and it is used for parking the occasional train. The Tokyo Railway Museum became the Transportation Museum in 1971, and continued to operate on the site until 2006, when the museum was re-focused towards railways and moved to Saitama, Saitama as the Railway Museum.
"In July 2012, work started to redevelop the site, with the original redbrick structure forming the basis of a new office and retail complex scheduled to open in summer 2013. JR East plans to build decks and a cafeteria on the platform and open shops under the bridge."
Here's a Japanese (language) site that has a several cool old pictures of the station and the area around it:
Drums at Zojoji Temple (Tokyo Tower in Background) 増上寺の太鼓 (130124hd)
You need to have the sound turned up a fair bit to hear them, but there are drums coming from one of the Zojoji Temple buildings.
Akihabara Evening Side Street Stroll (A) 秋葉原夕方横道散歩 (130124hd)
This is how most of Akihabara used to be - one big collection of electronic and computer parts stores - now this sort of thing is being increasingly crowded out with computer games and theme-park-style cafes, etc.
Exiting Akihabara Station 秋葉原駅を出る散歩散策 (130124)
Walking Around in Akihabara 秋葉原駅散歩散策 (130124)
As the title says - walking around... and I would just comment that in this video, from around the 03:22 mark, you can see young women handing out flyers for what are essentially cosplay cafe's - and from this visit to the area, it appears that what's more popular now than the maid uniform (that you saw a lot of before in this area), are high school mini-skirt uniform-wearing women. I tried to avoid them, as my purpose of visiting Akihabara was to record the electronics shops, but in this section, the street was saturated with them, so it couldn't be helped. I tried to just unobtrusively pass through, but still ended up with a couple of advertising flyers in my hand - one for a (I think) maid cafe and one for a... I wonder what the correct term is... high school uniform cafe? Whatever!
Akihabara Computer Parts Stores (Akiba Side Street) 秋葉原電気街 (130124)
Akihabara Computer Parts Stores Street View (Akiba) 秋葉原散歩 (130124)
Walking Towards Akihabara Station at Night 秋葉原駅に向かう (130124)
Akihabara Plaza at Night 夜の秋葉原プラザ (130124)
Notice right at the start of this video the "AKB-48 CAFE & SHOP". I walked over for a look and was fascinated [cough] to discover that you can actually [cough] buy AKB-48 cookies inside.... This... is the new Akihabara.
Akihabara Evening Side Street Stroll (B) 秋葉原夕方横道散歩 (130124hd)
Evening Yurakucho Plaza 夕方有楽町プラザ (130124hd)
Near Yurakucho Station - Waiting for the Light to Change (130124)
Walking by Expanded Retail Space of Bic Camera in Yurakucho (130124)
New use for under-the-tracks space (00:39). For decades, these under-the-tracks places were used mainly by interesting izakaya places, but now JR is very enthusiastic about retail shops, and so here we are - with Bic Camera having expanded its retail space over from the neighboring building (former Sogo Department Store). Functional, practical, convenient - and (unfortunately) soulless. Nostalgia doesn't pay the bills, but the old small shops had so much more atmosphere.
Chuo Line Nighttime Side-Window View (Ochanomizu to Shinjuku) 130124
Departing Shinjuku via Late Night Chuo Line Train 中央線夜遅く (130124)
Nakano Station Concourse at Night 夜の中野駅通路 (130124)
Nakano Side-Streets (A) 中野夜遅く横道 (130124)
Nakano Side-Streets (B) 中野夜遅く横道 (130124)
Above and below - four videos of walking around on the back streets of Nakano fairly late in the evening - around 9:00 p.m. Some areas like this have become sort of like theme-park attractions (as an example, Omoide-yokocho in Shinjuku), but this area is still the real thing. Honest back streets where you can wander around free from the noise/smell/vibration/inconvenience/etc. of fire-breathing machinery - how nice the whole city must have been before the invention of the bloody automobile. Cars may be wonderful out in the countryside, but they're horrible in the city.
Nakano Side-Streets (C) 中野夜遅く横道 (130124)
Nakano Side-Streets (D) 中野夜遅く横道 (130124)
Boarding All-Green Yamanote Line Train (130124)
As I mentioned further up the page - it was a bit of a time-warp experience to come across this all-green Yamanote Line train. 一瞬タイムスリップしてしまったと思った！ - 50周年みどりの山手線, 103系電車誕生, 50th Anniversary Green Yamanote Line train.
Arriving at Shinbashi in an All-Green Yamanote Line Train 130124
50周年みどりの山手線 (103系電車誕生) 50th Anniversary Green Yamanote (130124)
Jack Daniel's Shop in Ginza 銀座のジャックダニエル居酒屋店 (130124)
This is pretty interesting-looking, but it might be temporary - there's a very strong trend to tear down all small buildings in Ginza and replace them with large ones. I suspect the owner of this small lot is just renting out the space on temporary short contracts, while waiting for neighboring land to open up, so they can tear down all the small stuff and build another big box. It's really depressing to watch actually, because the smaller buildings are where the most interesting things are in Ginza. If they tear them all down, it may well become a boring place - suitable only for overpriced "brand" garbage... I hope not, but the current trend isn't so great....
Yurakucho Plaza Look-Around at Night 夜の有楽町プラザ見回り (130124)
Yurakucho Street Scenes 有楽町ある冬夜の道 (130124)
Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon