Monday, February 25, 2013

"1991 Hibarigaoka; 2013 Ueno, Akihabara, Hamamatsucho, and Various Train Views"

I had intended to post a few things from 1991, but was only able to find time to edit one - featuring the area around Hibarigaoka at night - taken on the same day I took the (previously posted) video of Kiyose.  For reference, here's the link to the Kiyose video again:

1991 - Kiyose Walkabout 清瀬散歩 (910202)

From Kiyose, I took a Seibu-Ikebukuro Line train to Hibarigaoka and walked around there for a bit - more on that further down the page.

Back to 2013.  The videos this time are mainly from Ueno, Hamamatsucho, and Ginza.  I spent a fair amount of time in Ueno comparing the Ueno Station Building as it currently is with a postcard photo of it from 1932 (that I had printed out).  Considering how radically Tokyo has changed, it's surprisingly intact.  Some windows have been filled in and a small extra section added to the front, but the whole building is still there.  Compared to the ornamental nature of the 1914 Tokyo Station building, the 1932 Ueno Station building seems to be have had practical use more in mind than seems to have been the case with Tokyo Station.  There's a certain beauty in form following function, and Ueno Station seems to me - after having had a good hard look at it - to have been carefully designed.

But despite spending a lot of time there, I didn't take very much video.  I was busy carefully studying the 1932 photo and comparing it to the current condition of the building.  While staring intently at the 1932 photo and looking up to compare it to the building, I must have looked lost, as several people (all middle or upper-middle aged) came up and asked (in English) "May I help you?".  Shades of the early eighties, when if you saw a foreigner in Tokyo, chances were heavier towards tourism than business or residency.  Then came the very strong yen, popular Japanese culture, and floods of foreigners seeking culture, fortunes, etc. here.  At some point, it became normal to assume that there was a better chance of a foreigner knowing Japanese than otherwise, since Japan was such an expensive tourist destination, tourism rapidly declined at the same time long-term residents increased.

And then... (and I hesitate to write this, since it's less of a jelled concept than an attempted picture taken in a whirlwind of thoughts and impressions... or something), the double punch of the economy being sluggish for a long time, and then the March 11th, 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and triple nuclear meltdowns (plus overheating fuel pool in the fourth reactor building).  The wind blowing out to sea (mostly - before it reversed direction at one point...) saved the loss of Tokyo, but the very real threat led to a situation where, of the people (of all nationalities, Japanese included) who *could* leave, many chose to do so.  However, the media ignored locals fleeing south to Osaka, Hiroshima, Okinawa, etc., and focused on foreigners leaving Japan.  It was presented as an overreaction to the situation, and there was a period where one person after another vocally expressed surprise that I was still in Japan.  About the time I was beginning to get angry about it, and pointing out that people who *could* easily leave, including locals, did so, the cover-up of the triple-meltdown of the nuclear power plants began to be known.  (I've since realized that some people knew early on just how bad it was - probably due to the Internet.  I was stupidly watching the local media, which was broadcasting misinformation about slightly higher temperatures - while the plants were actually melting down.)

.... I hadn't intended to get into that, but it's part of the picture.  Anyway, at some point over the past couple of years, I have begun to experience interactions with people that seem rather like I remember from the 1980's.  No matter what I say or do, they appear to be fiercely determined to believe that I'm a tourist who stepped off of a plane the day before and don't know anything about Japan, Japanese people, Japanese culture, or the Japanese language.  In saying that, I hasten to say that there are two faces to this - the people who came to help me yesterday were genuinely friendly, and when (after initially answering them in English), I said "まっ、 日本語でもいいんですけど..." ("... I can speak Japanese too actually..."), then we began talking in Japanese.  The other face of the problem though, is a distressing thing to experience.  No matter what you do, the person you're talking to refuses to recognize that you're not an FOTA (Fresh Off The Airplane) biped and it's impossible to have a normal conversation with them.  (I had one of those conversations with someone in Ginza the other day - it was really frustrating.)

Okay, enough of that.  On to the videos!

1991 - Nighttime Hibarigaoka 1991年2月夜のひばりが丘 (910202)

If you only know the current Hibarigaoka Station, then you probably won't even recognize this as being the same station - they completely rebuilt it, making the older version shown in this video look like an entirely different station.

From around 00:27 until around 00:42 you can see and hear a political van driving around saying (basically) "Vote for me!".  They still do this, but maybe less than before?

At 00:42 - looking down the old open-air staircase that Hibarigaoka Station used to have - I think I preferred it this way.  It's nicely glassed in now, but it has the sealed box feel that new buildings tend to have.  Sealed in is nice if there's a typhoon raging or it's a cold, rainy day, but when the weather is nice, the open-air design is nicer.

When I took this, political advertising was strictly illegal on TV and radio, so speaker trucks/vans/cars were about the only way to promote a politician to the public.  Unfortunately, they changed the law, and now it's possible to run political advertisements on TV.  Apparently only positive ads are allowed, but it's still dirty politics (all politics, everywhere, is dirty, basically).  The system of not allowing any political advertising on radio or TV was a really good idea.  I think it's a horrible-horrible-horrible mistake to allow it now.  Allowing elections to be influenced (and/or decided) by PR agencies is a disaster for democracy.

Ueno Station Sounds, Steel, Wood, Echoes 上野駅の音と鉄と木と響く (130219hdg)

There are some really cool echoes in this video - but you can't hear them really well until I go down the escalator, turn left, and walk into the very high-ceiling area.  Old train stations used to have high ceilings and all hard surfaces, so the way the sound echoes around really makes me feel nostalgic for bygone eras of rail travel.  The wooden parts of the roof are also quite interesting, since they are so rare now.  There's something comfortable about wood - that is missing from other building materials.  Stone is also nice, concrete less so (concrete is partly stone, so it's not entirely synthetic), but plastics always feel slightly toxic.  Maybe "toxic" isn't the best word, but that's how it seems/feels to me.

At 01:19, you can see part of the old riveted steel beams and wooden part of the roof.  Finding this sort of thing in an active train station is vastly more interesting than seeing it in a museum.

At 01:27, that high ceiling is - on the other side - a walkway leading (over the many railway tracks) to Ueno Park.  Over the years, I've always used the opposite side of the station, so this original older side is a fairly recent discovery for me.

At 01:46, you can see how the tracks are stacked here.  As trains depart the station, they lead into the same set of surface tracks, but there are a lot of trains to be accommodated at Ueno Station, so they had to stack the platforms.

Akihabara Denkigai Entrance (Evening Rush) 夕方秋葉原駅電気街改札 (130219hdg)

On one of the streets by Akihabara Station.  Walking towards the station to the sound of construction (out of camera to my right)... and then into the station, over to the other side (walking beneath the elevated railways), where I take a quick look around the plaza there, and then go back into the station, through the ticket gates, and into the in-station concourse.  (This one is in stereo, so listening with headphones gives a better feel for how it was to be there at the time.)

Ueno Under-Bridge Crosswalk - Lights and Shadows 上野横断歩道 (130219g)

A quick 360-degree look around on the Ueno Station side of the under-railway crosswalk, and then I walk over to the other side when the light changes.

Ochanomizu to Kanda - Kanda Station 御茶ノ水駅-神田駅 (神田駅内) 130219

"Not again!" I seem to hear someone saying....  I keep recording this right-side Chuo Line view between Ochanomizu and Kanda in order to follow the construction work on the old Manseibashi Station (万世橋駅) platform.  I'm really hoping they'll preserve the old stairways to the platform (at least one of them) and at least part of the old platform, but you never know in Tokyo - it generally seems that old things are not allowed, and the Godzilla construction industry monster pretty much destroys everything old in its relentless quest to rebuild everything - endlessly.  So it may be that the only thing that will remain of the old terminal station for the Chuo Line, will be photos of the Manseibashi Station platform before it was completely destroyed.

From about 03:38, I go through the ticket gates and have a quick look on both sides of Kanda Station before re-entering the station and heading up to a platform.  Pretty much the entire station is under construction now.  Not so much is happening on the platforms, but down below, the entire area is one big construction project.  I don't know how it's going to turn out, but based on recent development of other JR stations, presumably it's going to become another JR in-station shopping mall.

Kanda to Ueno (Yamanote Line) 神田駅-上野駅 (山手線) 130219

As the title says - and at about 04:54, I have a look at one of the platform kiosks that used to be *the* place to buy things in train stations.  But as train stations become mini-shopping malls, they're converting this type of open-air kiosk into small enclosed buildings on the platforms.  Just the normal march of progress I guess, but there's something quite picturesque about these open kiosks.  Have a good look, because these will probably disappear in the future.  (Incidentally, I walk away from it after a close up, but then turn around for an overall view at about 05:03.)

At 05:06 is a kind of blast from the past - the old kiosk in the middle, and the old (unchanged for decades) "Bee!-Bee!-Bee!" (Hurry!-Hurry!-Hurry!) doors-about-to-close warning sounds - coming from both sides of the platform simultaneously.  Most stations use melodies now, but they used to all (or if not actually all, almost all) use this "Bee!-Bee!-Bee!" sound.  (In detail, the warning noise on one side starts, the other joins in for a brief overlap of sounds, then the first side stops while the second one continues.  Once the doors of both trains are closed, it becomes relatively quiet again after both trains depart the station.)

Ueno Station - Platform to Park Exit 上野駅公園改札から出る (130219hdc)

After passing through the ticket gates of the Park Exit, I cross the street and walk a few paces towards the park.

Izakaya Night Scene 居酒屋 (130219)

A brief look inside an old traditional izakaya (not a chain).  The place was packed and much more interesting about hour before I took this, but taking pictures seemed like a bad idea, so I waited until it was less crowded before taking this short video.

Late Night Yurakucho to Tokyo 夜遅く有楽町駅-東京駅 (山手線) 130219g

This includes a view of illuminated trees and the preserved section of the old Central Post Office building.  At Tokyo Station, I transfer to the Chuo Line.

Night Train Window Angles and Reflections (130219)

Nothing special content-wise.  I experimented with different angles while recording the lights and reflections in a Chuo Line window.  Basically, I guess you could call this an abstract video.  Personally, I like it, but suspect not so many other people will....

Ueno Station Park Entrance to Platform 上野駅公園改札からホームまで (130219hdc)

Ueno Station Central Exit Area 上野駅中央改札口あたり (130219hdc)

After looking around a little on both sides of the Central Exit ticket gates, I go down the passageway to the left of the ticket gates (from the standpoint of someone exiting) and watch as someone heads down a staircase to the right into the subway.  This is historical, as it lead to Japan's first subway - the Ginza Line - which originally ran between Ueno and Asakusa.  So people have been using this stairwell for over 80 years now.

The small side exit I walk out of and then turn back to look at (01:51) can be clearly seen in a 1932 postcard of Ueno Station.  The larger opening to the right of this original entrance is new though - a gaping hole in what was originally a wall (with a window).  The doorway to the police box (koban) to the left of the old entrance appears to basically be an enlarged window.  In 1932, this area was an open sidewalk (outside, in front of the station), but it now has an elevated plaza above it, and feels more like part of the subway than a sidewalk at street level.

Ueno Station Side View (Right Side) 上野駅の右横 (130219g)

In this video you get a look at the top side of the roof that I was having a look at the under-structure of earlier in the day - the old wooden roof.  Looking back at the station, what looks like a ground-level plaza is in fact an elevated plaza - at about the same level as the second floor of the station.

Evening Ueno Station Left Side Entrance 夕暮れ時の上野駅 (130219g)

This is the view you get of the left side of Ueno Station (left as viewed when standing in front of the station), as seen from across the street.  When the light changes, I walk over to the side entrance of the station and enter the plaza-like open space within - under the huge skylight (that used to be a standard roof).

Ueno Central Entrance to Platform 上野駅中央改札からホームまで (130219)

Ueno to Akihabara (Twilight Akiba) 上野-秋葉原 (夕暮れ時の電気街) 130219

The ride from Ueno to Akihabara - which is just two stops, with Okachimachi in-between Ueno and Akihabara, and then (at 03:03) I get off at Akihabara Station and head towards the denkigai side of the station.  At 05:01 I head into the block of small stalls that sell various electronic things.  Often it seems to me that this collection of very small shops has become more of a walk-through tourist destination than somewhere where people actually shop.  You see more and more of the stalls closed.  It's probably only a matter of time before this disappears.

Akihabara Twilight Walk 夕暮れ時の秋葉原の散策散歩 (130219)

Walking into an area that used to be purely electronics shops, but is increasingly a themed coffee shop area, with young women standing all over the place passing out flyers for the shops they work at.  You can see a bunch of them in this video.  Mainly I try to avoid them by walking on the edge of the street (they stand right in the middle), but it's nearly impossible to avoid them - there are so many!  And there seem to be more of them each time I go!  The whole phenomenon is just really bizarre to me.  I keep thinking it will fade out and disappear, but instead it grows larger!  This must mean something, but I'm afraid to speculate what exactly.  (The last half of this video is mainly out of that zone, by the way.)

Akihabara Old Section Under Rail Bridge 秋葉原 (Akiba) 130219

Even way over in this part of Akihabara there was an attractive young woman standing on the street with flyers in her hand.  I was there strictly to get a video of the old electronics shops, so I kept her off camera (which is why my pan to the right is quick, and doesn't go all the way over - she was on the sidewalk there, just to the right, off screen).  I suppose this could be some kind of barometer of the bad economy - the worse the economy is, the more desperate people are and the more exploitable they become.  It's hard to imagine that these young women really *want* to have that kind of job.  In any case, this video is just to show the area under the bridge.  In the next video I go inside probably the most atmospheric old electronics shop in the area.

Old Electronic Parts Shop (Akihabara) 古い秋葉原電機パーツ店 (130219)

This place has a lot of atmosphere.  If I were buying discrete electronic parts I would probably do some shopping here, but - once out of school - I stopped doing anything with individual components (other than memory boards, etc., for computers).  I'd love to know the history of the shop, but it seems like it would be rude to ask if I'm not buying something.

Evening Akihabara Construction Noises 夕方秋葉原工事音 (130219hd)

Construction noises - in stereo.  No big deal, but it's all part of the total ambiance of Tokyo - the way construction noises (and there is *always* construction somewhere in Tokyo) echo about between the sea of buildings and mix with the noise of the crowds on the streets.

Akihabara Station - Concourse to Platform 秋葉原駅通路からホームまで (130219hdc)

Another stereo recording.  I go up to the platform to catch a train towards Yurakucho, look around a little while waiting (including a look at some older components of the station) and then watch a Keihin-Tohoku Line train pull into the station.

Akihabara to Yurakucho (Keihin-Tohoku Line) 秋葉原-有楽町 (京浜東北線) 130219

I board the Keihin-Tohoku Line train that I watched arrive in the previous video, and then ride to Yurakucho, while looking out the windows at nighttime Tokyo passing by.  As often happens, a Yamanote Line train ends up running side by side with the Keihin-Tohoku Line train I'm on.  Running in parallel, the trains stop on opposite sides of the same platforms.  (Between stations they run close together, and then drift apart to pull to either side of the wide platforms.)

Somehow - as I watch this - I feel surprised at how soon Yurakucho arrives, but it's only three stops from Akihabara (for some reason it seems like it should be more than that...), Akihabara - Kanda - Tokyo - Yurakucho.  In Yurakucho, I look around the platform for a little after getting off of the train.

Yurakucho SB-Area Abstract Stroll 有楽町象的な夜散策散歩 (130219g)

I was in an experimental mood while taking this one, so I tried a number of different angles - including upside-down.  I like it, but it might disturb someone if they expect the camera to remain horizontal at all times....

Exhibition Under Stairs (130221)

Looking at light and shadows in a small under-stairs space while exploring verbally induced echoes.

Chuo Line - Running at Speed Motor Sounds 中央線早く走るモーター音 (130220)

When electric trains are running at speed, the motor noise is a large part of the sensation of the speed (especially if you're not looking out the windows).  It depends on which car you're riding in though, as not all of them have motors.  From looking at the control panel in the front cab (from the window behind it), it appears that the ten-car Chuo Line trains have six motors, with four of the motor-cars in one group on one end of the train, and with another two paired at the other end of the train.  When you're in a non-motor car (the cab cars on the ends don't have motors, plus two more cars between the groups of cars with motors) then you don't notice it much, but when one of those huge motors is pretty much right under you feet, you can really hear it at speed - like in this video.

Kokubunji Station - Express Train Speeds by - Platform Wall Construction Soon Maybe (130221)

Looking at this pile of construction equipment at the end of the platform, I assumed they must be about to begin work on walling in the platforms, as they are doing at so many other stations in central Tokyo, but the sign (00:41) says 床改修工事, which on the face of it would just be reconstruction or maintenance work on the platform, but that might include platform walls too... or maybe not.  The time frame listed is only until the end of March of this year (平成24年12月17日 - 平成25年3月末日), and it's already late February, so maybe it really is just work on the platforms only.

I started taking this video just to show the construction equipment and how there are altered spots on the platform, and then the reserved seat express train came zooming by, so naturally I took that too - beginning at 00:17.

Ochanomizu-Hamamatsucho - Chuo and Yamanote Lines 御茶ノ水駅-浜松町駅 (130221)

And another pass of the construction work on the remains of Manseibashi Station (万世橋駅) - as I mentioned further up the page (regarding a video taken a couple of days before this one).  This time around, I left the camera running longer and recorded going from Kanda down to Hamamatsucho on the Yamanote Line after changing trains at Kanda.  (A technical note about the views of the inside of Kanda Station - it's a bit dark due to a camera setting... sorry about that.  Otherwise the video is exposed correctly though.)

Daimon Station Entrance (Subway) 大門駅の入り口 (地下鉄) 130221hdc

As this small structure housing an entrance to the subway will likely be subsequently buried beneath some form of new construction, I thought I'd record how it looks when light can come through its... skylights?  Wait... can you call glass installed in a wall a skylight, or does a skylight have to be in the ceiling?

Hamamatsucho Station - Ticket Gates to Train 浜松町駅改札-山手線 (130221hdc)

Yamanote Front Cab View - Hamamatsucho to Yurakucho 山手線の前ビュー (130221hdc)

Yurakucho Platform Sights and Sounds 有楽町駅の音と様子 (130221hd)

Looking around on a platform at Yurakucho Station for a little (recorded with stereo sound).

Yurakucho Under-Bridge Look-Around 有楽町橋の下見回り (130221hd)

Since this was in stereo, I was hoping for some interesting sounds from the steel bridge, but there wasn't much of anything to listen to, so anything interesting about the sound is only in a subtle way.  Visually, I think it's kind of interesting though.

Walking Towards Ginza 銀座向き (130221)

A short clip - walking by a row of taxis under a bridge and beginning to cross a main street to enter Ginza.

Kyobashi Parking Lot (Winter Night) 京橋駐車場 (冬の夜) 130221

The subject matter isn't exciting for sure, but this records an aspect of Tokyo that is an integral part of the whole.  Part of the warm coziness of meeting friends at an izakaya or restaurant is the contrast with the cold desolation of the streets - partly shown in this video.  Naturally different areas and different streets have a variety of atmospheres, but in general, when you're outside in Tokyo in the winter, you want to be inside somewhere, and when you reach an oasis of warmth somewhere, it is an oasis at least in part thanks to the bone-chilling coldness (in the total sense, not just temperature) of the cold windy streets of asphalt and concrete between buildings of steel and concrete.  I'm not sure how this looks to someone outside Japan, but just watching this video in my apartment makes me feel cold.  Am I getting that feeling of desolation from memory association, or is it something you can feel too, out there wherever you are?

Yaesu Night Bus Stop 八重洲夜バス停 (130221)

Yet another long-distance bus.  It really depresses me seeing people taking buses to places they could get to by train.  And there seem to be ever more buses, and associated construction projects of bus terminals, etc.  Booooo!  Boooooo!!  Booooooo!!!

Tokyo Station Yaesu Side Construction (Night View) 東京駅八重洲側 (130221)

After lengthy work on the foundation, whatever building they're working on is fast going skyward now.

Tokyo Station Night Walkthrough 東京駅夜散策散歩 (130221)

Starting on the Yaesu side of Tokyo Station, walking past some of the many buses there, and then walking through Tokyo Station - all the way to the other side, where I exit and look around at the inside of one of the reconstructed domes in the 1914 building (which was recently largely reconstructed/renovated).  After that, I go back through the ticket gates again and head for my train.

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

Monday, February 18, 2013

"Hamamatsucho, Shinbashi Twilight, Nakano, Yoyogi-Uehara, Ginza, etc."

February - when thoughts begin turning to spring, and there have even been a couple of warm days, but today the temperatures dropped, and with a strong wind, it was the coldest I've felt this winter.  I was thinking of going out to take pictures, but ended up staying home... it would have been really unpleasant walking around outside taking pictures on a day like this!

This batch of videos is primarily of Hamamatsucho, Shinbashi, Ginza, and with train scenes from the Chuo Line, the Odakyu Line, and the Yamanote Line.

Hamamatsucho to Shinbashi (Twilight View) 浜松町駅-新橋駅 (黄昏風景) 130214g

Looking west out the left side of the train into the twilight, you can see Tokyo Tower off in the distance between the buildings (00:08, 00:15, 00:19, etc.).  I didn't used to think about Tokyo Tower much, but after finding myself right beside it this year while in the Hamamatsucho area, I suddenly realized just how large it is.  Of course, I've always known it was a large tower, but I've mainly seen it from a distance, so when I looked up and saw it - right there - when I was in the area for other reasons, it suddenly impressed me.

The video ends with a platform view of the Yamanote Line train I had been on, and then a Keihin-Tohoku Line train leaving Shinbashi Station.

Yurakucho Evening 夕方の有楽町 (130214)

The old steel bridges are much appreciated (by me, and others too I hope) for their style, history, and wonderful noises as trains pass by overhead.  In this video, it's pretty quiet, but even without the industrial music of the train-generated sounds, somehow it's comforting to have *something* from the past close at hand while walking through everything-old-must-be-destroyed Tokyo.  (Slight exaggeration?  I'm not so sure... that's pretty much how it is.)

At the 01:00 mark - something I didn't notice at the time but stands out to me in the video, is the sign that says "1F Loft", meaning that the Loft store is on the first floor.  "Hmm... on the 1st floor?  That doesn't sound like a 'loft'..." you might think.

Shinbashi to Yurakucho (Night Ride) 新橋駅-有楽町駅 (夜山手線) 130214

Starting in SL-Plaza in front of Shinbashi Station, after walking around on the plaza a little, I enter the station and take a Keihin-Tohoku Line train to Yurakucho.

At the 02:13 point in the video, you can see a man in all-yellow clothing.  A few weeks back, I asked either that very man, or someone doing that same job, what they were doing, and they explained they were there to make sure no one fell into the gap between the platform and the train.  Safety is always a good thing, but it's a little depressing sometimes how paranoid people are about not-very-likely-to-occur problems.

In the case of trains, there are very few accidents, but as soon as one, single, solitary person dies in some mishap on the railways, it's pumped into all the news outlets - generating this ridiculous image of the railways being dangerous.  Meanwhile, the daily carnage on the bloody dead-black asphalt roads continues with almost no comment at all.  It's insane.  Looking on-line, I see the figure 4,914 dead for the year 2009:

So you have this ratio of thousands of road dead for every single death on the railways, and the media generates this image of the railways as being dangerous if any one individual has an accident on them.  It's crazy.  Ongoing carnage on the roads?  No problem!  An isolated incident on the railways?  "Terrible!  Something must be done!  Put guards on the platforms!  Put up platform walls!  Lower the speed!  There must be zero accidents!"

Looking on-line, I see this:

   "Transport Ministry says 2011 worst on record for passengers falling onto train tracks
NATIONAL DEC. 10, 2011 - 04:15PM JST ( 48 )TOKYO ―
   "The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport this week released figures indicating that 2011 has seen the highest ever number of deaths and injuries due to passengers falling onto train tracks in Japan.
   "The ministry said that between April and September of 2011, 119 people were injured or killed after being hit by trains in such incidents, TBS reported.  ................."

Hmm... I wasn't aware of that.  But still, it's an unfair comparison with road carnage - since they only list deaths on the road, but also list injuries on the train system.  What about all the people injured (but not killed) in traffic accidents on the roads?  For the railways, instead of lumping dead and injured together, they should list the number of dead versus injured - there's a big difference between falling down and breaking an arm, and being dead.  One could get the impression they're cheating by lumping injured in with the dead to inflate the figure and make it seem more serious.  But still, even with the figure 119 for one year, that still means over 30-times as many deaths on the roads.  I wouldn't bother to comment on this, except it's really depressing to see ever more people traveling about Japan via buses instead of trains; and depressing to see ever more dead-black asphalt burying the city.  They talk of aiming for "zero accidents" on the railways, but much greater carnage on the roads isn't worth commenting on?  If people are serious about wanting to reduce the number of accident-related deaths each year, they should be pushing to get people out of cars and buses and onto trains.

Hamamatsucho Side Streets to Station 浜松町黄昏道 (駅まで) 130214

Walking down a nondescript side street towards Hamamatsucho Station, and then crossing a main street....  Speaking of main streets, have a look at the one at 00:55.  It looks neat enough.  Orderly buildings lined up next to the asphalt, and with a sidewalk on each side for pedestrians.  The thing is though, roads are good for internal combustion machinery, but horrible for the quality of life for pedestrians.  They're ugly, noisy, polluted with exhaust fumes, and inconvenient.  I hope oil runs out quickly so frivolous burning of it in personal automobiles is outlawed.  Basing everything around personal automobiles is a huge mistake I think.

The old bicycle at 01:55 is of a very sturdy design, with rod linkage for the brakes (instead of more fragile cable).  The penalty is extra weight, but these old bicycles last forever.

Further along the walk, on a side street with very little traffic, the city seems more people-friendly again.  The big main roads are considered "modern" and "progress", but they ruin the quality of life in the city for anyone not inside a fire-breathing machine (which is the majority of people in Tokyo).

Looking down the road at 03:21, you can see one of the Haneda monorail trains approaching Hamamatsucho Station.  The proper name for it is "Tokyo Monorail" (東京モノレール), but since it's not the only monorail in Tokyo, the name isn't really accurate any more.  Typically I've heard people calling it "Haneda Monorail" which makes a lot more sense, as its main purpose is to provide access to Haneda Airport.  The English version of the line's website is here:

Getting closer to the station, I was happy to see that an old building I remember from 1990 is still there (from about 04:18).  Generally old buildings become victims of the Godzilla construction industry, so finding an old one that has somehow managed to survive is always nice to see.

Hamamatsucho Station - Ticket Gates to Platform 黄昏の浜松町駅 (130214)

This was during the early part of the evening rush zone (it's not "rush *hour*" - trust me), so the station was pretty busy.

Shinbashi Twilight Stroll 新橋黄昏散策散歩 (130214)

Exiting Shinbashi Station and walking through the area in front of the station on the Shiodome side.

Rush Hour Shinbashi Station 新橋駅の夕方ラッシュー (130214hd)

Starting by ticket machines, then going through the ticket gates, up to a platform, down the platform, and out the Hibiya Exit (which leads into SL-Plaza).

Shinbashi Evening SL-Plaza 新橋夕方SL広場 (130214hd)

Walking around in SL-Plaza in front of Shinbashi Station.  Lights, noise, reflections, action, people walking everywhere....

Shinjuku Station Chuo Line Platform Walk 新宿駅中央線ホームの様子 (130212)

Departing Shinjuku Station via Chuo Line (130212)

Nighttime window view on an outbound train.

Rattling Door Glass (130212)

Just to record something that was common before, but is becoming very rare.  The old way of installing glass in window panes was to have it sit within a wooden frame, without using any kind of putty.  This facilitated easy replacement of broken glass panes, but led to rattling noises, since the glass was just sitting in the frame.  Pushing on an old door as I do in this video illustrates what I'm talking about, but the noise I'd really like to capture is how it sounds when the window panes are being rattled by wind.  It was a sound I heard for the first time after moving to Japan, and it has become a nostalgic sound for me, since I stayed in places with those types of windows; so hearing that sound now reminds me of a very specific time in my life.  There is also a feeling of the sound being an echo from the past.

Chuo Line Side Window View (to Mitaka) 中央線三鷹まで (130212hdc)

Looking out a side window at the winter landscape flowing by.  I took a video of this same stretch a couple of days after the big snowstorm we had, but this is the more typical view.  Tokyo is generally dry, cold, and windy in the winter.

Mitaka to Koenji (Chuo Line) 三鷹から高円寺まで (中央線) 130212hdc

Watching the unbroken flow of houses and apartment buildings, I think you can probably imagine why the Chuo Line is so crowded!  A *lot* of people live along this line!

Nakano Station Walkabout 中野駅散歩 (130212hdc)

The left side view as the train comes into Nakano Station, and then platform scenes at (elevated) Nakano Station, including a walk through a platform transfer tunnel that isn't connected to an exit.  The brick (tile-brick?, tile?) of the lower part of the tunnel is a nice design touch from the past.  Seeing this design element in a lot of older buildings (what's left of them that is!), I suppose the idea was to have something durable (and easy to wash) that didn't need to be painted on the lower half of the wall.

At 04:43 - the old buildings just beyond the old railway sidings are the Nakano Ekimae Jutaku Apartments 中野駅前住宅that I have a look at after exiting Nakano Station (see next video below).

Nakano Ekimae Jutaku 中野駅前住宅 (130212)

I'm still trying to find a good history of this set of seven apartment buildings, but one site I found says they were built in 1951 and 1952, which seems about right.  That the buildings have had maintenance upgrades over the years is clear - from new steel edges on some of the stair steps, to new mailboxes, and probably (not visible) new plumbing.  The concrete buildings are very clearly old, but they appear to be in sound condition and would probably be safe to continue using for decades to come, but apparently a decision has been made to tear them down, and they are not letting in any new tenants.  On the other hand, they aren't (to the best of my knowledge) evicting tenants either, so they're waiting as the number of tenants dwindles year by year.  It appears that they stopped letting in new tenants about... five years ago or so?  I imagine the current tenants are happy to stay and in no hurry to leave (living within a three-minute walk of Nakano Station is one of the choicer places to live in Tokyo), so it may be some time before the Godzilla construction monster can destroy yet more of Tokyo's historical buildings.

One more detail - and I hope this one is not true.  I was told by a someone who lived in Nakano as a child that they heard the plan is to tear down the apartments and make the area into a bus terminal.  Bloody buses again!  It seems that the primary form of what the Godzilla construction industry considers progress for Tokyo now is bus terminals!  They're building huge new ones beside Shinjuku and Tokyo Stations, and there seem to be ever more buses.  Great idea!  Let's increase the number of internal combustion engined vehicles so we can destroy the planet that much faster!

Don't get me wrong, I understand that buses are great in many applications, but not when there are good existing train lines that could be used instead.  I'm so sick of the attitude in the world of "Who cares if we burn down the future!  Nothing is more important than Short-Term Profits!".  It's crazy.

Back to these seven apartments - it appears to me that the main thing they need is a new coat of paint.  I can't believe they want to tear down solidly built apartment buildings so they can make a bloody bus terminal... in Nakano!  With the traffic around there being how it is, I'm sure that's just what everyone wants to do - sit in traffic jams inside buses.  Meanwhile, they shut down the convenient bus stops on the other side of the station for no apparent reason.  Political decision to *generate* a problem in order to create increased pressure to tear down the apartment buildings?  I hope not.

Nakano Shotengai on Hill Near South Exit 中野丘上商店街 (130212hd)

A brief look at a shop-lined street a short walk from the South Exit of Nakano Station.

Nakano Station (South Side View) 南側から中野駅の姿 (130212hd)

Looking over Nakano Station from the south side.

Nakano - from Station to Sun Mall (130212hdc)

Nakano Sun Mall Stroll 中野サンモール散策散歩 (130212hdc)

Walking the full length of Sun Mall in Nakano.

Nakano Side Street Stroll 中野横道散策散歩 (130212hdc)

Walking down a narrow pedestrian back street with restaurants and izakaya places... and coming upon a gap where they've torn down whatever was there and bare dirt awaits the next construction project.  The number of old small buildings on Nakano's back streets decreases continually.  Tokyo - always renewing itself.

Nakano Backstreet Stroll 中野裏道散策散歩 (130212hdg)

More mysterious old buildings, restaurants, and izakaya places on Nakano's back streets.

Entering Nakano Station 中野駅に入る (130212hdc)

Nakano to Shinjuku (Chuo Line) 中野駅から新宿駅まで (中央線) 130212hdc

Rushing up a flight of stairs to catch an inbound Chuo Line train and then riding to Shinjuku - looking out a right side window while some high school students talk up a storm behind me.  As the train speeds along, the high-rise office towers of Shinjuku get closer and closer.

Shinjuku to Kanda (Chuo Line) 新宿から神田まで (中央線) 130212g

Looking out a right side window on an inbound Chuo Line train as it runs from Shinjuku to Kanda.

Kanda to Ochanomizu (Chuo Line) 神田から御茶ノ水まで (中央線) 130212

Ochanomizu to Kanda (Chuo Line) 御茶ノ水から神田まで (中央線) 130212

Some of the new construction for overhead Shinkansen tracks can be seen from 01:48, and around 02:00 the temporarily all-green Yamanote Line train goes by.  (Is it just one, or are there a few?)  Having ridden in the old ones myself, the new type Yamanote Line is quite different in details, but seeing the old solid color going by at speed really does bring back memories of the old type (to see a Saikyo Line version of that from 1990, see the next video).  Transferring at Kanda Station, I walk through the construction zone that the station is now and over to one of the Yamanote Line platforms.

1990 - Old Saikyo Line Train (Non-Air-Conditioned Car) 900300

Kanda to Tokyo (Yamanote Line) 神田駅から東京駅まで (山手線) 130212A

As the title says - and at around 01:04 I look out the rear cab as the train departs from Kanda Station.  After pulling away from Kanda, I look out a left side window at the new Shinkansen track construction next to (and above) the Yamanote Line.  Regarding the construction at 02:26, I'm not sure what that is, but I'm beginning to wonder if it's a passageway they're making to connect the newly reconstructed Tokyo Station Building with whatever it is that is rising on the Yaesu side.

Tokyo Station Yamanote Line Platform View-360 東京駅山手線ホーム (130212hdc)

A quick HD 306-degree look from the Yamanote Line platform.  I like this particular platform, since it's the last one with part of the platform still covered by an old wooden roof.

Tokyo Station Concourse Stroll 東京駅通路散策散歩 (130212)

Starting on the Shinagawa-bound Yamanote Line platform, I go downstairs to one of the main concourses in Tokyo Station and head towards the Yaesu Exit.

Tokyo Station Yaesu Construction 東京駅八重洲側の工事 (130212)

After a long time spend on the foundation, a new structure is rising on the Yaesu side of Tokyo Station.

Kyobashi Stand-Bar 京橋スタンドバー (130212)

Just a quick look from the street, but this is one of the many "stand-bars" in the city.  The prolonged bad economy has made them popular and I keep seeing new ones appearing where there were none before.

Night Chuo Line - Tokyo to Yotsuya 夜の中央線 (130212)

The night trains can be quite visually interesting when you're next to a window - looking outside and seeing a constant double image of the electrically illuminated world outside flowing by combined with bits and pieces of the inside of the train.  This was such a ride - the world being one of electric illumination and double images.  Regarding the upside-down images... I sometimes envision how people are all around the round planet we live on, and in that sense, who's to say we aren't upside-down?

Chuo Line - Arriving at Shinjuku via Outbound Train 中央線新宿駅 (130212)

Arriving at Shinjuku Station - reportedly the busiest station in all of Japan - "transfer city" you might say, although Tokyo Station has certainly gotten a lot more complicated over the past twenty years!  In any case, Shinjuku is a busy place!

Street Musician by Shinjuku Station South Exit (130212)

A quick look at a street musician in Shinjuku (near the south entrance/exit).

Odakyu Shinjuku Station Platform 小田急線新宿駅ホーム (130212)

Shinjuku to Yoyogi-Uehara (Odakyu Line) 新宿-代々木上原 (小田急線) 130212g

Another double-exposure effect while looking out the window of a nighttime train - this time an outbound Odakyu Line train.  When I get off at Yoyogi-Uehara, I look around on the platform while the train I was on continues down the line.

Yoyogi-Uehara - Chiyoda Line Train Interior and Platform 代々木上原駅 (130212hd)

I needed to take an Odakyu Line train to Shinjuku, so when a Chiyoda Line train came in that then waited until the train I was waiting for arrived, I had time to walk through the (mostly empty) train a little before getting on my train.  I think this may be the oldest type of Chiyoda subway train currently in use.  This type of train car has (I think) been in use the whole time I've been in Japan, so it's getting a little old.  Both trains were scheduled to depart at the same time (so people would have a chance to transfer from one to the other by walking across the platform).

Yoyogi-Uehara to Shinjuku 代々木上原-新宿 (夜の小田急線) 130212

At the beginning of the video - the train beside and below the train I'm on is the Chiyoda Subway train that departed from Yoyogi-Uehara at the same time as my train.  It's below my train as it's about to enter a tunnel and begin it's subterranean journey across town.

This was another of those rides on a nearly empty inbound train, so I walked around inside the train carriage a bit - exploring different camera angles.  Then, when I got off the train in Shinjuku, I walked up one level and took a look at the express train platforms.

Late Night Inbound Chuo Line Interior 夜遅く中央線車内 (130215)

A late night ride on an inbound Chuo Line train - watching the lights and reflections in the windows, as usual.

Ashimotoni Gochui Kudasai 足元にご注意下さい (Tachikawa 立川) 130215hd

Considering how obnoxious the endlessly repeating message to "Watch your step please!" is, presumably someone must have fallen down here once.  There's this really weird thing where if one person gets hurt on the train system, there's a tremendous over-reaction regarding an isolated incident as though the survival of the nation depends on it, with talk of aiming for "zero accidents!".  Meanwhile, the ongoing carnage on the highways continues killing scores of people all the time, but that's just considered normal it seems.

Midnight Chuo Line Train Going Out of Service for the Night (130215)

The station guy thoughtfully helps a couple of people get on the last (for Nakano anyway) inbound train on one side of the platform while another train is going out of service on the other side of the platform.

Ginza One Tokyo-Ten February Exhibition (A) サロンど東京展2013年2月 (130212)

Ginza One Tokyo-Ten February Exhibition (B) サロンど東京展2013年2月 (130212)

Ishii Kakuko Exhibition at Gallery Kobo 石井香久子作品展 (巷房) 130212

Group Exhibition - Art Gallery Ishi アートギャラリー石 (2013年2月展示会) 130214

Ginza Nighttime Chuo-Dori 銀座夜の中央通り (130214hd)

Above and below - the colorful lights of Ginza's Chuo-Dori.

Ginza Lights 銀座光 (130214hd)

Chuo Line Mostly Empty Interior (130213hd)

Sometimes train rides are quite relaxing and enjoyable.  This ride was like that.

Yotsuya to Kanda (Chuo Line) 四谷駅から神田駅まで (中央線) 130214

Kanda to Hamamatsucho (Yamanote Line) 神田駅-浜松町駅 (山手線) 130214

I spend most of this ride looking out the right side of the train, which is a change from my (for some reason) usual habit of looking out the left side (on this stretch of rails).  At 01:17 is the construction hole at the end of the Yamanote Line platform at Tokyo Station (on the left side of the train), and at 01:27 I look out the right side at another large construction hole - which is a continuation of the construction on the left side it seems.  On the right side (at 01:36, but difficult to see in the video) I could see old red brick of the type the original Tokyo Station building was constructed of... I wish I could go down there for a closer look!  In the background (under the elevated Chuo Line tracks up out of sight at the top of the frame) you can see the rear of the Tokyo Station building.

First Scent of Spring 春の匂い (130214)

It's since gotten quite cold again, but this day was fairly warm, and the flowering tree looked and smelled like spring (as a woman (out of frame) comments.

Tokyo Tower (130214hdc)

A short look at the tower from the ground - as light clouds drift by overhead.

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

Thursday, February 14, 2013

"LSDS - Laptop Sudden Death Syndrome"

The first time it happened, I just assumed something... *something* had gone catastrophically wrong with the machine.  One day the laptop computer was running normally, and then - after sleeping in the closet for a couple of months - it was completely dead.  Not even the power indicator light would come on.  Initially, I assumed the power supply had burned out, but a multimeter indicated it was working... still, I bought a new/used power supply just in case, and... no go.

Then the same thing happened with a second machine, and the common denominator to both machines was that they had sat in a closet unused for at least two months.  (Quick note about these machines.  With very old laptop computers, I use them as off-line word processors, which is why they tend not to be in constant use.)  I wondered if there was something about the battery going completely dead that was a factor, but that didn't really make sense.  The BIOS was held by the small on-board battery....

Ah!  The small on-board battery!  That seemed to make sense.  The laptops were around ten years old, so that on-board battery could very well be completely dead.  No BIOS, no computer, right?  After laptops number three and four experienced LSDS (Laptop Sudden Death Syndrome), I thought I'd try to confirm my suspicion that the on-board battery going dead was killing the BIOS and thus the whole computer.  (All of these machines I bought used, by the way, so they were old machines from the beginning from my standpoint.)

I ran that hypothesis by some computer friends (on-line) and the ones who responded said losing that battery shouldn't kill the BIOS - that I would just lose the time with the internal clock.  I was skeptical, because I couldn't think of anything else....  Wait.  While typing this, it suddenly occurs to me that this could be a delayed Y2K bug effect?  Is that possible?

Well, in any case, it happened again today!  And this time, it was a machine that I was using fairly regularly (once or twice a week, although it sat for a couple of weeks between when I last used it (with no problems) and today, when it became the latest in a string of different laptops from different manufactures to have LSDS.  I plugged it in, and... no power light.  I trusted the machine enough to first suspect the outlet at my desk had been disconnected, so I carried the laptop over to a wall outlet that was obviously live (running machines plugged into it) and tried again.  Nothing.  No power light indication and no response from the power switch.

And that's about it.  As for the machines, the first one I remember that happening to was a Dell laptop.  Then a second Dell laptop (one with a 486 processor and one with a P-I), then a couple of Toshiba machines (both with 486 processors), and now a Panasonic (P-I) machine that I rather liked (nice clear display, which was not to be taken for granted with that generation of laptop; and with a trackball instead of those horrible touch pads).

The next question in my mind is whether this is some kind of unavoidable thing that happens to all laptops?  Are they manufactured with timers in them that make the machine self-destruct after ten years or so?  The Panasonic was about 15 years old, so it lasted a good long while I suppose, but considering the light usage it experienced over the past ten years, I would have thought it would keep working for a longer period of time.  Or is this something peculiar to the early generation of laptops?

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

"Autumn 2012"

"Autumn 2012"
Copyright 2012 by Lyle H Saxon

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

"1990 Drive, Tokaido Line, Bus; 1991 Kiyose Walkabout; 2013 Hamamatsucho, Shinbashi, Etc."

Time tripping to 1990 and 1991, as well typical modern (2013) stuff taken in Tokyo.  The interesting thing about going back in time via my videos taken 22-23 years ago, is that typically a lot of related things I haven't thought about for a very long time come to mind as I'm watching and remembering the scenes recorded with my camera back in the early nineties.  Some of the old memories are welcome and some are the reality version of nightmares.  When you come upon a long forgotten good memory, it's a great thing, but for the bad stuff, the expression "Some things are best forgotten" comes to mind.  In any case, good and bad, so much of our life goes missing as we get older.  When the bad memories come back, I find myself pondering "So this is probably the mechanism through which people experience PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)..."  Which brings up a thought - how about the opposite?  Is it PFFAO (Post-Fun, Fun Again Order)?

1990 - Bus Ride to Chigasaki Station (Kanagawa-ken) 900324

It's interesting to see this type of bus again (in the video), new buses have a very low floor at the front (for easy access), along with a low roof, but to accommodate the rear engine and wheels, the rear of the bus has a higher floor.  The seats over the front wheels are also rather high, so the whole interior is a kind of complicated multilevel arrangement.  Since the roof is also lower at the back (in spite of the higher floor there), you can't stand back there without bending your head down if you're taller than about 160cm.

The announcement has probably been rerecorded for this too, although maybe not.  They use bus stop announcement recordings for a pretty long time.  What else... from the sound of it, it's a manual transmission.  Some bus lines still use a lot of manual transmission buses, but automatic transmissions seem to be the norm now (in most of the buses I've ridden in recently in any case).

1990 - Inbound Tokaido Line Left-Side View 上り東海道線 (900324)

Starting at Chigasaki Station on the Tokaido Line (notice the "JRちがさき" (JR-Chigasaki) sign written with plants at the beginning of the video).  I lived down that way for a little while back in the eighties, so the ride in the old type Tokaido Line train makes me nostalgic for that time.  The sound of the motors, the announcements, etc., bring back a lot of memories.  For whatever reason, those old heavy all steel trains had a lot more atmosphere than the newer more lightweight ones.  My favorite Tokaido Line rides were when it was an off-peak time and I had one of the seating booths to myself (when you had to share the space with three other people, leg room was an issue, but for the most part, they were a nice design, and comfortable enough - so long as the person opposite you wasn't too tall!).

One reason for the better atmosphere in the trains then comes to mind... less blindingly bright florescent lighting!  These old trains also used florescent lighting, but it wasn't as overdone and unpleasant as on the newer trains.

In these old videos, also notice how the station names are written on metal plaques.  Now they're soulless plastic.  The plastic signs are functional, but soulless.

1991 - Kiyose Walkabout 清瀬散歩 (910202)

Kiyose.  It wasn't an area I needed to go to - then or now - but I went there on February 2nd, 1991 to walk around and see what was there, and it turned out to be more interesting than I might have expected.  Watching this now makes me want to go back and see how much it's changed in 22 years.  The residential areas probably haven't changed all that much (or have they?), but I imagine the area immediately around the station has changed a bit.

At the 02:51 mark I'm on camera saying "Because of the war in the Gulf..." referring to the first gulf war.  It's kind of strange to see myself mentioning that via the time-slip window on my computer screen.  I didn't imagine the world would be in the mess it is now back then....

Incidentally, Kiyose Station is in Tokyo, but an arm of Saitama comes near there as well, and the sign at 03:54 (新堀 - Shinbori) is from within that arm of Saitama.  Just from memory, I had been thinking of Kiyose as being all in Tokyo, but this video turns out to be a mix of Tokyo and Saitama.  This was before the Internet, so I didn't look up this kind of detail at the time - rather just walked around and recorded address signs from time-to-time (which is why I know where I was now - watching this in the future).

Around 07:38, I look at some foreign cars.  The yen had only been strong for a few years at this point, so foreign cars stood out a bit then (although they were beginning to be seen more frequently).  Back when the yen was really weak, foreign cars were really expensive and hardly ever seen in Japan.

At 11:14 - a look at an old style shop.  You hardly every seen this kind of shop these days.  Convenience stores have really taken over.  They're - as the name suggests - convenient, but not very interesting culturally, and really incredibly over-illuminated (presumably as an anti-theft/anti-robbery measure).

The various small shops on the shotengai shopping street near the station.  The rarer they become, the more nostalgic I feel about them (17:54, etc.).

1990 - On the Road in Tokyo and Kanagawa 東京と神奈川ドライブ (900324)

First off, I should mention that since I began living in Tokyo, I'm not a great fan of automobiles.  Not within Tokyo in any case.  Tokyo was - naturally - originally a no-automobile city, and as they have forced through strips of dead black asphalt throughout the city, quite often the fire-breathing, noxious-gas-emitting vehicles are running right next to narrow sidewalks, people's homes, etc.  I really think they should have outlawed personal car ownership in Tokyo right at the start.  A city needs commercial vehicles for commerce, deliveries, taxis, etc., but not personal automobiles (other than occasional use of rent-a-cars).  I'm not sure what you perceive/think/etc. when you watch this video, but for me it represents what a noisy and unpleasant place main roads in Tokyo are - one example being 12:15 - have a good look at that.  Would you like to live right next to that?  Later on, after getting on an expressway it doesn't seem so bad - but within Tokyo, the city would be so much nicer without so much internal combustion machinery.  Would that the internal combustion engine had never been invented!

1990 - Old Saikyo Line Train (Non-Air-Conditioned Car) 900300

I'm really glad I took this video, because I'd been thinking that I wish I had had a video camera back in the early eighties in order to take the pre-1985 version of the Yamanote Line, but this old Saikyo Line train is exactly that type of train.  In fact, this might even be a former Yamanote Line train - they could easily have shifted some (or all?) of the Yamanote Line trains over to the newly expanded Saikyo Line when they introduced the new type of Yamanote Line trains.  Anyway, on to some details about the train:

At around 00:20, you can seen the central air conditioning unit on the roof of the number-two train carriage I'm walking by.  This type of air conditioning unit was retrofitted to originally non-air-conditioned carriages.  During my first summer in Japan, that's one of my more durable memories - watching Yamanote Line trains coming in, and there were a few trains that didn't have air conditioning, and also some trains that had a few non-air-conditioned carriages within the train, which was easy to tell, because on a hot August day, the windows would all be closed with the air conditioning on, and then suddenly there would be a couple of carriages with all the windows open (and if you stepped back and looked up at the roof, there was no air conditioning unit there - just the round air intakes for the ceiling fans).  And the train in this video is of that type.  At the time, I'm not sure I even noticed (it was winter, so the air conditioning wasn't running, naturally), but the carriage I boarded (carriage number seven or eight I think - which I was prompted to board by the "doors about to close" warning sound) turned out to be one of the rare non-air-conditioned ones.  Look at the ceiling at 01:50 - the ceiling ads are much higher up than on the air-conditioned carriages, and you can see the curvature of the roof.  Once they designed air-conditioning into the carriages, the roofs became completely flat.  One advantage of the high ceiling, by the way, is that the florescent tubes are further away and less irritating.

Ochanomizu to Kanda (Chuo Line) 御茶ノ水から神田まで (山手線) 130207

Passing by the remains of Manseibashi Station (万世橋) again.  Recently, every time I pass by, they've destroyed a little more of the old platform... I hope they're not going to completely destroy it.

Kanda Station Construction Tunnel, Etc 工事中の神田駅 (130207)

Walking through the fairly long construction tunnel at Kanda Station in order to get to a Yamanote Line train headed towards Tokyo and Shinagawa.

Kanda to Hamamatsucho (Yamanote Line) 神田から浜松町まで (山手線) 130207

At about the 00:27 mark, there's a building with what looks like empty scaffolding on the top - that's an example of something that's increasingly common - unsold advertising space.  Spaces like that used to never be empty, but companies are obviously making less use of this type of advertising now, as building-top advertising space like this is often empty now.

A look up at the wooden roof (from the open door of a Yamanote Line train) - the last one at Tokyo Station I think - is at 02:02.  This might even be prewar?  I'm basing that on a September 1945 aerial photo I saw of Tokyo Station that showed some of the platform roofs destroyed, but not all.

Exiting Hamamatsucho Station 浜松町駅を出る (130207)

Walking Towards Zojoji Temple 増上寺に向かう (130207)

The flowering tree you can see at the start of this video (behind the old white wall) is the first thing I've noticed that's reminded me of spring this year.

Hamamatsucho Evening Walkabout 浜松町夕方散歩 (130207)

Winter walk down a main street heading towards Hamamatsucho Station.

Entering Hamamatsucho Station 浜松町駅に入る (130207)

Shinbashi Station - Platform and Stairwell Stroll 新橋駅夕方散歩 (130207)

Shinbashi Tokaido Line Platform Stroll 新橋駅の東海道線散歩 (130207)

Old Type Reserved Seat Express Train (130207)

Back when I lived on the Tokaido Line, they sometimes ran this type of train as a regular train, so if you lined up early, you could go home in style with a standard ticket (first-come, first-grab).

Tokaido Line Platform at Shinbashi Station 新橋駅の東海道線ホーム (130207)

Actually, this one is more than just the platform that I mention in the title.  I also head downstairs and exit the station.

Shinbashi Old Building Stroll 新橋古いビルの散歩 (130207)

Beginning outside the building and then walking through it - including part of the first floor and the B1 basement floor.

Shinbashi Plaza and Station 新橋広場と駅 (130207)

Starting on Shinbashi SL-Plaza, and then entering Shinbashi Station and going up to the platform.  At about 02:28, the railway employee is helping a woman retrieve her cell phone from beside the rails, where she apparently dropped it.

Shinbashi to Yurakucho 新橋から有楽町まで (京浜東北線) 130207

Walking from Yurakucho to Ginza 有楽町から銀座への散歩 (130207)

Walking from Yurakucho Station to Ginza (with a look under a rail bridge along the way).

JD on the Ginza 銀座のJD (130207)

A quick look in the window at the Jack Daniel's shop on Ginza's Chuo-Dori before continuing down the boulevard.

Yurakucho SB-Area 有楽町SBエリア (130207)

A winter view of the SB area near Yurakucho Station in central Tokyo.

Entering Yurakucho Station 有楽町駅に入る (130207)

A bit more than the title suggests - this starts with a walk down the street heading towards Yurakucho Station, then goes through the ticket gates, up the stairs to the elevated platform, and onto a Keihin-Tohoku Line train.  Finally it ends midway to Tokyo Station.

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

Monday, February 11, 2013

"Sleeping Camera - Olympus C-5050"

How quickly the latest thing becomes a forgotten sleeping object in a drawer!  This Olympus C-5050 camera was my main around-town camera for... how long?  It seemed like a long time at the time, but was probably only two or three years (I'll have to look it up).  One day, the power switch contacts stopped connecting properly and I had to stop using it as the condition rapidly worsened.
"Sleeping Camera - Olympus C-5050"
Copyright 2012 by Lyle H Saxon

And that's the thing with complicated electronic cameras - only one thing, one contact, wears out, and suddenly it's useless (without repairs).  Anyway, I liked this camera a lot, so it's a great paper weight, if nothing else.  Maybe I'll try to get it repaired some day, but I probably wouldn't use it much now.  A five-megapixel image sensor was nice at the time, but now....

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

Saturday, February 09, 2013

"1990 Ueno; 2013 Ueno Station, Ameyokocho, Haijima Line, Kanda Station, Etc."

It wasn't so long ago that I last went to Ueno, but this time around, I had a closer look at the old station building.  I ran into an old postcard of the station from the early 1930's (below) and comparing the old postcard with today's station, an amazing (for Tokyo) amount of the original building is still there.
And then, while previewing the videos I took of Ueno this week, I began thinking "It's changed so much since 1990... wait... I think I have video of 1990 Ueno!", and it turns out I did, so I added a video of March 1990 Ueno to this batch as well.

Ameyokocho Walkabout (Ueno) アメ横丁魚市場など (上野) 130205g

This clip shows a fair amount of the Ameyokocho area, starting with the fish market near the entrance to the area, walking through that part and then down to where they're selling clothing, followed by walking through an under-tracks tunnel-like passageway full of various small shops.  When this area is overly crowded or under-crowded, it's hard to take pictures, but the balance was almost perfect on the day I took this (above video).

Pre-war postcard looking towards what became the famous Ameyokocho area after the war.

Ueno - Near Entrance to Ueno Park 上野 - 上野公園入り口 (130205hdg)

Looking towards Ueno Station and then up the stairs (near Keisei-Ueno Station) that lead up to Ueno Park.  As is pretty obvious in this video, the rail bridge is rusting away...  I don't understand why they aren't repainting bridges in this condition.  There are many bridges rusting like this.  I presume they've decided to replace the bridge with something new - it's the only thing that makes sense.  The more the bridge rusts, the weaker it becomes... they must know what they're doing, but it's alarming to see the bridges deteriorating all the same.

1990 - Ueno Walkabout (Cherry Blossoms, Station, Etc) 上野駅など (900323)

This starts out on a train as it approaches Ueno Station, and then shows inside-the-station scenes, the train yards near the station, and then the crowds enjoying hanami parties in Ueno Park.  Towards the end of the video, you can see the same station area shown in my videos from this week.  Comparing the two, it's apparent that much has changed in 23 years!

Ueno Station - Open Concourse Area 上野駅中央コンコース (130205hdg)

A relaxed scene of people walking through the main plaza-like roofed area leading to the Central Entrance to Ueno Station.  This was taken in a kind of twilight zone between the very relaxed afternoon, and the pressures and speed of the evening rush.

Ueno Central Entrance to Yamanote Platform 上野駅中央改札からホームまで (130205g)

Looking around while walking to the Yamanote Line from the Central Entrance of Ueno Station, including views of the old type roof just inside the ticket gates, etc.

Akihabara to Yurakucho (Yamanote Line) 秋葉原から有楽町まで (山手線) 130205g

Looking out a left-side window of a Yamanote Line train as it rolls from Akihabara to Yurakucho.  (The ongoing construction of new Shinkansen tracks can be seen in places.)

Suburban Side Streets (A) 130203

(Above and below)  Typical Tokyo winter suburbia street scenes as seen from a bicycle... I'm looking forward to the weather getting warmer and things becoming greener again!

Suburban Side Streets (B) 130203

Road Widening Construction (130203)

This street is being widened to convert it into a four-lane main road for trucks, etc... there used to be a row of big beautiful trees here, but they were cut down to make way for dead black asphalt.  I think that within mega-cities, it would be a good idea to make personal car use illegal.  Nothing ruins the quality of life in a big city like vast numbers of internal combustion engined machines running around on dead black asphalt, pumping noxious gases into the air all the while.

Sunday Ride Along a Main Street (With Unusually Little Traffic) 130203

Back in the very old days, roads were usually just dirt, and I guess compared to that, black asphalt is nice, but it's so lifeless!  And there's so much of it!  If you're walking on a street like this, generally the first thing you do after turning down a side street and walking a block, is to heave a big sigh of relief that you've (temporarily) escaped the noise, vibration, and noxious gases of the bloody automobiles and trucks.  When I took this, there was very little traffic, which just accentuated the desolation of the vast expanse of dead black asphalt.  Presumably people in the future will be (relatively) free of this form of self-destructive behavior.  You have to envy them that.  I wish the internal combustion engine had never been invented.

At the Grocery Store (130203)

Typical grocery store scene....

Power-Off Chuo Line Train 停電中央線 (130130)

It's not every day that you walk up to a train and find that the power is off and the doors half-ajar!  In fact, in about 30 years, I think this is the first time I've seen this.  What happened is that there was an accident where construction scaffolding fell onto the overhead power cables and onto a train (which had one of its pantographs torn off).  So they shut off the power to deal with that, which is why this train was sitting at the station with the power off - with only the emergency lighting on (one light per car if I remember correctly).

Not long after this they had (in this train) power on for the doors, which were set for manual operation via open and close buttons (electrically and pneumatically operated, [electro-pneumatic]) .  This type of train car has the manual option for the doors, but they almost never use it on the Chuo Line.  When it's particularly cold or there is some special reason, they can activate it (see video below).  [Note about the term "manually operated":  It's a bit confusing in this case, since the term could refer to both manually operated by directly sliding the doors open and closed with your hands, or by pushing an open or close button.  I experienced both on the same train within about ten minutes on this particular day.]

Manually Operated Doors (Chuo Line) 中央線の手動ドア (130130)

Incidentally, there are some pictures of the fallen scaffolding that caused all the trouble on the Chuo Line - here (text in Japanese):
(画像) JR中央線・国分寺-西国分寺駅間で火事!鉄柱落ちてきてバーン!

Haijima Line Cab View (to Higashi-Yamato-shi) 東大和市駅まで (拝島線) 130130hd

This batch of "Haijima" videos are mainly front cab views taken on the Seibu-Haijima Line.  The "thunk-thunk-thunk" sound that almost sounds similar to the type of sounds that old steam engine trains made is apparently due to a flat spot on a wheel, so with each rotation of the wheel, there's that "thunk" sound, and (naturally) the frequency of the sound increases as the train runs faster.  I seem to remember hearing this noise a little more frequently back in the mid-eighties, and then it seemed to become very rare; and now, maybe it's just a coincidence with the particular trains I've been taking, but I've been hearing it more frequently recently.  Hopefully it doesn't signify less stringent maintenance of the trains.

Higashi-Yamato-shi to Tamagawa-Josui 東大和市から玉川上水まで (130130hd)

Haijima Front Cab View (to Musashi-Sunagawa) 武蔵砂川まで (拝島線) 130130hd

Haijima - Front Cab View - Haijima Line 拝島線で拝島駅まで (130130)

After getting off of the Seibu-Haijima Line train at the end of the line at Haijima Station (above video), I transfer to a Hachiko Line train (following videos).

Haijima Station Transfer 西武拝島線からJRまでの乗り換え (130130)

Haijima Station - Waiting for Hachiko Line Train 拝島駅で見回る (130130)

Departing Haijima Station - Winter Afternoon 拝島駅から出発 (130130)

Hachiko Line Side Window View (Winter Afternoon) 冬の八高線景色 (130130)

Hachiko Line to Hachioji Station 八王子駅までの八高線 (130130)

Above and (several) below - after taking the Hachiko Line to Hachioji, I transfer to the Keio Line.

Keio-Hachioji Station 京王八王子駅 見回りと出発 (130130)

Keio Line to Kitano Station 京王線で北野駅まで (130130)

This includes a transfer (between different Keio Line trains) at Kitano Station.

Kitano to Hazama (Keio Line) 北野から狭間まで (京王線) 130130

Arriving at Takao Station via Keio Line 高尾駅到着 (京王線) 130130

1991 - Hibarigaoka and Kiyose - Seibu Ikebukuro Line (910202)

I didn't have much time for time-tripping this week, so there are just two clips - one this look back at 1991 - showing two stations on the Seibu-Ikebukuro Line (西武池袋線) - Hibarigaoka (ひばりヶ丘駅) and Kiyose (清瀬駅).  The other is a 1990 look at Ueno (further up the page).

Shinjuku - Chuo Line Platform to Upper Concourse 新宿駅の忙しい夜 (130205)

Shinjuku Chuo Line Night Platform Walk (130205hdc)

Nighttime Chuo Line Platform (130205hd)

Gallery Kazuki 画廊香月 - February Group Exhibition (130205)

Matsuda Shizumune 松田靜心 Exhibition at Gallery-58 (Ginza 銀座) 130205

Ochanomizu to Kanda (Yamanote Line) 御茶ノ水から神田まで (山手線) 130205

Construction continues on the former Manseibashi Station (万世橋駅) - with more and more of its old platform being ripped out.  I hope they don't completely remove it... there's such interesting history there.  Here's what the original building looked like:

Kanda Station Under Construction 工事中の神田駅 (130205)

Walking through the construction zone that Kanda is right now.

Kanda Station Middle Platform 神田駅真ん中のホーム (130205)

(Above and below)  Looking around from Kanda Station's middle platform while waiting for a train (on my way to Ueno).

Kanda Station Middle Platform (Waiting for a Train) 神田駅ホーム景色 (130205hd)

Kanda to Ueno (Yamanote Line) 神田から上野まで (山手線) 130205

Looking out a left side window of a Yamanote Line train as it rolls from Kanda Station to Ueno Station.

Ueno Trackside Side Street 上野横道ガードの下 (130205hd)

Walking along the elevated tracks in Ueno - on the opposite side from the famous Ameyokocho street (written on a huge sign over the street as "Ameyayokocho アメヤ横丁", but I've always heard the locals call it "Ameyokocho").  You can't really plan for mood, but when I went here, things seemed very calm and relaxed.  On weekends and during more crowded periods, the atmosphere is quite different.

Ueno Side Street to Main Ameyokocho Area (130205hdc)

Ueno Ameyokocho Stroll 上野アメ横丁散歩 (130205hd)

The stereo soundtrack of this one captures some of the ambiance provided by background sounds.

Ueno - Old Style Corner Store (Ameyokocho) 上野昔風の角店 (アメ横丁) 130205

Ueno Streetside Market Stroll 上野アメ横丁散歩 (130205hd)

Walking back over to the clothing stores on the opposite side of the tracks from the main part of Ameyokocho.

Ueno Side Street Izakaya Places, Etc 上野横道居酒屋など (130205hd)

This area is a lot more active when the weather is a bit warmer.

Ueno Park Saigo Takamori Square (Under Construction) 130205

Part of this section of the park is actually the roof of a building, but it's seamlessly integrated into the park, so you wouldn't notice if you didn't look hard at the design and size of the building that's there.  They tore down the building that used to be there, and reconstructed a new one (of a similar size), and they're still in the process of putting everything back together on top.  At around the 03:20 mark, I enter the building and head down the stairs - walking past the many restaurants in the building.  There was a restaurant in this building that I rather liked before - I'm not sure if they're back in the building or not - I don't remember the name of it.

Restaurant Building Near Ueno Station (130205)

Walking around in, and in front of, the new restaurant building next to Ueno Station (and near to Ameyokocho).  The front of the building as seen at the end of this clip used to be where a row of souvenir shops were.  They thrived when the yen was weak in the old days, but once the yen shot up in value, people had so much more buying power of things from overseas, that they started shopping in different ways and business fell off for the old souvenir shops.  Now that they are completely gone, it feels like something from very long ago, and it's hard to believe how busy they used to be how different the atmosphere was on this street.

After writing the above, I checked my old material and found some video of the area taken in March 1990 - the old souvenir shops can be seen towards the end of the video (which is also listed further up the page):

1990 - Ueno Walkabout (Cherry Blossoms, Station, Etc) 上野駅など (900323)

Ueno Rail Bridge-360 上野駅の橋下 (130205)

Ueno Station Original Building Side Entrance 上野駅オリジナルビル (130205)

Walking in the side entrance of the old original Ueno Station building.  It's very unusual for a 1930's building to still exist in its original form (aside from interior changes) in Tokyo, so this building has come to have a special historical significance for Tokyo I think.

Ueno Station Original Building Side Staircase (130205)

At 00:02, it looks as thought the handrail has been cut.  I suspect the staircase used to continue down into the basement, and when they made it into a first-to-second floor only staircase, they cut it then... I imagine.  It looks that way anyway.  Up on the second floor are a bunch of restaurants.  I imagine the upstairs area was originally used for station office space?  I need to look into this.  An old building is that much more interesting when you know how it was originally used.

Ueno Original Station Building (Upper Area) 130205hd

Ueno Station - Original Station Building Area (130205hdc)

Looking at this again - I end up pondering why I've (until recently) had so little interest in the Ueno area and this station.  I've come through this area on and off from time to time, but the station never seemed as interesting to me before as it does now.  Of course, they've made it nicer.  The huge skylight effect with the translucent material used over the central concourse used to be a standard opaque material.  Making it into one huge skylight while preserving the original metal structure was a great idea!  It's quite a nice space now.

Ueno Station - Underground Walkabout 上野駅地下散歩 (130205)

Walking down the long ramp into the subway and basement to the station.  Watching this, I get a flashback.  In the eighties, there were homeless people sitting all along this stretch, and they weren't exactly friendly, so I stopped using this ramp to avoid their hostile stares, comments, etc., until... now basically.  Come to think of it, that might be a large part of why I ended up not having an interest in Ueno.  It always seemed like the almost official campground for the city, and the atmosphere generally seemed hostile to me (due to not very friendly campers), so it was unpleasant to be there.  Well, there it is.  No wonder I haven't spent much time in Ueno over the years.

Ueno to Akihabara (Yamanote Line) 上野から秋葉原まで (山手線) 130205hdc

Looking back out a left-side window as the train rolls from Ueno to Akihabara.  Watching this now, it occurs to me that the new walls on the edge of the railway might be to stop the noise of Shinkansen trains?  Presently the Shinkansen trains are run underground here, but they are expanding the Shinjuku tracks, so maybe some of the Shinkansen trains will be running up at this level?  Pure speculation, but the new elevated rails near Kanda Station would certainly suggest that they will be running more Shinkansen trains overhead.

Yurakucho Plaza - Passing Shinkansen, Etc 有楽町広場など (130205hdc)

Watching a Shinkansen train passing Yurakucho Plaza and then walking towards Ginza.

Building with Fujiya Gallery in Central Ginza (130205)

Ginza - Building Shortcut from Chuo-Dori to Back Street 銀座 (130205)

Trying out a building shortcut one evening.

Ginza Twilight Alley (130205)

Something quite rare in Ginza - an empty bit of land that you can actually access.

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon