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

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