Friday, March 08, 2013

"Ginza, Shinjuku, Shin-Okubo, Okubo, Ogikubo, Nishi-Ogikubo, Etc."

Various train scenes, a couple of art exhibitions, and visits to Shin-Okubo, Okubo (which are within easy walking distance of each other), Higashi-Nakano, Nakano, Ogikubo, Nishi-Ogikubo, etc.  It's been a fairly typical week, with the glaring exception of having had a very nasty encounter with a bogus "artist".  I'm still trying to shake the toxicity of the encounter.  Not much to say off the top of my head right now, other than the depressing realization that dirty politics and rotten dishonesty pervade just about everything in this world - including the art world - there really do seem to be many evil bipeds among us, there's one in every group on the planet apparently.

Kanda to Tokyo (Chuo Line) Shinkansen Track Construction and Tokyo Station (130305g)

In recent videos I've posted showing the ride from Kanda to Tokyo, I've tended to be on the Yamanote Line, which is a couple of tracks over - closer to the ongoing construction of new Shinkansen tracks on that side.  For this one, I stayed on the Chuo Line, which is further over to the other side, and so provides a better view of the new track construction.  You can see it well from about the 00:09 mark - once the train I was on gets past the neighboring platform roof that was blocking the view.

After getting off the train at Tokyo Station, I left my camera rolling while going down the long escalator from the Chuo Line platform and also as I walked through one of the concourses in Tokyo Station.  The video ends soon after going through ticket gates on the Yaesu side of the station.

Evening Tokyo Station Concourse Walkthrough 東京駅夕方散策 (130305ghd)

Later on that same day, I reenter Tokyo Station from the Yaesu side and walk all the way through the station to the Marunouchi side.  The stereo sound on this one should give you an idea of the ambiance of the station - especially if you listen to it with headphones on.  The plain white construction walls of the Yaesu side make the nicely reconstructed Marunouchi side seem especially nice.

Tokyo to Ochanomizu - Late Night Chuo Line 東京駅-御茶ノ水駅 - 夜の中央線 (130305g)

Watching the double-image light show provided by a nighttime window of an outbound Chuo Line train.

Just to give you some BS-nonsense text (I recently got an earful at a sinister exhibition that was all about evil deception and nothing about art), I have recorded part of it upside-down to prompt the realization of people living on the other side of the planet, that while they are riding in trains facing up, we're simultaneously riding in trains running upside-down here in Tokyo.  Wonderful thing that gravity is, we can do this without falling out into space.  (Now wasn't that profound?  Welcome to the nonsensical world of concept marketing!)

But - to be serious again - I rather like this video.  The electric mix of images in the window is really beautiful in a mega-city kind of way.

Nishi-Ogikubo Station Late at Night 夜遅くの西荻窪駅 (130305g)

Starting on a late-night platform at Nishi-Ogikubo Station as an inbound kaisoku Chuo Line and an outbound local Chuo Line train go their separate ways.  Then I walk down the stairs, and out the ticket gates.

Kokubunji to Mitaka (Chuo Line) 国分寺駅-三鷹駅 (中央線) 130305hdc

Looking out the right side of a Chuo Line train speeding towards central Tokyo.  The white wall beside the railway is primarily to suppress noise I think, although it may also serve as a wall to keep trains from falling off of the elevated platform in the event of a powerful earthquake.  In this video (and the following ones taken on the way to Shinjuku), I had to slot the camera lens in-between two stickers on the door window glass.  Someone at the railway appears to think it's a great idea to plaster stickers all over the windows so you can't see through them.  I wish someone would tell them that the *purpose* of windows is to let light through - and putting stickers all over them *damages* that purpose.  Excuse me, but "logic" is not a four-letter word.

Mitaka to Ogikubo (Chuo Line) 三鷹駅から荻窪駅まで (中央線) 130305hdc

Not particularly exciting scenery, but there's something pleasant about watching it go by at speed from an elevated railway.  (There are a few places where the rails are on the ground, but mostly they're elevated between Tachikawa and Shinjuku.)

Ogikubo to Nakano (Chuo Line) 荻窪駅から中野駅まで (中央線) 130305hdc

Looking at the wall beside the railway here - it's a nondescript concrete color that blends in so well, you don't even notice it.  I'm not sure why the new ones are white.  I think the old style is more harmonious with the surroundings.  The lower height is nice for watching unobstructed passing scenery too.  (I must be getting old... so many times when I compare the new way doing things now with the old, the new way seems wrong and the old way better.)

Nakano to Shinjuku (Chuo Line) 中野駅から新宿駅まで (中央線) 130305hdc

Watching these again... I fast-forward past the horrible English announcements.  I wonder if they'll ever get English announcements (which I think are unnecessary in the first place) on the trains that are actually pleasant to listen to.  Considering it's a recording, you'd think someone could/would put some real effort into finding someone with a pleasant voice and... and... wait... at about the 02:38 mark, the "The doors on the left side will open" bit doesn't sound too horrible....  I wonder if it's been modified?  Maybe it's the Yamanote Line that has the "The doors on the LEFT SIDE will open" announcement?

In the railway's defense, I must admit they *have* improved at least some of the announcements.  Very much appreciated is that the Japanese station names are mostly normal now.  Before they were said with really weird intonation, so you'd get YoTSUya and NaKAno, etc.  So - thank you for fixing that JR!  There's still room for improvement with some (actually, *all* I think) of the announcements though.

Think I'm being nit-picky?  Well... the thing is - when you have to hear something dozens of times a day, an irritant is that much more irritating!  As for the terms used... the "Please change here for..." bit is kind of irritating.  I generally think "No, I don't want to change here!  I'm going further down the line!".  There must be some other way of announcing that!  Maybe "The following lines can be transferred to at the next stop: The Chuo Local, Yamanote, Saikyo, Shonan-Shinjuku, Odakyu, Keio, Marunouchi, Toei-Shinjuku, and Oedo lines".  It isn't really necessary to say "The" and "Line" after each and every one of those.  Some consideration should be given to the 99.9% of riders who are not wide-eyed bumbling tourists, and are being driven to the edge of sanity by the daily barrage of badly written, badly spoken, irritating announcements.  Okay... let me say this then:

Dear JR様, これは、長すぎや!:
"The next station is Shinjuku.  The doors on the left side will open.  Please change here for the Chuo Line local service, the Yamanote Line, the Saikyo Line, the Shonan-Shinjuku Line, the Odakyu Line, the Keio Line, the Marunouchi subway line, the Shinjuku subway line, and the Oedo subway line.  The stop after Shinjuku will be Yotsuya."

"Next stop, Shinjuku.  The left-side doors will open.  At Shinjuku, the following lines can be transferred to: The Chuo local, Yamanote, Saikyo, Shonan-Shinjuku, Odakyu, Keio, Marunouchi, Toei-Shinjuku, and Oedo lines".

Shinjuku Station - Upper Concourse to Yamanote Platform 新宿駅 (130305hdc)

I'm curious how people in other countries view the Yamanote platform at about the 00:57 mark - does that look crowded, empty, normal... or what?  For a long-term Tokyo resident, this seems about the way it should be.  If there were fewer people, I'd be worried and think "Where is everybody?", and if there were more, then the stressful thing begins to load into the mind as you get ready to deal with the various stresses produced by sardine run trains, etc... but this?  Just about right, I'd say.

Shinjuku - Yamanote Afternoon Platform Walk 新宿駅山手線ホーム散策 (130305hd)

When you walk through a scene like this, the motion of other people, trains, etc., throws the brain into a state of auto-navigation, and - so long as there are enough collision avoidance maneuvers required - minor worries tend to be tossed out of your consciousness.  So?  Well... it's hard to explain exactly, but artificial thinking is knocked out of the way, and things become more pure and real in a way?  ......  That's not a good explanation... let me come back to this one later!  [Later]  Ah... I guess that's good enough.  You get the picture, right?

Shinjuku to Higashi-Nakano (Chuo Local) 新宿駅-東中野 (中央線各駅) 130305

Watching the buildings flowing by outside a left-side window of the train, there are some good examples of the type of buildings rapidly headed for extinction in Tokyo - like the ones at 01:16, 01:18, and 1:33, etc.

At the 01:59 mark, is a quick view of the interior of a six-door (per side) train car.  Pure conjecture, but they pulled all of the six-door cars from the Yamanote Line (as part of the platform wall construction project), so presumably they swapped them for four-door cars from somewhere - possibly including the Chuo Local Line trains.  They were most meaningful on the Yamanote Line, so it's too bad they can't be used there any longer.

From around the 03:59 mark, I walk down the platform at Higashi-Nakano.  I wanted to have a look at this station again, because this design - dating back to some decades ago, is fast disappearing.  New stations are nice, and if there was no change, and all the stations were old, I would wish for change, but with old-style stations becoming rare, it increasingly seems to me that their design and construction was/is straightforward, practical, and honest.  New stations are more modern (obviously), and have escalators and elevators, etc., but I sometimes get the feeling that some type of uncomfortable politics is woven into the designs?  I can't put my finger on it exactly, but whatever it is, that aspect was better with the old designs.  Cohesive integrated design versus committee decisions maybe?

Higashi-Nakano Station 東中野駅 (March 2013) 2013年3月 (130305)

This video begins after going up the stairs from the platform.  The platform part of the station is unchanged, but the upper section has been rebuilt.  In front of the station, they have a fairly large area blocked off with the usual white construction walls (with interesting old pictures showing the history of Higashi-Nakano station), so something new is coming.  Probably a department store or mini-mall, which is what all JR stations seem to be becoming!  (Not a complaint - just an observation!)

Higashi-Nakano Walkabout 東中野午後散策散歩 (130305)

Starting by the walled off future construction part of Higashi-Nakano Station, walking towards the entrance, and then going down a flight of stairs to an area down on the ground next to the tracks.  As I mentioned further up the page, although most of the Chuo Line between Tachikawa and Shinjuku is elevated, there are some places where it's on the ground - and this is one of those places.  (Which means this area must be a hill, as they made the railway mostly level when they elevated it, with some sections about three stories up in the air, and other sections running on the ground.)

At the 04:20 mark, you can see where the Tozai Line comes out of the ground.  Outbound trains coming out of the tunnel here either dead-end at Nakano Station, or continue down the line as local Chuo Line trains to Mitaka.

Higashi-Nakano to Nakano (Chuo Local) 東中野駅-中野駅 (中央線各駅停車) 130305

By the title, this could be purely a train video showing the run down the line (outbound) to the next station, Nakano, but actually it begins on the streets next to Higashi-Nakano Station.  Then I take the escalator up to the the ticket gates, enter, and walk through the station and down to the platform.  After watching a kaisoku Chuo Line train speed by, I jump on a local Chuo Line and look out a right side window... up... at the buildings on what is basically the edge of the culvert the Chuo Line temporarily runs through before becoming elevated again.

Nakano Station Concourse and North Exit 中野駅内部通路と北口改札 (130305)

Nakano Station - Ticket Gates to Platform 中野駅 - 改札口からホームまで (130305hdc)

Once I get up to the platform, at the 01:27 mark, there's a look at the buildings in front of the station on the Sun Mall side.

Arriving at Ochanomizu Station (Chuo Line) 御茶ノ水駅に到着 (中央線) 130305

A front cab view of approaching and pulling into Ochanomizu Station.

Ochanomizu to Kanda (Chuo Line) 御茶ノ水駅-神田駅 (中央線) 130305

Another look at the ongoing construction project on the former Manseibashi Station (万世橋駅) platform from a right-side window of a passing Chuo Line train.  I'm really hoping they will preserve much of the platform and also the original old stairs.

7th Floor to 5th Floor - Old Stairs (130305)

I don't think people in Europe can quite appreciate how important an old building like this can be in Tokyo.  Simply explained, it's a nearly missing part of Tokyo's/Japan's history.  After the Great Kanto Earthquake, the central part of the city was rebuilt with modern sturdy concrete buildings - meant to last a long time.  Now there are only a handful of them, and they broadcast an echo of that reconstruction period.

Maruyama Norio (丸山則夫) Exhibition 夜明け-雪 at Art Space Rondo (130305)

This was (I should say "is", since it's still going on) a pretty cool exhibition, with morning first-light photos exhibited in one of the cooler atmospheric rooms in the Okuno Building.  Recommended if you're in Ginza sometime over the next few days.

Kicuchi Megumi and Tsutsumi Yoshihiko Exhibition at Y's Arts Room-508 (130305)

This exhibition consists of an interesting combination of stitched leather and paint - made by two artists who passed the material back and forth several times to create this abstract art.  It's spit between the Y's Art White Room (Room-508) and Black Room (Room-101) in the Ginza Okuno Building.  This exhibition was also recently shown in New York.

(Excuse the color of parts of this video - I had the color balance set for the gallery rooms and it was shifted fairly radically towards green for the florescent tube illuminated hallways of the building.)

Passing Trains in the Night - Southern Terrace Stairs, Etc (130305)

Watching trains passing by Shinjuku Southern Terrace and then doing a bit of camera waving on a wide set of steps and the surrounding scenery.

Crossing into Shinjuku - South Entrance 新宿に入る - 南口 (130305)

This main street is the border between Shibuya-ku and Shinjuku-ku (the "Shinjuku Southern Terrace" is actually in Shibuya-ku).  After crossing the street, I enter Shinjuku Station via the South Exit ticket gates.

Shinjuku Station Late Night Yamanote Platform 新宿駅夜の山手線 (130305hd)

Walking down the Yamanote Line platform before boarding a train to go one stop to Shin-Okubo (see next video).

Shinjuku to Shin-Okubo (Yamanote Line) 新宿駅-新大久保駅 (山手線) 130305

Left-side nighttime window view of the ride from Shinjuku to Shin-Okubo.

Shin-Okubo Station Platform Walk 新大久保駅 - ホーム工事の様子 (130305)

I hadn't intended to spend time walking around on the Shin-Okubo Station platform, but seeing the advanced state of the platform wall construction there (it looks like all the places on the platform for bolting in the platform wall and its electric doors are in place), I thought it might be a good idea to record the open air platform before it disappears.  Actually - there's some history here.  There have been (many years ago) a couple of cases of people falling off the platform at this station and getting run over (and killed) by a train.

Something I've mentioned before:  There's the ongoing carnage of people getting killed in gruesome automobile accidents all over the country, and that's just considered normal.  One (or three in the most famous incident at this station over a decade ago) people die on the railways and the media goes berserk with stories about how dangerous the railways are!

While walking around on the Shin-Okubo Station platform, several trains (Saikyo Line, Seibu-Shinjuku Line, etc.) pass by at speed.

Exiting Shin-Okubo Station と Main Street Stroll 新大久保駅を出て - 散策散歩 (130305)

Going from the platform down to the ticket gates as a train unloads/loads people; through the ticket gates, and (after watching the train I walked away from up above pull out), down the main street towards Okubo Station.

Walking to Okubo Station Late at Night 夜遅く大久保駅までの散歩 (130305)

Walking along the road that connects Shin-Okubo Station and Okubo Station.

Soba and Udon Shop Ticket Machine Printout (130305)

This type of fast food I find much nicer than hamburger places.  You buy a ticket for what you want from a vending machine, give the person behind the counter the ticket, choose whether you want soba noodles, or udon noodles, and then they (usually) get it for you within 60 seconds or so.  This type of place - selling inexpensive hot noodles - is especially nice when the weather is cold.

Entering Okubo Station - Platform Views 大久保駅を入る - ホームビュー (130305)

Simple title, but this one covers a lot of area actually - from looking around on the streets near the station, to crossing the street under the overhead railway, and *then* entering Okubo Station while looking around.  Up on the platform, I walk around and take in the old style platform with it's old steel roof (that I hope will continue to be used for a long while yet), watch a train come and go; watch a couple of kaisoku Chuo Line trains speed by (one inbound and one outbound) on neighboring tracks, and then I stopped the camera - turning it back on a few minutes later to look around a little more (next video).

Okubo Station Platform Details - Late at Night Waiting for a Train (130305)

Right at the end of this short video - at about the 00:51 mark, is a typical view of the quiet semi-desolation of a late-night non-major train station atmosphere in the quiet between trains.

Nighttime Local Chuo Line Interior 夜の各駅中央線内 (130305hd)

Looking down the carriage of a late night outbound local Chuo Line train.  Generally speaking, things are a bit more settled on the local trains than they are on the express trains.

Incidentally, notice (at Higashi-Nakano) the blue light illuminated end of the platform at around the 00:50 mark.  People's eyebrows worldwide were raised when they began installing blue lights at the end of platforms to cut down on suicides.  I haven't heard or read anything about it lately, but I notice the lights are all still there.  I wonder if they actually have an effect on people considering jumping in front of a train in order to commit suicide?  Blue to cool down(?) fits in with the color theory of the old all-orange Chuo Line trains influencing people *to* commit suicide.  For some reason, the blue lights at the end of the platforms seem to me like they might even make some sense - somehow - but I've never believed that the suicide rate on the Chuo Line was high because the trains were orange.  The reasons seems straightforward enough: the line is - overall, throughout the day, on average - the most crowded line in the country, and the morning commute isn't very pleasant.  So it stands to reason that there would be more suicides there, if not because it's unpleasant (although that aspect shouldn't be ignored), then due to the numbers.  In fact, the high suicide rate refers to the number of suicides on the line, irrespective of the number of people using the line.  If they looked at the percentage of suicides - based on the number of people using the line - then maybe the rate isn't even high?

Local Chuo Line to Ogikubo - Late Night View 中央線夜各駅停車の様子 (130305)

An almost strangely quiet and settled ride.  I guess not being near a holiday or Friday, everything was just in Normal Mode.

Between Nakano and Mitaka, the local Chuo Line trains and kaisoku Chuo Line trains all stop at the same stations, so - within that stretch, you're generally better off taking a local (yellow stripe) train, since the kaisoku Chuo Line trains often wait for "tsukin-kaisoku", "tokubetsu-tsukin-kaisoku" and other express trains to pass, while the local trains just plod along without interruption.  (If you're going from Mitaka to Nakano, then a tsukin-kaisoku is of course fastest.)

Ogikubo Station Late at Night 夜の荻窪駅 (130305)

Exiting Ogikubo Station for a quick look around at night while on my way to Nishi-Ogikubo.

Ogikubo Nighttime Trackside 夜の荻窪 - 線路隣の散歩 (130305)

Late Night Ogikubo Shotengai Shopping Street 夜中の荻窪商店街 (130305)

Very short clip, but I wanted to show something of the atmosphere of a late night shotengai shopping street as it appears when you're walking down one on the way home after a long day at work.

Narrow Staircase Leading into Ogikubo Station (130305)

In this video, you can see how - once they installed an escalator - there wasn't much room left, so the remaining stairs became quite narrow.

Ogikubo to Nishi-Ogikubo (Local Chuo Line) 荻窪駅-西荻窪駅 (夜遅く) 130305

One stop down the line to Nishi-Ogikubo - either a kaisoku or local train would have worked fine, but a local came first, so I took that.  As the train rolled along, we ended up running in parallel with a kaisoku and pulled into Nishi-Ogikubo at the same time.  It's a little rare (although it happens often enough in Tokyo) to look out the window of a train and see another train running in the same direction beside you - so I always enjoy the experience when it happens and almost feel like I should wave at the passengers on the other train or something.

Nishi-Ogikubo Izakaya Late Night Stroll 西荻窪居酒屋夜の様子 (130305)

Places like this began as just a collection of small side street shops, but have become rare enough in Tokyo now, that they've become kind of like a theme park attraction - a way to go time-tripping instead of future seeking.

Yakiimo Truck by Nishi-Ogikubo Station (130305) [X]

2013/06/28 Note: I got a comment in English words that didn't make sense, but seemed to be expressing displeasure about this video and apparently from the man leaning against the truck looking at his cell phone in the video, so I've deleted the video.  I'm not sure what the problem is/was - the man's face wasn't in the video at all.  The only reason I can think of is that since he was leaning against the truck and looking at something on his cell phone, it didn't look like he was very serious about working, and maybe that was the source of the displeasure?  In any case, I deleted the video (which is why I put an "X" after the link above, and de-automated the link (what's the correct term for that anyway?).

I've been seeing ishi-yakiimo trucks like this for the whole time I've been in Japan, although there used to be more of them.  There was one guy who parked near the Omoide-yokocho izakaya alley in Shinjuku for the longest time.  He had a generator providing power for a small television that he watched while waiting for customers.  The guy in this video appears to be using his cell phone.  It would be funny if he was watching TV on it, but who cares about TV any more anyway?

Yakiimo Truck Walk-by 夜の焼き芋トラック (130305hd)

Nishi-Ogikubo Station - Midnight Ticket Gates to Platform Walk (130305)

There comes a point late at night - with the last train not far distant - that the evening/night loses its allure, and - often quite suddenly - you just want to be home.  Watching this video now as I type this, it's that feeling more than anything that comes to mind.  And with that, we've come to the last video in this batch.

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

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