Tuesday, April 02, 2013

"1991 Kyojima, Keisei Trains; 2013 Tonogayato Gardens, Tokyo Hanami (Chidorigafuchi, Etc.)"

There are a number of locations covered with this most recent batch of videos, so I'll just mention a couple of main themes in this intro and write something after some of the titles/links below.
This batch opens with a March 1991 visit to Kyojima.  The name may sound familiar, as I've posted things from there before, both recent material and from 1991.  On March 24th, 1991, I spent almost an entire day in the area, so I took a fair amount of footage (a term I avoid for digital files stored to a flash memory card, but it fits for analog tape).  This time around I've focused on one area of Kyojima - Kyojima 3-Chome.
For videos from this year (2013), the main theme is views of sakura trees in bloom, and I went to several places in Tokyo for the experience of springtime hanami and to record video and still images.  Contemplating the places I visited over the past week, I find myself thinking "Why didn't you go to this place, and that place", etc., but - as I'm reminding myself - my intention this time around was just to visit a few places and capture the spirit of sakura-hanami - not create a comprehensive travel guide about it.  Rain has been interfering a little with flower viewing this year, but it's just been light rain, so on good-weather (not wet) days, it's been pretty nice.
In my Sakura Quest for 2013, I first went by the Tonogayato Gardens, and then realized (once inside) that that particular pay-to-enter park is very nice, but doesn't have the standard type of cherry blossom trees!  There were a couple of flowering trees though, which I appreciated seeing, but I don't know what type they were exactly.  After that, all the places I went had fully flowering sakura trees - first Yotsuya, then Yushima-Seido, Asukayama Park (in Oji), a former riverbed in Oji (now a nice park), Ueno Park, Ginza 1-Chome, Shibuya, Naka-Meguro, Jiyugaoka, Kudanshita (Ushigafuchi, Chidorigafuchi, Kudankita, and Kitanomaru-koen).

1991 - Kyojima 3-Chome Walkabout 京島三丁目散策散歩 (910324)

One of the things that occurred to me when watching this material again after 22 years, is that this combination of old wooden houses, shotengai shopping streets, and small metalworking shops doing piecework for factories is exactly the combination featured in the Tora-san movie series ("Otoko-wa Tsurai-yo!").  The area actually in the movie became a tourist spot for people who like the atmosphere in the movie and go to see it, so the movie transformed that area into something else.  Kyojima, on the other hand, stayed in the shadows and is actually more the real thing - with no tourism whatsoever (not that I'm aware of, although I suppose my going there and walking around with a camera qualifies it at  least a little!).

The focus on the 3-Chome section of Kyojima came about accidentally.  I originally intended to walk through it and continue on towards another destination, but I ended up (accidentally) going in circles, and then the area was just so interesting (since even then I knew it couldn't possible not change in the not-so-distant future), that I felt a need to record it.

1991 Kyojima Supermarket 京島のスーパー (910324)

1991 Walk to Keisei-Hikifune Station 京成曳舟駅までの散歩 (910324)

For me now, the appearance of the old train station seems most interesting of all, but for some reason it didn't occur to me at the time that there would be no trace of the old station in the future.  Returning to the area... last year I think it was, the cool old wooden atmospheric station had been replaced with a clean, perfectly functional new one that - like too many new things - lacks soul.  I guess it will come with time?

1991年 昔の地上京成曳舟駅 Pre-Elevated Keisei-Hikifune Station (910324)

1991 Keisei-Hikifune to Keisei-Tateishi 京成曳舟駅-京成立石駅_京成線 (910324)

1991年 昔の地上京成線の電車 (京成曳舟駅) Old Keisei Line Trains (910324g)

Tonogayato Gardens - Bamboo Tunnel 殿ヶ谷戸庭園の竹のトーネール (130322)

A traditional garden like this is best when it's not crowded - as it wasn't the day I visited.  In walking through the park and sitting for a while up over the pond, a wordless contemplation of the sights and sounds restores some humanity lost to daily living on/among asphalt, concrete, steel, glass, plastic, etc.  How much of that comes through in the video and its soundtrack I don't know....  For me, when I watch this set of videos, it's a combination of images and sounds recorded by my camera and memories I have from the experience, so I'm not sure how it looks and sounds to someone who hasn't been to this garden.  Here's an English website for the park (and others in Tokyo):
Tonogayato Gardens - Southeast Side 殿ヶ谷戸庭園の東南側 (130322)
Tonogayato Gardens - Bamboo Grove 殿ヶ谷戸庭園の竹林と風音 (130322)

From the English language guide/brochure for the park:

   "Construction on this garden began in 1913 and was completed in 1915 by a landscape gardener called 'Sengoku' (who lived in Akasaka), as a villa for Sadae Eguchi who became the vice president of the South Manchuria Railway later.  After being purchased by Hikoyata Iwasaki of the Mitsubishi Zaibatsu in 1929, it was completed as a semi-Western style strolling garden consisting of trees and ponds with additional buildings such as a main building and a tea room (Momiji-Tei) designed by Saku Tsuda.  It had been used as a villa for the Iwasaki Family until 1974, when the Tokyo Metropolitan Government purchased it.  The garden is located on the southern edge of the Kokubunji rift line.  The natural flora in the Musashi plateau and the cliff-like rift area are well protected.  Thus, it is possible to observe many kinds of wild grasses, insects, etc. that have been living in this area since former times.  In the Jiro Benten Pond in the garden, there is a depression that contains a natural spring that provides large quantities of fresh water.  Water that runs off the cliff collects in this area and is part of the source of the Nogawa River.  As can be seen from the above, this garden has features that differ from other gardens in the Tokyo area.
   In September 2011, this landscape garden was designated a a place of natural scenic beauty.  Of all the similar Musashino landscape gardens which were created during the same period, this garden best retains the original appearance and beauty of its time, and is considered to have particularly high artistic value."
Tonogayato Gardens (Pond and Spring) 殿ヶ谷戸庭園の池と泉 (130322)
Tonogayato Gardens Stroll 殿ヶ谷戸庭園の散策散歩 (130322hdc)

Tonogayato Gardens - Northeast Side 殿ヶ谷戸庭園の東北池側 (130322)
Tonogayato Gardens - Sozu (Shishiodoshi) Sound 殿ヶ谷戸庭園添水鹿威し (130322)
Tonogayato Gardens - Sozu Sound and Goldfish 殿ヶ谷戸庭園の添水音 (130322hd)
The gardens closed at 5:00 p.m., and since they expect you to be out and on your way *before* it actually reaches closing time, I was speed walking towards the exit at about 4:53, when I came upon a foreign couple sitting on a bench - serenely eating a bento box lunch together.  Figuring they must not have realized the park was closing, I had the following exchange:

Me: "The park closes at 5:00..."
Man: "The park closes in five minutes?"
Me: [Looking at watch]  Well, it closes... *at* five o'clock..." [pointing at watch for visual effect]
Man: [With sarcastic look and sarcastic tone] "Well, thank you for that... [smirk] *information*..."
Me: [Smile - hand up in "Just telling you in case you didn't know! - Bye!" gesture.]

With that I walked to the exit, and as I listened to the recorded announcement (following video) saying that it was very nearly five o'clock and that anyone still in the park should head for the exit *now*, I looked back, saw no sign of the couple and wondered at the man's sarcasm.  Did he think I was lying?  Did he think they could stay past closing time for some reason?  Did they pay to enter, or just blunder in without paying and completely oblivious to the fact that it's a pay-to-enter park that closes at 5:00 and is not open 24-hours a day?  Those inscrutable westerners!  Who knows what they're thinking or why they do things!  And so rude!  I walked off wondered how much trouble the park employees would have kicking them out.  Would they get the sarcasm treatment too?  It probably wouldn't escalate to the point of having to call the police, but why were/are those two foreigners so d**n rude?  [Localized Lyle wondering what planet he belongs on anyway...]
Tonogayato Gardens - Closing Recording 殿ヶ谷戸庭園を出る (130322)

Chuo Line Window View - Approaching Yotsuya 中央線 - 新宿と四ツ谷の間 (130326)

One of the nice things about the sakura trees in the spring, with their mass of flowers, is that looking out a train window on the way somewhere, you can see them here and there, and they say "Spring!" like nothing else and brighten the viewer's outlook almost instantaneously.  The long irritating winter is finally coming to an end!

Yotsuya Station Platform Walk 四ッ谷駅ホームの様子 (130326)

Yotsuya Mitsukebashi Bridge and Sakura-Hanami 四ツ谷見附橋と桜花見 (130326)
The kimono-ish clad women are recent graduates of (probably) Sophia University, which is right next to the old rampart I went to for hanami pictures.  Actually, in more detail - I think those are in fact regular kimonos, but they often put on that extra skirt on the bottom (for university graduation ceremonies) that gives them a completely different look.  As you can see a little in this set of videos, several woman dressed that way were posing for pictures in front of the sakura trees up on the rampart.  Since the trees bloom right around the time of graduations and entrance ceremonies (the school year here is from April through to March), it's pretty standard to pose people in front of them for pictures commemorating entering a new school and then again when graduating.

Yotsuya Rampart Sakura-Hanami (NS) 四ツ谷城壁の桜花見 (130326)
Sakura-Hanami at Yotsuya Rampart (SN1) 四ツ谷城壁の桜花見 (130326hdc)

Sakura-Hanami Tables and Chairs (Yotsuya Rampart) 四ツ谷城壁の桜花見 (130326hdc)
Rokubancho Sakura-Hanami 六番町桜花見 (Blue Sheets) 130326

This stretch is longer, has more space on the sides, and there are more companies here (compared to the stretch next to Sophia University), and so this is usually packed with office workers in the evening at this time of year, who are quite organized about it - from putting down the blue tarp to reserve the space, to (sometimes) sending out a couple of people to guard it, to acquisition of food and drink, etc.

Yotsuya Station - Ticket Machines to Platform 四ッ谷駅 - 改札口-ホーム (130326)

Yotsuya to Ochanomizu (Sakura in Bloom) 四ッ谷駅-御茶ノ水駅 (桜木など) 130326

There's a long stretch of sakura trees along another section of moat that the Chuo Line trains run parallel with, which you can see in this video (above).

The title of this one just states that I went to Ochanomizu, but I kept the camera recording at Ochanomizu Station all the way to the ticket gates.  At around the 05:35 mark, I have a look at the curving steel and wood roof of the station.  This type of structure is becoming increasingly rare, so I find myself admiring this curving roof and hoping it will last for a while and not be torn down and replaced with a boring new design.  The exit I take at the end is the Hijiribashi Exit (聖橋口).

Hijiribashi to Yushima-Seido (Spring) 聖橋から湯島聖堂まで (春) 130326

Yushima-Seido seemed like a really mysterious place when I first visited it in 2002, but they appear to have cut down a number of trees since then, so it's seeming (unfortunately) more ordinary now.  Partly I've probably just gotten used to it after many visits, but cutting down trees in places like this always reduces intriguing mysterious atmospheres.  That might even have been the reason for cutting down trees - to make it more welcoming to visitors who fear atmosphere and mystery.  Anyway - it's still nice, but it was nicer before.  Here's a page I posted about it some years back:

Notice how different the atmosphere seems in the older photos compared to the video I took a few days ago?  Interestingly, the video looks better to me now than it felt at the time I was walking through taking the video...  Hmmm.... Now there's something to ponder.  The seen and the unseen.  It seems to me that in tidying up the place a little too much, they have also lost some of the unseen charm of the place (which the camera isn't good at recording of course).

Sakura-Hanami at Yushima-Seido 湯島聖堂の桜花見 (春) 130326

Basically, there's that one large sakura tree at Yushima-Seido (excluding a smaller one outside the gate), but while people go in large numbers to the places where there are a lot of the trees together, some of the lonely temples and whatnot in the city with a single tree, are much more beautiful in a way.  Of course, if the crowds headed to these spots, it would be a disaster, so it's a good thing everyone heads to the famous spots instead!

Yushima-Seido Walkabout 湯島聖堂の散策散歩 (130326hdcg)

Watching this again to see if I should comment on something, it occurs to me that this is actually not too bad of a general view of the whole grounds of Yushima-Seido.  I recommend seeing this one.  In fact, I probably should comment on a few details:

At the beginning I take a vertical view of the vertical flag that says 湯島聖堂 (the characters are viewed from the back of the flag, so they are backwards), that's the kanji character name of the place, Yushima-Seido.  At the 00:06 mark, you can see the characters in the correct orientation.

Orange construction cones (00:52, 00:58, 01:46, 02:19, etc.) - I used to find those looking really out of place and very unattractive, but I've - over the decades (not years) - finally trained myself to not even see them.  .....  Actually, a better description is you learn to see the things you want to focus on and to divorce the object of interest from distractions in the foreground (or background, etc.).  I didn't use to think that this was possible, but now I often see this sort of thing for the first time (or *notice* it for the first time) when reviewing a scene later via video I took.  At the time, most of those visually harsh objects didn't enter my conscious thinking.  I suppose they make sense as non-vocabulary "Don't Touch! / Don't Enter!" signs.

I seem to remember reading somewhere (many years ago) that the wall at the 02:15 mark goes all the way back to before the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923.  Or maybe only that it escaped the fire-bombing of Tokyo in 1945?  I'm not sure, but I was thinking the earthquake *and* the firebombing missed it.  [Research time on the Internet...]  Okay, I couldn't find any information about that wall, but FYI, here are some links:

English Wikipedia page on Yushima-Seido:

Japanese Wikipedia page on Yushima-Seido:

Yushima-Seido website (in Japanese):

And here is some (Japanese) text from the Yushima-Seido site regarding the history of the place:

徳川五代将軍綱吉は儒学の振興を図るため、元禄3年(1690)湯島の地に聖堂を創建して上野忍岡の林家私邸にあった廟殿と林家の家塾をここ に移しました。これが現在の湯島聖堂の始まりです。その後、およそ100年を経た寛政9年(1797)幕府直轄学校として、世に名高い「昌平 坂学問所(通称『昌平校』)」を開設しました。

明治維新を迎えると聖堂・学問所は新政府の所管するところとなり、当初、学問所は大学校・大学と改称されながら存置されましたが、明治4年 (1871)これを廃して文部省が置かれることとなり、林羅山以来240年、学問所となってからは75年の儒学の講筵は、ここにその歴史を閉 じた次第です。ついでこの年わが国最初の博物館(現在の東京国立博物館)が置かれ、翌5年(1872)には東京師範学校、わが国初の図書館で ある書籍館が置かれ、7年(1874)には東京女子師範学校が設置され、両校はそれぞれ明治19年(1886)、23年(1890)高等師範 学校に昇格したのち、現在の筑波大学、お茶の水女子大学へと発展してまいりました。このように、湯島聖堂は維新の一大変革に当たっても学問所 としての伝統を受け継ぎ、近代教育発祥の地としての栄誉を担いました。

大正11年(1922)湯島聖堂は国の史跡に指定されましたが、翌12年(1923)関東大震災が起こり、わずかに入徳門と水屋を残し、すべ てを焼失いたしました。この復興は斯文会が中心となり、昭和10年(1935)工学博士東京帝国大学伊東忠太教授の設計と㈱大林組の施工によ り、寛政時代の旧制を模し、鉄筋コンクリート造りで再建を果たしました。この建物が現在の湯島聖堂で、昭和61年度(1986)から文化庁に よる保存修理工事が、奇しくも再び(株)大林組の施工で行われ、平成5年(1993)三月竣工いたしました。

Back to the wall... in comparing it now with a picture I took 7-10 years ago (see link further up the page), I see that it was just bare wood before.  I guess they painted it black to better preserve the old wood, but it looked much nicer with the weathered wood exposed, as is the case with many old temples in Japan.  I think only the gate itself was black before?  I'm not sure.  I need to dig through old photos to confirm that.

The mirror-like surface of the black gates at the 02:40 mark is lacquer I think.  Another detail I either read or was told many years ago.  The trouble with on-line information about this place is that it gives a general overview of the entire topic, but doesn't seem to have many details about the different elements of the place.  With a history going back hundreds of years, there should be many interesting stories to tell!

The stone water basin on the left in the background at the 02:50 mark is blocked off.  It used to be that these were always filled with water - even at very small shrines, but now the smaller shrines mostly seem to leave them dry, and only the biggest, busiest places still have them full of water.  I keep wondering what the reason for that is, but I haven't found any definitive answer.  Is it due to pigeons using the water?  (Having seen a few places with netting over the water, I think that could well be the case.)  Camping bipeds?  Worry that if someone gets sick from drinking from one, that there will be legal trouble?  Whatever the reason, that they are just left dry is becoming the norm for some reason.  Incidentally, I think "stone water basin" is a good description, but looking around a little on-line it appears that no one quite knows what to call them, I found these from just one page of search results:

purification fountain
water fountain like thing
ritual fountain
stone wash basin
purification font
hand washing area
hand washing station

Here is an explanation and instructions about how to do the purification ritual - from the website for the Kasama Inari Jinja (shrine) in Ibaraki-ken:

"Whenever paying a visit to a Shinto jinja, it is customary to purify yourself at the Purification Font before advancing to the Hall of Worship to pray. A shrine's purification font often is inscribed with characters meaning "cleanse your mind"; there can be found a basin overflowing from a constantly flowing stream of pure water. This water is used to cleanse the hands, mouth, and mind prior to worship, allowing the individual to approach the deity in an unblemished condition.

1. Take the water dipper in your right hand, and pour water onto your left hand.
2. Take the water dipper in your left hand, and pour water onto your right hand.
3. Once more take the water dipper in your right hand, pour water into your cupped left hand, and rinse your mouth with the water from your hand (please do not drink directly from the dipper).
4. In consideration of the next visitor, raise the dipper vertically and rinse off the handle with fresh water, then replace the dipper in its original location."

But increasingly you can't do this at small Tokyo shrines because there is no water, and at Yushima-Seido, not even physical access to the vicinity of the stone water basin....

Anyway!  On to the next video!

Ochanomizu - Station Details and Platform Walk 御茶ノ水駅のデテール (130326)

Ochanomizu to Kanda (Chuo Line) 御茶ノ水駅-神田駅 (万世橋見) 130326g

I watch (again) out the right-side window for evidence of the old platform stairs still being there while they continue with the construction of whatever they're building at/on the old platform of (former) Manseibashi Station.  First the platform appears [01:04], and then some new... something at [01:08], a new concrete square... elevator shaft? (naw... what *is* that?!) at [01:10], tile (brick?) from the old stairs (phew!) at [01:10] and [01:11]; and from [01:12], I suddenly jump over to the other side of the train to show a railway siding.  Looking at this now, it's not so difficult to imagine it as the last stop on the original Chuo Line, which began life as the Kobu Line, which ran between Tachikawa and Shinjuku.  According to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manseibashi_Station):

   "The private Kobu Railway (甲武鉄道) between Tachikawa and Shinjuku was opened on April 11, 1889. The line was gradually extended east towards the center of Tokyo and was nationalized on October 1, 1906. The line was further extended to Manseibashi Station, which was opened on April 1, 1912 and remained the eastern terminal station of the line for seven years.
   The first station building was designed by Tatsuno Kingo in a style inspired by the Amsterdam Centraal and repeated in his design of Tokyo Station, opened two years later. A statue of Takeo Hirose was erected in front of the station.
   After the 1914 opening of Tokyo Station, Manseibashi still served as the eastern terminal station of the Chūō Main Line until March 1, 1919, when the line was further extended and Kanda Station opened. The 1923 Great Kantō earthquake destroyed the original station building, and a simpler station building was erected in its place. The statue of Hirose was left standing.
   In 1925, the elevated railway running through Ueno Station and Akihabara Station was opened for passenger traffic. Since both Akihabara and Kanda stations were within walking distance of Manseibashi, passenger numbers at Manseibashi decreased. On April 26, 1936, the Railway Museum moved into Manseibashi Station, and the station building itself was scaled back in November 1936. The station was officially closed on November 1, 1943 and the station building was completely torn down. The statue was removed after World War II."

Well, not "completely" torn down, since there were/are some remnants of the original station, a few glimpses of which you can see in some photos on this page:

And... (last comment on Manseibashi Station!) after looking at a picture of the station from the side, I realize that the station building was separate from the elevated railway, so what's left is the section under the elevated railway, and not the station building itself, although they were connected by passageways.  Still, it's cool that there's *something* left.

Kanda Station and Ride to Akihabara 神田駅と秋葉原駅までの山手線 (130326hdc)

Akihabara Platform Walk 秋葉原駅ホームの様子 (屋根など) 130326

Akihabara to Oji (Keihin-Tohoku Line) 秋葉原駅-王子駅 (京浜東北快速) 130326
Oji Station to Asukayama Park (Hanami Season) 王子駅-飛鳥山公園 (花見) 130326

Asukayama Park Monorail (Brief Look) 飛鳥山公園モノレール (一見) 130326

Asukayama Park - Walking Up Hill Into Park 飛鳥山公園に上って入る (130326)

Asukayama Park Sakura-Hanami D-51 SL Etc 飛鳥山公園 - 都電など (130326)

This was my first time (I think) to visit this park, so looking in the windows of the streetcar, etc. was as much original exploration as simple recording of a place already known.  The kids waving to the camera from the roof of the streetcar made me feel nostalgic for the late eighties and early nineties, before just about everyone had cell phones with cameras in them.

The D-51 steam locomotive was interesting to see.  I was a little surprised at how the kids were climbing all over it - completely oblivious to the "Danger!  Do not climb on this!" signs!  That kids want to do that sort of thing is normal enough, but that the parents just let them have at it may be a condition of this generation.  The current batch of young parents were pretty spoiled, and their kids are more spoiled still it seems.

Back to the D-51.  These have four driven wheels per side (thus the "D") and were used (as I understand it - I could be wrong) for fast express trains between cities, while the "C" trains have only three driven wheels per side, but the wheels are larger, so they (presumably) have more torque and were probably better at getting overloaded trains in motion when leaving stations, etc.  Most of the functional steam engines I've seen here are the "C" type and were manufactured in the post-war years.  People seem to be much more nostalgic for the D-type though, which is logical enough.  Used for express trains, speeding from city to city.  And the D-type engines look nicer/cooler than the C-type ones.

D-51-853 SL in Asukayama Park 飛鳥山公園内のD-51-853 SL (130326)

It was kind of funny how a kid hit his head (not overly hard, but it must have hurt) on one piece or another of steel in the cab, and he started crying, and so his mother came up and asked what was wrong, and he - while half-crying and half-talking - patted the offending pit of steel with his hand.  Mother informed, issue explained, he stopped crying and got back to the more important business of driving the steam engine.  It's hard to explain, but seeing something like that brings back very ancient memories and helps to complete some kind of... unfinished picture?  I don't know what/how/why exactly, but it made me feel more human to see/hear that for some reason.

北区飛鳥山博物館 Kita-ku Asukayama Museum (130326)

A quick look at a rather nice and interestingly designed museum, with multiple display spaces, and a coffee shop, etc.

Asukayama Park Hanami Walkthrough 飛鳥山公園桜花見時の散策散歩 (130326)

Asukayama Park - Walking Back Down to Street 飛鳥山公園 - 坂を下りて出る (130326)

I didn't know it before going there, but it turns out this park has quite a long history, which is interesting, because parks tend to be newish in Tokyo.  This one... [uh-oh... back to the Internet to check...  Can I get the information without getting sidetracked this time?  Stay tuned.]  Okay - got the info and I was only slightly sidetracked.  Here's a quote from Wikipedia about the park (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asukayama_Park):

"In the early eighteenth century, shogun Tokugawa Yoshimune planted many cherry trees in the area and opened up the land for the enjoyment of the 'Edokko' or citizens of Tokyo.  The park, along with Ueno Park, Shiba Park, Asakusa Park, and Fukagawa Park, were formally established in 1873 by the Dajo-kan, as Japan's first public parks.  In 1998, three museums were opened inside the park, designed by AXS Satow: the Kita City Asukayama Museum (北区飛鳥山博物館), the Shibusawa Memorial Museum (渋沢史料館), and the Paper Museum (紙の博物館)."

Oji - Former Shakuji Riverbed Sakura 元石神井川の桜 - 王子駅の近く (130326)
In the book "Japan Through American Eyes: The Journal of Francis Hall, Kanagawa and Yokohama, 1859-1866", Hall describes going by horse to this area, which had tea houses and was a kind of resort area (if that's the right term) at the time.  The publisher blurb for the book describes the book pretty well - if you're interested in Japan, I highly recommend it:

"In this journal, Francis Hall, America's leading business Pioneer in nineteenth-century Japan, offers a remarkable view of the period leading to the Meiji Restoration. Privately preserved for more than a hundred years, this previously unpublished document shows Hall to have been an astute observer of Japanese life, as well as an influential opinion-maker on Japan in the United States during the crucial decade of the American Civil War and the end of the Tokugawa Shogunate. While contemporary American and British diplomatic accounts have focused on the official record, Hall reveals to us the private side of life in the treaty port. Although his instinctive reactions were frequently to approve the strong-arm tactics of the gunboat diplomats with whom he associated, his second thoughts were far more nuanced and sympathetic than the official line. The publication of Hall's journal, as well as many articles he wrote for the American press, therefore furnishes us with an insightful and sensitive portrayal of Japan on the eve of modernity. The biography included in this volume provides a context for the journal. An upstate New York book dealer, Hall went to Japan in 1859 to collect material for a book and to serve as correspondent for Horace Greeley's New York Tribune. Seeing the opportunities for commerce in Yokohama, he helped found Walsh, Hall and Co., which became the leading American trading house in Japan. Hall was a shrewd businessman, but more important for us, he was a perceptive recorder of life around him. Ethnographer, demographer, sportswriter, social observer, economist, diplomat, and participant in the turbulent affairs of the treaty port, he left an unmatched portrait of Japan in a time of rapid change."

A paperback version has been published under the slightly modified title:  "Japan Through American Eyes: The Journal Of Francis Hall, 1859-1866"

Quoting from the book, here are two paragraphs about his trip to Oji by horse:

   "Saturday, November 3, 1860 - .....  We left the Imperial grounds to ride to Ogi-ya, a noted tea house and place of recreation in the country.  After leaving the imperial grounds and passing out of the second wall we ascended rising ground.  Gradually as we galloped on, the houses grew sparser and at the end of a brisk two hours' ride we were riding in pleasant suburban roads bordered with gardens of fruits and flowers or vegetables, and groves of cypress and fir.  At the foot of a hill where there was a small cluster of cottages we found Ogi-ya.
   Ogi-ya is a series of tea cottages built in a summer dell on a brookside.  A swift stream tumbles over a fall at the head of a little gorge and bounds on its serpentine course amidst trees and rocks.  On one side, overhanging the stream with their long tasseled arms were the native spruces, on the other, a cluster of tea cottages scattered here and there under cool shade and surrounded by gardens of flowers, one and two stories in height, and with spacious verandahs opening towards the bounding brook and the thick grove beyond.  Groups of Japanese were enjoying themselves in the open rooms.  ......"

After reading things like the above, I wonder how much nicer the world would be without automobiles.  The internal combustion engine - through vast overuse - is more of a curse than a benefit.

Oji Sakura Hanami and Bridge 王子桜花見と橋 (130326)

Oji Shrine 王子神社 (130326)

Ancient Ginkgo Tree by Oji Shrine 王子神社隣の古い大きい銀杏の木 (130326)

A plaque by the old tree at the beginning of this video states that - while they don't know the exact age, they think it's around 600 years old.  It even made it through the fire-bombing of Tokyo, while everything around it burned.  If it could talk, it would have a lot to say I imagine....

Sakura Hanami by Shakuji River to Oji Station 石神井川花見-王子駅 (130326)

Oji Station Afternoon Platform Walk 王子駅改札口と午後駅ホーム散策散歩 (130326hdc)
Starting by the ticket gates to Oji Station - I go through the gates, up an escalator to the platform, and I'm just looking around, with sakura trees in bloom in the background.  First a train comes in going the other way, and after it leaves, I'm waiting for my train, when I hear a train approaching on a neighboring track, so I aim the camera in that direction, and it turns out to be three old and interesting-looking train cars being pulled by an electric locomotive.  They look mysterious - going by like that so unexpectedly... like some kind of ghost train (at around the 02:44 mark).
Oji to Ueno - Keihin-Tohoku Line - Sakura Spring 王子駅-上野駅 - 桜春 (130326)
Shinobazu Exit to Subway Area via Slope Entrance 不忍改札から地下鉄口へ (130326)

Shinobazu Exit to Ueno Park 上野駅不忍口から桜花見上野公園まで (130326)

Kiyomizu Kannondo Temple - Sakura in Bloom 清水観音堂桜花見様子 (130326)
Kiyomizu Kannondo Temple - Sakura Look-around 清水観音堂桜花見様子 (130326hd)

上野公園花見 - 清水観音堂から中央通路まで Kiyomizu Kannondo Sakura (130326)

Ueno Park Upper Plaza Area by Kiyomizu Kannondo Temple 上野公園広場桜 (130326)

Walk to Shinobazu Entrance of Ueno Station 上野駅不忍改札口へ (130326)
Ueno Station Shinobazu Entrance to Platform 上野駅不忍改札からホームへ (130326)

Ueno to Shinbashi - Front Cab View - Yamanote Line 山手線で上野駅-新橋駅 (130326)

Tokyo Station Yaesu Side Under Construction 東京駅八重洲口工事の様子 (130326)

Shinjuku Crosswalk People - Entering Nishi-Shinjuku (130326)

Quiet Former Entrance to Toyoko-Shibuya Station (130326)

Shinjuku Yamanote to Chuo Transfer 新宿駅山手線から中央線まで乗り換え (130326)

Shinbashi SL-Plaza Used Book Market 新橋SL広場の中古本市場 (130326)

Shinbashi to Yurakucho - Yamanote Line 新橋駅-有楽町駅 - 山手線 (130326)

Tokyo Station Afternoon Walkthrough 東京駅午後の様子 - 山手線など (130326)
Sakura in Small Ginza 1-Chome Park 銀座一丁目の小さい公園の桜花見 (130326)

奥野ビル六階元談話室前と五階 Okuno Building Former Lounge Etc (130326)

Walking by Sakura Trees in Ginza 1-Chome 銀座一丁目の桜の木 (130326)

Yurakucho Station Bound - Ginza 1-Chome 有楽町駅向き - 銀座一丁目 (130326)

Yurakucho to Ochanomizu - Evening Trains 有楽町駅-御茶ノ水駅 - 夕方電車 (130326)

Boarding Shibuya-Bound Yamanote Line at Shinjuku Station - South Entrance (130326)

新宿駅-渋谷駅 - 夜の山手線 Shinjuku to Shibuya - Nighttime Yamanote Line (130326)

Nighttime Shibuya - South Exit Area 夜の渋谷駅 - 南改札を出る (130326)

Shibuya - East to West Station Walkthrough 渋谷桜 - 東から西へ - 駅あたり (130326hd)

Shibuya Late Night Crowds by Station 渋谷駅あたりの夜人込み (130326hd)

銀座一丁目の美しい桜の木 - 花見万歳 Ginza 1-Chome Sakura Trees (130326g)
Yurakucho Rail Bridge Echoes 有楽町夜鉄道橋の鉄響き (130326g)

Shibuya Walkabout (East to West) Hachiko Plaza - JR-Shibuya Station (130326g)

Shibuya Hachiko Plaza Nighttime Sakura 夜渋谷ハチ公広場の桜花見 (130326g)

Shinjuku Platform Walk and Ride to Harajuku 新宿駅の様子と原宿駅まで (130329)

Harajuku Station - Platform to Exit 原宿駅 - ホームから表参道改札口まで (130329)

Harajuku Omotesando and Meiji-Dori Stroll 原宿表参道と明治通り散策散歩 (130329)

Harajuku Takeshita-Dori Afternoon Stroll 原宿竹下通り午後散策散歩 (130329g)

Takeshita-Dori - West Side by Harajuku Station 竹下通り - 原宿駅隣の西側 (130329hd)

Harajuku Station - Takeshita Entrance 原宿駅竹下口 (130329hdc)

Shibuya Station - Yamanote to Toyoko 渋谷駅 山手線-地下鉄の東横線 (130329)

This starts on a Yamanote Line train approaching Shibuya Station, and then shows the transfer from the Yamanote Line to the new underground Toyoko Line at Shibuya - stopping briefly to look over a barrier at the empty lower level of the former Toyoko-Shibuya Station along the way.

Underground Toyoko-Shibuya Station 地下東横渋谷駅 (130329)

Nakameguro Station to Meguro River Sakura 中目黒駅-目黒川桜花見 (130329)

Sakura-Hanami by Megurogawa River 目黒川隣の桜花見-中目黒駅近く (130329hd)
Megurogawa River Sakura-Matsuri Area 目黒川桜まつり地方-春万歳 (130329)
Megurogawa Sakura Stroll - Walk Towards Station 目黒川桜花見散策散歩 (130329)

Nakameguro to Jiyugaoka - Toyoko Line 中目黒駅-自由が丘駅 - 東横線 (130329)

Jiyugaoka Station Walkabout 自由が丘駅の様子 (130329)

Jiyugaoka Multi-Store (1F) Walkthrough 自由が丘散策散歩 (130329)

Jiyugaoka Multi-Store (2F と 3F) Walkthrough 自由が丘散策散歩 (130329)

Sakura-in-Bloom on Jiyugaoka Green Street 自由が丘グリーンストリート桜 (130329)

Around the time I was taking these videos of Green Street in Jiyugaoka, I wrote the following in a notebook:

130329-15:53 (Jiyugaoka) - Sitting on an outside bench in Jiyugaoka - on a stone-block street, with a brick center section and sakura trees in the center, and with benches lining the outside edge of the brick part of the street - facing inward.  A light breeze carries cherry blossom petals diagonally - down onto the people sitting on the benches, watching the trees.  A single petal lands on the page as I write this....  The overcast sky is somehow perfect for the moment - certainly it provides much better lighting than would be the case with harsh direct light from a cloudless sky....  Excuse me, but I will now get back to enjoying it wordlessly.
Jiyugaoka Green Street - Sakura Stroll 自由が丘グリーンストリート桜 (130329)

Sakura Green Street to Jiyugaoka Station グリーンストリート-自由が丘駅 (130329)

Jiyugaoka Station - Boarding Toyoko Line 自由が丘駅 - 東横線を乗る (130329)

Yotsuya Station Night Window View 四ッ谷駅夜の窓風景 (130329)
Yotsuya Rampart Night Hanami Stroll 四ツ谷城壁の夜花見散策散歩 (130329)
Yotsuya-Mitsukebashi Bridge to Yotsuya Station 四ツ谷見附橋-四ッ谷駅 (130329)

Lonely Late Night Street in Nakano 寂しい夜の道イン中野 (130329)

This is a new road that runs through the middle of what was one large block with no roads before.  Looking on-line I see that three universities will have operations in this area (often Japanese universities split themselves among different facilities located in different parts of town), as follows:

Three new universities will open doors on the west side of the redevelopment area:
・Meiji University: School of Global Japanese studies, etc. (Opening April 2013)
・Teikyo Heisei University: Pharmaceutical Studies, etc. (Opening April 2013)
・Waseda University: Nakano Global Community Plaza, etc. (Planned for completion in spring 2014)

There's information about the redevelopment project here:

Nakano Station - North Side at Night 夜の中野駅北口 (130329)

Asagaya-kita Late Night Side Streets 夜遅くの阿佐谷北一丁目 (130329)

Late Night Asagaya-kita 2-Chome 夜遅くの阿佐谷北二丁目 (130329)

Asagaya Late Night Back Streets 阿佐ヶ谷夜遅くの裏道 (130329)

Late Night Asagaya Station 夜遅く阿佐ヶ谷駅 (130329)

Toyoko to JR Transfer at Shibuya Station 渋谷駅の東横線-JR線の乗り換え (130329)

Shibuya Station West Side Stroll 渋谷駅西側散策散歩 (130329)

Shibuya Hachiko Plaza と Walk to Hanzomon Line 渋谷ハチ公広場-半蔵門線 (130329)

Shibuya to Omotesando - Hanzomon Line 渋谷駅-表参道駅 - 半蔵門線 (130329)

Omotesando to Nagatacho - Hanzomon Line 表参道駅-永田町駅 - 半蔵門線 (130329)
Kudanshita Station - Platform to Earth Surface - 九段下駅_地下-地上 (130329)

Ushigafuchi Sakura Hanami 牛ヶ淵桜花見 (130329hd)

Kudankita Shadows 九段北二丁目の影 (130329)

Night Flowers at Kudankita - Sakura Hanami Season (130329)

Night Hanami Parties at Kudankita - Walkabout 九段北夜花見大会 (130329)

Quiet Side of Hanami Parties at Kudankita - Walkabout 九段北夜花見 (130329)

九段北夜花見大会 Kudankita Night Hanami Parties - Walkabout (130329)

Games at Kudankita Hanami Event 九段北花見大会のゲーム (130329)

牛ヶ淵桜花見 Ushigafuchi Sakura Hanami - Full Bloom - Falling Petals (130329)
Ushigafuchi to Chidorigafuchi - Hanami 牛ヶ淵-千鳥ヶ淵 - 桜花見 (130329)

I wrote this (ink on paper) at the time:

17:37 - Kudanshita (Chidorigafuchi) - Bought a couple of pieces of fried chicken and a couple of... non-soft drinks, and kind of randomly sat down on a bench by the cherry tree-lined moat.  While consuming the fried chicken and non-soft drinks, I overheard a couple seated next to me say something about how nice an overhead branch looked, so I looked up, and noticed - for the first time - that a rather beautiful in-full-bloom branch of a sakura tree reaches out over exactly where we are sitting.

Sakura Stroll N-S - Chidorigafuchi 桜散歩北南千鳥ヶ淵 - 夕暮れ花見 (130329g)

Sakura Stroll S-N - Chidorigafuchi 桜散歩南北千鳥ヶ淵 - 夕暮れ花見 (130329)

Pedestrian Bridge Near Yasukuni Shrine 靖国神社隣の靖国通り (130329)

Night Sakura - Kita-no-Maru-Koen (Kitanomaru-koen) 北の丸公園夜桜花見 (130329)
北の丸公園夜桜花見 Night Sakura Hanami - Kitanomaru-koen (130329)

Kitanomaru Hanami Night Stroll 北の丸公園夜桜花見散策散歩 (130329)

OK - that's it for this batch!  I probably should have commented on more of the videos listed above, but I'm seriously running out of time here, so I need to get this into the wires.

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

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