Tuesday, May 21, 2013

"1990 Izakaya, Bubble Era, Here and There, Etc.; 2013 Hamamatsucho Etc."

There's more of 1990 than 2013 in this one, with many short videos of various places in 1990 central Tokyo.  This captures some of the energy and optimism of the era, contrasted with the yet to be (at the time) rebuilt backdrop of the Showa Era train system, etc.  I'm not sure how important it is, or even if it's important at all, but I think many people have the wrong idea of what the bubble economy years were like from watching fictional accounts of it.  It goes something like this:

Step-1: 1987-1991 television dramas and movies utilize the most modern type of apartments as cool backdrops for their supposedly "contemporary" fictional tales.  At the time, people living in typically much smaller and older apartments shake their heads a little and say "What's with all the dramas showing ordinary people living in sparkling palatial apartments?"
Step-2: Fast forward to post 2010 years.  At this point, even the people who were shaking their heads about the sparkling palatial drama apartments at the time, after watching countless dramas and movies depicting things that way, and seeing real-world apartment design - some two decades later - looking as it was depicted before it became the norm, come to think that the fictional over-the-top depictions in the 1987-91 dramas was more or less accurate (through the brain's memory management distortion of overwrite-save), even though they knew it wasn't accurate at the time.

Step-3: Young scenario writers for a - say - 2012 movie about the bubble era in Japan, reference the television dramas and movies that were made in that era depicting supposedly contemporary life.  Not having (other than as small children) personally experienced the era themselves, they're in an even worse position than the Step-2 people, so they write a script showing a sparkling era that they think is accurate, but since they're basing it on over-the-top fictional dramas from that time frame, they amplify the fiction that everything was sparkling then.
Step-4:  The actors.  They basically do the same thing the scenario writers do, and compound the error-prone process by mimicking the things they see actors of the period doing in fictional movies made at the time.  This has some (or maybe I should say "a lot of") merit of course, as actors in a contemporary film are going to be speaking - to a certain extent at least - in the style of the time.  The problem though, is that popular actors often get that way by having peculiar and interesting ways of speaking!  People don't become fascinated with them because they seem ordinary (read "real") after all!
Step-5: Step-2 people, with their largely shifted memories (due to too much exposure to fictional accounts of the era) see a new movie about the era they lived through and, since there is enough overlap with the truth (or what is perceived as the truth anyway), they see it as basically accurate, although naturally a bit over-the-top in the way movies always are.

Step-6: Young people in their twenties see a modern movie about the bubble era, with its depiction of sparkle and shine, and tell people who lived through the era as young people themselves, "I envy your experience of that wonderful era".
And here's where it gets complicated.  The fictional accounts are shallow - obviously - they're fiction after all.  And so on one hand, the era was actually *better* than people think, but not in ways that they recognize.  And the parts of it that they admire in the fictional accounts were not as good as they think.  All of this makes me think - if we get things from such a recent era (just over two decades ago) so wrong, how in the world can we have anything approaching an accurate understanding of more distant things in history?
Now.  You may well ask how it is that I would not fall victim to Step-2 memory overwrite-save myself.  The answer is I *did* fall victim to it, although maybe less than some people, due to my not watching many TV dramas or movies (although I have seen a fair number of them).  The difference for me, is that I recorded my surroundings and myself via video camera at the time, and in re-watching scenes I saw first-hand, a lot of the moment comes back to me, and then I realize - with a shock - that my memory of the era had been corrupted!  Through new overwrite save of images and sounds that I took of my experiences then, I'm correcting the errors, but it's a shocking realization of how people's memories get changed and are not necessarily accurate.

1990 Noontime Tamachi 午後の田町 (900528)

The sounds of trains vary from model to model, so the combination of the sounds of the trains combined with the visual element really bring back memories.  It was just the background to riding on the train at the time, but now that they are running the next generation of trains on the Yamanote Line, suddenly the old sounds bring on feelings of nostalgia.
At the 0:31 mark, is a view looking out from the north exit of Tamachi Station - before they built out an elevated plaza there.
At the 0:41 mark, you can see early stages of construction work.  Something that is often forgotten about the bubble era years is that the era was primarily one of demolishing old things and making big plans for large scale construction projects.  The construction projects themselves weren't completed until many years later - after the bubble years.

1990 Ginza and Yurakucho 銀座と有楽町 (900528)

This begins in Ginza, and then I walk into Yurakucho.  There's overlap in the atmosphere of the two districts, so for this video, I'd say it's basically Ginza-Yurakucho, as one area.
This video is fairly rough, and the video camera I used (C1) for this one didn't do very well at night, so it's on the dark side as well.  Actually, the camera was capable of more exposure than it generally gave the picture, but the automatic exposure system was ultra-sensitive to florescent lighting, of which there are vast quantities in Tokyo, so with just a hint of florescent lighting in the picture, the camera would pick up on that and darken the picture.

From the 02:42 mark, there's a long segment showing the opening of the big clock in Yurakucho, that runs to around the 05:15 mark.  I considered cutting that part out, but ended up leaving it in, on the off-chance that it might be interesting to somebody, somewhere, sometime.
After that I walk through the outside yakitori places in Yurakucho (and that is very definitely Yurakucho, not Ginza!).  Incidentally, the next video is one short segment contained in this longer video - showing the under-tracks yakitori places that still (some of them anyway) exist in lesser form.  They were still going strong when this was taken.  It's (unfortunately) the age of chain store everything, and independent shops are (seemingly) going extinct.
At the 09:55 mark, you can see large, garish, colorful flashing signs that used to be all over the city, but are now almost all gone.  When this was taken, people would actually look around them while outside.  Now, of course, people stay tuned into their micro-computers and don't pay any attention to what's around them in the real world.  I'm sure there are many reasons for the demise of the large colorful advertising signs, but one of the reasons is likely that people don't look up any more.

1990 Under Tracks Izakaya ガード下の居酒屋 (900528)

Part of this still exists - in much reduced form.  The under-tracks izakaya tunnel was much more exciting in 1990 than it is in 2013.  The open-air street part is more-or-less the same, although now people have gone soft and they put out heaters, roofs, tents, etc.
Personally, I think the whole reason for going to a place like this is that you're outside, basically.  Putting up plastic walls and heating the space with electric heaters destroys the cool atmosphere of the area.  That said, it really does seem to me that a lot of people are seriously anemic these days and their bodies appear to be unable to self-heat.  Here's something that was definitely better before.  People were healthier before.  In 25 years, Japan has gone from overuse of air-conditioning and under-use of heating, to overuse of heating and under-use of air conditioning....

1990 Yurakucho Izakaya 有楽町居酒屋 (900528)
Taken while inside an izakaya in Yurakucho.  It's pretty much the same as scenes in izakayas today, except for smoking, fashion, wanting to be on camera, etc.  I hesitated to post this one....  I had consumed a fair number of beverages [cough] and got overly bold with the camera.  If this were a current video, I don't think I would post it, but since it was taken 23 years ago, I'm thinking it is sort of ancient history and has some historical value... and so here it is.
1990 Yurakucho to Ikebukuro (Yurakucho Line) 有楽町駅-池袋駅 有楽町線 (900528)

Another video that was you probably wouldn't want to try recording in this way today.

Regarding taking video outside in general.  People are getting hyper-sensitive to video these days.  I was taking a video out a window last week, carefully shielding the lens so as not to record the inside of the train via reflection, and while taking it, a woman got a real serious expression on her face and intently watched my monitor - apparently to see if I was taking her picture(?).  Sigh.  The way things are going, the only people who will be able to take pictures in public will be banks, convenience stores, apartment buildings and police, etc.  So you'll be safe from someone's YouTube video, but your every move once you set foot outside is recorded by organizations.  Oh well, GO-1984 is the society we live in now... I guess.

1990 Transfer to Seibu-Ikebukuro Line 西武池袋線までの乗り換え (900528)
It's a long transfer (then and now) from the subway, JR lines, etc. to the Seibu-Ikebukuro Line.  I wouldn't take this video in quite this way now, but - again - after 23 years has passed, it's ancient history and I think it has some historical meaning, and so here it is.

Ogawa to Hagiyama (Post Construction) 小川駅-萩山駅 西武拝島線 (130514)

The construction to elevate (most of) the tracks between these two stations is complete now.  Here's a video (from last year) of the same stretch while the elevated part was still under construction (but nearly finished):

Ogawa to Hagiyama 120710

Seibu-Shinjuku Line (Side Window View) 西武新宿線 左窓風景 (130514)

Looking out a left-side window on the way to Takadanobaba.

Takadanobaba Seibu-Tozai Transfer 高田馬場駅で西武線-東西線の乗り換え (130514)

Waiting for Tozai Line at Takadanobaba 高田馬場駅で東西線を乗る (130514)

Tozai Subway (Side Window View) 東西線地下鉄の窓トンネル風景 早稲田駅まで (130514g)

I like the double-exposure effect, but a huge part of this record of riding from Takadanobaba to Waseda is the sound.  Nothing defines subway travel more than sound I think - the way the sounds of the train echo around inside the tunnel.

Tokyo to Yotsuya - Chuo Line Night View 東京駅-四ッ谷駅 中央線夜の窓風景 (130514g)

Just another nighttime ride on a train, but I like the way it looks.  It seems really clear... maybe the windows had just been cleaned?

Shinjuku Chuo Line to South Exit 新宿駅 中央線から南口まで (130514)

Shinjuku South Exit Jazz Band (Very Short View) 130514

Just as the title says, a "very short" view of a jazz band performing on the street in Shinjuku (just seven seconds).  They just played two melodies and as they began passing out fliers, I headed off down the street - passing a couple of policemen hurrying in the opposite direction about a minute later.  Hopefully the police weren't rushing over to kick the nice jazz band off the street (they were finished at that point anyway), and if they were, I hope the band got packed up in time.  The crowd (including me) really enjoyed the short concert, and I can't see how it could hurt anything for them to play a couple of melodies like that....

Omoide-Yokocho Shinjuku West Side 思い出横丁-西新宿からの散策散歩 (130514g)

Beginning in front of the west side of Shinjuku Station - I walk over to and through the Omoide-Yokocho izakaya street.  This street *looks* much as it has for many decades, but while it was a back street filled with traditional Japanese izakaya places before, now many of the shops are run by (or staffed by in any case) people from southeast Asian countries.  I bring this up, because the change in nationality changes the atmosphere.

One mismatch with Japanese culture that I've noticed, is that it used to be that you could walk through the street verbally and visually unmolested, and shopkeepers would only call out to you if you were peering into their shops, looking like you were thinking of entering, but now woman from other south-east Asian countries stand like sentries in the doorways (of some shops) and stare at you intently while you walk by and (often) call out in an irritating way.  That's not the way it's supposed to be done here.

At the 02:51 mark is a shop with a Japanese flag and several sheets of paper saying that the shop is authentically Japanese, etc.  It shows there's some friction about the direction the alley has taken.

Ochanomizu to Hamamatsucho (Tokyo Transfer) 御茶ノ水-浜松町 東京駅乗り換え (130516)

Midway to Hamamatsucho, I transfer from the Chuo Line to the Yamanote Line at Tokyo Station.  Typical 2013 video of the Tokyo train system, but sort of a strange thing happened at Tokyo Station on one of the long escalators leading down to the concourse area from the elevated Chuo Line platforms.  Beginning at about the 03:49 mark, everyone on the escalator is walking, but the people on the left are walking faster, and I fall in with them and speed past the slowly moving line on the right.  This is rather strange for two reasons.  Since road (and escalator) traffic uses lest-side travel on two-way paths, and right-side passing lanes for same-direction traffic, it was unusual to be passing people on the left.  Also, usually there is a line of people standing motionless on the left, so the only place you can usually walk is the right.  Thought I better mention that in case someone got the wrong idea from watching people zooming past on the left.  That was freakishly unusual.

Venue for Kiki Performance in Hamamatsucho 浜松町Kikiライブの場所 (130516)

A look at the interesting outside (but covered) space in Hamamatsucho that has live performances from time-to-time.

Kiki Live in Hamamatsucho - Kiki浜松町ライブ 2-4 (130516)
Kiki performing my favorite song of theirs "Tonight" in Hamamatsucho in May 2013.
Hamamatsucho to Zojoji Temple 浜松町駅-増上寺の散策散歩 港区芝公園内 (130516)

Walking by Tokyo Tower (Construction Work) 130516

Yokoyama Mitsunobu よこやまみつのぶ Exhibition at Art Gallery Ishi アートギャラリー石 (130516)

Yurakucho to Tokyo 1020 PM 有楽町駅-東京駅 京浜東北線 (130516)
Tokyo Station - Waiting for Next Chuo Line Train 東京駅夜の中央線ホーム (130516)

Tanker Train Passing Through Takao Station 貨物列車 高尾駅を通る (130516)

You don't see that many freight trains in Tokyo these days, particularly ones that go right by a platform, so when you do, it stands out.  I think the only type I've seen on the Chuo Line in the last several years are tanker trains like this one.

大月駅行きの電車が高尾駅から出発 Old Type JR Train Departing Takao Station (130516)

午前零時の高尾駅 Midnight at Takao Station (130516)

Zojoji Temple Look-Around 増上寺の見回し (130516)

Rainy Evening Side Street in Hamamatsucho 夕方浜松町の雨横道 (130516)
Evening Hamamatsucho Station (North Entrance) 夕方の浜松町駅 北口 (130516)

Hamamatsucho to Yurakucho (Evening) 夕暮れ浜松著駅-有楽町駅 京浜東北線 (130516)

Evening Yurakucho Station 夕方の有楽町駅 (130516g)
Train Coming In - Yurakucho Under-Bridge Passageway Etc (130516)

Yurakucho Night Rain Reflections 有楽町夜雨の反射 (130516)
Yurakucho-SB Zone in the Rain (130516)
Yurakucho Station - Waiting for Late Night Train 有楽町駅夜のホーム (130516g)

1990 Chuo Line to Nakano 中央線で中野駅まで (900529)
1990 Nakano New Bicycle Parking 新自転車駐車場 中野 (900529)

1990 Nakano Walkabout 中野散策散歩 (900529)
1990 Nakano to Shinjuku (Right Side) 中野駅-新宿駅 中央線の右側 (900529)
1990 Shinjuku Station (Chuo Line and Lower Concourse) 新宿駅 (900529)

1990 Chinese Restaurant in Shinjuku 新宿の中国料理 (900529)

It was a really good meal I had on the evening I took this.  One of the people I was with was Chinese and he really knew how to order!  He studied the menu carefully and called the server over a few times to ask questions about ingredients, etc.  The result was the best Chinese food I'd ever had.  The building this restaurant was in was torn down not many years after this, and I don't know what became of the restaurant (maybe it reopened within whatever building replaced the old one?).

1990 Shinjuku South-Entrance 新宿駅南口 (900529)

1990 Saikyo Line from Shinjuku 新宿駅からの埼京線 (900529)
1990 Kanda Station Bubble Evening 神田駅バブル時代の金曜日夜 (900601)

Saying good-bye to some work acquaintances at Kanda Station.  It was an optimistic time.  Notice the manual ticket gates - they were automated a year or two after this was taken.

1990 Inside Old Type Saikyo Line Train 昔の埼京線車両内部 (900530)

1990 Shinjuku Station - Lower Concourse 新宿駅下の通路東口 (900530)

1990 Shinjuku (East Side) 新宿東口側 (900530)

1990 Shinjuku Bookstore ある新宿の本屋 (900530)
With the Internet and various electronic ways to read things, there are not nearly as many people in book stores these days.  It used to always be crowded, as it appears in this video.  For many years, when I wanted to read something in English, this is where I came to buy it, and since a lot of other people had the same routine, I often ran into foreigners I knew here.

1990 Shinjuku Night Walkabout 新宿夜散策散歩 (900530)

A nine-minute video of various things seen while walking around in Shinjuku.  Since I'd had that great meal at that Chinese restaurant, I went back there, but without that Chinese guy to order, the result wasn't so good.

The camera drifts in and out of proper exposure due to its faulty over sensitivity to florescent lighting, but still there are some interesting moments in the night stroll.

1990 Late Night Platforms 東京夜のホーム (900530)

1990 Tamachi Station 田町駅 (900531)

1990 Evening Shinjuku Station Etc 夕方新宿駅など (900531)

1990 Walking into Nishi-Shinjuku 西新宿へ歩く (900531)

1990 Shinjuku to Gotanda 新宿駅-五反田駅 山手線 (900531)
1990 Ikegami Line (from Gotanda) 池上線五反田駅から (900531)
1990 Akihabara to Ryogoku 秋葉原駅-両国駅 (900601)
1990 Ryogoku Walkabout 両国の散策散歩 (900601)
1990 Ryogoku to Akihabara (Sobu Line) 両国駅-秋葉原駅 総武線 (900601)
1990 Akihabara to Kanda 秋葉原駅-神田駅 京浜東北線 (900601)
1990 Kanda Station (Afternoon) 午後の神田駅 (900601)

1990 Nihonbashi Kanpai Etc 日本橋の乾杯 (900601)
I was walking around after work taking video, when I ran into some business acquaintances, who I then went to a couple of izakayas with.

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

No comments: