Tuesday, July 30, 2013

"Forgetting Logistics on the Tokyo Train System"

July 23rd, 2013

Feeling a little unhappy about some of the current ways of thinking/acting among the twenties crowd.  Constant change is the one thing you can count on I suppose, but still you hope for change for the better, not for the worse.  What's specifically on my mind right now as I sit in a Ginza coffee shop on a rainy afternoon, is people's behavior on the sardine run trains.  The first crush-rush train I used this morning was about ten minutes late, which may not sound like much, but in the peak of the commuting hours, that kind of delay creates a logistical problem very quickly.  In the morning rush, there are a constant stream of people flowing into the stations, and since the trains are already running near to capacity when they're on time, a ten minute wait creates a near bone-crushing pressure of the bipedal sardines within each train car when they resume carrying people down the rails, away from the platforms.

Okay - so what.  I've been dealing with that aspect of megacity life for three decades now... but here's the thing: It's changed.  This morning generated a jumble of images, sounds, and feelings -  in parallel, in series, overlapping, etc., so it's not possible to really accurately explain in words, but I'll try to convey some of... (I feel like writing "horror", but that would be an overstatement), some of the reality I lived through this morning.

Back in the old days (1980's) people lined up in rows of threes in front of where the train doors open.  Then when the train came into the station, the people in the middle row would step to one side (sometimes the left, and sometimes the right), meaning that if you were on the double line side, after the people on the train had finished exiting between the two lines of people waiting on the platform (one double line and one single line), you had twice as much competition for seats (if there were any to be had that is).

Now people line up in two rows as though it were illegal to have three, and sometimes they even (rather inanely I think) form a single line, which is nice at the bank, but not for a mega-city train.

The problem with very narrow lines is what happens when the lines reach the other side of the platform?  The lines block platform traffic for one thing, and also people are then forced into jumbled masses of no lines at all in-between the overly narrow lines.  Logistically, it's - frankly speaking - just really stupid.  You start with a divorced-from-reality concept of a single line (which almost never makes sense on the Tokyo train system), presumably so it's first-come, first-grab for the seats, but since it rapidly deteriorates into chaos, it often results in line jumping as people in the no-lines-are-possible zones just pile onto the train in front of people who (stupidly) lined up single-file.

There's probably a pretty solid connection to the bank lines here actually, as people used to randomly line up in front of each ATM machine (forming many different lines), and once they changed over to the much fairer system of there being one line (in the banks that is), then some people appeared to think that applied to trains as well.  (A lot of bipeds on this planet are amazingly bad at comprehending actual conditions, logistics, and the *reason* something is done.)

Going in the other direction - when getting off of a crowded train, people used to fall behind whoever moved first and thus formed a path through the tightly packed sardines, and those in motion would turn sideways in order to make themselves narrower for the trek to the door.  Now?  People tend not to snake out of the train one after another, but rather just push forward on all fronts at once - walking straight, so as to cause as much disruption as possible.

Naturally, when you're right next to a door that opens, you step off the train so people can get off... then and now.  The difference is that when you're away from the doors, it's usually not necessary to get off the train, but many of the new model bipeds I'm meeting on the sardine-run trains seem to expect the whole train car to empty out for their lordships.

Meanwhile, too many people (unnecessarily) piling out onto the already crowded platform, creates a logistical problem outside the train, as then it's hard for people to move - in any direction.

On the train this morning, in the middle of being manhandled about - in one direction after another - someone behind me was doing something with one of their arms, poking me repeatedly in the side with their elbow (not hard, but very irritatingly).  Finally, they settled down and I endured the rest of the sardine run ride.  When the train finally got to my station, as everyone piled out of the train under pressure, suddenly I noticed the biped attached to the arm grimacing and saying to himself that his arm hurt.

I don't know what that was about exactly, but the thought that immediately came to mind was that he was a high school student on a baseball team, and he had injured his arm pitching (and had been working to position it in a non-painful position earlier, which would explain what he had been doing).  I'm pretty sure he was a high school student, and there's the big nationwide high school baseball championship going on now....

I've met a few people who ended up with damaged joints from being on very competitive middle school and/or high school sports teams.  Every country has its idiosyncrasies, and one of this country's is the belief in being able to overcome whatever through strenuous enough efforts - to the point where people often take it a little too far and end up damaging themselves.  Obviously this is better than not trying, but I can't help but think from time-to-time that people should dial it back a little.  Giving something your best effort is a good/great thing, but so is understanding that a little moderation makes you stronger, not weaker.


Writing by hand - pen on paper.  It feels good, and the pace of writing this way produces... enables... no... what's the word... well, put it this way; you're sitting at a desk/table/whatever, with a pen in hand, writing words onto paper.  There are no electronic components involved, no spinning motors (hard drives, cooling fans, etc.), no back-lights, no discernible noise (assuming there is enough ambient background noise to overcome the slight noise of pen on paper)...

So, there's a combination of lack of distraction, a tactile feel of the paper, the pen, the table... which I imagine produces text with a different feel to it.  But does it really?  If something is written correctly, the words have a power of their own irrespective of the tools used to record them?  No... there *must* be a difference, which makes me wish I could see this text I've been working on (here in a Ginza coffee shop) in the parallel universe version that another me wrote on a computer.

One thing about writing by hand that is a definite drawback - now I have to type the handwritten words into a computer in order to pet them onto the wires.

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon


PS - The poster above that I took a photo of on the train system?  It reminds commuters that physical violence is illegal (Stop暴力 / 暴力は犯罪です).  You hear about incidents now and then, but for me, the posters make me think about the issue more than the news articles.  If they go to the trouble to put up posters telling people that physical violence is illegal, then there has got to be a certain level of incidents?  On the other hand, Japan is big on correcting an issue even after one incidence of something, so maybe not?  What I can attest to, is that a lot of people seem much more vicious during the commute than people used to be.  I think one cause of this type of thinking is watching too many dramas/movies, etc in which the hero solves problems with the bad guys in the story through brute force.  After watching enough of those kinds of stories, people's brains are effectively programmed to try the same "solutions", and they're basically in a blood-thirsty frame of mind when conditions are difficult on the train system (and elsewhere)....

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

Thursday, July 18, 2013

"1991 Ueno, Toride, Uguisudani, Etc.; 2013 Takao, Ginza, Etc."

Jumping back to 1991 with views of Ueno, Toride, Uguisudani, Shibuya, Gotanda, etc., and in 2013, a trip to Takao, as well as typical views of Ginza and various trains in Tokyo.
1991 うえの夏まつり アメヤ横丁 Ueno Walkabout (910727)

Walking through the former black market area Ameya-Yokocho (or Ame-Yokocho) in 1991....  Watching this now, I sense/remember a difference between then and now.  Back then, a good percentage of the people on the street were there to buy something, and spent money in the area.  What tends to happen now is people go there specifically to see the crowds and the crowd density is so high that basically you *can't* shop.  All you can do is flow along with the river of people.  Other days, there aren't many people there.  These shops don't appear to be doing good business these days...

Of course, a huge change that has very strongly affected this area has been the strong yen, which happened just a few years before this was taken.  When the yen was weak,  you really could get a number of things more cheaply in this area, and people would come in from afar just for shopping.  What with the bad economy and persistently strong yen however, people increasingly put effort into not spending money, and there has been a constant increase in the number of low-cost retail stores throughout the country answering that demand.  And so this area is more of a theme park now, with people coming by to savor the atmosphere of days gone by, but buying little or nothing at all.  In any case, in this 1991 video, the shops were still doing pretty well.

1991 Toride Walkabout 取手散策散歩 (910727)

Looking around in Toride - starting with temple scenes, after which I walked around in the city - ending up at Toride Station.  Toride is outside of Tokyo, but since it's an easy commute into central Tokyo via the Joban Line, it's kind of a suburb of Tokyo, with a lot of people who live in Toride commuting into Tokyo every day.

Architectural change comes to where the land prices are highest first, so the old buildings around the 04:32 mark are a good example of Showa Era buildings that were mostly already gone in Tokyo at the time.  (I haven't been to Toride recently, but I suspect those buildings are gone at this point.)  That type of building used to be quite common - with a shop on the first floor, and the shopkeeper and their family living on the second floor.  (There's still a little of that - even in Tokyo - but not much.)

Sometimes I stop and try to imagine how that would be, and I find myself envying the 15-second commute they had from shop to residence.  Zero time in the sardine trains, zero time in traffic jams, etc.  On the other hand, I suppose it could get boring always being in the same place.  An attraction to commuting a long distance to work is that it's a daily journey and so you are guaranteed a certain amount of variety in life.  And when the trains aren't overly crowded (which they usually are...), the train rides can be quite pleasant themselves.

Watching this as I type - around the 10:00 mark, I ponder the feeling I get of a less frenetic pace to life... and realize the higher pace to BigCity/MegaCity life is (I suddenly realize for some reason) due to time pressures.  There are many more options for things to do, so you schedule more and then have to rush to hold to the schedule?  That's at least part of it.

Around the 12:20 mark - the kids' pictures in the pedestrian underpass:  That's something they often do here in Japan that I like (and think is a good/important idea).  Kids paint pictures in art class in elementary school, and then they have exhibitions to show the results.  Generally at the school, but also public ones like in the video.  I've seen exhibitions of kids' pictures on trains before as well.

Art education and promotion (in the world) tends to be disrespected by the Short-Term-Profits-Are-Everything crowd, but art is an important element in a healthy society....

1991 Toride to Tokyo 取手駅-東京駅 (910727)

The "Tokyo" in the title means "Tokyo Station".  This was a busy day, as I had gone out to Toride early in the morning and then left in time to go to a few places back in central Tokyo.  The sounds of the train as it speeds back to Tokyo are quite different from most of the current generation of JR commuter trains.  The sound of the motor, the clanking of metal parts, etc.  Also the suspension was a purely passive one with big steel coil springs and no air involved, holding up steel carriages that were much heavier than current types.  You actually have a feeling of something substantial thundering through the countryside.  With new trains with all the windows closed and no ceiling air vents, it's more like riding in an elevator or something.  It's hard to explain exactly, but the overall feel and atmosphere of the old type carriages was quite different and - somehow - more real in some earthy way (iron instead of aluminum maybe?).

At around the 04:37 mark, I change trains (from the Joban Line to the Yamanote Line) in Ueno, where the train dead-ends.  (They've been working on an extension so some of these trains will continue down the line to Tokyo Station, saving people from having to make the train change I make in this video.)

At the 6:38 mark, I watch a Yamanote Line train going in the other direction pull into a neighboring platform.  The round sign on the front advertises the very new (at the time) 6-door car that had been added to the Yamanote Line to make the previously ten-car train an eleven-car train.  The six-door cars were to help with crowded conditions in the morning, and they were the first cars on the Yamanote Line to have LCD monitors over the doors playing video images (which is just a standard feature on almost all trains here now).  The six-door cars were a good idea (for crowded conditions - it did mean fewer seats) but they had to go back to all eleven cars being four-door (per side) in order to facilitate easy match up with the platform wall doors that they are currently installing at all Yamanote Line stations.

At around the 7:28 mark, I exit Tokyo Station (on the Marunouchi side) and there are views of the Central Post Office (which has since been half-demolished, leaving just the front part of the building, which is now part of the JP Tower).

1991 中央郵便局 地方切手 Tokyo Central Post Office (910727)

At the time, they issued regional stamps every month(?) that were sold only in the region they were issued for (Fukuoka, Kyoto, etc.) and here - at the Central Post Office in Tokyo.  Since this was taken (1991), they demolished the back half of the building (to build JP Tower) and while there's a reopened post office in (part of) this space, with the same high ceiling, I'm not sure the regional stamp system continues as before... certainly computers have radically reduced the number of physical letters that people send.

Some years after this was taken, I began seeing region stamps for sale on and off at branch post offices, which I took to be a sign of the post office having difficulty selling them.  Back when I took this, they often sold out just at this one location.  People would come in and buy 100 *sheets* of them at a time!

Just after stepping outside at the end of this video, I look over towards the Marunouchi Building and the Shin-Marunouchi Building - both of which were later demolished to make way for office towers with the same names.  (I understand the system of using the exact same name, but wish they'd modify it slightly or even come up with a new name.  It makes it difficult to identify the former building, since there's no unique name for it.)

1991 Entering Tokyo Station 東京駅を入る (910727)

To see how different the dome area of Tokyo Station (on the post office side) was before being renovated, this is a good clip.  Actually... there have been three distinct versions of Tokyo Station.  The original version, the post war version (repaired after the fire-bombing of Tokyo), and the renovated/rebuilt version that is there now.  While the external appearance/shape of the building as been restored to the original design, internally, (other than restoring the upper dome design) it's quite different now from when the building was originally built.  (Not a complaint - just a comment after looking at photos of the original interior design of the building.)

1991 Tokyo to Ueno 東京駅-上野駅 (910727)

The opening scenes of this video show a Tokyo Station platform looking a bit different than most of the platforms look now.  I think there's just one platform now (the one for Shinagawa-bound Yamanote and Keihin-Tohoku Line trains) that sill has one of the old type wooden roofs - all the other platforms have had new roofs installed.

If you're familiar with the buildings along the Yamanote Line now, you can see a number of differences in this the view out the window as the train rolls to Ueno Station.

1991 Hiyoshi to Hibarigaoka 日吉駅-ひばりヶ丘駅 (910706)

Abstract - Flaming Sun (TSG Tokyo) 130710

田中睦子個展 Art Space Rondo 有田焼睦 Tanaka Mutsuko Exhibition (130710)

Old 1930s Hallways 7-B1 and B1-2 (130710)

Walking through an old 1932/1934 (built in two sections) building.  New buildings might be nice, but old buildings like this one have so much more character!

Hayashi Hiroko Exhibition (A) 林裕子展 インスタレーション Gallery Kobo 巷房 (130710)

This exhibition/installation turned out to be quite interesting/fun.  The different colors and shadow patterns were fun to watch while walking around the room.  The videos (above and below) only partially capture the experience (in person is definitely the best way to see this kind of thing), but if you didn't go to this one, this gives you some idea of how it was at least.

Hayashi Hiroko Exhibition (B) 林裕子展 インスタレーション Gallery Kobo 巷房 (130710)

Takao to Takaosanguchi (Keio Line) 高尾駅-高尾山口駅 京王線 (130709)

高尾登山電鉄ケーブルカー (上向) Mt Takao Cable Car Ascent (130709)

No Lights Ahead Recording (130709)

高尾登山電鉄ケーブルカー (下向) Mt Takao Cable Car Descent (130709)

Takaosanguchi to Takao (Keio Line) 高尾山口駅-高尾駅 京王線 (130709)

Otemachi to Nihonbashi (Tozai Line) 大手町駅-日本橋駅 東西線 (130710)

Kyobashi Station to Tokyo Square Garden Building (130710)

New Passageways and Frosted Glass - TSG Tokyo (130710)

New Lines - New Lobby - TSG Tokyo (130710)

Office Tower Water Reflections (130710)

Tokyo to Ochanomizu (Chuo Line) 東京駅-御茶ノ水駅 夜中央線 (130710)

Shinjuku Summer Night (Glimpse) 新宿夏の夜 (130710)

Usuki Hideyuki (臼木英之) Kamei Jun (亀井潤) Gallery Ginza 1-Chome ギャラリー銀座一丁目 (130710)

1991 Nihonbashi to Tokyo Station Walkabout (910706)

This starts off with a look around mostly deserted streets near Tokyo's waterfront area, and then changes pace as I walk over to Tokyo Station.  The first part by the waterfront isn't exciting, but it captures a side of Tokyo most people tend not to see.  After that, the scenes depict the usual busy side of Tokyo that is its most well-known face, including a look inside Maruzen Bookstore in Nihonbashi.

1991 Quick View of Saturday Night Shibuya (910706)

Exiting Shibuya Station and walking into the crowds on a Saturday night, and then going back to the station and entering the Toyoko Line part of the station.

1991 東横渋谷駅 Toyoko Shibuya Station (910706)

1991 Shibuya to Hiyoshi 東横線 渋谷駅-日吉駅 (910706)

1991 Yamanote Front Cab View 池袋駅-五反田駅 (910708)

Looking out the front cab window of a counterclockwise Yamanote Line train.  Certain stations were quite different when this was taken - the Saikyo Line hadn't been extended to Shibuya yet, so to the left of the train at Shibuya Station is just tracks and open space, and Ebisu Station is pretty radically different.  It was only the Yamanote Line and the station consisted of one open-air platform with no department store built over it.

1991 南馬込散策散歩 Minami-Magome Stroll (910708)

This clip also includes a section in front of Nishi-Magome Station set up with racks of stuff selling for Y100, which was something relatively new at the time (made possible by the strength of the yen).

1991 西馬込駅-五反田駅 都営浅草線 Nishi-Magome to Gotanda (910708)

The yellow tint of this is because I left the camera's white balance set to "Sun" (or the *symbol* for sun, to be precise).  My thinking at the time was that I thought it was a good way to show the relative colors of lighting in different places.

Anyway - what I think is interesting about this video is the view down the train with all of its internal doors open, so you can see all the way to the front of the train, and also see the curvature of the train as it goes to the left and right, as well as (at one point) up.

1991 Early Recorded Train Announcement (910708)

The announcements on just about all the trains are recordings now, but in 1991, they had just begun to use them.  All the buses I used even back in the early eighties used recordings for the bus stop names, but not the trains.  I was thinking when I heard the recording in this video "Hmm... I guess that works... they've been doing that for a long time already with buses after all...", but now, in 2013, I really hate most of the recordings.  It's like back in the days of radio when they kept playing a song that you hated - with each playing it becomes ever more annoying.

Actually, the local language recordings aren't too bad, but most of the English language ones I've heard are extremely irritating - over-pronounced, over-intonated, and obviously read by a rank amateur.

1991 Tokyo to Uguisudani 東京駅-鶯谷駅 山手線 (910706)

Starting on the Yaesu side of Tokyo Station, I have a roast beef sandwich inside the station (just a brief view of the inside of the place in the video) and then take a Yamanote Line train to Uguisudani in order to see a festival there (see next video).

Looking out a left side door widow, there are some radically different (from 2013) scenes, for example from around the 3:29 mark, is a view of part of pre-highrise Akihabara, with already demolished empty space and some mysterious buildings in the background that appear to be warehouses, etc.

I think... (I need to research this) that there was probably a freight yard in this area for freight trains that came to Tokyo from northern Japan.  I know there was a huge freight yard in Shinbashi ("Shiodome Freight Terminal" - the current site of the Shiodome office towers), and... well... let me try Google for Akihabara...

Um... OK... things are come up fast and thick!  A Wikimedia Commons photo is identified as: "Akihabara Freight Station (秋葉原貨物駅)" and another website calls it "Akihabara freight yard".  Here are a couple of links:

"As part of this project, the former site of the Kanda produce market and national railway (Akihabara freight yard) was redeveloped."

1960 Photo (above) from Wikimedia Commons:

1991 鶯谷駅 朝顔まつり 朝顔市 Asagao Matsuri (910706)

Summer festivals can be fun - with the food stalls, lighting, casual crowds, etc.  (Which reminds me... I haven't been to one this year yet...)  Watching this, I remember that I was exited by the event at the time - I didn't grow up with this type of thing after all - but after all this time, while I still like festivals like this, I don't know if I'd spend as much time at this same event now, since it doesn't seem exotic any more.  But who knows - you get to a place that you find to be interesting, and then you end up spending a lot of time there.

Incidentally, the Internet has created a problem for popular events.  If the word gets around a little too well in a city with a population of (including the suburbs) 30,000,000 people, a dangerously high number of people can turn up.  A couple of events in the past year were canceled due to being too popular (and therefore potentially dangerous).  Watching this video, imagine what would happen if you tripled the number of people there [shudder!].

1991 Uguisudani to Shibuya 鶯谷駅-渋谷駅 山手線 (910706)

That tunnel at Uguisudani Station is still pretty much as it appears in this video.

1991 工事中日吉駅 Hiyoshi Station Under Construction (910706)

1991 Hibarigaoka to Ikebukuro ひばりヶ丘駅-池袋駅 (910708)

1991 Gotanda to Nishimagome 五反田駅-西馬込駅 (910708)

1991 五反田駅前 Gotanda (Near Station) 910708

After watching all this stuff from 1991, so many memories of that time have come back that I find myself wondering if I'll get some kind of future-shock when I step away from the computer and go back out into 2013 Tokyo!

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

Monday, July 08, 2013

"1991 Okutama, Musashi-Itsukaichi, Kofu, Etc.; 2013 Kyobashi, Chuo Line, Etc."

There are a few views from 2013, but this batch is mainly several trips back to 1991 - with three destinations out in the summertime mountains - Okutama, Musashi-Itsukaichi, and the train ride to Kofu City in Yamanashi Prefecture.  It was one of a number of long-distance unplanned trips I took that year.  I would pick a train line to use and set off without any specific destination in mind.  When the train ride itself was interesting, I tended to end up going pretty far from Tokyo (far for a one-day out-and-back trip anyway), and the trip to Kofu was one such trip.  I took an early morning train and was planning to spend most of the day in Kofu, but not long into my wanderings in the city, the camera broke... more on that later.

Most notable for 2013 are views of a squeaky new high-rise office tower in Kyobashi (next to Ginza).  I tend not to like new office tower buildings very much, but this one is pretty cool, with retail shops and restaurants on the lower floors and a very nice elevated... maybe "terrace" is the right word?  Whatever the term, it is a bit like a nice little park sitting up on the side of the building.

With that - let's look at the clips one-by-one.

1991 Okutama Mountain Area Walkabout 奥多摩駅辺り散策散歩 (910622)

At over 58 minutes, this is a long one.  I spent about six hours walking around in the area around Okutama Station, which is the last stop on one of the branches of the Chuo Line (the Okutama Line).  It was a rainy day, with mist in the mountains... looking a little like one of those pictures of misty mysterious mountains in old Chinese scrolls (said primarily because there's a rounded mountain near the station not really typical of Japan, but looking like those old Chinese prints).  Nothing exciting exactly, but it captures the atmosphere of a mountain town in Japan somewhat.  Strangely, this is still in Tokyo!  It's on the western edge, and the nearby lake is probably the reason this belongs to Tokyo (water control).  (In the same way, Sagamiko Lake (just past Takao on the Chuo Line) belongs to Kanagawa-ken.)

1991 奥多摩駅-拝島駅 青梅線 Okutama to Haijima (Ome Line) 910622

1991 Haijima Station 1991年の拝島駅 (910622)

I got to Haijima Station just as middle school and high school students were headed home, and I ran into scores of them on the platform.  The trains all look very historical to me now.

I'm still trying to wrap my mind around the way the ordinary present becomes the nostalgic past....  Just a really ordinary thing on the one hand, but... when I watch old footage like this, I keep running into the feeling of "Wait... how can that have changed so drastically?  All those high school girls are now middle-aged women?  Really?"....

1991年 拝島駅-武蔵五日市駅 五日市線 Haijima to Musashi-Itsukaichi (910622)

Rolling away from central Tokyo, the Chuo Line branches at Tachikawa, and if you take the Ome Line branch of it, it again branches at Haijima, with one line going to Ome and then on to Okutama as the Okutama Line and the other called the Itsukaichi Line and going to Musashi-Itsukaichi Station.  Heading towards Tokyo on the Okutama Line (and then Ome Line), I got off at Haijima Station so I could head back towards the mountains via the Itsukaichi branch line... it was a busy day!

When I get to Musashi-Itsukaichi Station (in 1991) it's a typical countryside style station that hasn't changed for decades.  Fast forward to 2013, if you go to this same station now, be prepared to discover no trace of anything shown in this video!  Nothing remains of the old station at all.  The new station is nice enough, but the old one had so much more character.

1991年の武蔵五日市駅から散策散歩 Musashi-Itsukaichi Station Area Walkabout (910622)

Similar to the long walkabout I did earlier in the day at Okutama, I spend a fair amount of time walking around in the area around the Musashi-Itsukaichi Station, much of it shown in this 46-minute video.  Personally, I like this one, if for no other reason than thanks to the deserted temple I stumbled upon.

There's nothing like walking around alone for picking up the faint radio waves a place gives off....

1991 - Ringing Temple Bell (910622)

Not recommended and in fact probably not possible - the ringer logs are generally locked when not in use so wandering tourists with cameras can't ring them at random times.  That said, this video gives a fairly good idea of the melodious sound this type of bell makes when struck.

1991 Temple Tea House (910622)

1991年の武蔵五日市駅 Musashi-Itsukaichi Station (910622)

To cover the now vanished-in-the-mist-of-time version of this station as best as I can, I put together the footage I took both when arriving and when I came back a few hours later.  Fortunately I had some time before my train departed, so I captured images of the station office, a train arriving, etc.  If you knew this station before it was rebuilt, you might like this one.

1991 Musashi-Itsukaichi to Tachikawa 武蔵五日市駅-立川駅 (910622)

Some overlap with the previous video, but this one focuses on the train ride from Musashi-Itsukaichi Station to Tachikawa Station, beginning in the twilight of the day and ending when it's fully night.

1991 Tachikawa Station 立川駅 (910622)

Tachikawa Station itself had already been recently rebuilt in a modern style, but the trains are all previous generation.  Looking at this now - the station looks squeaky-new, which it probably was at the time.  The station is still nice, but the large concourse as you come out of the ticket gates has a different feel to it now.

1991年の立川駅辺り Tachikawa Station Area (910622)

The video above is the first half of my time in Tachikawa, and the one below the second half.  These would have been one file, but are on different tapes - I ran out of tape while taking the first half.

I suppose these narrow streets in Tachikawa I'm wandering around on have changed... I don't recognize most of them in comparison with what I've seen in Tachikawa recently.

1991 Tachikawa Nighttime Walkabout 夜の立川 (910622)

1991 Late Night Tachikawa Station 夜の立川駅 (910622)

1991 Tachikawa to Ikebukuro Etc 立川駅-池袋駅など (910622)

Ogikubo to Shinjuku - Night Chuo Line 荻窪駅-新宿駅 夜中央線 (130625)

By title, this looks like it would be another of my standing-by-the-door videos, but I stumbled upon a very rare thing - a Chuo Line train that was half empty!  I don't know how that happened, but I took advantage of the situation and recorded the view out one of the large side windows (instead of through one of the small door windows, which is what I usually have to do).  The other thing that prompted me to pull out the camera, is that the view looked so clean... possibly the window had just been washed?  In any case, it's a clear/clean view of a night train window.

New Multi-Speed Escalator (130627)

There's been some confusion about these escalators, so I probably should explain how they work.  In contrast with the type often used in train stations that stop when not in use and automatically start up when someone trips a sensor, these don't completely stop when not in use, but slow to a barely moving crawl (probably to both show they are open for use and indicate direction) and then come up to speed when a sensor is tripped.

What I found interesting is how they don't jump from the crawl-speed to regular speed, but smoothly slide up to speed with no sudden change.  They change speed so smoothly that you can't feel the change, although on one of them, I was walking in full speed mode when I got on, and since it hadn't started accelerating yet, there was a different-from-expectations sensation when I stepped onto it.  A mild form of the feeling you get when you think you're going to be stepping onto moving stairs and discover that they're stopped.

Basement Gallery 地下画廊 (130627)

This gallery - unfortunately - will be closing in a few weeks.  The gallery owner gave me permission to record the space.  This space was originally a sento (communal bath) for the apartment building overhead (which this building originally was).  Apparently during WW-II the iron equipment for the steam heat and bath was removed (for the war effort) and never re-installed following the war, so the bath was only used for about ten years.

Tokyo New Building Stroll - Escalators Elevator Etc (130627)

Imitating Irritating Elevator Electronic Voice (130627)

OK... I probably shouldn't mock the poor elevator machine lady, but I figure computer chips don't really care, and man - I really hate those over-pronounced horrible-sounding English recordings they torment passengers on the train system with, and now they're doing the same thing in the elevators!

Upper Floor Lobby of New Building in Tokyo - Walk to Basement (130627)

Entering Kyobashi Subway Station 京橋駅を入る (130627)

Kyobashi to Kudanshita (Ginza-Tozai) 京橋駅-九段下駅 銀座線-東西線 (130627)

Subway all the way, there's not much to see outside the window while the trains are in motion - just the blurred motion of the subway tunnel walls.  This does include the transfer from the Ginza Line to the Tozai Line (at Nihonbashi Station) though.

Takadanobaba Tozai Line Platform Walk 高田馬場駅ホームの様子 (130627)

Takadanobaba Night Street View 高田馬場夜ストリートビュー (130627)

Takadanobaba is basically a college student area and the students were out in force when I walked through - making energetic student noises.  It still looks like fun, but that level of overflowing energy isn't generally mine to tap into any more....

Shinjuku Station Lower Plaza at Night 夜新宿駅下の広場 (130625)

Much of Shinjuku Station has been renovated, but this area leading up to the west entrance ticket gates hasn't changed for a while.  It feels familiar to me at this point, so an alarm went off and I thought "Wait... it feels familiar?  Then its days are very probably numbered!  Better record it if you want to see it again some time in the future."  And that's what this video is.  Note to future-shock self (in the future): "Here it is dude.  What have they done with it in the future?"

Tokyo Station - Southwest Dome to Tokaido Line 東京駅西南ドーム-東海道線 (130626)

Tokyo to Shinagawa - Tokaido Line 東京駅-品川駅 東海道線 (130626)

Shinagawa Station Walkabout 品川駅内の様子 散策散歩 (130626)

Yurakucho to Tokyo (Keihin-Tohoku Line) 有楽町駅-東京駅 京浜東北線 (130626)

Tokyo to Kanda - Nighttime Chuo Line 東京駅-神田駅 夜の中央線 (130626)

Chuo Line from Kanda - Into the Night 神田駅 中央線 (130626)

Tokyo to Hamamatsucho (Yamanote Line) 東京駅-浜松町駅 山手線 (130627)

Shinbashi to Yurakucho FCV (Yamanote Line) 新橋駅-有楽町駅 山手線 (130627)

Yurakucho Station Afternoon Platform View 有楽町駅 午後の様子 (130627)

Tokyo Square Garden B1 Restaurant Floor to Ginza Subway Kyobashi (130627)

I like the way they have the open-to-the-sky section between the B1 level of the building and the entrance to the subway system (Kyobashi Station on the Ginza Line) - it's so much nicer than just walking through an underground tunnel from the building's basement to the train.

風中の七夕飾り物 (130703)

TSG Elevated Tree Garden Stroll (130703)

The sensation from this balcony tree garden (my term - I hope it makes sense) feels very much like looking down on a city from a hill.

TSG Kyobashi Plaza 京橋TSG広場 (130703)

Tokyo Station Yaesu Side to Concourse 東京駅八重洲口と通路 (130703)

Nishi-Shinjuku Side Street Stroll 西新宿夕方散歩 (130703)

Shinjuku - Boarding Late Night Train 新宿駅で夜の中央線電車を乗る (130703)

1991 Ikebukuro Afternoon 池袋駅辺り (910715)

1991 Ikebukuro to Nishimagome 池袋駅-西馬込駅 (910715)

1991 Minamimagome Stroll 南馬込散策散歩 (910715)

1991 Gotanda と Otsuka Station と Suburbia Etc 五反田駅 大塚駅など (910715)

1991 踏切 The Railroad Crossing (910627辺り)

A piece of Tokyo suburbia: street-level rail crossings.  At times, the number of people waiting grows to quite a crowd by the time the crossing opens.

There are several views of (mostly) the same crossing in this one.  Watch from around the 01:40 mark for an example of a large crowd being generated by the wait.  Even so, it was often much more crowded than that... but this set of different views of the same crossing shows how it was generally.

Off on the right is the empty space where they were beginning to build the combination Parco Store and apartment building.

1991 Early Morning Suburbia - Western Tokyo 朝早く東京の西側 (910629)

I stumbled upon an area of housing with narrow walkways running between the houses - which is how it generally was done in old Tokyo - before the fire-breathing machinery came, and more and more land was buried under wide expanses of black asphalt.  It's true enough that if there's a fire, closely packed wooden housing is liable to all burn down, but when it's not on fire (most of the time, hopefully never) it's so much nicer to walk on a people-only path than it is to share space with the machines  with their noise, pollution, vibration, and danger.  Many more people die in traffic accidents than fire, after all.

I would put the address in here, but while I know the road I was walking down when I discovered this area, I'm  not sure which section of it exactly this was.

1991 Musashisakai Station 武蔵境駅 (910629)

Yet another station that has been completely rebuilt.  Knowing what it looks like now, it's hard to believe that this is really the same station.

1991 Musashisakai to Kofu 武蔵境駅-甲府駅 (910629)

Another long one at 42-minutes, this has some (to me at least) great footage of the countryside well away from Tokyo as seen out an open window on a speeding train - the best way to see the countryside.  Fortunately the camera held up all the way to Kofu.

1991 Kofu-shi Yamanashi-ken 山梨県 甲府市 (910629)

This would have been much more extensive - having come so far from Tokyo, I had intended to spend most of the day having a good look at Kofu, but the camera part of my analog video camera broke.  It would play previously recorded material back with no problem, but something in the camera part (maybe the CCD sensor?) was broken.

I came really close to losing this tape actually - when the camera broke down, I went to a Sony store in the center of town to see if they might be able to fix it (they couldn't), and while the guy in the shop was trying to get the camera to work, at one point, when he ejected the tape, it hadn't properly re-spooled and some of the tape was out of its cassette and got crumpled a little (which shows up as damaged sound and horizontal lines in the picture).  Fortunately it didn't break though.  I lost at least one (maybe two?) tape(s?) that way before.  The tape physically broke in a jam, and while I didn't (I don't think...) throw the tape away, I gave up on it and it's sleeping in a box somewhere.  I lost somewhere between one and three hours of material that way (the more I think about it, the more I think there were two tapes that happened to).

Anyway, back to this footage of Kofu - at the time I remember thinking "After coming all this way!  And I was just getting started!", but in re-watching this as I write this, there's actually a bit more material than I had remembered being able to take.... and while the guy at the Sony shop was busy with my camera, he let try out a demo camera in the store, so I got some footage of the shotengai mall that the store was in, as well as a view of the Sony guy trying to figure out what was wrong with my camera.

Incidentally, I had been having a problem with the camera producing lines in the picture, that I was able to clear up by (gently?) whacking the side of the camera.  The service center was secretive about repair details (over a variety of break-downs, they always said that they changed the heads, even when that was clearly not the problem.  I'm pretty sure they replaced the CCD sensor and/or camera unit(?) to fix this.  Remember that playback was fine (sound and picture) even after it broke; there was just no picture information at all, but it was still recording sound (see around 11:22 for the moment when it broke).

Well, whatever they did to fix it, they did a proper repair job, because (after I got the camera back two weeks later) I was able to use the camera for many more hours of recording before performance began to deteriorate again (those analog 8mm cameras didn't like being used very heavily).

Anyway... more camera maintenance details than you wanted to hear about!  Sorry about that.  It was an important issue for me at the time, so it's still pretty clear in my memory and further forward than it should be.  Maybe by writing down the above details I can push it into the back archive vault of the mind and forget about it.  Strange how some things stick so vividly in mind for so long....

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon