Saturday, August 24, 2013

"Odds and Ends - June, July, and August"

This is a collection of stuff I wrote by hand while out and about in Tokyo (from inside coffee shops, inside trains, etc.)  It basically covers notes written in summer 2013 - with material from June, July, and August.
June 18th, 2013 - (Tozai Line / 東西線)  That old writing issue - the longer you don't write, the harder it is to start - and the more you write, the easier the words flow.  Looking back at things I've written in years past, I wrote the most often when I carried a laptop around all the time.  Some of that was handwritten, and then typed up (pounded into electrons, as I used to say) later.

In fact, this is being handwritten right now.  It *was* going well, but then a vampire space hog biped sat down next to me...  Anyway, my station approaches - better to stand than to have my energy stolen by a vampire.
15:35 - Ginza side street (銀座) - It's harder to write while standing up, but so much nicer to be standing on a Ginza side street on a warm, but not overly hot day.  "A picture is worth a thousand words" goes the old saying, and "a video clip with sounds is worth 100,000 (10,000?, 1,000,000?) words" Lyle adds (is that original, or just a common expression now?), but some things need words to be expressed - which I guess is all a strong suggestion that I narrate my videos?  Naw... the spoken word interferes with with the pictures.  It needs to be text on paper and/or on the screen.  The trouble with writing by hand of course is that it takes time.  [130824: *Some* narration is good in video, so I aim to do a little more of that.]

Off to see an art exhibition.

2013/06/20 (Chuo Line / 中央線)

"Members Only"

I was recently asked (by an e-friend) what I thought the reason for local resistance to outsiders knowing the local culture was about after they had read something I posted some years ago, specifically this:
   I looked over at him expecting him to be joking, but he didn't smile, and he didn't look at me - so it came across as a bona fide warning more than a joke.  I have often remembered those words, particularly tonight....  The Russian IT guy gave written notice, and the president tore it up - which has a special meaning in Japan that I don't entirely understand myself, but in any case it seems that there's this ritual where someone will submit an intent to quit in writing, and if it's accepted, then that's it - they're out, but if it's torn up (as I've often seen in Japanese movies), then the person keeps working...
   [00/12/20 note: I've been asking around about this, and everyone I've mentioned it to says that letters of intent to quit are not generally torn up - given back, yes, but not usually torn up... maybe Prez has been watching too many television dramas?]
   [10/08/15 note: There's something else too.  In 1984, I mentioned to a woman here about the model "Skyline" car, and she told me "No, there's no such car as that."  Later, I was with her in her car going somewhere, and - lo and behold - a Skyline was right in front of us, with "Skyline" written on the back.  I pointed it out to her and she seemed very displeased.
   Around 1996, I began to notice that young people were dropping the final "i" with words like "samui", "atsui", etc., so they became "samu", "atsu", etc.  I mentioned it to a local friend, and again he said "No, no such thing.  You're mistaken."  Later, I was with him when some friends of his joined us outside, and one of them said it was "samu" instead of "samui".  I basically said "Behold! - It is as I told you!"  Again that displeased look and he claimed it was because they were from Osaka.
   Etc. etc. etc. - I could go on and on with similar examples.  The point is - there seems to be a basic rule that outsiders are not qualified to notice something [outside the tourist routine] about the local culture, and this thing of the resignation letter may well have been just such a situation.  I wasn't supposed to know about that, so it was denied?  It doesn't sound plausible, but if you'll go back with me in a time machine, I'll show you and you can see for yourself.]

It baffled/irritated me initially, but I've gotten to the point where if someone - whenever, wherever - doesn't seem to accept that I'm from Planet Earth, I (naturally) still don't like it, but instead of feeling/thinking "What is *wrong* with this person?!" - I think something along the lines of "Oh... this is *that* type of person then..." and do one of a number of things - from heading immediately for the exit, to introducing myself as a fellow Earthling (in a joking way), etc.
Incidentally, I've found racists are sometimes actually more reasonable human beings than hard-core fanatical political people.  Hard-core political people fiercely believe whatever their preferred political organization has told them and just become ever more enraged the more you show them solid evidence that they are mistaken about something.

In stark contrast, many of the racists I've met I've been able to reason with and often they will accept logic, reason, evidence, etc., and change their thinking somewhat when you show them conclusively that they're being wrong-headed about something.
Anyway, when you are willfully shut out, there's only so much you can do.  But back to the question, "Why?".  Well... "Members Only" says it all I suppose.  People like their groups and want to protect them.

2013/07/30 (Seibu Line / 西武線)

"Leaving the Camera Off"

Decided to (basically, but not completely) leave the camera off today.  The ironic thing about taking pictures is that while it can bring so many memories back later, at the time you take the pictures, the machine interferes with your perception of the scene you're in.  I often think it would be great to have a time travel machine, but cameras (especially video cameras) are - in a way - time machines, and it's then a perceived (and real?) connection to the future that ripples the waters of current time and interferes with the here and now.

And so a photographer must be, pretty much by definition, a perpetual outsider - looking back on the present from a future imagined.  ......

While writing this (by hand - ink on paper), I ponder text, which is another kind of recording, but the feeling I get while writing this is that writing (by hand at least, and with machines also?) feels very much a part of the present - in fact, it seems to enhance the present somehow.  An age-old heightening of the senses in order to mentally record things?

....  A man (from across the seas) wearing a bottle or two of some nasty-smelling artificial scent just sat next to me... concentration broken - more later.  Man I hate foul-smelling artificial smells!  I think they should be illegal!

(Shinjuku / 新宿) - It was amazing how one biped with a couple of liters of noxious scent ruined the rest of my train ride!  Speaking of scents ("noxious fumes" would be a more accurate term), recently there's been a barrage (in Japan) of advertising saying that older (50s-up) men smell bad, and - noxious fume bottles to the rescue - "If you just douse yourself in noxious fumes from our company, you won't stink any more!"

A particularly obnoxious form of this kind of advertising shows pictures of attractive middle-aged women (one at a time - with different pictures for different versions of the same ad) supposedly saying "My husband smells nice!".

Prior to that, they had pictures of attractive young women supposedly commenting on the smell of their fathers.  (Nothing is said about the female half of the population by the way.  Apparently it's a male curse to stink past 50.)  I've been here for about 30 years and I don't recall there being a particular problem with older men smelling bad... until now that is, when gullible individuals who have bought into the advertising hype are walking around fouling the air with noxious artificial fumes from the companies manufacturing that horrible stuff.

Gee, I don't suppose the media people who have talked about smelly upper-middle-aged men have accepted advertising money from the noxious fume manufacturers....  You can kind of see the gears turning - Japanese men traditionally don't douse themselves in noxious smells, so they haven't been buying that horrible stuff.  How to get them to start shelling out for it....

August 4th, 2013 - Decided to write something, but after looking over my schedule, etc., I realize I don't remember what I thought I'd write about.

2013/08/07 - (Osaki / 大崎)

"Writing by Hand in Public"

I used to wish my handwriting was more legible, but it's begun to be handy that it's difficult to decipher - I can pull out a piece of paper in a public space and write in front of people, and they have a lot of difficulty making out what the words are.  Not that it really matters if they do read what I'm writing, but still....  The other interesting thing is regarding how ever fewer people are even taught to read/write cursive handwriting.  So suddenly it feels like I have a special skill.  Almost like being able to write in code or something.
I'm in a public space as I write this (by hand) and soon after I sat down, the man sitting next to me (at a long counter in one of the best public spaces in Tokyo that I know of), pulled his laptop closer to himself and re-angled the screen so I wouldn't be able to see it.  I then pulled out a piece of paper and began brazenly writing right in front of him, feeling safe that the tiny cursive script I'm writing would basically be Greek to him.  Whatever.  The one bad thing about this public counter is that it never seems to be cleaned, and what with people eating lunch here, etc., it gets kind of... greasy.  (I wanted to use some other word than "greasy", but that seems to be the most accurate term.)  It's an easy thing to deal with though - you just come with an A3 sheet of paper - lay that over the greasy counter, and you've got a clean space to work on.

Well, that's enough for now.  I do find writing by hand (after not doing so for quite a while) to be quite nice.  There's something profoundly fatiguing about using a computer.  I'm still trying to figure out why that is, but I imagine the stress of thinking about all that is going on with the machine, combined with the multitasking functionality of it, puts a pretty heavy load on a biped's CPU....

Okay - and that brings us back to today - August 24th, 2013.  I've got a load of things I want to get done this weekend, so I'll stop here.  This photo (below) is from March... so it's not related to the text of this post exactly, but I stumbled into it while looking for the pictures I used above and like it enough that I thought it would fit in here at the end.

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

"1990 Taito-ku, Ikebukuro; 1991 Gotanda, Etc; 2013 Osaki, Asakusabashi, Etc."

The element of this batch of video files that most stands out to me personally, are views of 1990 Taito-ku, and - after watching the footage I took in 1990 - some modern views from 2013 of part of the same area (near Asakusabashi Station) that I visited in 1990.  Otherwise there are typical views of here and there in Tokyo.
Nishi-Shinjuku Side Street Quick Look Around 西新宿 (130803)

Summer Grass Plants Weeds Butterflies Etc (130803)
Summer Air-Conditioner Sound (Seibu Line) 130731

One of the elements of Tokyo summers for me is hearing the sound of the air-conditioning units on trains.  Newer ones are quieter, so I took this video just to get the sound of the type I associate with summer recorded before the sound disappears (since the trains are continually being replaced with newer ones).

Entering Nihonbashi Station Near Tokyo Square Garden 銀座線日本橋駅 (130731)
From street level, down to the entrance, through the ticket gates, and then down to the platform of Nihonbashi Station.  As there was time before the train arrived, I walked down to a more convenient part of the platform (closer to the transfer stairs at the station I was headed for).

Takadanobaba to Seibu-Shinjuku (Seibu Line) 高田馬場駅-西武新宿駅 西武線 (130730)

Shinjuku - Waiting for the Walk Light to Change - Twilight View 新宿 (130730)
Shinjuku 新宿
Shinjuku Omoide-Yokocho Twilight Stroll 夕暮れの新宿思い出横丁 (130730)
Shinjuku Chuo Line Platform Walk 夜の新宿駅中央線ホーム (130730)
Inbound Chuo Line Side Window View 中央線窓からの景色三鷹辺り (130731)

Mitaka to Nakano (Chuo Line) 三鷹駅-中野駅 中央線 左側 (130731)

Nakano to Shinjuku (Chuo Line) 中野駅-新宿駅 中央線 左側 (130731)
Shinjuku Station / 新宿駅
Shinjuku to Osaki (Tokaido Line) 湘南新宿ライン東海道線直通快速平塚行き (130731)

By the tracks being used, this is the Saikyo Line, but the train continues on to the Tokaido Line tracks, and they introduce it as "Shonan-Shinjuku Line, Tokaido-sen Chokutsu, Kaisoku" (Hiratsuka-yuki), so....  Since "sen" is "line" in English, I'm a little puzzled at the thinking behind using "line" written with katakana (ライン) for "Shonan-Shinjuku Line" (instead of 線 [sen] for line), but when one country borrows a term from another country, it usually is used a little differently than in its native habitat, so I guess it's one of those situations.  That said, I'm wondering what exactly the local meaning is for ライン....

Osaki Station Walk-through 大崎駅 駅内の様子 (130731)

500 pm Melody Behind Office Tower in Osaki 大崎高層ビル裏の午後五時メロディ (130731)

Depending on the time of year, they have a "It's getting late... time to go home kids" melody they play over public address systems - this one played at 5:00 p.m. on July 31st, 2013 in Osaki.
Osaki to Shinagawa (Yamanote Line) 大崎駅-品川駅 山手線 (130731)

Shinagawa to Yurakucho (Yamanote Line) 品川駅-有楽町駅 夜の山手線 (130731)

Ikebukuro to Shinjuku (Saikyo Line) 池袋駅-新宿駅 埼京線 (130803)

Kawagoe Evening Shotengai Street Corner 川越夕暮れの商店街 (130802)
Old Type JR Train Passing Through Kokubunji Station (130803)

I like this type of express train, but they are getting old so there are fewer and fewer of them still in use.

Shinjuku to Shin-Okubo (Yamanote Line) 新宿駅-新大久保駅 山手線 (130803)

Streetcar Crossing and Streetcar in Otsuka 大塚辺りの市電 (130803)
Flowers by Streetcar Line in Otsuka 大塚市電の線路隣の花 (130803)
市電の踏切注意 Streetcar Crossing in Otsuka (130803)

Entering Otsuka Station from South Side 大塚駅南側-池袋駅まで (130803)
Before entering the station, I look up at a new building that was nearing completion at the time (completed external structure, with detail work being done on the interior).  Then I go through the ticket gates, up to the platform, onto a Yamanote Line train, and then look out a right side door window as the train rolls to Ikebukuro.
Ikebukuro Station Platform Scene 池袋駅ホームの様子 (130803)
Summer Saturday Ikebukuro Station 夏の土曜日池袋駅内 (130803)

Hot Summer Sidewalk by Ikebukuro Station 池袋駅前の暑い夏の様子 (130803)
Saturday Afternoon Ikebukuro Station 土曜日午後の池袋駅 (130803)

1990 Taito-ku Walkabout 台東区散策散歩 浅草など (900813)

This is a long video at one hour and 53 minutes, but it covers a lot of ground.  It begins not far from Asakusabashi Station on the Sobu Line, and then I walk (while looking around in some detail at the areas I pass through) to the Sensoji Temple in Asakusa, and from there (as night falls) I walk to Uguisudani Station.  Here are some of the areas (in Japanese) that I walked through in the mainly residential area near Asakusabashi:

浅草橋三丁目, 鳥越二丁目, おかず横丁, 鳥越一丁目, 小島一丁目, 小島二丁目, 三筋二丁目, 元浅草四丁目, 元浅草三丁目, 寿二丁目, 東京本願寺, 入谷一丁目, 下谷一丁目

After watching the 1990 scenes (again) in 2013, I decided to go back and have a look at how it is now.  Some parts look very similar, but the shotengai had a very different feel to it.  I think some of the upper-middle-aged people I saw running the shops there in 1990 were the rather old people I saw still running them in 2013.  Walking down the street (on a holiday it should be noted), I didn't see so much as a single customer at any of the open shops on the street....

The biggest change in the area as a whole are the many new apartment buildings, typically 15-20 stories high.

There's more from my August 12th, 2013 visit further down the page, but here are a batch of modern views from just one area, Torigoe 1-Chome (鳥越一丁目), which I also walked through some 23 years before:
台東区鳥越一丁目 (A) 散策散歩 Taito-ku Torigoe 1-Chome Walkabout (130812)
台東区鳥越一丁目 (B) 散策散歩 Taito-ku Torigoe 1-Chome Walkabout (130812)
台東区鳥越一丁目 (C) 散策散歩 Taito-ku Torigoe 1-Chome Walkabout (130812)
台東区鳥越一丁目 (D) 散策散歩 Taito-ku Torigoe 1-Chome Walkabout (130812)
台東区鳥越一丁目 (E) 散策散歩 Taito-ku Torigoe 1-Chome Walkabout (130812)

And back to 1990:

1990 Uguisudani to Ikebukuro 鶯谷駅-池袋駅 山手線 (900813)

1990 Ikebukuro Station 910pm 午後の池袋駅 (900813)

1990 Ikebukuro Night 池袋の夜 (900813)

1991 Harumi Fireworks 晴海花火 Walk to Yurakucho 有楽町まで散歩 (910810)

1991 Yurakucho to Ikebukuro 有楽町駅-池袋駅 有楽町線 (910810)

1991 Ikebukuro to Gotanda 池袋駅-五反田駅 山手線 (910819)

1991 Gotanda Afternoon 五反田午後 (910819)

1991 Gotanda to Nishi-Magome and Back 五反田駅-西馬込 都営浅草線 (910819)

1991 Gotanda to Shinjuku 五反田駅-新宿駅 山手線 (910819)

1991 Nishi-Shinjuku Stroll 西新宿散策散歩 (910819)

1991 Tokyo Shopping Etc 東京買い物など (910819)

1991 Tokyo - Here and There 東京の色々 (910822)

1991 Gotanda to Togoshi Walk 五反田-戸越の散策散歩 (910822)

2013 Taito-ku

Nishi-Shinjuku Side Streets (Quick-360) 西新宿の夜道 (130813)
Musashino Line 武蔵野線 Nishi-Kokubunji Station 西国分寺駅の最終電車 (130807)

Shinjuku to Shibuya (Tokaido Line) 湘南新宿ライン東海道線直通快速平塚行き (130807)

Shibuya to Ebisu (Tokaido Line) 湘南新宿ライン東海道線直通快速平塚行き (130807)

Ebisu to Osaki (Tokaido Line) 湘南新宿ライン東海道線直通快速平塚行き (130807)

Tokaido Line Departing Osaki 東海道線 大崎駅から出発 (130807)

Edge of Ginza
Ginza Art Gallery

Gate City Osaki Atrium ゲートシティ大崎のアトリウム (130807)

Ebisu Station East Exit 恵比寿駅の東口 (130808)

Waiting for a Train in Suburbia 電車来るまでを待っている (130813)

Shinjuku Omoide Yokocho at Night 夜の新宿思い出横丁 (130813)

Looking Out and Over Tokyo in Osaki 大崎オフィス街から東京の様子 (130807)

Nighttime Approach to Osaki Station 夜の大崎駅に向かう 東側から (130807)

Evening Osaki Station Entrance 夕方大崎駅入り口 (130807)

Osaki Station Platform - All Green Yamanote Line Passing By 大崎駅 (130808)
Gotanda to Meguro (Yamanote Line) 五反田駅-目黒駅 山手線 左側 (130808)

Nighttime Park in Ebisu (Quick View) 夜の恵比寿にある公園 渋谷川隣 (130808)
Park in Ebisu / 恵比寿にある公園
Inside of Pub (Quick View) 130808

Yoyogi to Shinjuku (Yamanote Line) FCV 代々木駅-新宿駅 山手線 (130808)

Nakano Station (Waiting for Train) 中野駅で電車来るまで待っている (130808)

The thing that is striking for me in this video is the sound of crickets (or is it just one?) at about the 0:21 mark (and lasting just a few seconds).  They're pretty prominent in September as the nights get cooler, but not so common in the heat of August, and at a major train station with no apparent green anywhere, you have to wonder where exactly the sound is coming from!

Red Arrow (Seibu Line) Departing Station 西武鉄道特急レッドアロー出発 (130808)
Tokyo Station Summer Concourse Crowds 夏東京駅内の通路 (130812)

Ogikubo (Walk to Station) 荻窪駅までの散策散歩 暑い日 Hot Summer Day (130812)
Ogikubo / 荻窪
Reserved Seat Express Train Passing Ogikubo 荻窪駅から特急が通る (130812)

東京駅夏休みの間 ある暑い日 山手線 Tokyo Station (Tokyo to Yurakucho) 130812g

Yurakucho Station to Ginza 有楽町駅から銀座までの散策散歩 (130812)
Construction Site on Chuo-dori in Ginza (130812)

A very quick look at construction workers on Ginza's Chuo-dori putting up a barrier around a new construction site over in Ginza 1-chome.

Tokyo Station Summer Crowds 東京駅の夏休み人々 (130812)

東京駅-川崎駅 東海道線 右側後向き Tokyo to Kawasaki (Tokaido Line) 130812
Tokyo Station / 東京駅
Tokyo Station / 東京駅
Tokyo Station / 東京駅
Tokyo Station / 東京駅

Kawasaki Station Platform View 川崎駅ホームの様子 (130812)
Kawasaki Station / 川崎駅
Kawasaki Station / 川崎駅
Kawasaki to Tokyo (Tokaido Line) 川崎駅-東京駅 東海道線 右側前向き (130812)
Tokyo Station / 東京駅

Conference Room

Akihabara Station (Wooden Roof Etc) 秋葉原駅総武線ホーム (130812)

There's not much wood left in Tokyo's train stations, but you find glimpses of it here and there if you look carefully.

Akihabara to Asakusabashi (Sobu Line) 秋葉原駅-浅草橋駅 総武線 (130812)

Taito-ku Torigoe 2-Chome Walkabout 台東区鳥越二丁目 散策散歩 (130812)
Taito-ku Kuramae 4-Chome Walkabout 台東区蔵前四丁目散策散歩 (130812)

台東区春日通り 木造建物と緑 Old Buildings with Plants on Kasuga-dori (130812)

An aspect of older versions of Tokyo that was much nicer than modern Tokyo is how people would put a variety of potted plants around their homes, making for nice, plant lined walkways in the city.  As the old places are torn down, generally new buildings cover all of the ground with asphalt and/or concrete and often don't have any plants.  The old style - as you can see in this video - was a little haphazard with a mix of assorted plants, seemingly chosen at random, but made for a nice effect.

Shipping Container Building in Taito-ku (130812)
Taito-ku Misuji 1-Chome Walkabout 台東区三筋一丁目 散策散歩 (130812)
For more views of this area taken on August 12th, 2013, see further up the page where I posted some of the views that were originally in with this batch (to show the contrast with 1990 views of the same area).

Asakusabashi Stationside Walkabout 浅草橋駅辺り散策散歩 (130812g)
Rainy Asakusabashi 1-Chome Evening Streets 夕方雨の浅草橋一丁目 (130812)
Train Stop Buzzer Warning by Yotsuya Station (Seen from Shinjuku-ST) 130813

Night Trains Near Shinjuku Station 新宿駅と代々木駅の間の夜電車 (130813)

Shinjuku Station South Exit Street Musician 新宿駅南口辺り道音楽人 130813na
Old Type JR Two-Door Train at Shinjuku 暑い夏 新宿駅で2ドアJR車両 (130814)

Full Length of Shinjuku Saikyo Line Platform 新宿駅埼京線ホームの様子 (130814)

Shinjuku to Osaki (Tokaido Line) 新宿駅-大崎駅 東海道線 右側 (130814)

大崎ニューシティ辺り 目黒川隣 Osaki New City Plaza Quick Look-around (130814)

New E233 Saikyo Line Train (Inside and Outside) 新型E233埼京線内外 (130814na)

This is a new train, and it's nice, although the new (LED I think) interior lighting is quite powerful.  I think if I spent much time under those lights, I would like to use sunglasses.  If you compare the appearance of the interior of the train while it's stopped at the platform with the lighting on the platform, the platform appears dark, but actually the platform is very well-lit (bright), and the interior is that much brighter still.  Not sure why operating room brightness levels are popular....

Shinjuku Nighttime Saikyo Line Platform 新宿駅埼京線ホームの様子 (130814)
Shinjuku Station / 新宿駅
Shinjuku Station / 新宿駅
All photos copyright 2013 by Lyle H Saxon
Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon