Monday, August 21, 2017

1990-91 Various Scenes いろいろ...

I would have liked to clearly identify specifically where all of these were taken, but I tossed these images into a folder over several months and since a bit of time has passed, some of them I'll skip mentioning the location of (rather than guess and maybe get it wrong).  Most of these are from 1991, but some are from 1990.  Either way, they're from the same general era.
Akabane Station - before they elevated all the tracks.  I always found this scene out of the window of a train I often used fascinating.  Structurally, there are other places like this, but generally you don't see the platforms so clearly stacked one over the other the way they are in this picture.
This scene was more interesting in motion.  I took this from a train running in parallel with another train, with the lights of Shinjuku in the background as both trains rapidly approached Shinjuku Station.
Hibarigaoka Station...  This platform looks very different today since they reconstructed the whole station.  Taken at the very beginning of the Heisei Era, this view is basically a Showa Era scene.
Typical way to have a quick and inexpensive lunch - although the atmosphere of new ones seems a little different from when I took this at the beginning of the nineties....
This counter (in Shinjuku Station, near the south exit) always looked like an American style diner to me and I think that was the idea.  I always intended to eat there sometime, but tended to be in a hurry each time I passed it, and so had to just keep walking.
Before pocket-size computers ("smartphones"), on trains you generally either looked out the windows or read text on paper.  An important element of travel at this time was that while you were on the train, you couldn't be reached.  If you wanted to be reached, that could be a frustrating thing, but it was often Very Nice to relax and look out the window, knowing you were free from interference from anyone not on the train, and (from a modern point-of-view) free from people accusingly confronting you later in the day with complaints along the lines of: "I sent you a text message this morning... why didn't you respond in two microseconds?"
Construction in the background - Tokyo seems as though it's in a perpetual state of reconstruction, so some structure being built in the background becomes a normal part of what you see just about anywhere in the city you happen to be in.
There's a stance women sometimes take where they look a bit like the kanji character for women: 女 and I thought the woman at the end of the platform looked that way, so took a quick picture just before the train arrived.
While modern cameras have ever higher resolution, since people are increasingly then going into the photo and blanking out identifiable details (store names, faces, etc.), what's the point of taking pictures in high resolution?  Often I think it's better to just take low-resolution pictures in the first place.
The other thing about the pre-cell phone era(s), is that when you were with someone, you were actually with them.  Once everyone started carrying cell phones, typically people tune out the people they are actually with in favor of someone far away - connected to them via information flow via the electronic device.
Responding to crowded conditions during the commuting period, the system has been expanded (more trains, more routes, some new lines, and more connecting trains - so you don't have to transfer as much).
These were very early days for electronic moving image recording (analog, but still electronic), so a fair amount of light was required for very clear pictures.  That said, I often like the atmosphere of some of the dark images I took back then.  And... the lighting actually was less intense then than now.  Lighting tends to be Very Bright these days (often much too bright, in my opinion).
The old machines they used for issuing train passes where quite complicated!
It was around this time that they became stricter about bicycle parking.  These days you (usually anyway) don't see bicycles parked here and there, in whatever space someone could find as they rushed to the station....
自転車 自転車 自転車
It's taken me a long time to figure out specific details of why I liked/like the old train carriages better than the new ones, but the main two issues are air quality (vastly superior in the older type, with many air vents, openable windows, and general leakage through the old type windows (a kind of accidental ventilation system) - and better quality light.  Most new trains are using LED lighting that is very harsh and much brighter than is comfortable.
Materials are important.  With wood and steel being much more atmospheric than plastic.  The long wooden benches (see below) were nice, but are almost nonexistent now.
I don't know what the woman in front of me was looking at (below), but it wasn't a smartphone.  Probably she was reading a book (the paper kind).  Once you get used to the rush-rush-rush of going about in Tokyo, you just keep reading something while the train comes in and then stop reading just long enough to board the train.
Tokyo Station is becoming (of course) ever more modern.  In 1991, I always felt a connection with the past while at Tokyo Station, but while they reconstructed the station in the old style (which is nice), the general feeling of the station is New.
Taken before they moved the Chuo Line over and up (to enable expansion of the Shinkansen part of the station).  Looking at these pictures now, I realize how much of the Showa Era was still remaining.  The atmosphere is Very Different now....
In 1991, if you wanted to read something on the train, the only way was text on paper.
Fast disappearing even back then, some stations still have wooden beams holding up wooden roofs.  I can't complain about modern roofs, but ones made of steel and wood are certainly more atmospheric than ones made with more synthetic materials.
Part of the dark effect in these pictures is due to the weakness of early era image sensors, but the stations really were much less brightly lit then.  They're so brightly lit now, you almost need sunglasses on them....
Not sure anyone cares what I was listening to - but back then I always walked around with Japanese language tapes playing, with a Japanese (vocal) song here and there on the tape to break up the monotony of always listening to voice recordings.
People standing and reading things in front of book stores was a common sight back then.  Now people tend to read everything on their smartphones and there are fewer and fewer bookstores.
One thing I definitely like better about 2017 than 1991 is they have widened many sidewalks, and that is definitely a good thing.  Many of the sidewalks were really narrow and very frustrating to walk on if you were in a hurry....
The buses I rode at at the time had wooden floors.  I didn't think about it much at the time, but recently (when I see pictures like this one again), I find myself wondering why they used wood.  Good strength to weight ratio maybe?
Since getting in touch with people via the telephone (while outside) meant using a public phone, it was second nature to make a mental note of where they were, and when one was open, grab the chance to call someone.
Walking down the street in Ikebukuro.  Actually... this scene is pretty much the same now, although several new buildings have gone up on the right side of the road.
The old shotengai streets... I've always liked the atmosphere on them, and find I miss them more and more as they disappear.
The woman on the left of the picture (standing behind me) may well be thinking "What in the world is he doing anyway?".  I was often asked that back then - "What are you doing?"  Most people didn't take their own pictures back then.
I used to make regular stops at Yodobashi Camera in Shinjuku (and Bic Camera in Ikebukuro) to buy tape - audio cassette tape, 8mm tape (for my video camera), and VHS tape for a home video deck (to watch rental movies on and record TV shows, etc.)  I never suspected that tape would so soon become an Ancient Technology!  Don't get me wrong, I'm happy to see it go, as it was so fragile, but it's still a little strange to think how such a normal part of life at the time is now ancient history.
Nishi-Shinjuku... many detail changes, but it's more or less similar to this 1991 picture.  Oh, going back to tape - there was one detail about tape that I really liked.  Within a two hour tape, you could take as many scenes as you liked, so it was easier to have high scene counts back then.  I would prefer to still be taking video that way, but the equipment (and software) I have now dictate that one video is one scene.  That's not all bad, but it's no good when you want to do a walkabout and compress five or six hours of walking around into one high-scene-count video of 45 minutes or so....
To be honest, I've used some out-of-focus stuff from auto-focus cameras before that (accidentally) turned out looking interesting, but with the analog cameras I used back then, I very quickly gave up on auto-focus (mainly due to it being way too slow for my purposes), so this (below) was by design.  I had to mentally project for color though, as the (CRT!) display was in black and white.
Shinjuku Station - looking at this now I remember the feeling of so many places in the city as having a mix of the new Heisei Era and the just ended Showa Era.  Looking at this picture now, I get that feeling again....
Another shotengai street.  I didn't think about them in detail before, but while the system of there being many small shops and not many big ones did lead to higher prices, they also led to lower crime rates and a much friendlier feeling in neighborhoods throughout Japan....
And that's the last picture in this batch.  This particular combination came about yesterday as I was looking through about 5,000 images.  Just going through (even rapidly) 5,000 images takes a bit of time, so I couldn't (time-wise) carefully categorize things and just grabbed images from here and there (within the batch of 5,000) that stood out to me.  Basically kind of thinking "Who knows if I'll ever actually have the time to do this properly... so let me at least toss a few of the images I particularly like on-line."   ......  And here we are!

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

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