Saturday, August 10, 2013

"Yurakucho, Asakusa, Akihabara, Ginza, Shinjuku Etc."

As I write this, it's 37C/99F in Tokyo, with very little wind and high humidity.  The room I'm writing this in doesn't have air conditioning, so I have the window open and am at the mercy of the current outside weather conditions.  I mention this, because I'm realizing as I put this together that I'm kind of in a stupor due to the heat and it's an effort to do anything, which is not exactly conducive to writing, which is why this post is somewhat lacking in text.

Facing Shinbashi, in front of the Yurakucho Station exit near the corner entrance to Bic Camera.
[Below] One of the fast disappearing wooden roofs still in use at train station platforms in Tokyo.
[Below] Yurakucho near the YSB.
Yurakucho Night
Asakusa 浅草
Asakusa 浅草
Akihabara - used junk above and squeaky new mega-store (Yodobashi Camera) below.
[Below] - Looking out a window on the Yamanote Line.
[Below] - A relocated piece from the past.
Summer Nights in Tokyo
Yurakucho Station 有楽町駅
Yurakucho Station 有楽町駅
[Above] - Nearing Tokyo Tower (from the Hamamatsucho Station side).
Tokyo Tower 東京タワー
[Below] - Summer green in a park not far from Hamamatsucho Station.
[Below] - Fire escape from the past.
[Below] - Yurakucho 有楽町
[Below] - A time-slip zone seen from a station platform while waiting for a train.  There are so few old things in Tokyo that this type of thing stands out.
[Below] - Looking out a window - the double-exposure effect is caused by (I think) the outside tinting on the glass that then produces an added reflection from the inside of the train when you're looking out (one reflection off the inside surface of the glass, and one from the other side of the glass, reflecting off the back side of the outside tinting.
[Below] - Otsuka 大塚
[Below] - Station platform-side advertising.  This must be a good spot for advertising, as a lot of advertising space in stations is just blank these days.  There are a couple of blank panels in this array of advertising boards, but most of them have something on them.
[Below] - Summer green... I don't know what kind of plant that is in the middle, but it has really huge leaves.
Waiting for trains...
[Below] Looking down on the arched roofing for the former Toyoko Shibuya Station.  I don't know the specific plans in the works for this space which has been opened up by moving the station underground (simultaneously connecting it to the subway system), but presumably they'll be putting up an office tower or something of that nature there.  (I'll try to research this and come back to this page and edit it accordingly later.)
[Below] - An atmospheric hallway in a 1930's building in Ginza.
[Below] - A major road that runs through Ginza (or on the edge of Ginza - depending on your definition of what areas are the real Ginza).  When I see massive amounts of dead black asphalt like this, I can't help but think how much nicer Tokyo would be without the horrible fire-breathing machinery running around on dead black asphalt.  I think personal automobiles should be illegal in a megacity.  Out in the countryside, sure, but not in the middle of a megacity.
[Below] - A reflection of a former hotel in Ginza.
Ginza 銀座
Ginza 銀座
[Below] - On the way to Tokyo Station
[Below] - Side street izakaya 居酒屋
[Below] - Street singer in Shinjuku (and photographer busy taking pictures of her).
Shinjuku Station 新宿駅
[Below] Rooftop
[Below] - Parking
[Below] - Waiting for a train at night.
All photographs copyright by Lyle H Saxon, 2013
Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

Monday, August 5, 2013

Ginza, Nihonbashi, Shinjuku, Ueno, Asakusa, Yurakucho, Etc.

First - since this is the first post in this new blog entitled "Tokyo - Here and There" - a quick/brief introduction:  I've been wanting to show people more of the photos I've been taking, but end up not being able to integrate very many into my other blogs, so I thought I'd start a new blog specifically to show sets of pictures and write a little about some of them.  The focus is on the pictures, but there will probably end up being some fairly long blocks of text related to some pictures.
[Above and below] Ginza.  The Chuo-dori main street (with the Ginza Line running under the street basically), and (below) a side street.
Ginza and Nihonbashi (銀座と日本橋)
Twilight in Nihonbashi.  Tokyo isn't generally immediately conducive to relaxing in a contemplative frame of mind, but the combination of acclimatization and small islands of relative calm in the middle of a sea of activity and noise can actually be good places to stop and think.  When you consider the complexity of the human brain and all the competing thoughts that are drifting in and out of consciousness, a certain amount of city activity can be perfect in that it ties up enough of the for-background-thinking areas of the brain that you can more easily concentrate on what you want to think about without the interference of background (internal) thought noise getting in the way.  (I imagine that either makes perfect sense, or no sense at all, depending on your experiences.)
[Below] - Studio Alta in Shinjuku - this used to be a critical way of meeting people.  You'd arrange to meet "in front of Studio Alta" and the location (and time) was everything.  It's still a popular place to meet someone in Shinjuku, but now everyone is walking around with two-way radio transceivers, it doesn't matter very much where you arrange to meet, since you can continually fine-tune your movements.
[Below] - I think this is Kanda Station, but... wait... yeah, it's *got* to be Kanda Station; there is no other station where the Chuo Line and Yamanote Line come together on the same horizontal plane (as they are in this picture).
[Below] - Ueno Station.  The steel structure goes back quite a ways.  It used to hold up a wooden roof.  They removed the wooden roofing and put a kind of waterproof canvas over the remaining steel structure - resulting in a roof that is lighter (in weight) and acts as one big skylight.  A Hard Rock Cafe is in the "Retro Kan" on the left.
Ueno and Asakusa (上野と浅草)
To show some visitors from overseas around the area, I went to Asakusa the week before I was due to meet them in order to check train times, station exits, etc.  In the event (when I met them), I stupidly took a different exit and was temporarily lost.  Exits at the opposite ends of a ten-carriage train can put you into pretty radically different areas.  Easiest to understand (and typical with older subway lines) are stations where the exits are just on different parts of the same street.
Asakusa is interesting with its old temples and history, etc., but I hardly ever go there.  Typical situation in a big city.  The very places most popular with tourists are exactly the places the locals don't go to.
Asakusa (浅草)
Asakusa (浅草)
One of the old stairwells in an interesting department store building.  I haven't had a chance to research it yet, but the building is very similar to other buildings in Tokyo that were built in the 1930's, following the Great Kanto Earthquake that burned down most of the city.  Then, in 1945, the new concrete buildings - built to withstand earthquakes and fires - survived the fire-bombing of Tokyo in World-War-II.
[Below] - Looking out over a covered shotengai shopping street from a department store in Asakusa.
[Below] - Looking out the door of a Ginza Line train.  If I remember correctly, the Ginza Line was the first line to have a display over the door showing where the train is on the line.  This type is much nicer than the newer types, which are just monitors that continually show one thing after another and are effective enough at indicating the next station, etc., but not very good for understanding where you are on the system.

The new train over-door monitors flash-display maps sometimes, but before you can have a good hard look at the map and comprehend the system and where you are on it, the map disappears and something else appears on the screen.  And effective or not, it's stressful not knowing what's going to be on the monitor or how long it'll stay there.  A simple, logical, more effective display like these old(!) Ginza Line trains have is better in most ways, although it has the serious drawback of being difficult and expensive to modify when there are changes to the system.  (Why the explanation mark after "old"?  These trains were squeaky-new when I first came to Tokyo, so it's amazing/distressing/depressing/etc. to think that they are now old and about to be phased out....)
[Below] - an old Bugatti(!) car as seen through a garage door window in Akihabara.  You never know what you're going to find in Tokyo while out walking about.
[Below] - A side street in Akihabara.  Akihabara is beginning to depress me.  It has served me well as a place to get computers and computer parts over the past... 18 years or so, but there are fewer and fewer good computer stores there and more and more theme (maid, etc.) cafes and animation/game-related stores.  If the trend continues, there will (from my perspective) be no reason whatsoever to visit the area.
[Below] - The plaza in front of the east side of Yurakucho Station.  I always like this area in the evening, probably due to its proximity to the art galleries in Ginza and Kyobashi, as well as the YSB place on the other side of the station.
[Below] - Nearing Tokyo Station via a Nihonbashi side street.
[Below] - Inside atrium at the site of the former Central Post Office, next to Tokyo Station.
Former Central Post Office Site
View of Marunouchi business district from roof of former Central Post Office building (the remaining front part that is - the rear of the building was demolished to make way for the new JP-Tower.
Tokyo Station (東京駅)
Tokyo Station (東京駅)

And - that's it for this one.  In order to get some momentum going with this, so I can keep posting, I need to not spend too much time on each post.  Remember that the pictures are main thing in this blog.

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon