June weather in Tokyo is not too bad - some rain (sometimes a lot of rain) and some high temperatures, but generally not overly hot. July and August will be a different story however, so I'm reminding myself to enjoy the more comfortable temperatures this month... since it will be July very soon! This batch of clips is of typical Tokyo train scenes and some views of Ginza art exhibitions.
Last year (1997) I wrote about a drinking place under the tacks in Yurakucho... sent a copy of it to new e-mail pal recently, and she asked me if I've gone back... I hadn't, so I decided to come back for a look.
19:07 The feeling you get from the people around you... the atmosphere here is generally good, but the man on my left is giving off an unstable feeling as he looks nervously about....
22:14 It's a kind of a repeat... the same industrial thumping of the trains that rumble by unseen above... and once again I've ended up in long conversations with several people. First with the middle aged woman and her young male companion, seated to my right. The conversation started off weird, and finished weird. First, the young man leaned over and asked me:
"Have you ever been to a club?"
I said that I had, and asked why he wanted to know. No answer to that, and then he started talking in dialect, which I don't think I was meant to understand, but I was in an open frame of mind, so it took a while to sink in. Then whenever the woman said anything to me, he seemed to get jealous. (Don't blame me for that one folks, I wasn't interested.) The guy started putting his mitts on me... first on my back, and then a leg, which I put up with in the interest of public harmony, but when he touched my face, I could stand it no longer, so I told him to stop touching me. He backed off for a while, but then when he started crossing and uncrossing his legs, bumping a foot into my white trousered leg each time, I decided that the young man with his thick gold chain, expensive watch, on-again, off-again dialect, and bad manors wasn't trying to be friendly from his end, so I moved over a seat and told them to leave me alone, to talk to each other and just leave me alone. The guy got the hint (they don't come much broader!), but the woman then came over and sat next to me and told me that I wasn't a foreigner, I was Japanese, and "Zytzy-zytzy-zytzy-zytzy-zytzy-zytzy-zytzy ...." - just a bunch of nonsense (there was no dialect or vocabulary problem with her speech, the content itself was nonsense).
I sat there with her smashed up against me rattling off the same nonsense over and over, to which I basically said "Yeah.... ummm, I see...... ummm..... ah..... hmmmm...." I mean... how do you respond to someone telling you something, that if it were true, they wouldn't say? Towards the end of her tape loop speech... after repeating herself for about fifteen times, I glanced over at her and saw that tears were coming from her smiling face.... (??????????????)
I asked her why she was crying, and she gave me a Mona Lisa smile and said "I don't know". Then she stood up and paid her bill... told me that someday we would meet again, and rejoined the young man, who had moved out of the under track area and been waiting on the sidewalk.
I watched them walk off together, and then turned and looked at the couple sitting on the other side of me, who turned out to be a middle aged man with a younger woman, and asked them:
"Did you hear that??!!!"
Talking to this new couple was like walking from an insane asylum back out into the sane world. We had a pleasant enough conversation, and the young woman seemed very eager not to be seen as the older man's girlfriend, as she managed to work into the conversation that she was married (not to that man) at least three times. (I know what you're thinking! No!) After talking for awhile, when the man went to the restroom (the restroom in that place is the smallest one I've ever seen I think), the woman told a couple standing by us (the place is in a tunnel, with people walking through all the time) looking for a place to sit that she and her friend would be leaving soon... and then she told them about her being married....
The new couple (early twenties) were quite nice, and we talked on and off about one thing or another, most of which I can't remember, except that the man said he liked the shop because it was the place where he and his father had first gone drinking together.
The woman got a phone call on her cell phone, went out of the tunnel and talked to someone for a minute, and then came back in and handed the phone to her boyfriend, who then left the tunnel for the sidewalk. I beamed a question at the woman with my eyes, and she said that it was a friend of hers.
"A woman?!" asked I.
"Yes" replied she.
Me: "That's dangerous, isn't it?"
Which seemed to strike a chord with her. As though it were already on her mind, she said:
"Do you think so?"
She told me that her friend had called to ask about how to get to some place, and that her boyfriend knew, so.... I suggested that her friend didn't need to be interrupting her date to ask her boyfriend directions.
The guy came back, sensed that something was in the air, and asked:
"What have you two been talking about?"
"It's a secret" she said.
Then we talked about e-mail, I gave each of them my card, and the conversation drifted back to the phone... and then her friend called again. I gave her a look, and she passed the phone to me:
OW (Other Woman): .......................
Me: "Konnichiwa... moshi-moshi?"
OW: "Who are you?"
I explained that I was just a chance drinking companion, and the woman, sounding extremely unfriendly, asked me what her friend was doing. I looked over to see them kissing, and happily said "They're kissing right now..." I tried talking to her a little, but she seemed not to share my pleasure in the situation. Finally, the woman who handed me the phone looked over and asked:
"Is she still there?"
I said I thought so, the woman took the phone back, talked for a little without bothering to leave the noisy tunnel, and hung up.
The man was a handsome, friendly, and confident looking guy. I told the woman so, and said (in front of the guy) "When I was twenty-two, I didn't have things nearly as together as this guy seems to..."
I have no idea why I was acting like a matchmaker or something... it just happened!
23:00 It feels like it's been a very long day... I'm out from below the tracks now... and standing in an area of the street full of tables and chairs as a perfect temperature breeze blows through the city. There's been a lot of rain lately, so today has been doubly nice in contrast. The "Yakitori" and "Sake" lanterns sway in the breeze... there's a steady electrical low hum of motors (exhaust fans?) and the productive, busy, industrial sound of the steel wheels of the many trains that rumble by overhead... their reflection in the windows of the office buildings....
This is something I wrote in April 2005 and recently stumbled upon again. I've re-edited it for this post - you can see the original [here]. - LHS
As I recently commented to a friend:
I have developed something of an allergy to the expression "move forward" as 100% of the time I've heard it used to date, it has been used by people vastly more interested in politics, deception, and personal comfort/gain than in reality and quality, especially if it means some slight extra effort be made by said politicians.
I recently received the following phrase from a (nearly illiterate) politician (who is strangely working as an editor):
"Need to move forward on this now."
This in response to the 1st draft of a story and this politician's 1st (mutant) edit of it, with which there were mistakes (his, not mine) that needed to be corrected. (Note that the urgent demand for speed was sent with the editor's very first changes to my article - and the article is to be published three months down the road!). Do you see how offensive that is? It's saying "I can't be bothered with you and I'm going to do what I want - buzz off!"
While in something like a "letter to the editor" column, newspapers edit as they see fit, in the case of a writer having an article published under their own name, they deserve to have at least one chance to affect change on something the editor has put their hand into, especially when the editor's writing style is at odds with the original author and - in this case - the "editor" can't write properly and appears to be relying on the defective "grammar checker" function of MS-Word.
I ignored the "Need to move forward on this now" line and sent in a version with just a couple of fixes for things I felt most strongly about, and also changed a couple of lines to fit in with some new bits that were put in. On previous occasions, I was spared the "need to move forward with this now" line until after my one chance to affect change.... [Note: My requested changes were implemented, so all's well that ends well I suppose....] [Second note: Not really - things got worse after that (with the next article).]
I say to the world now:
We need to move forward with truth and reality, and stop moving forward with lies and destructive politics!
Note: "Move forward" seems to be someone's idea of an "improvement" on the perfectly good words "go ahead". It's just a dirty trick actually. Most people are none too pleased to hear someone say "Well, I'm going to go ahead and do what I want to do, regardless of what you think", but when PR-BS people utter the words "We need to move forward with this now", they tend to get away with their extreme rudeness and sophistry with the suggested lie that there is something mutual about the unilateral decision they are making - but they shouldn't get away with it! Bloody sophists! $%#%$$%$%$#!!!
Last week, I met an English acquaintance in Yoyogi-Uehara (near to Yoyogi-Hachiman Station) who is headed back to England. There are fewer and fewer of the old style train stations left in Tokyo, but Yoyogi-Hachiman Station is one. As the old type stations become rarer and rarer, I'm finding that I like them more and more. So - since I rode a local Odakyu Line train out to Yoyogi-Hachiman, I took video on the way (front cab views, etc.), and of the station and immediate station area by the entrance/exit gates to the station.
Other views from this batch of video clips: There are a few gallery exhibition views, other train views, and a couple of "looking-around-while-walking" clips from the Kyobashi area of Tokyo.
But back to the English acquaintance I mentioned at the beginning of this post. He's been in Japan for about three years, and I thought we'd end up talking a bit about life in Japan, etc., but the desire to get into cultural issues appeared to be solely on my end. Thinking back on the encounter now, something fundamentally different about living in Tokyo (as a foreigner) in the early eighties and thirty years later in 2012 occurs to me.
Back in the early eighties (in Japan), there was (practically speaking) no Internet (not for the vast majority of people in the world in any case), international telephone calls were very expensive, *domestic* telephone calls outside your immediate area were also very expensive, and even local calls within your area code were expensive if you talked for very long. And so personal meetings with people were the one time you could communicate with someone as much as you liked for free! What with a lack of international communication (except for occasional standard letters delivered by post), there was something special and important about meeting other foreigners from time to time and discussing life in Japan.
So, with that background, I thought I'd discuss a number of things with the man from England - since he is about to leave the country and all, but it didn't really happen - and why should it? If either of us have something to say, it can be done via computer and there's no particular need to say it in person.
I'm very thankful for the Internet and inexpensive international telephone calls, but I also miss the intensity and meaning that personal meetings had before. In a sense, now it doesn't matter who you are physically with or where you live, since you can communicate with just about anyone just about anywhere. Would I trade modern telecommunications for the "good old days"? Absolutely not! But I sure would like to be able to travel back once-in-a-while via time machine....
The are two main components to this batch of video clips - scenes from (mainly) the Chuo Line during the June 19th typhoon (if you listen with headphones on to a couple of the clips looking out the left side of the train, you can hear the wind strongly hitting the train - which was running way behind schedule and at reduced speed), and a few scenes of Ginza and Kyobashi art exhibitions.
The typhoon was apparently the first June typhoon to make landfall in eight years. I was in a tall, narrow building for part of it, and the building moved with the winds a little - which felt really weird, because it was almost imperceptible, but definitely swaying at times. It gave you a feeling of loosing faith in the ground under your feet. If it had been a faster motion, a ship would be a good comparison, but it was slower than that (although I've never been on a really gigantic ship, so maybe the motion is similar to larger floating objects). Anyway - it was kind of exciting. There was also an anti-nuclear fire (to make steam for running turbines to generate electricity) demonstration in Nihonbashi (in the middle of the typhoon).
To see the May 21st, 2012 solar eclipse in Tokyo, I got up early and went to a park, as I had heard that birds quiet down during a solar eclipse, and I wanted to experience that. The point at which it was a perfect solar eclipse is shown in this photo (repeated further down the page in the chronological sequence of images).
I mostly wanted to capture the world getting darker on video in order to record the transition from bright daylight to lunar twilight, but as I was taking video with one hand (which didn't turn out very well), I used my other hand to simultaneously take some standard photos, but I was concentrating on other things and trying not to look into the sun (to protect my eyes), so I couldn't see what I was taking exactly. [Video]
The gradation from bright to less bright was masked by a partly cloudy sky and also took more time than I imagined it would. The way the sun looked to me during the eclipse was basically like the picture below, and the video looked about that way - so I ended up feeling a bit disappointed about my image quest and didn't even bother to look at the still pictures I had taken with my second camera - until almost a month later, and then I discovered that some of the pictures actually turned out okay and show the eclipse fairly well.
The above picture is how it looked if you just looked up at the sky without dark glasses. It wasn't until I had put away my cameras a few minutes past the point of the perfect eclipse, that I finally figured out how to use the "eclipse-viewing" plastic I'd bought and saw the eclipse (in real time) for the first time (I didn't realize that the plastic had to be right up against my face). In hindsight, I'm glad it worked out that way, as I'm not so sure it would have been good for my eyes to be staring through even that dark plastic for very long, and if I had been using that plastic, I couldn't have used both hands to operate two cameras simultaneously. (I later pulled out a camera and took a few more pictures through the dark plastic, but those didn't turn out very well.)
Since I didn't discover that I actually had recorded the eclipse until almost a month after I'd taken the pictures (that I had expected not to turn out), it was like the old film days - when you'd leave off a roll of film to be developed and not know what the result was until you picked up the prints, and then were very happy to see pictures that turned out well. (I didn't preview the pictures and only saw them after loading them into my computer.)
The pictures have a kind of strangely dark appearance to them, and might look better with tweaking, but as a record of a once-in-a-lifetime event for me, I didn't want to mess around with them, and so am posting them as-is - (almost) straight out of the camera (although they have been cropped - remember I took them with my left hand while I was recording video with my right).
Scrolling through the sequence, the moon moves left towards dead-center of the sun, and the second to the last (and the top photo) are the point where it's spot on. (If I couldn't see it at the time, how did I get the timing right? I noted the reported time that it was set to be dead center and took pictures leading up to and including that time. It's a good thing I did that, or I might have missed it!)
2012 Tokyo Solar Eclipse - Copyright by LHS
2012 Tokyo Solar Eclipse - Copyright by LHS
Here again (below), is the way it looked if you just looked up in the sky without something to filter down the light. This picture makes it look almost light a full moon, but the light was much stronger than that. Rather it was like early evening, when the light is just beginning to fade. It was an interesting effect - the birds did quiet down (but not completely) and the coming of evening in the morning was interesting, but it was more gradual than I had thought it would be and lighter than I had thought it would be - even with that much of the sun blocked.
The first video in this series of clips is a time trip back to August 1991 - when I stumbled upon Naraijuku on the Kisokaido (otherwise know as Nakasendo) road where they were having some sort of reenactment/summer festival. The town was one of the old post towns where travelers would stop on their way to and from Edo (former name of Tokyo) and I think the people in period clothing in the video were representing the groups that used to stop there. It's interesting, because the buildings in the town are authentic old buildings that really did see those kinds of travelers back in the day. After that are more train views (a few of them recorded in soundless 60fps, with 30fps playback, so they are half-speed), scenes from Ginza and Yurakucho and a look at an installation.
A look at Narai 奈良井 (or Naraijuku 奈良井宿) on August 12th, 1991. Narai is a traditional town on the old Kisokaido 木曽街道 (or Nakasendo 中山道) road. This is the 34th (or 35th, there seems to be some dispute about this) stage of the 69 Stages of the Nakasendo series of woodblock prints (中山道六十九次).
This batch of clips consists of (yet more) typical Tokyo train scene views and some Kyobashi and Ginza art scene views of exhibitions and installations. Given that there are different art exhibitions each week, I always look forward to seeing what the week's exhibitions will be, but when I post a batch of clips like this, I sometimes feel like I'm in a bit of a rut and should vary my routine more.
One of the problems is that art galleries are often hard to find, so you need to have a certain amount of time and energy when looking for them in new areas. Once you remember where 50 or so of them are in one area, there is so much to see just with that set, that you don't really end up feeling like tracking down yet more galleries, but I suppose I probably should do just that....
The title is "Train Jogging", but basic running is more like it... in a train. Maybe not a good idea, but it's only very rarely that you find yourself in train cars with no other people - and given all that empty space, the urge to do something in it arises...
The Yaesu side of Tokyo Station has been under construction for what feels like a very long time, but maybe is only a few years (written via memory reference, without researching it on-line). They've opened a new waiting room as part of new long-distance highway bus facilities (I wish they were expanding nighttime rail service instead of boring, bloody buses...), and I think a large part of the new construction is geared towards buses. Personally I think it's a huge mistake. I think way too many resources are being poured into facilities and ever more black asphalt for internal combustion engine vehicles. Those bloody things will be the ruin of us all yet....
This batch of clips begins with a couple of views of August 1991 Takayama, showing scenes from a nighttime stroll on August 11th, 1991 and going here and there in the daytime on August 12th. 1991. After that is a current nighttime view out of the left side of an outbound Chuo Line train running from Tokyo to Kanda; and then a ride-side view out a window of a Tozai Line subway between Otemachi and Nihonbashi. There are also several art gallery exhibition and/or installation views, as well as train views from the Chuo Line and the Keio Line, etc.