A Short Tour Of Akihabara, With Some History

Akihabara News is posting short videos of the Yamanote line station chimes along with short video tours of the Neighborhoods.

I’m doing a larger post of the stations, but it’s likely that doing all the stations will take some time and the people at Akihabara New provided this great link about the history of Akihabara.

What does Akihabara mean?

I didn’t know that there was an elevated freight station at Akihabara.

Here’s my main Akihabara post.

https://theartsmechanical.wordpress.com/2016/01/20/akihabara/

 

Update: more history.

http://tokyoscum.blogspot.com/2011/11/history-of-akihabara-part-1_24.html

Miniatur Wunderland Goes Google

Miniatur Wunderland in Hamburg Germany is the largest model railroad in the world.  Since it was opened it’s become a well known attraction in Hamburg and amongst the railfan and model railroader community.  But Hamburg may be off your driven path.  Well never fear, now you can travel the railroad via the Google Streetview cam.

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Travel Before Flight

It’s hard to understand how commercial air travel has changed things until you see maps like this that show how long it took to travel from place to place.

This map is just 100 years old, yet look how long it took to go from London to anyplace beyond Europe.  Any trip outside Europe and maybe the east coast of the US was a serious voyage and one wouldn’t undertake it unless one expected to spend months and perhaps years at their destinations.  There is a reason that steamer trunks are so large. You weren’t packing for an overnight, you packing for living at the other end.

Dear NY Times Magazine

 

I recently read you Voyages issue Of the NYT Sunday Magazine.

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/09/23/magazine/the-voyages-issue.html#Tokyo

Most of the photo articles were excellent, though I think that Mr. Sugimoto was trying too hard to be artsy when he had a great story and should have run with it.  Sort of a reverse Marco Polo.  But the story that really bothered me was the one about Tokyo by Mr. Soth.  Which should have been titled “Hotel Room” or maybe, “Room Service.”   The thing about Voyages is the experience and locking yourself up in a hotel room and calling in room service is not experience. Which is sad because Tokyo is a city that begs to be experienced. In a way that was the point of “Lost In Translation.”

To show Mr. Soth a little of what he missed, well here’s some pics I’ve shot in Tokyo.

I was spending my own money, so I didn’t stay as fancy as the Park Hyatt. The View from my hotel room was rather prosaic, though the love hotel did have it’s romanticism.

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Perhaps that was good reason to leave the room. Tokyo has a lot of the unexpected.

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Such as little French cars.  It pays though to go off the beaten path and try to find perhaps the prosaic and unloved, well at least by it’s owners, photographers certainly love this little rusty locomotive.

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It may be the most photographed train in Japan.  Of course it’s not hard to find rust and steel in the industrial parts of Tokyo, far from the usual tourist traps.

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Still, even in the industrial area a grandfather can share with his grandson.

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On your way back, you can always enjoy the nightlife,

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or get up early and join the morning commute.

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You can visit markets not yet busy.

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Or watch a park being prepared for the day.

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Before taking a festival with great street food

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Guarded by stalwart giant guardians.

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And some not so giant.

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Before catching the evening commute.

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And daring the night again.

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And wandering the underground warrens of Tokyo Station.

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Before going out to play the obligatory video game.

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Before encountering raucous politics

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Perhaps it may be better to take a speedy journey.

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Seeing strange sights out the window

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Before having a quiet drink in a sublime location.

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While I didn’t eat such exotic things as bug sushi, I did have a series of rather strange to the US hotel breakfasts before setting out to explore.

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Finding out that perhaps the culture was a bit loser to home, or at least the advertising was.

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One thing about being behind the camera is that you never have to feel as if you don’t belong there.

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Which can help if you are in a place where normally you would feel out of place.

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No matter how attractive the scenery.

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Though it’s still easy to find people in touch with tradition.

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Though the strange and exotic does have it’s charms.

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Still there’s always time for eats, even takiyoki, maybe especially takiyoki.

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Isn’t the point of the voyage, the experience?  If I want room service and pizza delivery, all I have to do is stay home.  Tokyo has nothing that should truly scare you and it’s a great place to shoot.  There’s always something to find, the unexpected the strange the new.  And it’s so easy to explore.  Why stay in your room?

 

Four Japanese Christians Visit Europe And The Pope In The 16th Century

This was mentioned as an aside in a NYT article in the magazine.

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/09/23/magazine/the-voyages-issue.html#Italy

Four Japanese Christians going to see the Pope in the 1580’s

https://books.google.com/books?id=n2DUmk9XUsMC&printsec=frontcover&dq=japanese+travellers+in+sixteenth+century+europe&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CDAQ6AEwAGoVChMIs5ST-OSryAIVhjg-Ch0hyAW0#v=onepage&q=japanese%20travellers%20in%20sixteenth%20century%20europe&f=false

A ten year round trip.  It sounds as if it was a grand adventure. Another book to buy.