Monday, March 31, 2008

Big Walk 2008

This year's Big Walk was admittedly not as big as previous years' (I started at home and decided to call it a day when I got to Kanda), but it did serve its purpose of producing some nice photography. I'm going to break from my established format for posting the photos this time around, for a number of reasons. For example, I usually include a detailed record of exactly where I walked, but this year I just didn't keep track of my route. So no maps, no stats, no lengthy anecdotes. I'm posting all the Big Walk photos in this one post with minimal captioning.

It wasn't quite hanami peak yet in most of the places I took pictures, so my wide shots of trees generally didn't turn out as well as my close-ups. Here are the best of the shots I took in Yoyogi Park:

Since I didn't record my progress through the city, I have no idea where the following photos were taken:

It wouldn't be a Big Walk if I didn't follow the Kanda River, one of my favorite features of central Tokyo. Here are some of the shots I took between Yotsuya and Ochanomizu:

As I didn't walk any further than the Kanda district, I didn't pass any more cherry blossom viewing spots after the ones taken by the river near Ochanomizu. I did, however, want to include this little story:

Near the entrance to Suidôbashi Station, some fool had parked his bicycle with a basket full of ad fliers and left it unattended. The wind picked up and scattered the fliers all over the road beneath the train bridge, as you can see below. I waited around a little while to see if I could get a shot of the bicycle's owner bearing witness to the havoc they had created, but they never showed up.

So that pretty much takes care of this year's urban hike. Next I'll post photos taken at Hikarigaoka Park yesterday, when the sakura were at maxiumum blossomage.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Big Walk 2008 Tomorrow

Tomorrow is my day off. The weather outlook is favorable. Cherry blossoms are opening all over the city. My camera's battery is charged. Raise your hand if you can tell me what all this means.

That's right, Billy. Tomorrow will be my fourth annual Big Walk across Tokyo. Photos from the occasion should follow directly.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Boat Graveyard

In Japan there is a well-known phenomenon called gomiyashiki ("trash mansion"), wherein people (usually elderly people who live alone) are found occupying horribly filthy homes, often piled high with wall-to-wall garbage. This story, however, puts a new twist on that issue:

At the mouth of the Nomikawa River, near Haneda Airport in Tokyo's Ota Ward, city officials are working to clean up a site that was occupied for eight years by an elderly "drifter" (if you'll pardon the pun).

The occupant of the site, described as a man in his 60s, had amassed a fleet of 45 abandoned boats, mooring them all together in the waters north of the airport in what can only be described as a "boat graveyard." When confronted by reporters, the man claimed he was responsible for the boats' repair. He appeared to take offense when the press asked him about his suijou seikatsu ("marine lifestyle").

In addition to the boats, the man had accumulated a large quantity of trash and abandoned materials and used it to fashion a multi-level "home" on the waterside. The man used strategically positioned stepladders to get from boat to boat and from one level of his shelter to another. 30 to 40 dogs, many of whom seem to follow the man wherever he goes, were also discovered living in the shelter.

The video below is in Japanese with no English subtitles, but it gives you a sense of the Herculean task faced by the clean-up crew. They expect to finish the job this Friday, March 21.

Airman ga Taosenai

I saw this video playing on a loop in a book store in Shinjuku a few months ago. It's a fan-made music video inspired by Mega Man 2, called Airman ga Taosenai (Can't Defeat Airman). The subtitles hard to read, but those familiar with the game should give it a chance.