Thursday, 10 April 2014

Day 1, part 2: pics Asakusa


Having just set up this blog on 8 April, using an iPad mini Retina 2014, I found myself wrestling with blogger and imovie and getting messy results, so I had to apologise for the mess of the blog, especially movies. I am now tidying up back in Australia on computer on 19 April, but leave here someone else's wonderful explanation of how to bow and apologise in Japan, land of constant courtesy.

So to the point, today's story, 9 April.

It's interesting to be out in a tourist place before the touts and tourists, before the bric-a-brac shops open, while the streets are being cleaned and children are being cycled to work. Important to note that the car is a minor player in street life in Tokyo and a subservient one. Pedestrians are given space... if one allows a certain Naples quality to the way cyclists weave among people. Cyclists of all ages and circumstance. My first obervation is that fogey males are tentative cyclists compared to the dolphin diving style of many older female cyclists. Bikes are very beautiful things here, as you will see. But nobody rings a bell and cyclists obey the rule of Naples car drivers that a millimetre is a space.

Enough chat. Here are some photos from walk through Asakusa at 8am. Click on any and with any luck all will turn into a slideshow. First, next door, the fugu in the restaurant window. We would look at these creatures over coming days, thinking, gosh, eh, you survived a night with diners.

It's off-to-school time

one of many subway entrances for Asakusa (Tsukuba) station, at our door. Connects with JR line and the world at Akihabara. My photo does not disclose what I discovered later. This is a bicycle entrance, long shallow steps, a trough to the right going down for taking your bike to the bike park underground, and on the right coming up, a rough rubber belt with power switch at the start, for power assist bringing your bike back to street level.

One turn off the main road and into a largely pedestrian world. And at later times of day a tourist world. 

Somewhere I read that the ratio of people to vending machines in Japan is remarkable, even here in this maze of shops. This group of machines has a matching waste bin and a forest coloured guardian. Recycling is taken very seriously in Japan. The wonderful Japan Talk website has this interesting advice on the Japanese concept of mottainai. A society that avoids waste.

Although Helen's readiness to compare aspects of Tokyo with aspects of Rome sometimes puzzles me, what is wonderfully reminiscent is the readiness to embrace decay and impermanence and see the beauty in natural decadence. Oh yes, and there's the common factor that you can walk lots of streets with few cars, etc. And the overdrive of aesthetic stimuli.

Any notion of Japanese being uniform people or blended-homogenised culture is blown away by the eclectic variety of streetscape (also people, as we go along, not many people at this hour, just my advance security).

Aha, canine life too...

This is the quarter of Tokyo attracting visitors for its heritage retention of the flavour of old Edo, but there are small wonders of modernism along the way.

The gross impression is of Edoworld blandness in the whole streetscape but the good bits are in the little details, the individual styles.

Now this below reminds of Rome, the curious corruption... along with a delightful Japanese, not Roman, approach to use of bits of wood...

and street bonsai, which would surely have other, domestic, bonsai green with envy

This seems to me to define sense of place.

and a tiny space to breathe

Cross a street... 

I'm sure there must be a law dealing with bicyclexting. 

Riding on the footpath is very much accepted.

and back into the maze of individual look, though here we have definite signs of kawaai.

before emerging from somewhat disorder into the regimented 200 metre Nakamise, the terrifying run of shops leading from the Hanzomon Gate to the great Sensoji, Tokyo's biggest Buddhist temple.

This man below is wearing a mask. Everyone, including police, train staff, etc, wears a mask if they have any kind of infection. It protects the wearer and those around. I came home to Australia with a virus and some masks. Very valuable to wear the mask on the plane, I did not dry out, risk to others from my virus reduced a bit. But wearing it to the doctor yesterday, you'd think from some people's reactions in the street that I was a terrorist, albeit aged and somewhat frail. This guy has style!

arriving at the gate with my ever wtchful security... note also that you are never out of place using a camera here.

Outside the gate on busy Asakusadori (dori = street) a contrast: magically modern, magically seemingly rickety wooden

and looking back, a rhapsody in blue

On to next blog entry to see the cherry blossoms in Ueno Park.

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