Industrial Wasteland 3

Kawasaki’s industrial zone has a strange, dystopian beauty.

The air stinks, it’s noisy, and the area’s not very pedestrian friendly, but it’s quite an interesting place to take photos in.

These photos were taken on the man-made island south of Kojima Shinden Station. See a satellite image here.

G-Cans Water Tunnel

For years, people living by the Tonegawa, Arekawa, and Edogawa Rivers faced the threat of terrible floods during the typhoon season. Every few years, anywhere between a few dozen and tens of thousands of houses would be inundated with water, and as the Tokyo metropolitan area expanded, the problem was only growing worse.

In the early 1990s, someone came up with the idea of huge underground discharge tunnels for the rivers to prevent flooding. Construction started in 1993, and 13 years later, the G-Cans Water Discharge Tunnel was completed. It’s a really impressive structure, and and the facility is open to tourists. I visited this December and found it to be really impressive.

There are a bunch of videos here. The website and videos are in Japanese, but just click on “broadband” or “narrowband” to watch them.

Official Site (mainly in Japanese): http://www.ktr.mlit.go.jp/edogawa/project/g-cans/frame_index.html

Boso no Mura Folk Village

The Boso no mura is a fantastic blend of history, nature, and beautiful architecture in Chiba, near Narita Airport. It doesn’t seem to get many visitors, which is really a shame because it’s a really worthwhile tourist spot – very educational, entertaining, and great for photography.

The main attraction is this re-created samurai town. The buildings are amazing, and inside there are people demonstrating traditional crafts. Depending on the day and time, there’s Ukiyoe printmaking, blacksmithing, bamboo crafts, straw crafts, ceramic art, weaving, etc. You can even try your hand at things like making pottery or children’s toys. You can see photos of all the buildings on this page, but it’s in Japanese only.

There’s also an old farm that is actually under cultivation. Here are more details, again, in Japanese only, but with lots of photos.

This Jomon Period history museum is really well-done, and has some very interesting displays. In the back, they have Jomon Period houses, and a lonely-looking old man came and talked my ear off for 15 minutes about Jomon house-building techniques.

I only had to wait about 30 seconds to get this photo of the main street of the town with no people walking through it.

You can try on samurai armor for free too.

The admission fee is only 300 yen.

The problem is that it’s kind of difficult to get to. You have to head all the way out to Narita Station and then take a bus for 20 minutes.

Website in English: http://www.chiba-muse.or.jp/MURA/e/index.html

Location: 1028 Ryukakuji, Sakae-machi, Imba-gun, Chiba Prefecture, 270-1506, Japan.
Phone +81-476-95-3333

Much more detailed website in Japanese: http://www.chiba-muse.or.jp/MURA/index.html

From Ueno Station, take the Joban Line and get off at Abiko. From there, take the Narita Line to either Narita or Ajiki Station. It’s about one hour to both stations, and costs 890 yen. You can also take the Keisei Line to Narita, which is only 810 yen and requires no transfer.

From Narita Station, go out the West Exit to the taxi stand. Take the bus bound for Ryuukaku-ji Shako (Japanese: 竜角寺台車庫). It takes about 20 minutes costs 390 yen.

From Ajiki Station, take the bus for Ryuukaku-ji Shako (Japanese: 竜角寺台車庫). It’s eight minutes, and the bus costs 210 yen.

Here is the bus schedule from Narita: 8:25, 8:47, 9:10, ※9:40, 10:10, 13:08, 13:38, 14:12, ※10:40, 11:38, 12:10, 12:38, 14:50, 15:15, 15:40, 16:15
※Weekend buses from Apr. to Nov.

Here is the bus schedule from Ajiki: 8:13, 8:56, 10:02, 12:31, 13:21, 14:21, 15:21, 16:30, 16:54, 17:43

The last bus back is at 18:57 from Ajiki and 15:39 from Narita. Call 0476-95-3333 for more bus information.

Odd Japanese Blogs – The Pedestrian Overpass Blog

Today’s blog is the third of five himajin blogs that I’m writing about this week. It’s called the Nagoya Hodoukyou Dagaya! (The Nagoya Pedestrian Overpass Blog).

Here’s a typical post:

Jingumae Koen Park Pedestrian Overpass


Hataya 1-chome, Atsuta-ku, Nagoya


Top of the overpass

West side viewed from the overpass. Atsuta Baseball Field is in the background.

West side

Stairs

Sign showing the overpass’s age

Photographed:2007/11)

There is one set of stairs on each side of the overpass. There is no flat area for bicycles on the stairs. It is the closest overpass to Atsuta Koen Park and the Atsuta Baseball Field. If you look from the park, the overpass is to the east. There are a lot of temples around it.

Amount of traffic under overpass:  ★★★☆☆
Amound of pedestrian traffic: ★★★☆☆
Necessity: ★★☆☆☆
Uniqueness: ★☆☆☆☆
Age: From Sept. 69

So far, we’ve seen the Tokyo Stairs Database, the Vending Machine Report and the QR Code Blog. Tomorrow is the Telekinesis Blog!

Odd Japanese Blogs – The Vending Machine Report

Yesterday, I posted about the Tokyo Kaidan DB (Tokyo Stairs Database), a meticulous cataloging of stairs in Tokyo. Today’s blog is the second of five himajin (someone with too much time on his hands) blogs that I’m writing about this week. It’s called:  “I take photos of a vending machine (almost) every day. Sorry.” The blog has been going since May, 2005, and has over a thousand posts.
An average day is just: “No change” like this:

Every couple of weeks, though, there’s a big excitement in the blog when there is a product change:

The blogger details all the product changes as follows:

If you’re wondering what in the world inspired something like this, it’s explained in the blogger’s profile:

Most-hated phrase: “Keizoku wa chikara nari (Keeping at something makes you stronger.)”
Favorite vending machine: It would be scary if I had one
Short note: I update this blog with a photo of the same vending machine every day (it was replaced on Aug. 8, 2009). I was planning to write every day, but sometimes I take a break. I’m not interested in vending machines and canned drinks.

I don’t like things that take a lot of work, so I tried to think of some kind of content that wouldn’t require any willpower and that I could finish in five minutes a day. That’s how I started doing this. When there are changes, it takes a lot of work, which makes me angry.

It’s like techno where a groove is created when similar things repeat while changing slightly. Sorry, for getting off topic.

I don’t like the saying, “Keeping at something makes you stronger.” I don’t think there are many phrases that are more insulting. Please use it for people who are so stupid you can’t think of anything else to compliment them on.

Rainbow Bridge Walk

The Rainbow Bridge is a Tokyo landmark connecting the island of Odaiba with the rest of the city. At the end of Golden Week, I decided to walk across it and see a different view of Odaiba and Tokyo Bay. It’s actually quite a nice spot and I was quite happy with some of the photos.

Everyone knows that Odaiba is a man-made island, but I had no idea that it dates back from just after World War II or that there were once seven such “daiba” built or planned during the Edo Period for defense against the West. They were originally called houdai, and they contained cannon batteries and powder magazines. This photo shows the Daisan Daiba (third daiba), which is now a very nice and little-visited park that you can get to from the Odaiba side.

The famous Fuji TV building.

The walk along the bridge usually starts from Tamachi Station on the Yamanote Line. Go out the West Exit and walk straight down Nagisa Dori Street, and you will come to the bridge after a 10 or 15 minute  walk. Shibaura Station on the subway Yurikamome Line.

These fire department boats were practicing for some kind of display.

This is the Dairoku Daiba. It has been left to nature, and no visitors allowed on it. It seems a little strange in such a crowded city. If you know why it has neither been developed nor destroyed, please leave the answer in the comments!

The air on the Tokyo side is quite dirty, and the scenery is rather  industrial, so if you just want to go for the views, it might be better to start from Tokyo Teleport Station on the Odaiba side and not cross.

Here’s an interesting post (Japanese only) about the history of the area’s development:

http://oldmaproom.aki.gs/m03a_coastline/m03a_daiba/daiba.htm

Nara Houses

Japan is well-known for its excellent public transportation system, but something I’ve been realizing recently is that if you want to see the really beautiful parts of the country, you need a car. Every time I head out into the Nara countryside, I’m amazed at how beautiful the old houses and countryside are. These houses are all in and around the city of Gojo.

Graffiti House on the “Tokyo Deep” blog


The Tokyo Deep Guide (Tokyo Deep Annai) is a Japanese blog whose mission is to introduce a side of Tokyo that you don’t read about in the tourist brochures. The blogger, Masayoshi Osaka, is an urban explorer who takes you to Korea Towns around Tokyo, goes on a stroll through the neighborhood where the Soka Gakkai headquarters is located,  visits Nakano Broadway or researches the backgrounds of various posters that are commonly seen around Tokyo.
The post that really caught my attention, though, was this report on a “graffiti house” in Ota Ward.
It’s called a “denpa jutaku” (literally ‘electric wave house’) in Japanese, and the blogger writes that “The term is used when the house’s owner  becomes captured by some obsession or compulsive idea and starts hanging a lot of notices covered with writing on the outer walls and area around his house, painting it in gaudy colors, or putting up multiple decorations threatening the neighbors, causing the house to look crazy.”
All photos courtesy of Tokyo Deep Annai.

He says, “It’s bizarre to look at. It’s covered in graffiti, and is covered in signs that look as if they’re to put up against some hateful activity, or are like a talisman.”

On the side of the house, there’s a message about “bakunage shonen,” which isn’t proper Japanese, but translates literally as “Bomb-throwing boys,” claiming that that their arson activities have been uncovered.

The owner seems deeply terrified of rock throwing children. The Japanese is rather incoherent, and rambles on about calling the police.

Apparently, the house still has graffiti on it, but has been toned down a little recently.

There is also an Osaka Deep Guide and a Japan Deep Guide.

Japanese Floorplan Fails

I was browsing in a bookstore last week and came across this book called Henna Madori (Strange Floor Plans). All of them are from real apartments.

This is a six-room apartment, but the rooms are only three tatami mats each (one tatami mat is just under two meters x one meter), and you have to go through the toilet to get to the bathroom.

It wouldn’t be impossible to live in this room, would it? You can’t get into the bedroom because there’s no door from the entrance area, but at least there’s a toilet!

There has to be a reason for putting the bathroom and toilet in the very center of the apartment, right? There has to be.

The arrow at the top indicates the toilet. If you want to get into the kitchen, you have to go through the toilet.

You’d have to be pretty skinny to get out of that toilet!


This one has three toilets and two bathtubs.

This is a nice, spacious 3LDK (three bedroom apartment with living room, dining room, and kitchen). The only problem is that to get into the room in the middle with the arrow pointing to it, you have to go out on the balcony.

Henna Madori only costs 500 yen and is quite entertaining if you can understand some Japanese. I read through it in an hour or two, but find that it stays with me, as I continuously wonder about what the advantage of having a bathroom and toilet in the middle of your room are, or what kind of family needs three toilets and two baths.

The Mermaid’s Stroll Love Hotel


I came across this odd little love hotel will driving along the coast of Wakayama Prefecture. It’s called Ningyou no Osanpo.

There’s more information about   love hotels in my book, Love Hotels: An Inside Look at Japan’s Sexual Playgrounds. I spent years visiting love hotels around Japan, interviewing love hotel designers, owners and staff, and wading through Japanese books on sex and love hotels to bring you this book.

It’s 182 pages of information about their history, the people who design and operate them, their place in Japanese society, crime, and much, much more. There’s also a love hotel guide with information on how to get to the best hotels in Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Nagoya, Yokohama, Sapporo, and Fukuoka.

For more information about love hotels, please visit my newly updated love hotel page at: http://www.quirkyjapan.or.tv/lovehotels.html

To order or find out more about the book, please visit: http://www.quirkyjapan.or.tv/lovehotelbookintro.htm. There’s also a smaller guidebook, with just the hotel information for 500 yen: http://www.quirkyjapan.or.tv/lovehotelguide.html.

There are more love hotel-related posts here.