Tokyobling's Blog

Shibuya At Sunset – Hikarie Building

Posted in Places by tokyobling on August 9, 2014

Last evening I passed through Shibuya just as the sun was setting. Naturally the grand Hikarie building is a the perfect choice to capture Shibuya from above and I took these photos from the 11th and 12th floors before I headed out and took some more of the famous Scramble Street Crossing. Enjoy!

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Waiting – Shibuya Station

Posted in People, Places by tokyobling on April 4, 2014

While waiting for my train in Shibuya station, in front of the Inokashira Line ticket gates I took this photo. There’s a lot of different trains on this line, express, local, limited express, etc. There’s always time to catch a good moment rather than catching the next train.

These photos are quite heavily photoshopped: I needed to straighten out the lines of the ceiling tiles. The 17mm very wide angle lens I used made the lines in the ceiling go all curved and it looked terrible. It is still not perfect but lest of actually redrawing the ceiling this is the best I could do on my antique little laptop. I am actually quite close to the girl waiting by the pillar.

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Dragon Ball vs. One Piece Street Battle

Posted in Places, Stuff by tokyobling on March 19, 2014

One of Japan’s biggest toy companies, Bandai, teamed up with 45th year anniversary Shonen Jump comics magazine to produce an epic multi-player fighting game, J-Start Victory Vs., featuring some of the most famous comics and anime characters in Japan in set battles. To promote it, they created an installation in front of the PARCO department store in Shibuya, a giant diorama if you will. We are pretty used to anime and manga characters coming alive in statues and life sized figure recently, but this one takes it a step further by working with props and the pavement itself. Very fun and very popular with both adults and kids walking past. You can see the official homepage of the game here. The characters in this unlikely stand off are Dragon Ball Z’s Goku (孫悟空) and One Piece’s Monkey D. Luffy (モンキー・D・ルフィ). The characters will be duking it out until the 23rd of March, so if you are in Tokyo during the week and the weekend, there’s still time to see this!

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Shrine Maiden – Konouhachimangu

Posted in People, Places by tokyobling on February 28, 2014

I took this photo of a shrine maiden on duty in Shibuya’s grand shrine, the Konouhachimangu (金王八幡宮) at the annual festival last year. Some of these shrine maidens, or mike (巫女) are full time employees of the shrine but the vast majority are temporarily employed part time workers. Most of them are high school students or university students doing it for the experience and for pocket money. Although most people are impressed by young women with miko work experience there are also other bonuses, such as learning about customer service and Japanese culture and traditions. I have also heard ex-miko who mention that their math skills improved as they learned to calculate quickly in the heads when working over the main holidays selling votive plates, charmes, etc. I also think it is impossible to find any service job in the world where the staff are treated with more respect than this! On the negative side, in the winters the thin uniform and the hours spent outside can make it an almost unbearable experience for many. Some miko are also quite tired of the often very repetitive work as well as tired of constantly being photographed. This last complaint hits hard with myself, especially!

For their stoic service and hard work in the cold of winter or heat of summer a typical part-time miko can expect to earn between 8000 and 12 000 yen per day, depending on age, experience and length of work. This is a typical part time salary here in Tokyo and higher than many full time positions out in the prefectures. Good work, if you are unmarried and reasonably stoic!

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