Tokyobling's Blog

Belated 2000th Post

Posted in Opinion by tokyobling on October 27, 2014

Awhile ago I thought I should start the countdown to the 2000th post on this blog, make something special to celebrate it. But then I thought it would be better to wait until the 3650th post, as that would mean the blog would have hit a 10 year anniversary – If all goes to plan. But reality has a way of getting into your way, and in my case reality came in the form of an “upload maximum”. WordPress allows free bloggers like me a maximum of 3.0 GB of storage space, a limit that I hit several months ago. I could buy an upgrade, and I was about to, when I realized that running this blog for free with almost no income at all at considerable cost to myself already, adding a yearly subscription fee to my burden would be insane. So I started deleting older posts, to the tune of one or two per day. My post counter actually started going downwards (since I often had to delete two to four older posts of 2-4 pictures each to make room for a proper 12-16 picture post) and I realized that at this rate I would never hit be able to tell when the 2000th post came. So I’m just going to call this post the 2000th post and be done with it. In fact I think it is more likely the 2100th post but I don’t keep track of it anymore. Fittingly for a fake post I am not adding any photos to this, but there will be one later today.

Happy blogging everyone and my thanks to the WordPress Team for providing me this service for free (I am really not whining about the free account space maximums)!



Taisha Station Interiors – Shimane Prefecture

Posted in Opinion, Places by tokyobling on December 27, 2013

This is the interior of the wonderful but now disused Taisha Station in Shimane Prefecture on the northern coast of Japan. The constructions is a combination of western post and beam and Japanese finishing details and exterior roofing, giving it a strangely familiar feel. It does not feel like a typical countryside station but more like a proper waiting hall. It is easy to imagine groups of people and families gathering here to pick up relatives coming to visit over the holidays or to see of young people leaving for university or work in the big city! Take a look at the destinations list and you will see that this station was unusually well connected, there are fares to most places in western Japan and all the way to Tokyo on local train routes. It must have been an interesting journey in the time of steam powered locomotives.

Economists might also find the fare table quite interesting, as it shows us a little bit about how much inflation Japan has had in these 24 years since the table was last updated. Practically zero. This corresponds to one of the stupidest foreign language media hoaxes about Japan, the myth of “the lost decades”. I am old enough to remember back in the day when inflation was something universally detested and governments won elections on their “promises” to fight inflation. These days it is the complete opposite and governments fight to establish some sort of inflation, and they often point to the example of “the Japanese lost decades”. Here is an interesting article debunking the story. Or as my Dutch friend mentioned upon visiting Japan for the first time: “for a country two and a half decades into a recession, there sure seems to be a lot of construction going on”. Indeed.












Busena Marine Park – Okinawa

Posted in Animals, Nature, Opinion, Places by tokyobling on December 19, 2013

About near the north-middle of Okinawa, on the main island’s western coast lies the Busena Cape (Busenamisaki) stretching out into the ocean and sheltering a large coral reef in its shallow bay. I visited there in 2011 and took these photos of the 760m long white beach. These days the cape has a resort park, with the obligatory resort hotels and tourist attractions. Many of these are left over from the 2000 G8 Summit meeting. I wonder if any of the visiting world leaders got to see any of the natural beauty of this little piece of paradise? Tellingly, the only of the eight leaders who attended who is still in the same position is Russia’s Putin. Also tellingly, the most interesting part of the summit was the hockey game between a Canadian and a local Okinawan team. Ice Hockey in Okinawa? Who would have imagined it. If you are ever lucky enough to get handed a 2000 yen note, that was issued first in 2000, you can see the commemorative back side featuring Shuri castle from Okinawa.

One of the main tourist attractions of the cape is the glass bottom boat tours. Having never seen a coral reef before it was interesting, but for people who are braver than me I guess that the real action is underneath the surface, diving and snorkeling. Like in all the oceans of the world, the coral reefs of Okinawa is most likely heading towards extinction. There are volunteer and government programs to restore the reefs but without tackling the larger problem of ocean acidification it is unlikely that we will be able to show our grandchildren any corals apart from the ones grown in aquariums. Okinawa also regularly suffer from overpopulation of starfish that feed on corals and there are local volunteer diving teams that spend weeks every year removing starfish or even killing them to save the coral. As always in these problems, without addressing the causes the symptoms are unlikely to go away.

Still, to uneducated visitors like me, this part of Okinawa looks like a little piece of paradise. You can find the homepage of the Busena Marinepark here.

Oh, and this is the 1800th post online (not including deleted posts). Time flies!












Sunday in Akihabara

Posted in Opinion, People, Places by tokyobling on November 18, 2013

One of the most famous aspects of Akihabara for a long time was the Sunday only “Hokousha tengoku”, a temporary pedestrian zone established in the heart of Akihabara to stop traffic and allow people to flow onto the streets. It was cancelled for several years but is now up and running again, this time with a quite visible increase in security as police block of the streets leading into the pedestrian zone with large metal vehicle guards. The practice of officially sanctioned “Hokousha tengoku” (which translates a “pedestrian heaven”) started in Tokyo in August 1970, in Ginza, which remains the most famous hokusha tengoku in Japan. Currently there are three of them in official practice, Ginza, Shinjuku and Akihabara (detailed map on the metropolitan police website here), all on Sundays and some public holidays. During the time and area specified, all sorts of public performance, money raising, handing out promotional tissue paper or flyers, demos etc., is prohibited, making it a very unreal experience, peaceful and quiet. It makes me happy and sad at the same time: happy because of unusual break from the everyday hell of urban traffic and sad because it should make it painfully obvious to everyone how absurd our present day reliance on cars and traffic in our city centers really is. The fact that we devote so much public space (85%? 90%?) of prime real estate in our most important cities to traffic is just absurd. Surely there must be better ways of doing things.

There is a very high quality live webcam of one famous Akihabara street crossing, log in on Sundays to see the Hokousha tengoku for yourself! Apart from Ginza, Shinjuku and Akihabara there are other “unofficial” hokousha tengoku spots appearing around Tokyo, for example Kagurazaka street between Iidabashi and Kagurazaka stations in Shinjuku Ward. If you have a favorite Sunday hokousha tengoku spot, let us know in the comments!












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