Tokyobling's Blog

The Giant Tengu Head of Takao Station

Posted in Places by tokyobling on February 9, 2015

If you ever find yourself passing through or actually stopping at JR Takao station in Tokyo’s extreme western areas you might want to take a few minutes to say hello to the giant Tengu head statue (Tenguzo) that adorns platform 3 and 4! At 1.2m height this long nosed spirit of the mountain weighs in with a respectable 18 tons. and greets every train coming in from Tokyo. Some people even call it a dating spot!

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Mizonokuchi Station – Kawasaki City

Posted in Places by tokyobling on November 9, 2014

There is a saying that in Tokyo you can eat out every meal for your entire life and never have to eat at the same restaurant twice. While this is certainly true, I feel that a variation on this saying could be: In the Tokyo region you could travel to a new station everyday of your life. This though, is certainly an exaggeration even it feels like it sometimes! Despite having spent years and years in and around Tokyo I still travel to stations every now and then that are completely new to me. The Mizonokuchi Station in northern Kawasaki City of neighboring Kanagawa Prefecture is one of those major stations that I had just never had a reason to visit. It is used by on average over 140 000 people per day, much more than the population of most cities in Europe. Mizonokuchi Station (溝の口駅) was inaugurated in 1927 and serves Tokyu Den-en-toshi Line and Tokyu Oimachi Line. It is also popular as it is just a stone’s throw from the JR Musashi-Mizonokuchi Station (武蔵溝ノ口駅). You can see that JR has kept the old “spelling” of the station name.

I still haven’t had time to explore the station or the area around it, but maybe some day! Until then, I’ll file this under “places to check out”. If you have any personal stories or information about the station or the area around it please let me know!

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Uguisudani Station – Yamanote Line

Posted in Places by tokyobling on May 26, 2014

Despite having lived in Tokyo for years and years it was only my second visit to the Uguisudani area: it is nice to have that tourist experience of something brand new in your own hometown! The name Uguisudani is perhaps the most beautiful of all the names of Yamanote line stations, “The Valley of the Bush Warbler” (Uguisu being the name of the bird known as Japanese Bush Warbler, easily the most endearing little bird in Japan).

The station is the least used of all the JR stations serviced by the Yamanote Line, at only 24 000 passengers a day. This number comes into perspective when compared to the massive 742 000 passengers a day for the JR lines at the biggest station on the Yamanote line, Shinjuku!

A long time age Uguisudani was home to a couple of small villages located at the bottom of the valley where it connected with a large lake that over the years gradually turned into a swamp and later completely drained and built over. From the valley it was an easy walk up the valley side to the upper fields, Ueno (上野).

These days the area has an unnecessarily bad reputation. A simple check on the metropolitan police incident map reveals that there are fewer incidents around the Uguisudani station area than most other Yamanote line stations (with about one incident every 10-25 days, including even minor crimes like bicycle theft), and this is in one of the safest cities on the planet overall. The North exit is located on top of the hill overlooking the valley beneath. It is popular mostly with young students, businessmen and visitors to the famous Ueno Park and Zoo. The south exit is located down in the valley on the other side of the train tracks and is used by locals of Negishi, as the old neighborhoods around the station are called.

Uguisudani is a hub for low cost hotels and backpackers hostels and as such it is very crowded with young foreigners. I don’t think there are many places in Tokyo where you can stay so centrally and conveniently for so little money. It is very poplular with Asian tourists and you will hear as much Cantonese, Malay, Tagalog and Thai on the streets these days as you will hear Japanese, at least in the peak tourist seasons.

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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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