Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Retrospective 2008 - Part 2

Here I present my best photos of 2008. As usual this year I continued the themes of detritus and the vernacular landscape. Be it the remains of city infrastructure or the everyday objects that facilitate our economies, I try to highlight things that we see everyday, but might not notice or think about.

I was helped this year by the trick Lensbaby lens and Adobe's Lightroom software. Most of these photos were shot in RAW and converted to JPEG for posting to flickr. I use a Canon EOS 40D camera.

These photos can also be found at my flickr set: Restospective 2008
Part one can be found here. Part three can be found here.

Address sign
Address Sign - Inari Shrine, Kyoto

Supporting Failure
Supporting Failure - Himeji, Hyogo
A support from what was the Himeji Monorail.

Brilliant City / Maroon Train
Brilliant City / Maroon Train - Juso, Osaka
A Hankyu train crosses over the Yodogawa into Umeda.

Kaijyohoancho - Kata, Wakayama

Abandoned Cable Car
Abandoned Cable Car - Hiei-zan, Kyoto

Bicycle Parking
Bicycle Parking - Wakayama-city, Wakayama

Take the Other Route
Take the Other Route - Hasedera, Nara

Waiting in Line
Waiting in Line - Inari Shrine, Kyoto,

Shimbun Signs
Shimbun Signs - Hasedera, Nara
Newspapers have local delivery distributors in Japan. In urban areas most only sell papers from one company, but in rural areas one distributor might take on many papers. These signs advertise which papers this store distributes.

1963-1 - Joto-ku, Osaka

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Retrospective 2008 - Part 1

Here I present my best photos of 2008. As usual this year I continued the themes of detritus and the vernacular landscape. Be it the remains of city infrastructure or the everyday objects that facilitate our economies I try to highlight things that we see everyday, but might not notice or think about.

I was helped this year by the trick Lensbaby lens and Adobe's Lightroom software. Most of these photos were shot in RAW and converted to JPEG for posting to flickr. I use a Canon EOS 40D camera.

These photos can also be found at my flickr set: Restospective 2008
Part two can be found here. Part three can be found here.

Sea Dice I
Sea Dice I - Kata, Wakayama
The ubiquitous concrete blocks that cling to Japan's coasts and river banks.

Waiting for a Taxi in a Juso Blur
Waiting for a Taxi in a Juso Blur - Juso, Osaka
The Juso area of Osaka is a major junction for the Hankyu line, but also a large entertainment and pink light district.

Mattchi-Tabako-Takihi - Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto
A rusted sign warning of fires sits in a bed of dry leaves in Kyoto's famous Fushimi Inari Shrine.

Iko-do - Himeji, Hyogo
A rusted storefront in Himeji

Ohmi-cho Ichiba
Ohmi-cho Ichiba - Kanazawa, Ishikawa
The entrance to Kanazawa's famous Ohmi-cho market street.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

MonoBakery - Engrish

MonoBakery, originally uploaded by sleepytako.

McDonald's can sell smiles for free. Here they bake them.

Mono is for monorail, the Osaka Monorail to be exact.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Wedding Party Live Webcam

Sorry I had to shut off the webcam before Yuko got to the party. There were way too many people. Thanks to everyone who came we had a great time, and thanks to Wexford Tavern and staff for hosting the party. Photos will be up soon.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

If you're coming to our Wedding Party Tomorrow...

Here is a map of Coin Parking lots dear the Wexford Tavern.


We are looking forward to seeing everyone there tomorrow night!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Connections and Disconnections

20081103-Connections, originally uploaded by sleepytako.

The mechanism that changes the curve of the track to allow the cars to move from the inbound track to the outbound track is astonishing. Watching what should be a straight solid object can bend and move like that was beautiful. You can't assume every line is unbroken.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Megane Shopping

My previous pair of glasses, which I got maybe 4 years ago, were getting well beyond old and the coating on the lens had begun to peel off. So two days ago I decided to head out to get some glasses after work. I didn't know what to expect seeing that this will be my 4th pair of glasses. I first starting wearing them my senior year of high school. A quick google search brought up this blog which recommended the Japanese retailer Muji, a brand that I like. Free eye check, only an hour, only about $100, I was amazed.

I headed to the Umeda Loft Muji store because I had seen another eyeglass store near by. Getting there I found another store making a total of 3, including Muji, in a short distance from eachother. (Map Here) Prices seemed to start around 6000 yen for a test, frame and lenses. Speical order or uncommon lenses will cost more, and of course some of the more expensive frames were around $200. Still very cheap.

I was able to find some classes fairly easily. I ended up buying a pair at Muji for ¥10,500 out the door. The test didn't take a long time and was done very professionally. These glasses are much better than my older pair, although they took a few hours to get use to. The lenses I got are smaller than my older pair, but the frame was big enough to get around my melon of a head. The hardest part was chooseing the right frame and color. I was helped by a very sweet lady that kept asking me if I was sure if I wanted black or blue. I suck at choosing things like this. She said the blue made me look more 明るい (bright), so I went with blue. It took them 1 hour to fit the lenses then a few minutes to adjust the frame.

<-- My new glasses.

A note for those who go: if you don't speak Japanese at all it might be best to bring a Japanese speaker, but basic Japanese can get you through. During the test there will be lots of compairative questions like "which one is clearer" and commands like "read the second row from the left" which wasn't hard at all for me. Also remember the reading test is in hiragana.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Hiei-zan Loop

Hiei-zan Loop-1

Eiden Demachiyanagi station

The Kansai 3 Day ticket is a great bargain if you enjoy trains or want to explore parts of Kansai you'd never get to othewise. It allows 3 days of unlimited travel on most private railways and buses in the Kansai area. Tourists coming from abroad can buy the ticket anytime, (English homepage) but residents of Japan can buy and use the ticket only during certin times of the year from most major train stations in Kansai for ¥5000. (Japanese homepage) It's currently the fall period for the pass (11/1~12/7) and I picked one up. I've got a silly goal of riding all the private train lines in the Surutto network and taking this beautiful to Mount Hiei route I got a few of those lines finished. The pass covered all of the trains except for the Eizan cable car and rope way which cost ¥840 one way.

I started my trip by taking the Keihan main line to it's terminus at Demachiyanagi (出町柳) station. From there I changed to the Eiden (叡電) main line. Although now wholly owned by Keihan, Eiden keeps it's own idenity. Eiden is a small local line that operates on the street, much like the Hankai line in Osaka and Sakai. You pay when you exit the cars, but some of the larger stations also have turnstiles.

Hiei-zan Loop-2
Very Berry Cafe

I had lunch at the Very Berry Cafe that was featured in Surutto Kansai's free magazine. The decor was Hawaiian/Americana and the sandwich was great. I've marked the location on the map at the top of this post. It's a 5 minute walk from Ichijoji station.

Hiei-zan Loop-3
My sandwich

Hiei-zan Loop-4
A looking down the Eiden lines

Hiei-zan Loop-5
Takaragiike station

Hiei-zan Loop-6
Yase-Hieizanguchi station

Hiei-zan Loop-7
The river between the train and cable car stations.

At Yase-Hieizan-guchi I changed to the Eizan Cable and Ropeway. (Japanese Homepage) The cable car takes you 561 meters / 1,841 feet up the side of Mount Hiei. The greatest vertical interval of any cable car in Japan.

Hiei-zan Loop-8
Don't hang your feet (out the window) please

Hiei-zan Loop-9
The view looking down

Between the cable and the ropeway stations on the side of the mountain there is an abandoned ropeway car along the hiking path adding to the mountain's atmosphere of age and wonder. Also adding a bit of fear. I like seeing things from ropeways, but I always imagine the rope breaking and the car falling to the ground. Thankfully there was charm for the ropeways safe operation in the car.

Hiei-zan Loop-10
The abandoned ropeway car

Hiei-zan Loop-11
The charm

Hiei-zan Loop-12
A cloudy view of northern Kyoto from the ropeway

At the top of the mountain there is a garden, a bus stop and view of lake Biwa and Otsu city that was blocked by the cloudy weather.

Hiei-zan Loop-13
Some rusted drain covers

Hiei-zan Loop-14
A cloudy view of Otsu city

I took the bus 5 minutes across the mountain to the entrance to Enrakuji and the Sakamoto cable car. Enrakuji was once one home to one of the most powerful Buddhist sects in Japan through influence and proximity to the emperor until their temple and monk army was destroyed by Oda Nobunaga in 1571. The temple and mount Hiei were also mentioned in the Tale of Genji. Enrakuji's home page also offers "virtual driving".

Hiei-zan Loop-15

Hiei-zan Loop-16

Hiei-zan Loop-17

Concrete and Nature between Enrakuji and the Sakamoto cable car station

Hiei-zan Loop-18

This lantern has been covered with small stones for reasons unknown to me

The Sakamoto Cable, built in 1927, is the longest cable car route in Japan and the station at the top of the hill looks like it hasn't changed since it was built. It's yellow brick and interior accents make this one of the most beautiful buildings I've seen in Japan. The ride takes you through some dense forest, past a waterfall and through a tunnel along it's route. Highly recommended, and covered under Kansai 3 day ticket.

Hiei-zan Loop-19
The Sakamoto cable car station

From the base station of the Sakamoto it's a nice 10-15 minute walk to the Keihan Sakamoto station where I took Keihan back to Kyoto, changing trains at Hamaotsu station.

Without taking breaks for looking at the temples and not including getting to the Kyoto area from my home in Nishinomiya, I was able to complete the route in about 5 hours, but to really enjoy everything a full day would be required.

Feel Japan Food

FeelJapanFood, originally uploaded by sleepytako.

In Osaka you don't eat food, you feel it.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Himeji had a monorail?!?!

I posted this photo a week ago or so guessing that it was a beam from a former JR or Sanyo Railway line.


anonymous commenter stated that this could be from the old Himeji Monorail (!?!?!) which I never heard of before just now. I guess there was one. This pdf (good reading if you want to know about all the monorails in Japan btw) has some information on the monorail. It states that the Himeji Monorail was in operation from 1966 to 1974. Not even 10 years! In their first year of operation the monorail only took on 1000 passengers a day, 1/3 of the expected ridership, which fell in the following years. There were ideas about connecting it to Himeji castle and to the port but both of those fell through. Sounds like Springfield.

Thanks for the comment anonymous!

I also found this YouTube video which shows the same pillar:

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Shikama Station

Himeji-SanyoRwy-1, originally uploaded by sleepytako.

Shikama station is where the Sanyo Aboshi line splits off from the Sanyo Main line to Himeji. The train heading to Sanyo Aboshi is pictured.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

2 Koku Ramen - 2国ラーメン

2koku-ramen, originally uploaded by sleepytako.

My favorite ramen is from2国 (Nikoku) in Nagata-ku, Kobe. It's got all the lovely stuff; garlic, kimchi, onion, bean sprouts, and a lot of meat, but nothing's too overpowering. It's balanced in its flavor. Some ramen is just too overpowering and it makes you feel like you ate a brick--Nikoku doesn't do that.

My "Nikoku ramen," on the left, was ¥900. Yuko's normal ramen, on the right, was ¥570. Gyoza are ¥280.

It's open 11AM~3AM (the next day, 2AM on Sundays and holidays) according to this blog which also has a photo of the giant ramen bowl sign outside of the shop.

Rust on a Shutter

Himeji-Aboshi-2, originally uploaded by sleepytako.

Photo taken near Aboshi station, Hyogo.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Abandoned Pillar

Himeji-SanyoRwy-2, originally uploaded by sleepytako.

It appears that this pillar use to hold up the Sanyo Railway as it came into it's terminus at Himeji Station, although it could be a former JR line. Whatever it use to be it reminds me of something out of Half Life 2.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Utility Pole - Aboshi

Himeji-Aboshi-1, originally uploaded by sleepytako.

What things are found bound to utility poles where you live? In Japan there's typically an advertisement or directions to some local shop, in this case it's a hospital (in white red and blue), a no digging warning sign, a serial number or something to that degree, and typically some beige weather worn textured plastic sheath-all bound by metal rings.

Photo taken near Aboshi station, Hyogo.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Accident on the Hankyu Koyo Line

HankyuAccident-1, originally uploaded by sleepytako.

Saturday morning around 11:30 I woke up to a helicopter flying over my house. A rare thing in Japan. Turns out that there was a train accident at Koyoen Station near my house. It appears to me that the train was coming into Koyoen Station and car in the rear jumped the track at the switch. The newspaper article does not mention any injuries.

Hankyu has set up a bus service between Shukugawa and Koyoen stations. Anyone else who wants to come to Koyoen from Osaka or Kobe might also consider taking the Hanshin train to Nishinomiya station and take the bus.

Derailment is 脱線 (だっせん) in Japanese.

This story from the Kobe Shimbun.