Monday, September 24, 2012

Tokyo Station is awesome!?

There are many railway lines in Tokyo. They are so complicated that people, even those living in Tokyo, always wonder which route is the best to get to their destinations. I often check the best route on the Internet. Since these railway lines cover a large part of the Tokyo area, office workers in Tokyo commute by train ( Companies in downtown Tokyo usually require their workers to commute by train) . People are very familiar with train stations. Major ones are always busy

Given these circumstances, there has recently been a tendency to open great shops inside train stations (Please see Note #1 below ). These shops are referred to as 駅ナカ/Eki naka", and have been drawing considerable attention. If you stop by major train stations in the Tokyo area, you'll wonder if they are actually stations since they look like department stores. JR Tokyo Station, one of the largest terminal stations in Japan, is awesome. Shops selling premade food inside the station always attract people. I am certain that you will find the station interesting and enjoy shopping there (See Link #1 below).

A major redevelopment project has been going on for more than 20 years around the station.  As a part of the project, Marunouchi/丸の内 area beside the station has become very popular. Tokyo Station has been under construction since 2007, not only to make it more earthquake resistant but also to restore its appearance to its original state (click here). Since Tokyo Station is unique in appearance, it has been fascinating people since when it was built in 1914, although some parts of the station were burned down during World War Ⅱ and were rebuilt in different forms (I think that the originality and uniqueness remain nonetheless).Needless to say, original form is better.

A few months ago, the restored station was finally unveiled (Please see the attached pictures I took). On the first of October, the final stage of the renovation of Tokyo Station is due to be completed. To celebrate the accomplishment, an event was held on the 22nd and 23rd of September. An impressive 3D projection mapping show ran on the new station building. I didn't have time to go see it, but somebody has already uploaded it on YouTube (click here. Also, please see the YouTube video below).

Note #1
In this context, "inside train stations" indicates places within the ticket gates. In Japan, companies, for their regular employees, buy a commuter train pass for the route between their home and their company. Commuter train pass holders are allowed to get into and out of any station on their routes ”freely". Do you understand what I'm saying? 

The 3D projection mapping show.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Why do many people use violence to express themselves?

Massive protests are going on worldwide. Anti-US protests have been spreading mainly across Islamic countries for more than a week because of that You Tube video. Anti-Japan protests have broken out all over China. Sadly, some of these protests have turned violent. I totally don't understand why some people readily use violence to express their protests. Some rioters even appear to enjoy vandalism and venting their anger, which always makes me feel uncomfortable. Regardless of what reasons one may have, no one has the right do destroy another's property or harm others. Nobody is allowed to rationalize these behaviors. I think that these actions violate the law in many countries.

The other day, there were many photos relating to anti-Japan protests in China on Twitter. To be honest, some of them really shocked me. In Changsha, a Japanese department store, 平和堂/heiwado, was totally destroyed by a riot. It's been reported that many protesters broke into the store and rampaged. They broke everything down and stole the store's products. In Tsingtao/Qingdao, a Japanese supermarket, Ieon/Jasco has suffered major damage. Some Japanese factories like Panasonic were set on fire. Countless Japanese cars have been destroyed throughout China. I do know that a large part of Chinese people frown on that violence. As a matter of fact, on the Internet, I've heard them say that they don't support such protests. However, in China, a small percentage of the population can become a huge number, and there are likely to be people who try to use the protests and frustrated people. On top of that, some people held high many photos of Mao Zedong/Tes-tung and banners with slogans not relating to anti-Japan issues. These things have made me feel the protests could turn into something I don't want to imagine.

Recent many events, both in Japan and China, make me feel that despite economic growth, these two counties haven't changed in the past 100 years (I don't intend to discuss it here, so please don't ask the details). I do hope that the situation won't become worse, although it's been reported that the tension between the two is already very high.

Japanese people don't pay much attention to the anti-US protests mainly because they are preoccupied with the tension between Japan and China. However, the situation is becoming very serious. I really hope that it won't result in something I don't want to imagine.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

This is the most popular tune in Japan!?

When I was an elementary school student many years ago, during summer break, many children with cards hanging from their necks walked to the nearby park every morning around 6:20 throughout Japan. I remember that my mother woke me up around 6 am so I could go there. At 6:30, when a popular tune started being played on the radio, all the people in the park started doing something. Can you guess what they were doing?

In Japan, the tune which is very familiar to all the Japanese has been played on the radio around 6:30 a.m. every morning for more than 50 years, and has helped Japanese people build better health. The tune is for "ラジオ体操/Radio Taiso", which is an exercise program consisting of a variety of simple and rhythmical movements. The exercise is so simple that everybody can do it but, if you do it properly, you will find the exercise harder than expected.  I've heard that this calisthenics program was created in Japan to promote health based on "Setting up exercise", which was broadcast on the radio by MetLife in America many years ago.

I'm not sure exactly when I first learned the calisthenics, but I remember that I was often asked to do the calisthenics before starting doing sports in PE classes at school. Because of this background, I still remember how to do the calisthenics, although I haven't recently had opportunities to do it. At many factories and some offices, it's still common that workers are required to do the calisthenics every morning before starting their jobs. It's been said that doing the calisthenics has helped workers protect themselves from danger at work. I've heard that some non-Japanese workers in Japan complain about this custom, saying that it's so strange that they can't get used to it.

Anyway, as I described above, during summer break, school children went to the nearby park every morning, whether or not they were willing. This was a sort of summer event. These days, however, there aren't many school children who attend the summer event. I've heard that many parents don't want to let their children walk alone to the nearby park for security reasons. In addition, it seems that many school children go to bed late because they are busy taking lessons at cram schools and so on during summer break, so 6 o'clock in the morning is too early for them to wake up. Under these circumstances, the summer event has become less popular among school children.

Nonetheless, many parks have been recently busy around 6:30 every morning during summer break. Actually, this phenomenon can be always seen regardless of season. Can you guess why? This is because a lot of elderly people go to the nearby park every morning to do the calisthenics not only for good health but also to meet their peers. It's been said that the every-morning calisthenics at parks has been playing a great role in creating communities for elderly people.

Yesterday (the third Monday of September) was Respect-for-Senior-Citizens Day in Japan. Because of this, it's been reported that the number of people over 65 is 30,740,000, which makes up 24.1% of the total population in Japan. Both the number and the rate are the highest ever.

The video below is the calisthenics "ラジオ体操/Radio Taiso".