As promised, more pictures from the Asakusa Samba festival!
The theme of this post: spectators. The other people who were standing around watching the people in the crazy outfits.
Reminder: my view was not very good. It was packed with people and we got there just before it started. So, the blurs on the edges of the photographs, those are the people in front of me, blocking my view. Sorry about that.
August 31, 2008
As promised, more pictures from the Asakusa Samba festival!
I went to the Asakusa Samba festival yesterday. (For more on Asakusa, click here.) I’m going to put up the pictures in more than one post because I have a lot of them. This post is mostly people in extravagant costumes. Other pictures to follow as soon as I have time to post them.
By the way, my view was not very good. It was packed with people and we got there just before it started. So, the blurs on the edges of the photographs, those are the people in front of me, blocking my view. Sorry about that.
August 30, 2008
I visited one of the disaster prevention centers in Tokyo recently through my language school to learn about what to do in different types of disasters. (I don’t really have pictures of the actual stuff we did though, just the place. sorry!) We watched a cheesy 3-D movie dramatizing a magnitude 7 earthquake in Tokyo. (I guess it was a 4-D movie actually because our seats shook during the earthquake part of the film.) After that, we experiences simulations of emergencies.
First, a typhoon. We put on some intense rain gear and stood in a room, hanging onto some posts, while we got pelted by lots of water and a wind machine blasted us with air. It was kind of silly.
Second, we crawled through a maze with fake smoke above our heads. Even though it was fake, the smoke still made me cough, but they told us it wasn’t actually harmful. In the maze, if you stood up above a certain height, a woman’s voice would yell at you to crouch lower.
Third, we did an earthquake simulation. We went into a room that was set on a platform and the platform shook to simulate a magnitude 7 earthquake.
Last, we got to use fire extinguishers to put out a fake fire on a TV screen (which I assume had some special insulated glass in front of it to prevent the electronics from getting wet). That was fun.
You can get an idea of what I did a little more from the website of the disaster prevention center. Most of the website is in Japanese, but this page has some short descriptions in English and pictures.
Disaster Prevention Center – Life Safety Learning Center
Some pictures of the outside:
August 29, 2008
I found these rather complicated directions for washing one’s hands at a McDonalds in Ikebukuro.
Sorry that it’s all in Japanese!
The top says: Let’s wash our hands before we eat!
August 27, 2008
Yesterday, when I got to the train station on my way to school, I saw huge crowds of people waiting for the train on the platform. Apparently there was an accident somewhere on the line, but I don’t know what kind of accident. Anyway, trains were coming every 7 or 8 minutes instead of every 2 minutes. Usually, while one train leaves the station, the lights go off to say another train is arriving soon. I’d never seen the trains as packed as they were this morning. So many people were stuffing themselves into the train.
August 26, 2008
I kept hearing people reference “the penguins in Akihabara,” and found it strange. Penguins? In the electronics district?
I finally asked someone to show me the penguins and it’s true! An ice cream shop keeps some penguins in their front window. I doubt it’s the best place to keep penguins though…
August 24, 2008
The other day I went to the Tokyo Dome, where the Yomiuri Giants baseball team plays and where there are also many concerts.
Some things I saw at Tokyo Dome:
I went to see a kabuki play! (2 actually. And Kabuki is a kind of traditional Japanese theatre performance, by the way.) My Japanese isn’t good enough to understand it (of course), but I had a little earphone that told me what was going on in English. The earphone thing wasn’t all that great though because instead of translating what the actors were saying, it summarized their lines and actions. And it had no emotion, so it made the whole play feel flatter. And for the second play, the English was not timed right and it kept telling me what was gong to happen long before it happened on stage. I was actually kind of falling asleep at parts, but I’m glad I went and had the experience. I still enjoyed it.
August 23, 2008
Japan has vending machines for all kinds of things. Of course, it has the expected drink vending machines and food vending machines. (Although, unlike in the states, the drink vending machines don’t just sell soda and water. They also sell various teas, canned coffee, and alcohol too.) I also see a lot of ice cream vending machines and cigarette vending machines. I’ve heard of (but never seen) all sorts of vending machines selling things such as fresh flowers or groceries. If I ever see one of these, I’ll certainly post pictures here.
These are a couple of the interesting vending machines that I have seen.
August 20, 2008
Odaiba is a newer area of Tokyo built on an artificial island. One of the major TV stations (Fuji TV) has their headquarters there and, during the second half of July and all of August, they have a big festival. You can pose with (statues of) characters from your favorite TV shows, buy merchandise, wait in long lines to play games based on the shows, hear live music, etc. Despite the fact that I went on a weekday, it was insanely crowded. And that didn’t really make the 33 degree heat (91 F) and blazing hot sun any more comfortable. We paid about $15 each to get the privilege to walk through these crazy crowds and wait in lines and bake in the sun.
On the way to Odaiba, we rode the Mag Lev train. No conductor, no tracks ( or at least not in the same sense as other trains). The train is moved along by magnets.
The view from the train: