outlaw-gangster-vip-chase-scene-4

From train to tree: Golden Gai, Toden streetcar, and Shinjuku Promenade Park

Whenever I watch an old Japanese film. I see all these terrific scenes of old Tokyo and just have to know where they were filmed. Sometimes it’s obvious, other times it isn’t. The other day I was watching a compelling yakuza movie,「無頼」より 大幹部 Burai yori daikanbu (1968), aka Outlaw: Gangster VIP. It stars Tetsuya Watari 渡 哲也, the handsome…

Maria in the City of Ants Japanese movie color poster 1958

Satoko Kitahara, Maria of Ants Town 蟻の町のマリア

(1) Ants Villa and Mary of Ants Town This post is about a name and a place. The name is Satoko Kitahara 北原怜子  a.k.a. “Mary of Ants Town” (1929-1958). The place is 蟻の街, Ari-no-machi, meaning “Ants Villa”, “Ants Town”, “City of Ants”, etc. Ants Town was formed in the wake of World War 2 as a legal cooperative to house and…

The Yukarigaoka Line train in the town of Sakura, Chiba, Japan.

Monorails and more: Tokyo’s amusing train lines

There are 158 rail lines in Tokyo. That’s a staggering number. Instead of describing all 158 lines, let me tell you about the 18 most interesting. These include monorails, streetcars, people movers, and more. And a glass-bottomed train! The numbered list below corresponds to the following map: I. Monorails (1) Chiba Urban Monorail 千葉都市モノレール The Chiba Urban Monorail…

trash recycling manga Japan

Japan recycles EVERYTHING! 1001 ways to put out the trash

I. Reduce Recycling has interested me ever since it was introduced to my hometown dump in the mind 1980s. The idea that waste can be reused is as intuitively appealing as a perpetual motion machine. Once I learned about recycling, the idea of NOT recycling became anathema, and people who didn’t recycle were scorned by my 8-year old brain,…

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Shibamata Tora-san museum Giants of Shibamata

Tokyo day trip: riding into Shibamata on Tora-san’s coat-tails

Intro This post started with a question from one of my readers: what is Katsushika? A few things come to mind: Katsushika 葛飾区 is one of Tokyo’s 23 main wards; it’s on the fringes and probably one of the least well-known The Nakagawa river 中川 dominates the geography of the ward, essentially splitting it down the middle While riding the Skyliner to Narita Airport, Katsushika surrounds…

Elderly Japanese dancing and singing with a robot.

The kawaii singularity: learning to love our (adorable) robot overlords

The kawaii singularity is near: robots too cute to resist. In February we were exploring an upper floor of 3331 Arts Chiyoda (map), a creative space in the old Rensei Junior High. The halls were silent, well-insulated from the first-floor crowd. We almost returned downstairs when we noticed activity in one of the classrooms. It looked like an adult-education class: men and women of various ages…

old timey school

Class dismissed: the ghost schools of Yokoze and Hanno, Saitama

I’ve never been a Japanese school-child, nor have I ever attended school in the early 20th century, yet I feel nostalgic for old-fashioned Japanese schoolhouses. This may have started while watching movies like The Rickshaw Man 無法松の一生 (1958) or Carmen Comes Home カルメン故郷に帰る (1951). Scenes from: The Rickshaw Man and Carmen Comes Home My love was cemented when I…