Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Wereldnet 30 oktober

Wereldnet dinsdag 30 oktober 2007. Correspondenten in Argentinië en Japan.

Voor Japan heb ik verteld over 1) vingerafdrukkencontrole aan de grenzen, 2) voedselveiligheid en 3) de 'yaki imo'-verkoper.

Audiobestand: via de Wereldnet-site.

Friday, October 26, 2007


Elk seizoen heeft zijn charmes. Zeker in Japan. Niet alleen zijn de weersomstandigheden uitgesproken verschillend, maar ook wat aan tafel gegeten wordt is zeer sterk seizoensgebonden. Elk jaargetijde heeft ook zijn sfeergeluiden. In de hitte van de zomer horen we bijvoorbeeld het verfrissend geklingel van de furin (kleine belletjes in de wind – 245kb mp3) of het gesjirp van de semi (krekels – 87kb mp3). In het putje van de winter het klik-klak van de brandbrigade ( 147kb mp3).

Nu de koudere maanden er aankomen, beginnen we het melancholisch aandoende gezang van de yaki imo-man te horen: 'yaki imoooo, yaki imoooo'. De yaki imo-man is een ambulante verkoper die de ronde van de wijk doet en geroosterde zoete patatten (yaki=geroosterd, imo=zoete patat) aan de verkleumde voorbijgangers probeert kwijt te geraken. Luister naar dit klankfragment:

Yaki imo-gezang (344kb mp3 - 44 sec)

De moderne yaki imo-man duwt geen kar met houtkachel meer voort, maar rijdt rond in een bestelwagentje. Hij zingt hij niet meer live, maar zijn lokroep weergalmt door luidsprekers via een eindeloos draaiend bandje. Wat wel nog verrast in 2007 is dat de yaki imo-verkopers gewoon hun houtkachel op de laadbak van hun bestelwagen plaatsen: vuurtje stoken bovenop de benzinetank, veilig kan het niet zijn.

Volgens een autojournalist die zich onlangs over het fenomeen gebogen heeft, is Japan het enige land in de industriële wereld waar zoiets nog kan. De ambulante yaki imo-verkopers glippen tussen de mazen van de wet:
  • Voor de politie is een rijdende kachel geen inbreuk op het wegreglement.

  • De lokale welzijnsadministratie is verantwoordelijk voor de voedselbereidingen van de ambulante verkopers, maar niet voor hun voertuigen.

  • De brandweer is bevoegd voor de brandbeveiliging in gebouwen, niet in rijdende voertuigen.

  • Ook auto-inspectie sluit de ogen want de yaki-imo-verkopers demonteren sowieso hun kachel uit hun bestelwagentje alvorens naar de autokeuring te gaan.
Zolang er geen ongeluk gebeurt, zal het zo blijven. Niemand heeft zin om de yaki imo-man uit het straatbeeld te zien verdwijnen.

(in De Standaard expat-blog gepost)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Now and Then 5

The pier from the Bund (Yamashita Park) : Meiji - Today

"Harborside buildings faced inland on Water Street, so named for its proximity to the bay. The buildings, with a picket fence atop the seawall at their rear, resembled a laager of structures huddled for defense. But this turning away from the sea repudiated the town’s origins as a deep-water harbor and did not conform to the treaty port pattern. The pattern included a bund, or waterfront road.

The bund was the face of an Eastern port. Nagasaki had one. Shanghai’s was famous. Hong Kong had the Praya, but Macao the Praya Grande.

In April 1862 Yokohama’s foreign residents formed a bund subcommittee. The Japanese government promised one. Construction was completed the following year. Japanese and foreigners, however, were of different minds as to its purpose. For foreigners, it was an esplanade, a place to stroll and drink in the seascape and refresh in a sea-turn on a sultry day. The Japanese were of a more utilitarian view. They would build houses for foreigners and bonded warehouses seaward of them. The foreign community protested, and prevailed.

The Bund was the place to be (…) The Bund filled at the end of the workday. Young men would no sooner set down their pens than they would pick up their long narrow canoes and rush to the waterfront (…)

The Bund became a true promenade in 1885, when it was extended 18 feet seaward from the road. Pine trees were planted between the road and the new esplanade. Benches were set at intervals. Stone posts linked by chains were placed near the top of the seawall (…)

Buildings on the Bund disintegrated in the 1923 earthquake. The City planned to use the debris to reclaim the sea for a new pier. It was not built, thanks to a Scotsman named Marshall Martin.

Martin arrived in Japan in 1873 and began to import Cardiff coal from Wales. We can presume he was a diligent student of Japanese, for he served as interpreter to the Yokohama Court from 1884 through 1886. In 1887 he became president of the Japanese Gazette.

Mayor Ariyoshi Chuichi asked this Japanese-speaking Scotsman who had lived in Yokohama for half a century to serve as an adviser for the city’s reconstruction (…)

Martin persuaded the city to use the rubble of the quake-flattened Bund buildings to reclaim the sea for a park. Yamashita Park opened on top of the bricks of buildings.

Martin would have been inspired with this vision of Japan’s first seaside park by a keen appreciation of the view of bay from the Bund. He would have been a water-gazer.

The fill extended the land 50 meters seaward and 774 meters along what had been the Bund. Yamashita Park opened on March 15, 1930.

Much like then appears the park today, with trellises, flower beds, shrubbery, and a fountain."
(Burritt Sabin, 'A historical guide to Yokohama', ed. Yurindo, Yokohama, 2002, p. 48-51)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Now and Then 4

Port area: 1911 - Today

"Minato Mirai 21 is a waterfront area created by the redevelopment of Yokohama harbor. MM21 is built on reclaimed foreshore and on the old site of the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (originally Yokohama Dock Co.) shipyard, which closed in 1980.

It might seem counterintuitive to search for the past in the port’s future. But preservation of early port artifacts has partially guided Minato Mirai 21 development. Things worthy of preservation however were erased or removed(…)

In 1911 a railway joined its customs freight house and Yokohama Station (Sakuragicho Station), via bridges and artificial islands (…) ."

The Minato Mirai project saw the conversion of the old railway into a 500-meter-long boardwalk called Kishamichi Promenade. It utilizes two of the original bridges."
(Burritt Sabin, 'A historical guide to Yokohama', ed. Yurindo, Yokohama, 2002, p. 122-123)

One of the bridges is clearly visible on the old postcard. However, in today's picture a recent road bridge unfortunately obstructs the view. But the original railway bridge is still there… At least one thing that didn’t disappear.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Now and Then 3

Sakuragicho Station: Meiji Era and Today

"Yokohama Station was completed in 1871. Designed by an American named R.P. Bridgens. It was the terminus of the first railway line in Japan. Train service began in 1872, a 29 kilometer-long railroad between Yokohama and Shimbashi. Shimbashi Station was a twin in design.

Yokohama Station was renamed Sakuragicho in 1915. A new Yokohama Station was built on the Tokaido. The station building disintegrated in the 1923 Kanto Earthquake.

Japan’s entry into the rail age was not without mishaps. Some Japanese would remove their clogs and set them on the platform before boarding the train, arriving at their destination unshod, their footgear where they had left it."
(Burritt Sabin, 'A historical guide to Yokohama', ed. Yurindo, Yokohama, 2002, p. 122-123)

"In 1951 a train caught fire while stopped at sakuragicho Station. People struggled in vain to get out of the windows, but before they could be rescued 106 burned to death."
(John Carroll, 'Trail of Two Cities', ed. Kodansha, Tokyo, 1994, p. 45)

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Now and Then 2

Osanbashi Pier: Meiji Era and Today

"The initial passenger pier was completed in 1894. 'The Large Pier', made from steel and long enough to berth four ships, was designed and executed by the Englishman Henry Spencer Palmer.

The pier was requisitioned by the Occupation Forces in 1945. Following its release in 1952, it was renamed Osanbashi. The pier was repaired and enlarged several times. But after nearly a century, the piles were too fatigued to safely support the structure. Consequently, the city replaced the old pier and passenger terminal. Work began in 1988 and finished in 2002. Architects Alejandro Zaera-Polo and Farshid Moussavi designed a facility of three stories – parking area, second floor Cruise Terminal and Multipurpose Hall, and rooftop Public Square. They used no columns or beans, creating expansive interior spaces. No stairs are used. The new facility is barrier-free."
(Burritt Sabin, 'A Historical Guide to Yokohama', ed. Yurindo, Yokohama, 2002, p. 53-54)

Now and Then 1

A postcard from the former Yokohama Station (now Sakuragicho Station). The view near Oe-bashi Bridge: End 19th century. Compare it with the picture I took on at the same bridge, same place:

"Yokohama Station (Today's Sakuragicho Station) was built in 1871.

In 1887 a park was built in the plaza before the station. Water danced in a central fountain. Designed by Henry Spencer Palmer, it commemorated the completion of Japan’s first modern water supply, also a contribution of Palmer’s.

Noge below the hill was an inlet, and villagers were fishing folk. But the government needed a railbed for the train that would join Yokohama and Edo. The inlet was reclaimed, although a strip of water was left as a canal, the Sakuragawa, and the Ookagawa was left unvexed in its course to the bay."
(Burritt Sabin, 'A Historical Guide to Yokohama', ed. Yurindo, Yokohama, 2002, p. 123)

Oude route van Hirado tot Edo

Ik heb een zeer interessante maar moeilijke vraag uit Nederland gekregen:
"In het jaar 1598 vertrokken vanuit Rotterdam vijf schepen om de route te verkennen via de west naar Indonesië. In 1600 strandde een van de schepen “de Liefde” op Kyushu. Nadat de bemanning aanvankelijk gevangen werd gehouden hebben ze, onder aanvoering van William Adams, het vertrouwen van de Shogun kunnen winnen. In 1609, de VOC was toen nog niet zo lang geleden opgericht, hebben de Nederlanders de handelsbrief ontvangen waardoor zij een bevoorrechte positie in de handel met Japan innamen.

Die handelsbrief is verkregen na een hofreis van Hirado naar Edo (nu Tokyo). Pas later werd de handelspost overgebracht naar Deshima (Nagasaki). Binnen enkele jaren is het dus 400 jaar geleden dat die beroemde eerste hofreis naar Edo gemaakt is. Als wandelaar met voldoende vrije tijd, zou ik graag met een groepje Vlaamse en Nederlandse wandelvrienden die oorspronkelijke hofreis willen overdoen. Ik vermoed dat een groot tussendeel ook vroeger per schip over de binnenzee ging. Dat zou dan kunnen zijn van Shimonoseki naar Osaka.

Mijn probleem is dat ik niet achter de oorspronkelijke route kan komen. Wel heb ik beschrijvingen gevonden van twee eeuwen later. Toen werd onder andere gebruik gemaakt van de Tokaido (…) Mijn vraag is dus of u mij zou kunnen helpen aan informatie betreffende de oorspronkelijke route vanuit Hirado naar Edo

Ooit heb ik de oude Tokaido route tussen Kanagawa en Higashi-Totsuka opgezocht. Dat stukje van enkele kilometers was al een hele studie. De oude route vinden tot Hirado zie ik dus niet zitten. Mocht ooit iemand info hebben over de oorspronkelijke route vanuit Hirado naar Edo, dan is een mailtje meer dan welkom.