Thursday, January 31, 2008

Now and Then 19

Bashamichi: Meiji era - Today

"Bashamichi (Horse-Drawn Carriage Road) was built in 1866 to provide a straight roadway to Kaigan-dori (the harbor road) from Yoshidabashi (the main entrance to the foreign settlement). The road was wide enough for carriages; hence its name. Eighty percent of the people who entered of exited the Gated Within crossed Yoshidabashi. (…) The concentration of banks and insurance companies made Bashamichi the Wall Street of Yokohama. Bashimichi bustled (…)

Within the Gates but outside the Settlement, Bashamichi served as a conduit for the introduction of Western things. In 1862 Shimooka Renjo set up Japan’s first photo studio on Bashamichi. The street merchants competed in planting willows and pines in front of their shops in 1867; and Japan acquired the first roadside trees in her modern era. One Machida Fusazo set up a shaved ice shop on Bashamichi in 1869. Soon he was selling ice cream. It was too expensive for Japanese, but Machida had an occasional foreign customer. A foreigner eating ice cream was a sight to behold. The Japanese came to watch.

In October 1872 Bashamichi was illuminated by Japan’s first gas lamps.

(Burritt Sabin, 'A historical guide to Yokohama', ed. Yurindo, Yokohama, 2002, p. 96-98)

"Towards the harbor on the right side of Bashamichi, you’ll find the Taiyo no Boshizo, or "mother-and-child in the sun" statue, which marks the site of the first ice cream parlor begun by Richard Risley in 1865 with imported ice. One serving aisukirin cost the equivalent of 8,000 yen in today’s prices, or roughly half a month’s salary for the common man, even though its consistency and taste were more like sherbet than ice cream as we know it today.

At first the Japanese gathered to gawk at the Westerners eating the strange concoction. Some braver souls gave it a try, but on more than one occasion when a customer discovered that the cool treat was made from cow discharge, he or she rushed outside and vomited violently. In 1869 Machida Fusazo opened the first Japanese ice cream parlor. A local company reproduced a close replica of these early ice creams based on original recipes. Bashamichi Aisu, as it is known, is available in four flavors at Aioi Coffee Shop as well as at Shogo Department Store."

(John Carroll, 'Trail of Two Cities', ed. Kodansha, Tokyo, 1994, p. 49)

Zonder auto

Voor de jonge Japanners is de auto geen statussymbool meer. Een recente peiling van de Japanse autoconstructeurs heeft aangetoond dat de jongeren hun schouders ophalen voor de auto. Ooit was het anders. Tien, twintig jaar geleden droomden alle jonge mannen van 'doraibu' ('drive', 'driving'): eigenaar van een mooie wagen, een vriendinnetje in de passagierszetel en samen rondrijden tijdens de weekends.

Vandaag heeft slechts 30% van de twintigers interesse voor auto's. Meer dan de helft vindt dat de auto enkel een middel is om zich te verplaatsen. Slechts 6,7% van de hedendaagse jongeren zegt dat een wagen onmisbaar is om met meisjes uit te gaan.

Voor de stadsbewoners alvast is de auto meer een last dan een plezier. Ook ik wil geen auto.  Een paar evidente redenen op een rijtje:
*In de steden is het treinnet ontzettend efficiënt en sneller dan elk ander vervoermiddel.
*Een auto kopen kan niet zonder parkeerplaats. Zo kost een onoverdekte staanplaats naast ons flatgebouw 40.000 yen (250 euro) per maand.
*De auto op de openbare weg laten staan mag in principe niet. Dus moet bij elke uitstap aan een parkingplaats gedacht worden en dat kost gemiddeld 600 yen (3,8 euro) per uur. *Het verkeer is tergend langzaam. Tijdens het weekend mogen we in de bebouwde zones gemakkelijk rekenen op een uur om 15km af te leggen.
Geen wonder dat de gemiddelde autobezitter in Japan slechts 8.000km per jaar aflegt. *In de dichtbevolkte Japanse steden is alles nabij. Om dit te illustreren heb ik mijn thuisadres ingetypt in de website 'Address Power' en dit is het resultaat:
Meer dan 100 restaurants en bars, 24 kappers, 40 banken, 27 boekenwinkels, 27 warenhuizen, 52 superettes, 7 bioscopen, 13 bejaardeninstellingen, 14 supermarkten, 18 vrijetijdetablissementen (karaoke,etc), 7 videoverhuurwinkels, 5
crèches en kleuterscholen, 11 trein- en metrostations, 11 ‘love hotels’, 92 seksclubs(!) en 7 tempels. Dat alles in een straal van 1,5km.


Een auto? Nee, liever niet.

(Gepost in De Standaard Expatblog)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Now and Then 18

Honcho Elementary School in Naka-ku, Yokohama: Meiji - Today

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Radio 1: de beurs van Tokio

Dinsdag 22 januari. Aziatische beursen gaan flink in het rood.

VRT-Nieuws heeft me geïnterviewd over de sterke daling van de Nikkei op de beurs van Tokio.

Het volledige interview rechtstreeks in de 'De Ochtend' van Radio 1: te beluisteren in de website van Radio 1 of ook hier (595kb, mp3).

Stukjes van het interview werden gebruikt in het radionieuws van 7u, 8u (265kb, mp3) en 9u (305kb, mp3).

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Now and Then 17

Iseyama Shrine: Meiji - Today

"The Grand Shrine of Iseyama was built as a talisman.

Protestants missionaries had ensconced themselves in Buddhist temples in Kanagawa directly after the port opened. French Catholics built the Tenshudo in 1861. Anglicans erected a church two years later. The settlers ate meat, not a widespread custom in Buddhist Japan. They rode, although the horse had been reserved for the samurai. The Settlement broadcast their beliefs, ways, and attitudes.

As a counterweight, Izeki Moritome, the deputy governor of Kanagawa prefecture, petitioned the Meiji oligarchy to establish a state shrine in Yokohama. The government agreed. It issued on April 14, 1870, a proclamation: "Amaterasu Omikami [The Sun Goddess] shall be invited to Iseyama and a grand shrine shall be built to pray for the protection of the nation and to promote the worship of the kami [gods] and the emperor." Its vicinity was renamed Iseyama.

A small shrine was moved from a knoll in Tobe to Nogeyama. It was built on a vastly larger scale and named Iseyama Kotai Jingu (the Grand Shrine of Iseyama). A ceremony for the division and the transfer of the Sun Goddess's spirit from the Grand Shrine of Ise, in present-day Mie Prefecture, to the new shrine was held on April 15, 1871. The day (May 15 by the solar calender, adopted in 1873) was celebrated as a city holiday until the Second World War. It is still celebrated, but in these days of separation of church and state, schools and public offices don't close for the gala.

The shrine precints cover 3.2 acres at the top of Iseyama hill (...)

Monuments recall the shrine’s origin in State Shinto. In the far-left corner of the precincts rises a moss-covered memorial to the government soldiers who fell in battle against the rebel army during the Seian War (1877) in Kyushu. In the right corner stands a memorial, inscribed in General Oyama Iwao’s hand, to Japan’s war dead. Soldiers would assemble at the monument and pray before leaving for the front in the Second World War."

(Burritt Sabin, 'A historical guide to Yokohama', ed. Yurindo, Yokohama, 2002, p. 117-119)

Monday, January 21, 2008

Now and Then 16

Hikawa-maru: WWII - Today

"The Hikawa-maru made her maiden voyage on Nippon Yusen’s route from Yokohama to Seattle and Vancouver in may 1930. She was so popular passengers called her the Queen of the Pacific. Then came the war. Converted into a hospital ship in November 1941, she treated wounded Japanese soldiers in the South Seas for five years. Following the war, she repatriated soldiers and civilians form the Marshall Islands and Wake Island. She resumed service on the Yokohama-Seattle route in 1953 and was retired in 1960. She had carried 25,000 passengers in 238 trans-Pacific voyages. She received a much-deserved rest when she permanently moored at the eastern end of Yamashita Park in the (belated) commemoration of Yokohama’s port’s centennial (…) Of the 26 Japanese passenger ships in the 10,000 class in prewar service, only the Hikawa-maru was not sunk."

(Burritt Sabin, 'A historical guide to Yokohama', ed. Yurindo, Yokohama, 2002, p. 56-57)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Now and Then 15

Takashimadai (near Kanagawa resting station on the Old Tokaido) : Meiji - Today

"View near Hongaku-ji Temple on the Old Tokaido. Sadly all that remains of Hongaku-ji, which was important during treaty port days, is the main gate. All the buildings in the complex were destroyed by bombs during the Pacific War. The temple housed the American consulate soon after the port of Yokohama was officially opened in June 1859. The first US Consul, Townsend Harris [1804-1878] relocated to Hongaku-ji from Gyokusen-ji Temple in Shimoda because Kanagawa was the term used in the treaty."

"The temple and its panoramic views of what was once beach, bay and fishing village during the Edo Era, is now the vast sprawling urban complex consisting of Yokohama Station and five department stores (….) The sea disappeared progressively under concrete and steel".

(Patrick Carey, 'Rediscovering the Old Tokaido. In the footsteps of Hiroshige', ed. Global Oriental, Folkstone England, 2000, p. 17)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Now and Then 14

Nigiwai-za Theater: Meiji - Today

"The theater district provided people respite from hardscrabble lives. Theaters opened as early as eight o’clock in the morning and the day’s program ran through eleven o’clock at night.

The Nigiwai-za was known as the Handkerchief Theater, for it was the favorite of the 'handkerchief women', who sewed and embroidered silk handkerchiefs in the cottage factories on the back streets. They wore around the neck silk handkerchiefs that were perks of the job. In the evening groups of them gadded about town, crimson, purple, blue, or peach-colored handkerchiefs gaily adorning their kimono collars. Young punks mingled with them, for which reason the term 'handkerchief woman' had a disreputable ring.

But the handkerchief women were the nucleus of the Yokohama's economy, and they vied to earn the most money. There were lavish spenders. The Kabuki was the favorite indulgence. Their handkerchiefs rendered the Nigiwai-za's pit a sea of color. They shouted in their peculiar voices the names of favorite actors.

In 1890s Yoshikawa Eiji, later a popular writer of period fiction, went with his grandfather to the Nigiwai-za. He was too young to appreciate the plucky lasses with the colorful kerchiefs worn chicly around the neck. But his grandfather, sake cup in the hand, reveled in the nubile audience and in the daylong play viewing. Eiji would play hooky from his Chinese classics lesson and go to the theaters."

(Burritt Sabin, 'A historical guide to Yokohama', ed. Yurindo, Yokohama, 2002, p. 102-103)
Nigiwai-za was located in Isezaki-cho Theater Street. The new Nigiwai-za stands now nearby Noge-cho (near Sakuragicho Station).

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Now and Then 13

Nogezaka: After the Big Earthquake (1923) - Today

"Rain lashed Yokohama in the early morning of September 1, 1923. By nine o'clock the rain stopped and the sky cleared. But shortly before noon the earth rumbled like distant thunder. Then the ground heaved in waves. The earth shook for four minutes.

The epicenter of the quake, with a magnitude of 7.9, was beneath Sagami Bay. It was powerful enough to have been felt throughout almost all of Japan.

Yokohama's premier buildings were made of brick, a material promoted for construction after the 1866 fire. But the brick construction of the time could not withstand a strong quake (...) Sam Robinson, Captain of the 'Empress of Australia', observed from his ship bridge all the buildings on the Bund dissolve as if built of sand.

The quake struck at 11:58, just as families were preparing meals in charcoals stoves. Embers set paper-and-wood houses ablaze (...) The firestorm was so intense that it rained the city's printed matter down upon the Boso Peninsula across Uraga Strait (...)

Captain Robinson, as soon as the dust settled and he saw the annihilation of the city, decided to turn the 'Empress of Australia', about to leave the port, into a relief ship. Many refugees owed their lives to this decision.

In Kannai, people fled the flames to Yokohama Park. En route to the park many burned to death or drowned in canals because bridges had collapsed. Water from burst mains flooded the park, and refugees stood knee-deep in water. Flames gradually enclosed the park. Some refugees risked the flames for fear of drowning. But the water rose no higher and kept the flames from the park. The park was a life-saving refuge for 50,000 people (...)

Otis Manchester Poole, a long-time Yokohama resident left a first-person account of the earthquake and its aftermath. Having returned to Yokohama from his Kobe refuge a week or so after the calamity, he saw everywhere 'charred corpses, pathetic shrunken mummies. The canals, docks and slips were filled with bodies, bloated to an orange shapelessness, scattered amongst masses of rubbish that choked every waterway. Here and there the funnels sunken launches protruded from the scum. Many of the bodies of Japanese which still littered the streets were being methodically collected into piles of four or six and crudely, though with surprising completeness, cremated under sheets of corrugated iron laid across them.'

Yet there was comic relief. A French woman happened to be bathing in her room on an upper floor of the Oriental Hotel when the building collapsed leaving her exposed in the tub held up by the plumbing. A passerby heard the screams and clambered up to the pipes to rescue her.

People tend to think of the earthquake as the 'Tokyo earthquake'. But Yokohama suffered proportionately more than the capital. Of its 99,840 houses, only 4,957 were undamaged. Of a population of 448,472 , 21,384 were killed and 1,951 were missing. The national government, too, took a Tokyo-centric outlook, and in reconstruction funding favored the capital at the port's expense."

(Burritt Sabin, 'A historical guide to Yokohama', ed. Yurindo, Yokohama, 2002, p. 283-285)

Now and Then 12

More Negishi area: Meiji - Today

[See also Now and Then 11 about Negishi]:

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Hatsumode & Hatsuhinode

Hatsumode in Iseyama Jinja, Yokohama Jan 1st, around 1h30. And 'Hatsuhinode' the first sunrise of the year, around 6h45. In the afternoon Jan 1st: Again temple & shrine visit.

66 pictures in flickr