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Ah, Japanese rain. It's been raining fairly steadily here since before I woke up. I had thought about going into Nagoya for the afternoon but it's much nicer to sit indoors and look out at the rain than to actually walk around in it. (Had to walk to the supermarket and the bottoms of my trousers are still damp, and that was only ten minutes.) Instead I am virtuously studying.

Dinner with some former classmates this evening though, so I shall have to go out for that :-)

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Stumbled across a piece in the Asahi Shimbun about the only double-track cable car system in Japan. In Japanese but I suppose the rest of you can look at the pictures :-) (Bonus note for Martin: includes the phrase なんじゃこりゃっ.)

The system was originally built in 1918 to carry visitors to Houzanji temple up and down the mountain; it was double track because of the large numbers of visitors at the time. By 1929 a sort of prototype amusement park had developed (with the aeroplane ride you can see in the last photo). During WW2 the mountain was taken over by the army as a base for looking out for planes that had had to make emergency landings; there's a nice anecdote in there from somebody reminiscing about sneaking in the day after the war ended and being delighted to discover that the aeroplane-ride tower was still standing. After the war the amusement park reopened, but in the 90s the bottom rather fell out of the market, and the owners retargeted their business at young kids (hence the cat and dog cable cars). The article finishes with a nice diversion into 'unexplored railway stations', ie ones apparently in the middle of nowhere. Cable cars being the way they are, when the lower car stops at the useful station at the bottom the upper car also has to halt. So they built a station platform up there in the middle of nowhere -- but if you get off all you can do is hike down the mountain...

(I should point out that I can't actually read Japanese newspaper articles unaided; I use Rikai which allows you to hover over Japanese text to get popup text with the dictionary lookup for individual words. Since mostly where I have trouble these days is the vocabulary, that's dead handy.]

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Found recordings of Japanese station train-about-to-depart jingles on Youtube (via nosword); very evocative if you've spent much time on JR trains in the past... This short TV item about them is also interesting if you're the person who reads my LJ who understands Japanese :-)

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Interesting pair of long (English) articles in the Yomiuri today about the ugliness of Japan's urban landscape (one theme of Alex Kerr's 'Dogs and Demons' book): part 1, part 2.

It mentions this list of the 70 worst eyesores in Japan [site in Japanese, but you can just click on the thumbnails to enlarge]. Some very characteristic Japanese urban landscape there; I don't think Kabuki-cho at night (#37) belongs on the list, though -- there's a place for that sort of neon-lit Blade-runner style cityscape too, surely?

(There's also a list of 30 examples of improvements, although it's not so interesting so I mention it mostly for completeness.)

June 2017

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