Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Nov 03 2009

An evil lair and the other end of the webcam.

The weather was much improved when I woke up this morning, a cold yet cloudless blue sky greeting me when I set out for Yotsuya Station. I’d worked out on the map that it was the closet station to the New Otani Hotel, which was featured as the Osato Corporation HQ in the film You Only Live Twice. In the film, Sean Connery as James Bond infiltrates and then escapes the building twice.

I got off at Yotsuya and made my way along a forest path on a ridge overlooking athletic fields filled with shouting baseball players. On the other side a school was holding some kind of promotional event. It reminded me not a little of Lexington, Virginia, actually.

The path led me almost exactly to the hotel, which has obviously been completely remodeled. The famous shape is the same, however, and I walked up and down the drive where Connery ran up and down, no doubt for several takes. All of this happened years before I was born, but it’s still cool as hell. I wonder if the doorman is used to random foreigners walking up and down that particular piece of pavement. He was sneezing; I should have gone up to him and said, “Mr. Osato believes in a healthy chest.”

After I’d had my fill of imagining being rescued by a Japanese woman in a white convertible Toyota 2000GT, I walked back up to the subway stop and poked around the nearby alleys. An old man was saying goodbye to his relatives on his brilliantly lit doorstop, and as I took some shots, he said in English “Small building!”

“Small building!” I repeated, and saluted my thanks for the picture. The light was so nice I was taking pictures of everything, probably far more than I should have. The alleys were almost deserted except for huge black crows lofting heavily about. I love Tokyo alleys; there seems to always be a little surprise, a nicely designed house or clever garage, just around each corner.

I took the subway out to Toyosu Station on the Kurakucho Line, near the harbor. Using Google Maps, I’d worked out just where my favorite Tokyo webcam is located. It’s a live feed from a high building across a meeting of four channels, so it wasn’t too hard to find on the map.

Just outside the station I had lunch at a Yoshinoya, just to see how it compares to the ones in Taipei. Verdict: the taste is the same, but the Japanese restaurant’s layout is more interesting, with the cashier in a little island in the middle of the bar.

It was tricky finding my way through the maze to the spot, and I found that the buildings I’d assumed were office buildings are actually residential blocks, with half of the residents airing out their quilts. Oddly, the river-facing apartments don’t seem to put much stock in the view, with high balcony walls.

I walked to a bridge and crossed, taking pictures of bicyclists and remembering to keep left to avoid being hit, and walked down the opposite bank. The water was filled with jellyfish, which surprised me. A couple of boys were fishing things out of the river, not fish or jellyfish, but what looked like pieces of garbage.

I walked back across the bridge and around towards the tall building that has the webcam in it, passing a wannabe tightrope walker scaring his girlfriend by walking on top of the sidewalk railings. The sun was getting low in the sky, even though it wasn’t even 4pm, and I took pictures of pedestrians’ shadows on various walls.

By the time I got to the tall building, the temperature had begun to drop again. I sat on the corner of the rivers, looking with my own eyes on the scene I’d seen so many times before on my office computer. Occasionally a boat would chug past. It was very peaceful.

The sun set at around 4:30 as I made my way back to the station, pausing on the bridge to take some more shots. I took refuge in a department store for a bit to look at the cameras there before taking the subway back to Shinjuku. On the way, I found that there was no transfer point at the stop I’d assumed there would be a transfer point, and I ended up taking the long way around the city. This was fine with me as at that point my feet were sore and I could use a good rest. I’d thought that travelling via subway at rush hour in Tokyo would be a nightmare, but there weren’t that many people at all.

Back in Shinjuku, I went straight upstairs to the Bic camera store, where I was surprised to find a young, blonde Swedish clerk asking me if I wanted any help. I was looking at the Panasonic GF1 and the Olympus EP1, which were arrayed side-by-side. I’d looked at the Canon S90 but it felt poorly put together and plastick next to the M43 cameras, plus the IQ is still that of a small-sensor camera. I have to say that, despite the Oly’s slower focus and bad screen, I do like the feel of it better than that of the Panny. It fits in my hand better, and the shutter thunks as solidly as a car door while the GF1’s raps harshly against the side. And the debate goes on.

Dinner was had at a little corner shop, egg pork chop on rice while listening to the mainland Chinese tourists sitting next to me. I was really bushed by this point, so I decided to come back to the hotel.

Tomorrow I’m having lunch with my photographer friend Louis. Other than that, I have no idea what I’ll be up to.

posted by Poagao at 10:24 pm  

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