The Dreaded Immigration Office

I finally went to the Toyko Immigration Office for the first time since I moved to Tokyo and it was quite an experience. The buildiing was very new and quite well layed out and appeared to be sufficient in size. That being said, it was miles from absolutely anything of convienence. It is located in the middle of a pier on Tokyo Bay on one of the man made islands. Despite being only a couple of kilometeres from the center of Tokyo, the nearest train station is a 15+ minute walk away. In all fairness though there is a fairly frequent bus.

The wait at the Immigration office was two and a half hours, which is quite extreme.  Continue reading The Dreaded Immigration Office

Old men, driving, directing traffic… Oh Golly!

The “Last Word” in a recent issue of Metropolis (article available at the number of old men (ojisan in Japanese) that direct people around construction sites in Japan captured my attention. Its true that there are a lot of older people directing the public around (potentially) dangerous places where construction is taking place. However, as I ride my bicycle around I often come across them directing traffic either on a narrow city road or a country road. Continue reading Old men, driving, directing traffic… Oh Golly!

Wind and Breaking Umbrellas

It’s a common site when it starts to rain strongly. On the side of the road are abandoned umbrellas torn apart by the force of the wind. Unfortunately, today, my umbrella was among the casualties, though fortunately it happened right as I arrived at work so I didn’t get too when. It started me thinking about the effect that builds have on the wind in cities. Certainly, if we were in a typhoon many broken umbrellas would be normal. But this was just an ordinary rain storm and the umbrellas were generally grouped in the same place. The placement was not for garbage clean-up but at the base of the larger buildings in the district. Continue reading Wind and Breaking Umbrellas

Late Train Madness

This morning due to the train hitting somebody at a railway crossing at a station farther away from downtown that my house is, service on my train line (the Keio main line) and even though (according to the NHK (national television network)) service had resumed I got to the train station and found no trains. About 15 minutes later a local train eventually showed up and everybody got onto that one (to the point of having to push to be able to fit inside the train) despite being told that another one would come right away. The second train and shows up and it is litterally empty, there are plenty of empty seats. I have seen this so many times before. Everyone piles into the first train and then the second one is totally empty. I don’t really seem to understand it… Are people in that much of a hurry (even though the train company with give out a certificate saying the train was late so you don’t get penalized at work) or perhaps they don’t believe that another train will really come.

Continue reading Late Train Madness

Jindai Botanical Garden

For the first time this summer, I went out to a botanical garden with a friend. This one in particular is 20 minute bike ride (or train for 10 minutes + bus for 15 minutes) from my house. It fairly large, but the timing was not so good. In the end of Septemeber, it seemsed as if only the roses were blooming and they were quite beautiful. There appeared to be a rose “festival” happing in the coming weeks so I might try and get back for that.
After the garden, we walked though a fairly large temple which is located next to the botanical garden. Then back to an area of Tokyo called “Kichijoji” which has a lot of small shops and is great for walking around.