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Skylines & Photography / スカイラインと写真 Pictures & Video of Japan / 都市の景観・自然 写真とビデオ


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Old June 9th, 2013, 09:09 AM   #21
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Welcome back quashlo Finally new thread, what to say, gorgeous photos! 23 days for 23 cities, fantastic journey.
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Old June 9th, 2013, 12:24 PM   #22
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Beautiful pictures! Thanks again Quashlo!
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Old June 10th, 2013, 10:10 AM   #23
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Thanks for the comments... I suppose it's time to get started then!

1.
We start off in the usual place, good old SFO…
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2.
My plane on this flight… I opted for the direct flight SFO ↔ HND instead of having to worry about layover in LAX or wherever. I also wanted to try out a late night arrival at HND (something I was a bit leery of last trip), which ended up turning out just fine, especially with a hotel in Kamata (蒲田) in Ōta Ward, just a few stations away from the airport.
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3.
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4.
About 11 hours later, we've arrived in Japan on a late Friday night…
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5.
As you can see, it was only a little past 10:00 when I got past Customs and down to the Keikyū station, which should leave quite a bit of time to get to wherever your hotel is.
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6.
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Old June 10th, 2013, 10:10 AM   #24
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7.
One stop on the kaitoku (快特) limited express and we reach our destination station, Keikyū Kamata (京急蒲田)… Last time I was in Japan, they hadn't finished the grade-separation work at the station, so I got a bit of late-night railfanning in and toured the station before hoofing it to my hotel.
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8.
Five-row departure boards, with frequency so good you never have to worry about the schedule.
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9.
Blue is for regular tickets, pink is for regular tickets and commuter passes. Don't remember ever seeing this type of backlit plastic partitioning, but I like.
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10.
It's night and day compared to what the old station used to look like…
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11.
Now, it's off to find my hotel, so I take a quick pit stop at the station area map… While I generally load all the maps and stuff I need onto my iPhone the day before, it doesn't hurt to take a picture of the station area map (most every station has one) to give you another point of reference, especially with a large piece of luggage that I don't want to lug up or down stairs. I suddenly realized while on the train that my hotel was at "Kamata Station"—as in JR / Tōkyū Kamata Station, not "Keikyū Kamata Station". For some reason, I had thought I would just be able to lounge over to the hotel after getting out of the station, but it ended up a little bit longer than that. I find Japanese block sizes incredibly deceiving, though, so what looks like a huge distance on the map really only takes about 5 minutes, even though I did work up a bit of sweat from the flight and dragging my luggage around. Upside was there was a 7-11 on the way where I picked up some milk and withdrew some hard cash to spend for the next few days.
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Old June 10th, 2013, 10:11 AM   #25
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12.
By this time, it was close to 23:00, but Kamata was still buzzing on a Friday night… This is Kamata's version of the covered shopping arcade (they're everywhere in Japan), and while many of these shops had already closed, there were plenty of others open elsewhere. I had never stayed at a hotel outside of central Tōkyō, so it was a nice look at how even the smaller neighborhoods can be like miniature Shinjukus.
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13.
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14.
I wasn't hungry at this point, just tired, but there were plenty of choices to pick from, even a kebab place (!).
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15.
Don Quixote
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16.
Bikes and trains…
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17.
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Old June 10th, 2013, 10:13 AM   #26
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Day 1: 2013.05.11 (Saturday)

18.
My hotel had to be one of the smallest Tōyoko Inns I'd ever been in… I don't normally have the free breakfast, but the lobby was so small that they asked guests to take the food back to their room to eat it, since there was nowhere to sit. Anyways, the view outside my hotel window the next morning:
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19.
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20.
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21.
I had a bit of a chuckle when I saw this at 6:45 AM at the neighborhood park next to my hotel…
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22.
I originally had planned what was to be a fantastic Saturday of hiking up on Mt. Takao and visiting some of Tōkyō's larger parks, but the weather forecasts from the night before showed that Mother Nature was not going to be cooperative. A bit of a shame, since Friday was actually a nice day in the metropolis. I ended up choosing a substantially more modest itinerary for the day, and I didn't get anywhere near as many pictures as I had wanted. Anyways, we make our way to the JR station, as my first task of the day was to pick up my 21-day JR Pass.
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Old June 10th, 2013, 10:14 AM   #27
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23.
At left are the Tōkyū tracks into the station. Normally, the bike racks would be filled with bikes, but they were doing some construction the night before.
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24.
Didn't know it, but there's a miniature Ferris wheel atop the Tōkyū Plaza building at the station.
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25.
Neighborhood pachinko parlor…
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26.
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27.
Some people complain that Tōkyō (and Japan, in general) doesn't feel like a 24-hour city, which I find a bit misleading… Sure, train service is not 24 hours and the clubbing scene may not be to your tastes, but there's a dizzying array of establishments open 24 hours, including the ubiquitous combini, fast food places, manga and Internet cafes, etc.
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28.
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29.
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30.
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Old June 10th, 2013, 10:15 AM   #28
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31.
I disembark at Tōkyō Station and head for the JR East Travel Service Center at the Marunouchi North Exit. Out of all the places you can exchange your JR Pass voucher in central Tōkyō, this one opens the earliest (7:30 AM). There was already a sizeable queue of tourists (I noticed some (Asian) Americans, Taiwanese, even a Russian couple), so I decided to do a quick tour of the building first and drop off my luggage at the porter (クローク).
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32.
This happened to be my first look at the newly-restored Marunouchi Station Building…
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33.
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34.
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35.
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36.
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37.
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38.
The small archway in the middle is for the station hotel, which opened with the building restoration.
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Old June 10th, 2013, 10:16 AM   #29
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39.
Picked up my JR Pass with some rusty Japanese, and it's time to go. With my original schedule out the door due to the rain, I spent some time scanning through the calendar of events on Tōkyō Walker the night before for things to do. One particular event caught my eye and brought me to the Ochanomizu area… But before we get to the event, some obligatory railfanning, with two Sōbu Local Line trains passing each other.
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40.
The Manseibashi viaduct of the Chūō Rapid Line.
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41.
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42.
Shinjuku Sazanami 1 for Tateyama, way out on the Bōsō Peninsula in Chiba, heads for Akihabara. I find the Chiba limited expresses somewhat confusing, given they spread them across the Sōbu Local Line, Sōbu Rapid Line, and Keiyō Line.
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43.
Marunouchi Line train glides by beneath it all…
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44.
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45.
This relief on one of the buildings at the Tōkyō Medical and Dental University (東京医科歯科大学) is composed of three distinct scenes, from left to right: the Hippocratic Oath (in Greek), Rafael's The School of Athens (Scuola di Atene), and the world's first implementation of surgical anesthesia by American dentist William T. G. Morton.
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46.
Walking past the Yushima Seidō (湯島聖堂)…
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Old June 10th, 2013, 10:16 AM   #30
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47.
This was our destination, the Kanda Myōjin (神田明神) shrine. Ironically enough, May 11 just happened to be the day of the Kanda-matsuri (神田祭) festival procession (shinkō-sai 神幸祭), so I had a chance to return the favor after the shrine's priest visited the Cherry Blossom Festival back home. Apparently, this was the first big festival for the shrine in four years.
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48.
The road leading to the shrine (sandō 参道) is quite small, but there were many people out and about on an early Saturday morning to see the procession and associated events.
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49.
Kanda-bayashi (神田囃子), the festival band
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50.
Lots of Metropolitan Police officers on hand to control traffic along the parade route…
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51.
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52.
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53.
Looking west down Hongō-dōri (本郷通り)…
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Old June 10th, 2013, 10:17 AM   #31
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54.
Let's pass through the mon 門 (gate)…
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55.
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56.
The priest was doing some rites in preparation for the festival, but it was impossible to see over everyone gathered to watch, so I just took pictures of the palanquin (mikoshi 神輿) sitting off to the side.
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57.
Offerings of apples, seaweed (?), sake (miki 神酒), mochi, and oranges.
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58.
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59.
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60.
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61.
These were the best seats in the house, but not open to the public.
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Old June 10th, 2013, 10:18 AM   #32
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62.
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63.
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64.
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65.
The yatai (屋台) outside the shrine were only just getting ready to open for the day.
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66.
Some horses for the people too important to walk the entire parade route…
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67.
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68.
The priests decked out in traditional attire, eboshi (烏帽子) and all.
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69.
No idea who this guy is, but he's probably important… Perhaps the mayor of Chiyoda Ward?
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Old June 10th, 2013, 10:19 AM   #33
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70.
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71.
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72.
Some woman doing a report on the festival…
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73.
Guessing this is hunting attire or something…
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74.
Carrying the mikoshi
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75.
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76.
Unfortunately, with rain in the forecast, a lot of the more delicate ornamentations were wrapped in plastic.
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77.
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Old June 10th, 2013, 10:19 AM   #34
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78.
I figured this guy was some kabuki actor based on his costume and looks, plus the hushed murmurs of all the bystanders taking out their mobile phones for a snap… Turns out I was right, although it's a horrible photo on my part. This is Onoe Kikunosuke (尾上菊之助), who apparently held his wedding ceremony at the shrine earlier this year.
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79.
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80.
Turning south towards Awajichō…
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81.
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82.
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83.
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84.
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85.
Crossing the Kanda River…
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Old June 10th, 2013, 10:20 AM   #35
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86.
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87.
One of the side streets along the north side of the Sōbu Line high viaduct. It never clicks in my head how close this part of Tōkyō is to Akihabara… You can see Akihabara Station just a hundred meters or so away.
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88.
Some neighborhood bigwigs posing for the camera…
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89.
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90.
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91.
Watching to make sure the banners clear the railway overpass…
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92.
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93.
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Old June 10th, 2013, 10:20 AM   #36
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94.
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95.
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96.
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97.
Chūō Rapid Line train zooming by…
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98.
Judging from the costumes, part of the local neighborhood association (淡路町二丁目町会)...
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99.
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Old June 10th, 2013, 10:23 AM   #37
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100.
Waterras Tower (ワテラスタワー), a recently completed office / condo tower that opened in March on the site of a former elementary school.
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101.
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102.
I had no intention of following them the entire route, so it was time to make my leave and head for the station… One of the small side streets in Awajichō:
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103.
The recently-completed Ochanomizu Sola City, which also celebrated a grand opening simultaneously with Waterras Tower. This was the former Hitachi HQ, now a mixed-use office building with conference center and retail facilities. They completely redid the entrance at this location to Shin-Ochanomizu Station (Chiyoda Line).
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Old June 10th, 2013, 10:25 AM   #38
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104.
My next destination was Kawagoe, frequently called "Ko-Edo" (小江戸), or a miniature version of Edo Tōkyō. I suppose I could have taken the Tōbu Tōjō Line to catch some of the through-servicing action with the Fukutoshin Line and Tōyoko Line, but with a JR pass, the Saikyō Line made a bit more sense. Stopped at Toda Kōen Station in southern Saitama Prefecture:
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105.
Passing over the Tōkyō Outer Ring Expressway (東京外環自動車道)…
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106.
Can see the high soundwalls of the expressway, helping to contain the traffic noise impacts through dense neighborhoods.
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107.
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108.
There are two standee-only cars on the Saikyō Line, each with six doors per side instead of the standard four. The seats are foldable and are locked in the upright position until 10:00 AM, when the commute crowds have lightened.
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109.
At JR Kawagoe Station…
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110.
Kawagoe is one of an endless number of suburban medium-sized cities that have been absorbed into Greater Tōkyō thanks to proximity and good rail links.
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111.
The North Exit, with sprawling pedestrian deck, is a beehive of activity and home to a large atre (JR East brand) tenant building housing a department store and several household-name anchor tenants.
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112.
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113.
Acacia-dōri (アカシア通り)
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Old June 10th, 2013, 10:26 AM   #39
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Our route:


114.
The main attractions of Kawagoe are actually a 15-minute walk away from the station along this long, bustling 商店街 (neighborhood retail corridor) connecting the JR station with Hon-Kawagoe Station on the Seibu Ikebukuro Line, branded Crea Mall (クレアモール). By this time, the rain was really starting to come down, so I popped into a combini to pick up a cheap umbrella. The rain was a huge damper on my time in Kawagoe.
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115.
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116.
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117.
Given how large this corridor is, I'm actually a bit surprised it lacks a roof… Would have kept me quite a bit drier.
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118.
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119.
Passing by Maruhiro (マルヒロ), a Saitama Prefecture department store.
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120.
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121.
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Old June 10th, 2013, 10:26 AM   #40
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122.
I'm used to seeing countdown timers for pedestrian signals back home, but this is a simplified version where the number of bars is a proxy for the wait time to cross.
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123.
This short section of the street, nicknamed the Taishō Rōman Yume-dōri (大正浪漫夢通り), has a large display of koi-nobori (鯉のぼり), wind socks designed to look like carp.
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124.
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125.
At the very end of the street is this beautiful historic building from 1927, the former Bushū Bank Kawagoe Branch (武州銀行川越支店), currently housing the Kawagoe Chamber of Commerce and Industry (川越商工会議所).
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126.
Kawagoe has lots of historic (or historic-looking) buildings, althoughly only a few are Western-style architecture… Most are traditional Japanese architecture.
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127.
A pocket park along perhaps what is the main attraction of Kawagoe, the 蔵づくりの町並み, a street lined with traditional-style storehouse buildings.
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128.
Hōzen-ji Temple (法善寺)
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