Tokyo Metro

Oops, one of the Olympic rings failed to open properly, didn’t it?! The malfunctioned ring looked like a trademark of BP. I sincerely hope no one will be sent to Siberia because of this hiccup…

Our Shinkansen drew into the platform around 2pm. The afternoon sun was pouring over the busy platform and the scenery was a world away from sub-zero Nagano where we embarked merely 2 hours ago. Tokyo Station, being reputed as the busiest station in Japan – in terms of number of trains per day (over 3,000), the inside of the huge station was as busy as a bee-hive. Pedestrians and passengers were flooding into the inter-connecting concourses from all directions, resembling multiple whirlpools, constantly swaying & merging. After negotiating a few ramps and steps, mum & I managed to surface from the subterranean maze eventually, and took a cab to our hotel. Once storing our luggage at the hotel, we headed to Jinbōchō (神保町) by metro.

A row of barrier was installed along both edges of the platform…

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The barriers were there to stop drunken salary-men from falling onto the track and also to work as a visual deterrent to suicide attempts – sadly, suicide in Japan had been a significant national social-issue. As the recession worsened during the 1990’s and the number of redundancy sky-rocketed amongst the Japanese company workers, the rate of suicide increased sharply. And unfortunately, railroad tracks had been one of the hotspots for suicide…
I watched on the Japanese TV once how similar barriers were installed at Daikanyama Station. Once the station is closed after midnight, a group of installers were gathered on the platform. Then, a not-in-service train drew into the platform, delivering the barrier parts. The awaiting workers pulled out the parts from each carriage and started assembling them like a piece of IKEA furniture. Half of the installers were electricians, so they wired the barriers as their colleagues in charge of erecting the barriers bolting them to the platform. The procedure was done in typical Japanese efficiency, and in less than half an hour, all the barriers were in place and fully operational from next morning. Then, the discarded packaging was loaded onto the awaiting train and taken away, leaving the platform spotless.

Inside of the metro car…

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When Hubbie saw a Nakazuri (中吊り) – an advert hung from the ceiling, for the first time, he thought it was a nightmare for graphic designers. Especially, the kind for Japanese weekly magazines was, according to him, the worst of all. Provocative and dubious headlines were screaming & jockeying for every available paper space, disregarding any aesthetic concern. He grimaced every time we encountered one of those in the metro.
At least for “Gulliver” like me, those messy & ugly ads were a useful source of information since those gossipy rants would tell pretty much everything about what was going on in Japan…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Retro Graphics @ SOHO

While rat-running on foot through crowded streets of the West End, I bumped into some intriguing retro graphics on the wall.
Next to the sloping entrance of public car park on Poland Street, off Oxford Street, there were two images on the wall which style strongly suggested that they were remnants of the 1950s advertisements.

By the way, Poland Street was once famous for being a host of the Britain’s very first large-scale conveyor belt sushi restaurant, Yo! Sushi in 1997. The chain, now as prevalent as dandelions by the road side, used be a hip & must place where to be & to be seen in its heyday. Even though the portion was mean and the price was extortionate, the punters queued up at the door, wanting to sit on the stools and be mesmerized by the sushi encased in a plastic babble cap on slow moving conveyor belts. After the sushi bar proved to be a mega hit, they expanded the premises to its basement, naming it, Yo! Below. The new space sported tatami mat and square tables with sunken floors so the customers could sit down with their legs down, not cross-legged. Instead of sushi, the restaurant offered boxed bento. Upon request, they offered a complimentary Shiatsu massage as well. It was gimmicky but also fun.

One December, Hubbie and his agency work colleague hired an entire floor for a X’mas party and ended up having a rather unpalatable experience. They were all at the tables and the party was in a full swing when one of them became aware that she could feel something soft under her toe. The staff was summoned and he probed a mystery object under the table. It turned out to be… A HUGE DEAD RAT! Hubbie recounted how every one pulled its legs out of the table in a flash and curled up in horror once the rodent emerged. The restaurant apologized profusely and wrote off the whole bill. However, the venue was forever vanished from his agency’s party list. And that poor girl, who ended up planting her foot on the dead rat, I hope she has got over the experience by now…

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There must have been a servicing garage within the car park when these adverts was painted on the wall…

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Apparently this old BP logo shown here borrowed the shape of an interstate freeway sign in the United States…

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Instead of their present trademark which resembles green dahlia petals, the old one is a lot more fitting to what BP really is. There is NOTHING green about them.
Still, this BP Energol ad looked handsome and groovy after nearly 60 years.

Next to it was an ad of Regent Remoulds tyres…

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The graphic screaming for the attention of passing drivers. I imagine supplies for cars in the fifties of post-war Britain must have been not as plentiful nor inexpensive like they are now.

Another retro sign I came across was on Wardour Street…

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A boarded-up tobacconist “The Hobbit”.
The Hobbits’ love for their pipes is well-known. Therefore, the name seems very appropriate for the purpose. The only shame is it is no longer in business…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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