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Modern Progress: Japan’s First Utility Wires Coming Down After 120 Years
And The Angels Sang unremarkable photo showing a remarkable situation yesterday  &nbsp ;昨日、 やっと 電気線 なし! -- Copyright 2014 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/8000 sec, f/2.5, ISO 360 — image data
And The Angels Sang
unremarkable photo showing a remarkable situation
yesterday   ;昨日、やっと電気線なし!

Yesterday, for the first time in 120+ years, Niomon Street in Kyoto is not draped in utility wires.

日本初電気街灯位置場仁王門通(京都市岡崎)昨日やっと都市美化で120年ぶり電気線等が無くなりました。

The first electric-power generator in Japan was built just up the street from where I live, around 1890. As such, the street in front of my place became the first in all Japan to have electric streetlights. At the time, I'm sure the associated power lines were a source of pride as a symbol of Japan's march toward modernity, but of course now they're just urban blight, and urban blight that Japan has traditionally taken to extremes.

Eight Years Ago 八年前、電気線いっぱい -- http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 VR at an effective 142mm — 1/350 sec, f/10, ISO 400 — map & image datanearby photos
Eight Years Ago
八年前、電気線いっぱい
Yuck 8 years ago — 八年前 -- http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 VR at an effective 63mm — 1/250 sec, f/8, ISO 400 — map & image datanearby photos
Yuck
8 years ago — 八年前

The photo above appeared on my blog more than eight years ago, in It will be a traffic nightmare….. but I can’t wait!!, when I found out about the urban-beautification initiative that would bury the utility wires under the street. At the time, the view from my place was marred by 20+ utility wires:

Eight Years Ago 八年前、電気線いっぱい -- Copyright 2006 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 VR at an effective 157mm — 1/80 sec, f/14, ISO 100 — image data
Eight Years Ago
八年前、電気線いっぱい
Part of the Construction Eight years ago 八年前、都市美化は始まりました -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2006 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 VR at an effective 27mm — 1/200 sec, f/7.1, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Part of the Construction
Eight years ago
八年前、都市美化は始まりました

Unfortunately, the construction eight years ago to bury pipes and such merely paved the way for the removal of the utility wires, but the wires and the utility poles didn't actually get removed.

結局、八年前工事準備だけでして、電気線電子柱も残りました。

Ugly Utility Poles in the Sidewalk four years ago, from this blog post 四年前、醜い電子柱は残りました -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Sigma “Bigma” 50-500mm OS @ 500mm — 1/500 sec, f/6.3, ISO 500 — map & image datanearby photos
Ugly Utility Poles in the Sidewalk
four years ago, from this blog post
四年前、醜い電子柱は残りました
Right in the Way! 邪魔! -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Sigma “Bigma” 50-500mm OS @ 500mm — 1/500 sec, f/6.3, ISO 640 — map & image datanearby photos
Right in the Way!
邪魔!

It's difficult to imagine just how ridiculously in-the-way these utility poles are. Check out this photo from a post four years ago showing Anthony on the way to a haircut:

めっちゃ 邪魔、 電子柱 さん -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200mm — 1/160 sec, f/2.8, ISO 400 — map & image datanearby photos
めっちゃ邪魔、電子柱さん

Every few years a few of the wires would come down, but it was slow progress. Just a year ago it was still pretty much the status quo.

One Year Ago 一年前でも、ほとんどのワイヤはまだ残りました。 -- Park House Kyoto Okazaki Yuurakusou -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2013 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/1000 sec, f/2.5, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
One Year Ago
一年前でも、ほとんどのワイヤはまだ残りました。
Same Pole as in “ Yuck ” Above a year ago -- Shirakawa River -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2013 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/400 sec, f/11, ISO 1100 — map & image datanearby photos
Same Pole as in Yuck Above
a year ago

But finally they've been coming down more quickly!

Same Pole as in “ Yuck ” Above two weeks ago 二週間前、ほとんどなくなりました! -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2014 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24mm f/1.4 — 1/640 sec, f/5, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Same Pole as in Yuck Above
two weeks ago
二週間前、ほとんどなくなりました!
Much Cleaner wire-wise, at least, but the ugly in-the-way utility pole is just to my back in this shot 邪魔 な 電子柱 は 残っ てるけれども、ワイヤはほとんど 奇麗 になりました 、二週間前 -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2014 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24mm f/1.4 — 1/1000 sec, f/5, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Much Cleaner
wire-wise, at least, but the ugly in-the-way utility pole is just to my back in this shot
邪魔電子柱残ってるけれども、ワイヤはほとんど奇麗になりました、二週間前

As nice as it is to get down to just one wire, the difference between 1 and 0 is substantial, a point brought home in spectacularly clear fashion a couple of weeks ago as I walked to the Higashiyama Lightup. Jingu Street had apparently just had all its wires taken down, and though I'm sure the following photo doesn't show it, it felt surreal to walk down it sans wires. It felt as if I was on a movie set.

Surreal Jingu Street sans wires, two weeks ago 二週間前 の 神宮道、 ワイヤ無しでシュルレアリスムな感じ 。撮影所 みたい。 -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2014 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 — 1/400 sec, f/1.4, ISO 2800 — map & image datanearby photos
Surreal
Jingu Street sans wires, two weeks ago
二週間前神宮道、ワイヤ無しでシュルレアリスムな感じ。撮影所みたい。

Later that evening I noticed that all the wires and poles were down in one of the more quaint areas of Kyoto, as illustrated by two photos starting here. It was wonderful.

So finally, as of yesterday, all the wires strung in front of my place are down. The utility poles are still there, just as in the photo of Jingu Street above, but hopefully they'll be down soon as well.

And in other in-my-neighborhood news, cherry blossoms have started to bloom.

Shirakawa River yesterday 白川の桜は開花始まりまし -- Copyright 2014 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/8000 sec, f/2.5, ISO 500 — image data
Shirakawa River
yesterday
白川の桜は開花始まりまし

Comments so far....

Is the removal a Kyoto thing, or is it happening elsewhere? I’ve read a lot in the past about official discouragement of underground power cables, even to the extent that some of the New Town developments around Tokyo were stopped from putting them underground. There was even the typical canard of Japanese soil being unsuitable for underground power cables.

I assume that the initiative here is a Kyoto City thing… I don’t think these are prefectural or national roads. I would also imagine that it’d be something desired all over… it’s shocking (but sadly not surprising) to hear of new developments not starting out with them. Some areas of Kyoto (e.g. Gion) will be really difficult to retrofit, but they could really use it. I hope it spreads. —Jeffrey

— comment by Jim Breen on March 30th, 2014 at 3:20pm JST (7 months, 24 days ago) comment permalink
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