Trouble at the hi-tech bicycle parking lot in Kasai

I spent the whole day today out on the town in Tokyo on a photo shoot and reporting spree for an upcoming magazine story. One of the things we did was attempt to check out the giant subterranean bicycle parking vault near Kasai Station. Unfortunately, the place is run by the local ward and they were super paranoid about four people with cameras and notebooks strolling in without bicycles and taking pics of their customers. While the photographer was taking pics of one guy parking his bike, an employee in a red jacket came over and asked us what we were up to. The photographer told him I was visiting from the States and was just fascinated by this cool tech. He told us to go away until we came back with the proper permission.

In the meantime, I took out my Flip and videotaped the high-speed bicycle elevator at work, with the angry red man lecturing our photographer in the foreground.

7 thoughts on “Trouble at the hi-tech bicycle parking lot in Kasai

  1. i saw a documentary on one of these bike parks on nhk world a while ago. they took their cameras down into the vault where the bikes are stored and moved around at terrifying speed.amazing tech-it would be cool if they could do this for cars.

  2. Let me tell you what really annoyed me when I was in Japan. Everywhere I went I obviously wanted to take pictures. I’m really into architecture and futurism so a lot of what I wanted to see was inside buildings. Almost everywhere someone told me pictures were not allowed – fair enough. Then I got to thinking; when Japanese people come to the states they take pictures of EVERYTHING. I met a girl at my hostel who said while she was a barista in the states Japanese tourists would come BEHIND THE COUNTER and film their friends ordering coffee lol. I think it’s absurd that the Japanese aren’t more accomadating to visitor’s taking photos… why does everyone need some “proper permit” to film an area – hell, where would you even request such permission. I suppose this is partly due to this “new world” we live in, but I long for a world that once was when people were a lot more relaxed about everything and not so on edge (at least here in the states, as I can’t speak for Japan).

  3. I enjoy taking pictures when I travel.
    I look to see if signs are posted not to take photos. If it is posted, or if I’m asked not to take photos, I don’t. It’s called respect.
    I don’t think Mr. Red Jacket would care if they had permission to film and take photos there. I guess he was paranoid about possibly getting into trouble if he overstepped his position and allowed people to do things beyond the purpose of the facility. In fact, it appears he even suggested they do get permission.
    I am not quite sure what to make of the comment, “I think it’s absurd that the Japanese aren’t more accomadating to visitor’s taking photos…” -sigh-
    In regards to the “new world” comment, one should always ask for permission. This is nothing new. Unless you mean prior to the invention of the camera. Private property is private property, otherwise don’t complain next time someone decides to enter your residence uninvited.
    As abul.s noted, they had watched a documentary about one of these locations. It seems that whomever filmed it, probably obtained permission.
    Hey, abdul.s, they do have these for cars. While not at quite the break-neck speed, they have automated car parks as well. From public locations, to hotels etc. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen some video of it in action.

  4. Your are sneaky one 🙂
    As soon as I see a ‘no photo’ sign (and the reasons are silly, unlike maybe military installations or at the airport) I feel a strong urge to take a picture of that (i.e one single market stall in Barcelona or a shop window in Venice)
    So, when I saw the sign at Nakaya / Tsukiji, I just had to get my camera out and managed to get some shots before anyone noticed:)
    Keep on documenting! Cheers

  5. Vagrant – As I said, I feel that tourists in America feel a carte blanche permission to take pictures of everything they deem interesting without asking permission. Just go to any major city and walk into an interesting piece of architecture or store and you’ll see people taking photos. I mean Americans and everyone else take photos with their phones all the time in these same locations. I didn’t mean it as a dig at Japan or the Japanese people being unaccommodating – though after reading it again it did come off that way. I simply meant that when people go on vacation they like to document that, and when we see something interesting and want to take a picture of it I don’t see why that’s a problem (barring situations in which one has a reasonable expectation of privacy). Of course stores/owners have the right to dictate rules on photos on their property – that doesn’t mean we can’t wish people were more open about sharing their somewhat public space through photos. This is hardly the same as someone breaking into your house, this is an absurd analogy. Asking for permission to take photos in public spaces – are you serious? Have you never been in a market, coffee shop, restaurant, hotel, or anywhere that you took a picture of your friends/self/architecture? I doubt you once asked for permission to do that. Again, the exception is if there is a reasonable expectation of privacy, of which there is obviously none in the public or even semi-private domains (stores, shopping malls, etc.). The “new world” comment was referring to the “post-9/11 everyone is afraid of terrorists world” which I find absurd, but didn’t want to have a debate on. Anyhow, to lighten the mood, here’s a somewhat related comical video 🙂

  6. I think the poor guy in the red jacket was afraid because if something bad had come out, he would have been reprimanded for not saying something. He didn’t sound angry at all, more like a “where are you from?” attitude.
    I suppose he got caught off guard. Can’t fault the guy. I’ve taken photos in plenty of “no photos allowed” places, but after asking a manager or a higher-up for the OK. I’m sure if the ward office had cleared it, photos aplenty could have been taken.

  7. abdul.s: actually something simmilar already existed for cars. here in germany they had an underground fully automated car park system just across from my university in augsburg since the year 2000.
    they are now tearing it down, as it had too many problems and people didn’t want to entrust their vehicles to an automated machine. (in Germany ones car is holy, thats why things like valet parking never took hold here)
    Link to a picture of the augsburg automated car park: