1983 Snowy Winter Scene from a Tokyo Neighborhood

  |   History, Not San Francisco, Video   |   2 Comments

I spent Christmas this year with my fiance’s family in Southampton, PA. Her dad pulled out a DVD of some footage he took on one of the earliest VHS vidcams (a Hitachi) that chronicled a trip around Japan in 1983 when they lived there. This clip is from the small neighborhood in Tokyo – Hatsudai – where they were living.

The 27-year-old footage of snowman-building kids, lanterns, tight quarters, and a thick collection of snow, really evoke the feeling of Winter and Christmas for me. I also love the ambient sound.

Below is the same street today with images grabbed off Google Streetview:

(Thanks, Bob!)

  • Scott Gamble | Jan 5, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    Great video! I also love that the photographer didn’t try to narrate the video and allowed the ambient sounds to be captured. It is like a time capsule of sorts. It’s fascinating to imagine how many videos just like this are languishing in storage just waiting to be digitized and shared. It would make for a great web site (like SU).

  • The Photographer | Jan 6, 2010 at 11:44 am


    Thanks so much for letting me in on this. What a trip to see it with good editing. I blush at the commentator’s comment that I am to be commended for not narrating. All that means is that I never edited this footage–I would probably have tried to add comment in the editing process at that time. So it’s really you who should have gotten the compliment. It’s interesting that the blurring of focus that results from age and all the transfers leading up to your final transfer actual serves to increase the mood impact of the scenes. It’s focused enough so that you can tell what most of the things you’re looking at are, but it’s like looking through the mists of time, making it timeless in its own way. That old camera actually produced a remarkably clear original image considering the technology of the time.