October 15, 2007

Tokyo Morning, Kichijoji Ramble, Akihabara Changes

We were up by 6:00 on Monday morning, and decided to head out to our old stomping grounds in the Kichijoji area in western Tokyo. We planned to walk around Inokashira Park on the south side of Kichijoji station until the stores opened at 10:00.

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Walking on side streets on the way to Ochanomizu station we got a glimpse of the Nikolai Cathedral among office towers.

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A holdout householder -- the land must be worth millions...

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A Chuo Line train pulls into Ochanomizu station.

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Inokashira Park with shrine, aeration fountain.

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A detail of the shrine.

The small park surrounded by the urban jungle had an amazing variety of wildlife.

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Yumi with binoculars in hand, pointing out another species of duck.

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After a couple of hours in the park, we headed back into the shopping arcades and streets of funky Kichijoji.

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The main shopping arcade.

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A shop selling traditional crackers.

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A kimono store selling the real stuff, not tourist junk.

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Personalizing cell phones is a big business.

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Blowfish swim in a restaurant's aquarium.

As lunch approached I began thinking more about food, so I headed over to the Seiyu department store, knowing the basement food floor featured an amazing variety of prepared items.

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A lineup of packaged meals.

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A mouth-watering variety of onigiri rice balls.

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More great stuff! I love Japanese supermarkets!

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This display of tonkatsu (deep fried pork cutlets) reminded me of a tonkatsu restaurant nearby, so I headed out to find Yumi.

Yumi was shopping at Yuzawaya, a huge crafts store at the east end of the station, and I was to meet her there at 11:30. When I arrived, I found a large Halloween display -- I don't recall the event being such a big deal in Japan five or more years ago! Japanese retailers are experts at appropriating any sort of holiday from any culture to flog more goods :-).

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Hmmm. This costume looks like it's more suited to, ahem, tricks rather than treats!

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We were momentarily distracted by this sushi mountain plastic display...

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But ended up at our favourite tonkatsu place in the LonLon mall. Yum!

In the evening we walked over to Akihabara, Tokyo's electronics wonderland. When we arrived, I was completely disoriented -- the area has undergone huge development, and it took me 15 minutes of wandering around to gain my bearings. I was seeking a new memory card for my digital camera and the prices in the major stores were out of sight. I knew I could do better if I could find some of the teeny shops I'd frequented years ago. I finally tracked a few down, and sure enough, the prices were less than half of the major electronics retailers.

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A manga character billboard.

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Yumi checking out canned noodles -- a recent phenomenon that we'd heard about but not experienced first hand.

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We ended the long day back on the Kanda shopping street, where we closed out the evening with beer and munchies at an izakaya pub.

Posted by Paul at October 15, 2007 07:23 PM