Japan – Day 10 (Part 1)

The rain of the previous day had moved away when we awoke on Day 10 so it was a good day to be out and about in the city.  One of my companions had gone for a walk and taken the key to the apartment with him and the other was still asleep.  Both could be in their respective states for a few hours so, rather than waiting at the apartment, I decided to head out to our day’s target location on my own: Ikebukuro.

My first stop was Nishiguchi park since:

  1. It is near the rail station,
  2. The Animate store wasn’t open yet, and
  3. The park features in one of my all-time favorite anime series, Durarara!!

Sadly, I didn’t see a Dullahan riding a motorcycle or any flying vending machines (Durarara!! reference) but I did see things I recognized from the anime nevertheless.  I’ll add some screenshots for illustrative purposes later.

Day10JPIkebukuroNishiguchi2

The fountain wasn’t operating at that time of morning but it was cool to see the area.  Ikebukuro was surprisingly quiet and low-key for a Friday morning – I had expected there to be more people, traffic, and noise but I’m not complaining. 🙂

Here’s a view to the left of the fountain above.

Day10JPIkebukuroNishiguchi1

Here is a view to the right of the fountain.

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Here is where I was on Google Maps.  After spending some time in the park and smiling like a loon because I recognized things from Durarara!!, I meandered through side streets towards the Animate store.  On the way I had to cross the railway tracks as the store was on the opposite side of the station.  I decided to take a pedestrian underpass and found a sign warning cyclists that people may be sitting in the tunnel so cyclists had better watch out.

Day10JPIkebukuroUnderpass

Yes, yes, I know that’s not what the sign is for but it fits right?…Right?…*crickets*

Ok, moving on.  Which I did, too, until I arrived at the Ikebukuro Animate store.

Day10JPIkebukuroAnimate2

I arrived about 5 minutes after the store opened yet I wasn’t the first customer by any means (didn’t want to seem overeager 😉 ).  The photo above was taken when I left the store.  That was 2 hours after I entered it.  Yeah, I spent a lot of time there.  I could have spent more but I wanted to see a bit more of Ikebukuro and meet up with my traveling companions.  I’ll just say that I prefer this store to the one in Akihabara as it isn’t as cramped (more than one person can easily fit in the aisles!) and has a great selection of the sorts of things that I like, which makes sense since this one caters to female anime/manga fans.

I found this ad in Animate for Durarara!!, which is coming out with a season 2 (and video games) and I’m hoping the new anime will be as good as the first season, which I loved.

Day10JPIkebukuroAnimate1

My friends had finally made their way to Ikebukuro so I walked through the city to meet them.  Along the way I found the Treble Clef sculpture that is seen in the first intro to the Durarara!! anime (yay!).

Day10JPIkebukuroTrebleClef

If you’re not into anime or don’t know much about Durarara!!, apologies for the boring chatter.  I’ll stop that…for now. 🙂

The city had woken up by the time I walked through and it was great to see it so alive.

Day10JPIkebukuro1

I really like the patches of trees and greenery sprinkled throughout the city.

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I met up with my friends at a nearby Starbucks and was pleased that the coffee and atmosphere were just like home.

Day10JPIkebukuroStarbucks

The odd thing about Starbucks and Ikebukuro is that the Starbucks app lists only 1 branch in Ikebukuro but I passed at least 3 on my way to meet up with my friends.  I Googled for them as well and, again, only 1 came up.  Weird!

One of my friends wanted to check out the prices of electronics to see what bargains he might find due to the weakness of the Japanese Yen against the USD so we headed to Bic Camera, a huge electronics store located near the station.  On the way we passed by huge stores and high-rises filled with smaller shops.

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Here is another view closer to the station.

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Bic Camera had a huge selection and we decided it would be best if we did a bit of research on what we wanted and the prices in the US before making any purchase so we walked around a bit more before heading home.  One shop across the way had a huge mobile phone plastered on its facade.Day10JPIkebukuro5

I like many things about Japan and one I keep noticing is the cyclists.  The cyclists are very courteous towards pedestrians and get off of their bikes when they need to in order to allow pedestrians to pass.  It would be nice if some of the ones I’ve encountered along the Embarcadero in San Francisco would be as careful as I’ve been nearly run down multiple times while walking my dog there.  I know all cyclists aren’t like this – most are great – but I haven’t seen the bad element in Japan (yet) even though there are so many bikes so I consider that a plus. 🙂

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Drivers are also very mindful of cyclists and give them room when passing them on the streets.  I can understand why there are so many cyclists in the city!

And with that, we headed back for the station and Roppongi to deposit our purchases and rest a bit before heading out again for more explorations.

Day10JPIkebukuroStation

I’ll pick up in the Part 2 post coming up, which will be short and a bit of a culinary adventure.

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