Monday, Oct 31 2022 (Day 10)
Table of Contents
ට Day 0 – Thursday, Oct 20 2022 to Friday Oct 21 2022 – Flight from Edmonton to Tokyo
ට Day 1 – Saturday, Oct 22 2022 – Tokyo, Saitama, Ikebukuro
ට Day 2 – Sunday, Oct 23 2022 – Autumn Reitaisai 9, Shinjuku
ට Day 3 – Monday, Oct 24 2022 – Akihabara
ට Day 4 – Tuesday, Oct 25 2022 – Hakone
ට Day 5 – Wednesday, Oct 26 2022 – Kamakura, Enoshima Island
ට Day 6 – Thursday, Oct 27 2022 – Hanno
ට Day 7 – Friday, Oct 28 2022 – Shinkoiwa
ට Day 8 – Saturday, Oct 29 2022 – Akihabara, Matsudo City
ට Day 9 – Sunday, Oct 30 2022 – M3-2022秋, Moto-Yawata
ට Day 10 – Monday, Oct 31 2022 – Akasaka, Shimokitazawa, Shibuya Halloween (You are here)
The first part of my day involved moving lodgings yet again. I had the Shinkoiwa apartment booked for 3 nights, which had just ended, and next up was a hotel booking in the depths of Akasaka (not to be confused with Asakusa, even though I always type the latter when I mean the former) for 5 nights, which would take me all the way until the end of the (first) Tokyo leg of my trip, as my 21-day JR pass would then kick in for the last 21 days of my trip. And at this point, I’d want to use the pass as much as possible to travel around the country and see things, so I wanted some stability to try to catch up on things (blogging, work, and the travel diary which I have been neglecting, as well as some rest) before I set off on my odyssey. Therefore, a 5-night stay at reasonable rates in an interesting-looking neighbourhood seemed like a good idea.
I checked out right at the 10:00 am deadline from my apartment, never having met my landlord even once (since this was the type of booking where they owned the whole building and sublet rooms out to people, and not the type where I was living in a guestroom in their house or behind their tavern). I took a few more pictures of the Shinkoiwa area as I left it for the last time, like this, kindergarten kids having fun in their walled garden:
And this, a leaflet explaining neighbourhood garbage collection days:
And this, a bad pun by a bookstore I walked by (木曜日 is Thursday with 曜日 being the -day part of the word, は is “is”, 本 is book, so them changing the 木 to a 本 with the line pretty much means “Thursday is book day” in a punny way):
A line of kindergarten kids walking by wearing the same funny Haloween shirt:
I took the JR Sobu Line rapid train from Shin-Koiwa Station to Tokyo Station:
And then transferred from there to the Marunouchi Line, which got me to the nearest station to the hotel, Akasaka-Mitsuke. This is also the line that gets me to Yotsuya Station, the nearest station to Sophia University, where I tried to go to the last two years (see previous blog entries) and hope to next year as well now that COVID fears are receding.
The Akasaka neighbourhood I was in was interesting, since from the main road that the station was next to, the scenery looks very commercial, with wide roads and tall buildings. And especially around lunch and in the evenings, there were tons of smartly-dressed businessmen (or salarymen, as the Japanese call them) roaming the streets.
Move one or two roads over though, and the tall buildings completely give way to short buildings with various shops and amenities clumped together, everything from restaurants to convenience stores to pawn shops to izakayas to lounges and more besides. And these streets were also filled with salarymen, tourists, delivery people forever supplying the stores here, and many other people wandering by. My hotel was right on one of these side streets, much to my delight.
Those specific pictures look empty, but I was cherry-picking shots.
Anyway, I was three hours early, but I had contacted the hotel in advance and asked for permission to drop off my bags. They allowed it, and so I did so here, before taking off on a foot tour around the area. For brevity’s sake, most of the pictures here will be in a gallery, but I did a big tour of the southwestern and western parts of Akasaka with my three hours, stopping only for lunch. Lunch was a Tomyam Ramen Set that came with a salad roll sliced into four, and some chai tea, for 1000 yen, and it was excellent.
I resumed my walk after that. All in all, I wandered into several convenience stores, several supermarkets, a stationery shop, a bookshop, a liquor store, a park or two, passed by Sophia University and a couple other local schools, as well as the Imperial Palace area, and I really appreciated how walkable the entire area was (like most other areas in Japan I’ve seen so far besides Hakone), with plenty of side roads and such for people to hoof it on.
Centurion Hotel Residential Akasaka Station
At this point, it was 3:30 pm, so I went back to my hotel to check in. The room wasn’t bad:
The bidet was the fanciest I had seen yet — it had a button to raise or lower the toilet seat, an air dry feature (I had seen this on Korean bidets before but not on Japanese ones until now), and even closed the toilet lid automatically after a few minutes of not using it. All very interesting.
Mind the mess:
The view outside from the 6th floor:
There was even a laundry machine in here. I unpacked, recharged, and put my feet up until 6:15 or so. I did have a list of complaints about this room and why they will not be getting more than a 6/10 from me though.
Firstly: Their WiFi internet. The one they have for guests is public WiFi with no password set on it, so anyone can hang around in there and snoop at stuff. Still, I have VPNs and this also allowed me to upload a 38 GB video to YouTube just fine, although it took over 12 hours to do so. At least they won’t be able to trace me down. There is allegedly wired internet but I don’t have a LAN cable for it.
Secondly: The lack of a microwave. There is one outside on the floor if I leave my room and take a few turns, but then I’d have to carry cold food there and hot food back and it’s shared with everyone else.
Lastly, the kitchenette. It doesn’t come with any plates, utensils, pots, etc. Apparently one can rent a kitchen set from the front desk for 1000 yen a day/night, and they said if my stay was just a one night stay then they’d make it complimentary as well. But it isn’t, and that’s extremely rude of them. Just what is the point of an induction stove without any sort of pot or bowl to use it with? This fake kitchenette (especially without any microwave as well, I’ve NEVER seen a hotel with a personal kitchenette that doesn’t come with a personal microwave) majorly pissed me off. The kitchen set prices are stupid too, since I can walk down to Picasso/Donki two minutes away and pick up a pot for 1500 yen, a bowl for less that, and a pair of chopsticks for 50 yen. But seriously, it’s insulting, and I am going to roast them on the reviews (which I did read prior to booking and they had mentioned this, so I came in knowing that this was a thing, but it doesn’t make it any more right — I didn’t see mention about the microwave and pots, only the utensils and plates) for this.
The only reason I haven’t yet picked up some cooking utensils though is that I’m not sure I want to pick up something just to toss it away after i’m done here. I’d want to carry it along with me and eventually home as well. Would it (especially the pot, which could easily double as a bowl too since I can eat from it) fit with my current luggage? It might, with some creative packing, but I’m not sure.
Shimokitazawa and Shibuya
Anyway, I went out later that night for dinner. I walked to a different train station this time — one of the things about this area is that there are multiple stations within a 10 to 15 minute walk, and where Google Maps shines over its Hyperdia countepart is that the latter app seems to only support showing the best route from station to station, and not location to location, so sometimes Google Maps wins because the route is a lot shorter if I walk to another nearby station to start.
In this case, i went to Akasaka Station, which was to the southwest of me (as opposed to Akasaka-Mitsuke, which was to the northeast):
Very pretty. I also did see an ATM that reminded me that I needed to withdraw some funds soon.
This Chiyoda Line definitely had more English signage and was more organized than the average Tokyo line.
I took the train five stops, to Yoyogi-Uehara, where I transferred to the Odakyu line to get to Shimo-Kitazawa station. Here, I encountered my first train that was so packed that not everyone waiting could get on.
Packed like sardines. This guy didn’t make it and had to line up with me for the next train, despite his best to try to look innocently at the station platform guard.
Despite all this, it was actually quite orderly. The platforms had two separate queues one for the local line and one for the rapid line:
So you’d often have long lines for one and none at all for the other depending on which train just showed up:
And this was similar to what I had seen the prior day at Hamamatsucho Station on my way to Tokyo Ryutsu Center Station on the monorail. The trains came every 3 minutes or so anyway so I squeezed onto the next one, and then squeezed off after one stop (the rapid train only stops at non-greyed out stops, so it bypassed an intermediate station withotu stopping):
And I soon arrived safely at Shimo-Kitazawa Station!
I had wanted to come to Shimokitazawa because it was an area I had heard about that was rather famous for its curry, and in fact it had some sort of curry festival going on that ended that night, where different restaurants were showcasing special curry dishes and there was some sort of digital curry stamp rally going on. I didn’t partake in that, but I did enjoy the “subculture neighbourhood” feel of the place, as they call it — there were lots of curry food (and regular food) shops around, though a lot of them were overseas food stores — fast food, steak, Thai, Chinese, Indian, and so on. There were also tons of second-hand clothing stores, and I liked seeing that. I tentatively decided to stop by here in the near future again when I have more time on my hands in order to browse and buy some stuff. Perhaps at the very end of my trip. There were also lots of students in their uniforms, as well as young adults in trendy-looking clothes walking around. Not quite in the Halloween style of things, but just people trying to look fashionable in general.
My dinner was from a Chinese place called Kamui, and I ordered their special dish, a Zaraku Curry set, whatever that is, with a side of Dandan Noodles. The curry was fantastic! It was my second curry-based dish of the day and both were yummy.
I then walked around a bit more before heading back to the station. Another gallery follows with pictures from Shimokitazawa and area.
After dinner, at around 8:30 pm, I took the Odakyu Line, which was much less packed going in the opposite direction, back to Yoyogi-Uehara Station.
I then took the Chiyoda Line again, but just two stops this time, to Meiji-Jingumae Station.
The station was pretty, but the exit from the platform was a little weird, having to squeeze down a little side tunnel with others from the platform itself:
The outside area looked like this.
The reason I came here was that this was about 10 minutes north of Shibuya Station on foot, and I wanted to record Shibuya on Halloween with my DJI Pocket. But I wanted to start it at a quieter place and walk in to the madness, so this is what I picked. I spent the night processing and then uploading the video, and here it finally is in all its amateurism. From the point of view of a short person. It was very busy, very packed, very loud, and the police did an insane job keeping everyone in line and directing traffic, since they were all on heightened alert following the horrific news of people being trampled to death in South Korea the night before. It’s wild that my first experience with the Shibuya Scramble was during Halloween.
(The video below is only 75% uploaded as of time of publishing, it’ll be up… soon…)
There were tons of locals, a good number of foreigners, many honking vehicles, and many, many people with cameras. And many police trying to keep order with loudspeakers and such. No violence though. Since I had the video camera running, I didn’t actually take any regular pictures until right at the end after the camera was off:
I’d maybe like to come here dressed up with friends someday. Maybe. The train ride home had me take the Hanzomon Line from Shibuya Station to Nagatachō Station, and I noticed that the train car I was in was flagged as a women-only car in the mornings:
Nagatachō Station was basically the same station (in that it was adjacent to and connected via a walkway) as Akasaka-Mitsuke Station, where I had first arrived at earlier in the day. So I walked home from there, taking a few last pictures of the area past sundown.