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Category: Travel

Walking Tokyo Series: Nakano to Ikebukuro

TL;DRWe’re walking Tokyo (this time from Nakano Station to Ikebukuro Station) to practice for next year’s Yamathon! Is there anywhere in Tokyo that you’re curious about? Let us know below…

TL;DRWe’re walking Tokyo (this time from Nakano Station to Ikebukuro Station) to practice for next year’s Yamathon! Is there anywhere in Tokyo that you’re curious about? Let us know below and maybe we’ll walk it or message us to come join us!

Nakano Station to Ikebukuro Station!? Why?!

Check out our first post to learn more about why we love to walk the cities we live in. Since the cold weather hit, we’ve been doing WAY less walking. Maybe the kotatsu is too comfy for our own good? In any case, I was meeting a friend out in Ikebukuro so this was a solo mission. I figured I would counteract some of my kotatsu-potato behavior as well as counteract the food we were about to eat!

Nakano Station to Ikebukuro Station

The Route

The Route

Stats

Statistics

  • Don’t mind the change in format – Google Fit updated and display way less stats now. *shrug*
  • ~1.25 hours
  • A little more than 3.75 miles
  • Easy route with very little uphill, mostly residential in between stations, with a couple of shop lined streets and parks along the way.
  • #FromPineapples difficulty: 🍍 (of 5)
  • #FromPineapples things to see: 🍍🍍🍍 (of 5)

The Route

  • I started just north of Nakano train station and walked along it for a bit before turning into the residential areas. Near the station, the walls are painted nicely, but the further down you go, they get pretty beat up looking. Nothing to really see there, so I turned in.
  • It’s all pretty residential until you turn onto Waseda Dori (where the route starts going North). There’s a large road with 4 or so temples in a row, as well as schools and some small shops.
  • After that, there was a pretty spacious sidewalk with a bike lane, adjacent to the highway, until I turned off again into the next residential area (near the blue #8 on the map).
  • I could have stayed on the main road for all of these, but since we’ve been looking at places we’d like to live, I decided the residential area would be better suited.

Neighborhood Notes

  • Since Nakano is our hometown now, there’s so much I can say about it. During the day, most of the restaurants surrounding the broadway are pretty dead, but at night it’s like a completely different City. I doubt we’ll ever try every restaurant in the area – but since Nakano is the birthplace of Tsukemen, I highly recommend giving the Tsukemen shops a try.
  • Ikebukuro has A LOT. From the Pokemon Center Mega Tokyo to large department stores and shop-lined streets, there’s a ton to offer here and we definitely have to go back. On this trip, we tried out some fried soup dumplings at Yong Xiang that were pretty delish (and cheap!). There’s a pretty big Chinese food scene out here, with some considering it a small Chinatown in Central Tokyo.
  • While walking in the day was nice, I also walked partway back (to Takadanobaba just to hop on the train for the last leg – I was tired – haha) after the sun went down and it’s pretty quiet. While not scary in the sense that Japan is a really safe place, the scaredy-cat in me probably wouldn’t be super keen on walking that alone.
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Walking Tokyo Series: Kichijoji Station to Nakano Station

Walking Tokyo gives an intimate glimpse into the daily lives of Tokyoites. Read our notes from the 5.5 mile (~2 hour) walk Kichijōji Station to Nakano Station. Join us as we walk Tokyo!

TL;DRWe’re walking Tokyo (this time from Kichijoji Station to Nakano Station) to practice for next year’s Yamathon! Is there anywhere in Tokyo that you’re curious about? Let us know below and maybe we’ll walk it or message us to come join us!

Kichijoji Station to Nakano Station ?! Why?!@

Check out our first post to learn more about why we love to walk the cities we live in. We originally went out to Kichijoji to check out the Round 1 (because I love games) and decided to just walk home. I know, don’t ask – we make these kinds of decisions to just walk home a lot. 😀

Kichijōji Station to Nakano Station

Our Route

Walking Tokyo: Kichijoji Station to Nakano Station Route

Route

Walking Tokyo: Kichijoji Station to Nakano Station Statistics

Statistics

 

Statistics

  • ~2 hours
  • A little more than 5.5 miles
  • This was an extremely flat route with everything to see centered around the stations. Every station has its own charm!
  • We followed the train line so we passed the following stations: Kichijōji, Nishi-Ogikubo, Ogikubo, Asagaya, and Kōenji
  • #FromPineapples difficulty: 🍍 (of 5)
  • #FromPineapples things to see: 🍍🍍 (of 5) – (only around the stations).

Neighborhood Notes

  • Kichijoji has a really large Round 1 where we played メダルゲーム (medal games, my personal fav). Not as good as the one in Odaiba, but I think it’s great for an area outside of central.
  • Ogikubo is famous not only because it’s a ‘ramen battleground’, but is known specifically for Ogikubo Ramen – a Tokyo style ramen prepared from fish. I have a few places that I wanted to try on my Foursquare list, but we didn’t get to try any – specifically Harukiya. If you get out there and try some, let us know which ones!
  • Even though the stations have its own charm, the paths between the stations are what I would describe as pretty boring (at night).  It might be different during the day, but I say this because if you’ve ever walked in a Japanese residential neighborhood away from a station and outside of central (and even some in central), you’ll know that Japanese neighborhoods are eerily quiet – I often wonder if people actually live in them. The ambiance is akin to a horror flick – right before the monster appears and devours you – so you generally walk quickly and quietly as to not disturb the peace.
  • Originally home to Tokyo’s punk scene in the 70’s, Kōenji is famous for its vintage clothing shops. You’ll find a ton of them in the PAL shopping street and around the station.
  • Also, while you’re in Koenji, if you like curry – make sure to check out the 100 Hour Curry B&R which won the Kanda Curry Grand Prix in 2016. It’s ticket machine so you’ll need very minimal Japanese to order and try some.
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Walking Tokyo Series: Rainbow Bridge

Walking Tokyo gives an intimate glimpse into the daily lives of Tokyoites. Read our notes from the 5 mile (~2 hour) walk across Odaiba and Rainbow Bridge. Join us as we walk Tokyo!

TL;DRWe’re walking Tokyo (this time over Rainbow Bridge) to practice for next year’s Yamathon! Let us know in the comments if there’s anywhere in Tokyo that you’re curious about or if you’d like to join us! Thanks @noellechun for coming along this time! It was awesome catching up!

Rainbow Bridge?! Why?!@

Why Rainbow Bridge you ask? Why not?! Check out our first post to learn more about why we love to walk the cities we live in. This week we’re posting our weekend adventures with our friend from Hawaii, @noellechun! She was an awesome sport as we navigated and adventured around Odaiba. We ended up in Ginza with the intent of eating a GIANT cream puff, but didn’t realize we needed to reserve that thing a week in advance. Our spirits weren’t crushed though, since we still ate a ton of amazing food at the Taste of Tokyo event – and ended the night with some Cremia🍦!

Odaiba and Rainbow Bridge

Our Route

Walking Tokyo: Odaiba and Rainbow Bridge Route

Walking Tokyo: Odaiba and Rainbow Bridge Route

Walking Tokyo: Odaiba and Rainbow Bridge Statistics

Walking Tokyo: Odaiba and Rainbow Bridge Route

Walking Tokyo: Odaiba and Rainbow Bridge Statistics

 

Statistics

  • Odaiba to Rainbow Bridge – 4.92 miles
  • ~2.5 hours
  • Odaiba is pretty flat, but the bridge had a steady uphill on one side (as all bridges do 😂)
  • If you’re afraid of heights – this is NOT the walk for you.
  • Sunset views on both Odaiba Beach and the bridge are amazing.
  • On Rainbow Bridge, you pick North or Southside to walk on. North gives nice views of Tokyo’s skyline and a glimpse of the setting sun until you hit the turn in the bridge. The South path has nicer views after that.
  • Coming from Odaiba, there are two places to choose which side you want to walk on: once at the very beginning and again (you can switch sides) before the bridge turns.
  • Not much to see on the walk from Ariake Station area to Odaiba Kaihinkoen Station area, so hopping on the Yurikamome line is an option.
  • Neighborhoods we passed through: Odaiba, Shibaura Island
  • #FromPineapples difficulty: 🍍🍍 (of 5)
  • #FromPineapples things to see: 🍍🍍 (of 5)

Neighborhood Notes

  • There’s always something going on in Odaiba on the weekends and this Sunday was no exception! There were three outdoor festivals and a tourism expo:
    • Fiesta Mexicana – Mexican food, drinks and performances on the West Side of Odaiba near Daiba Station.
    • Mercari Flea Market – Similar to the Swap Meet at Aloha Staidum, there were tons of people selling their stuff on the cheap! This was in the West Promenade area near Diver City.
    • Tokyo Ajiwai Festival (Taste of Tokyo) – Food vendors from all over Japan as well as vendors representing various countries and ethnicities in the world! On the Southeast side of Odaiba, near the Ariake and Kokusai-tenjijo Stations (right in front of Tokyo Big Sight)
    • In Tokyo Big Sight, there was Tourism Expo Japan (we didn’t get a chance to check this one out)
  • To get to Rainbow Bridge from Odaiba, walk through Odaiba beach which was reminiscent of Ala Moana Beach at sunset – complete with standup paddle boarders (okay, there was one guy) and hula dancers. Lots of folks relaxing and just hanging out.
  • From the North side of the bridge, you can see both Tokyo Tower and (way off in the distance) Tokyo Skytree.
  • The pedestrian path on Rainbow Bridge is suspended below the cars, so you can’t see above you except in the lookout areas.
  • We walked through Shibaura Island and it was quite fancy looking. A quieter area, but the buildings were noticeably nicer than the area directly off the bridge.
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Walking Tokyo Series: Hatchōbori to Nakano

Walking Tokyo gives an intimate glimpse into the daily lives of Tokyoites. Read our notes from the 10 mile (~5 hour) walk between Hatchōbori station and Nakano station. Join us as we walk Tokyo!

TL;DRWe’re walking Tokyo to practice for next year’s Yamathon! Is there anywhere in Tokyo that you’re curious about? Let us know below and maybe we’ll walk it or message us to come join us!

Walking Tokyo?! Why?!@

One of my favorite things to do when I travel abroad is to catch public transportation because it gives you an intimate glimpse into the daily life of someone local to the area.  Having lived in a few large cities, one of the first things Sara and I do is figure out how to walk it. Similar to catching public transportation, walking a city is immersive and gives you insight into the socioeconomic structures as well as the daily lives of those who live in a particular area.

Protip: Walking a city also allows you to scope out future places to live!

When we lived in NYC, we walked almost all of lower Manhattan (below 60th – it’s also why we know it so well!) and so when we moved to Tokyo, we figured we’d do the same – but this time, we’ll try to document our strolls so that they’ll hopefully give you some ideas for your own adventures.

In addition to the route and how long it took, we’ll have snippets about places we detour to along with neighborhood notes. To kick this series off, this past weekend, we walked Hatchōbori Station (a little East of Ginza) to Nakano Station.

Hatchōbori Station to Nakano Station

Our Route

Hatchōbori Station to Nakano Station Route

Walking Tokyo: Hatchōbori Station to Nakano Station Route

Route

Walking Tokyo: Hatchōbori Station to Nakano Station Statistics

Statistics

 

Statistics

  • ~5 hours
  • A little less than 10 miles
  • A little uphill north of the palace, but overall, a pretty easy stroll – this looks a lot scarier of a walk than it really is.
  • We stopped at Lawson Station in Ichigaya to get a drink and some lemon cheese pancakes (for fuel, of course!).
  • We walked around: Yasukuni Shrine and the exterior of the Imperial Palace.
  • Neighborhoods we passed through: Tsukiji, Ginza, Chiyoda, Ichigaya, Shin-Ōkubo
  • #FromPineapples difficulty: 🍍🍍 (of 5)
  • #FromPineapples things to see: 🍍🍍🍍 (of 5)

Neighborhood Notes

  • Ginza has a lot of shopping areas. Duh, it’s obviously famous for them – but walking the area gives a very different perspective of just how many shops there are here. Narrator: there’s a lot of them!
  • Ichigaya is noticeably fancier than a lot of Tokyo neighborhoods – not quite Roppongi Hills fancy, but still very, very nice. The building facades and overall atmosphere oozes upscale.
  • Shin-Ōkubo is (in)famous for its Koreatown and it shows – everything around the station is cheese this and cheese that. From cheese dakkarubi to cheese corndogs – you’re going to encounter a ton of younger folk here – even younger than Kichijoji. If you know Sara, you’d also know she’s already been here to eat Korean food, but we’re definitely coming back to try all these チーズ (cheese) dishes.
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Shitamachi Tanabata Matsuri

The Shitamachi Tanabata Matsuri is a summer festival that celebrates the uniting of two (literal) star-crossed lovers with wish-writing, colorful decorations and star-shaped everything. Mostly for kids, tbh. 

TL;DR The Shitamachi Tanabata Matsuri is a summer festival that celebrates the uniting of two (literal) star-crossed lovers with wish-writing, colorful decorations and star-shaped everything. Mostly for kids, tbh. 

The Story

The Tanabata Matsuri, or Star Festival, is celebrated in Tokyo on July 7th every year (a few other places celebrate on August 8th since it was initially based on the Lunar calendar #themoreyouknow).

It’s a cute, but pretty depressing story of a Princess that falls in love with a Shepherd – all is flowers and candy until they start neglecting their respective jobs and the Princess’ dad decides that they work >>>>> love. Savage parenting, but life’s all about balance, I suppose.

He sees how sad she is and decides to give them ONE day a year to meet on the 7th day of the 7th month. – at the Amanogawa (Heavenly river, or Milky Way). For a cute illustrated story, check out this youtube vid (Japanese with subs).

Matsuri Weekend

The actual festival takes place in several locations all around Japan, so wherever you’re living/visiting be sure to give it a quick google. The festival we checked out, Shitamachi Tanabata Matsuri, spanned July 5th – July 9th and included live performances, a parade, food, drinks and activities (mostly kid-focused).

It was blazing hot when we got there around 2pm on Sunday – but there was a ton to see! We walked from the Tawaramachi Station to Ueno Station, along the main street of the festival (Kappabashi Hondori).

There were decorations and tanzoku (slips of paper to write your wishes on) for you to tie to the bamboo branches strung up around the street.

We naturally wished to be fluent in Japanese by the end of the year. 😉

Most of the activities were for kids and my Japanese teacher actually mentioned that this festival was one of the less crowded ones of the summer. There were little pools to catch fish and crayfish, fresh puffed/popped rice, water balloon yo-yo’s and a bunch of tables selling beer / canned drinks / yakitori / yakisoba / mochi.

If I’m being 100% honest, unless I have a small child in tow (spoiler alert: not even on the radar yet hahaha) then this is probably one of the matsuri’s we’ll be skipping in the future – unless we take a trip out to Saitama, where I hear it’s epic.

Shitamachi Tanabata Matsuri

Officially celebrated on July 7th (with events occurring on the surrounding days)
From Ueno Station to Asakusa Station along Kappabashi Hondori
Website (Japanese only but you could get by with google translate)

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Follow us as we document our move to Tokyo, Japan!

Follow us, a Japanese couple from Hawaii, as we document our move to Tokyo! Hopefully, through this experience, we’ll learn about our family’s history and what being Japanese is really all about.

For once, I don’t have a TL;DR for this post. The title says it all! We’ve moved to Tokyo!

Wait, what! We’ve finally moved to Tokyo!

Since a lot of people have been asking questions, we created a post to help answer them.

Why are you moving to Tokyo?

We’re not going for family nor work nor <insert your favorite, logical reason here> – I guess one could say we’re moving for adventure.  It’s been a dream of ours since we first met more than 8 years ago, and it’s been in the works since we lived in NYC / SF over 3 years ago. Hopefully, through this experience, we’ll both learn a bit about our family’s history and what being Japanese is really about.

What kind of Visa did you get?

I received a boring Spousal Visa. Lucky Me!

On the other hand, Sara received a Long Term Resident Visa via ancestry by proving she’s sansei (thanks grandma!). It was a long process that took a little over 6 months, and we had help from an immigration attorney to help submit our application. Sara’s planning to blog about what she needed to provide and do because there isn’t a ton of information online aside from a post or two in the Japan / Japan Life subreddits.

How long are you staying?

Sara says FOREVER!

(Just kidding, we’ll come back to visit.)

Seriously though, we don’t currently have any plans to return home, but life does come at you fast, so who knows?

What are you going to be doing?

Well, for one, we’re working.

Sara will be working remotely for Colliers International because it’s her first true love job – she’s been with them since she was a rebellious teenager – except for that one time she cheated on them with CBRE in New York. Hehe. For the past few years, I’ve been really interested in helping preserve the past – so to continue on with that journey, I’ll be working on a small storytelling app.

We’re also going to be exploring the city/country and learning a bit of Japanese in the process. My goal is to be able to give people tours of the city for the 2020 Olympics!

Where are you going to live?

For the next few weeks, we’re staying in an AirBnb in West Tokyo. Since neither of us have to go into Central Tokyo for work, we’re planning on finding a place near Tachikawa  station to get a bit more space so people can stay with us. Tachikawa is ~30 minute ride to Shinjuku.

Can I stay with you?

No.

Props out to you if you actually read this far, but then you’ll also know that we got a larger place so that people can stay with us. Just hit us up to see if the room is available.

That’s it for now! 🙂

If there’s anything else you’re curious about, let us know in the comments!

 

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