Shimokitazawa, Tokyo, Japan - Izakaya and Soju.


Train trip to Shimokitazawa, Tokyo, Japan
Alan gave me my mobile phone which I had organised before I left Australia, and I was very happy to be able to contact people in Japan on it via email. I rented it from Rentafone Japan and, while it is a little bit more expensive than other outfits, the service it gave and the convenience was well worth the money spent.

In Japan sms is not used as sms is only available on single networks. Instead, everyone has their own mobile phone email address, much like Three in Australia, and so everyone communicates via email. This is especially useful as sms has a number of limitations. 

Also in Japan it is not acceptable to speak on your phone on the train. There are signs everywhere to switch your phone to 'manner mode' - silent mode ie don't forget your manners and be quiet on the trains. If you're in the area of elderly, disabled or pregnant women you must turn your mobiles off as it's accepted that mobiles can disrupt pacemakers and damage the brains of unborn babies.

Alan took me to his home in Shimokitazawa which is the North Shore of Tokyo. Compared to units in Australia it would be considered average, but in Tokyo it's positively huge.

Alan showed me the second hand plasma he had (yeah, old technology in Japan!) and we flipped through the 7 free-to-air channels which looked to be pretty interesting. Amongst the many interesting programs we saw an advertisement for the Japanese version of "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?"! Apparently it's twice as slow as the one in Australia!

I had to leave as I was going to meet one of my students in Kanda and I wasn't sure how long it would take me to get there. Alan accompanied me on the train.

Now, this is where it starts to get confusing. In most countries the subway is one network. But the subway in Tokyo is made up of many different networks that cross each other. Sometimes it is necessary to exit one network, go down a long corridor, and buy a ticket for the next one. Sometimes the network or line you want is on the far side of the station, almost a kilometre away. And sometimes it's the same station name but an entirely new line. Kind of like Optus using Telstra cables.

The other thing that makes this confusing is that, as these are different businesses, they do not like to advertise the government lines or sometimes each other. So even at the huge interconnecting stations you can't find too many train guides or signs leading to other train lines.

Even so, I was able to make the connection THIS TIME and was on my way to Kanda - or so I thought.

The line from Shibuya to Kanda does not advertise the direction too well. And, even though most trains have indicator boards in Japanese and English that either flash up a sentence including your destination or flash LEDS next to the stop that you're at, this one didn't. Further, it was crowded and I couldn't see out the windows, so it was a full 15 minutes before I realised I was going the wrong way. I immediately got off and headed back, emailing my student with the most humble apologies that I was going to be late.

I eventually got to Kanda and we met in the upper level of... Starbucks. Afterwards I headed back along the line to meet Alan in Shimokitazawa.

Missed the stop! Got on the wrong line! (Actually I thought it was one station but it was actually another) I was able to take the first line back which stopped at the correct station on the way.

Alan met me at the station and we walked around the streets for about half an hour until we stumbled upon a cafe with a big sign saying HAGAN cafe. Well, with a name like that...  But we went to the Izakaya next to it which was pretty cool. Had some soju and tea with snacks.

Then a bit more walking and looking at the sights. A radio station broadcasting from the street, traditional looking stores still being open at 10pm and many and varied costumes worn by pedestrians.

I had to get two lines back and I was able to catch the Maranouchi line to Asakusa-Mitsuke and change to the Ginza line with only minutes to spare. I got the last train back to Asakusa and was back at the hostel by 1am - after being lost in the streets of Asakusa for awhile.

NB: After being lost so often on my trip I was starting to become a bit J-ded!

< Shibuya | Ginza >

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