Tokyo Diary – 10/11/12

So damn busy I forgot to check back in yesterday…

Tomorrow is a big day, as I go to the local government office (it’s a train and a bus) to register my address and get into the National Health Insurance system.  At $20 a month for 100% coverage, I guess I can take a ten-minute bus ride, eh?

A few highlights of the last couple of days, starting with my dinner stop last night: Shimokitazawa.  Remember Mahou Tsukai ni Taisetsu na Koto: Natsu no Sora?  This was the neighborhood in Tokyo where Sora settled after moving down from Hokkaido, and I’ve wanted to see it ever since seeing the anime.  It’s on the Keio Inokashira line in between my guesthouse and the school I’m attending – here’s a short video.

Pretty cool place, though I only skimmed the surface.  Had a fantastic meal at the miracle that is kaitenzushi, 7 plates of nigiri for about 12 dollars.  There are mediocre conveyor belt sushi places in Tokyo so this is one time when you want to do your homework, but the good ones are amazing value.

One amazing coincidence I neglected to mention…  My town in SF was pretty small, maybe 25K people.  When I wrote my address on my contract, the guesthouse manager said his parents lived in that town for two years, and he visited them there.  Small world, for damn sure.

A few miscellaneous observations:

  • Japanese kid wearing an English “Respect the 70s” t-shirt
  • Japanese Mom on the train berating her middle-school son on the train for 10 minutes straight for wearing pants that wouldn’t stay up
  • Getting off the train at a tiny town to look at an apartment to find Warren Zevon’s “Werewolves of London” playing on the village PA
  • Hyouka ED2 playing on the sound system at Lawson’s
  • Continual amazement at how good the cheap food is here.  Had a 380 yen beef bowl at Sukiya expecting mediocrity, and it was fantastic.


  1. e

    Nigiri *drool* at that price seems indeed a lucky catch.
    Stay insured and eat healthy, blogger-sama.

    Funny at how scale and perception change from country to country… 25k people already 'smells' like a little city here in Italy, as you might have realized first-hand XD. There are still micro-villages of even 100 or less inhabitants with their own mini-school and their own mayor and administration mini-staff (definitely a medieval heritage here ^^ ).

  2. i

    Food is cheap as long as you don't eat western style. That gets ridiculously expensive! 😉 Then again, San Francisco is also very expensive!

    The biggest money saver is not having a car. 😉

  3. V

    More Tokyo tidbits. I'm really loving the details here.

    Speaking of Hyouka ED2, I can't get that song outta my head.

  4. T

    AHH. Your posts are making me so jealous Enzo. Glad you are having such a good time and hope it continues to be so for you.

  5. L

    About t-shirts. Make sure you take your cameraphone with you everywhere. You'll get lots of laughs with all the bad spelling and just plain weird context.

    …and make sure to submit the pics here:

  6. Take pics of people wearing the T-shirts, you mean? Gosh – that seems kind of rude.

  7. B

    Not to mention touristy. You live there now, don't act like a tourist!

  8. A

    Or continue acting like a tourist even though he lives there, so he gets better treatment from the locals.

  9. L

    Oh please. You'll see tons of em displayed in boutiques in your first month, I guarantee. No invasion of privacy whatsoever.

  10. If you mean shirts displayed in shops and not on people, sure, I would have done that at the NoitaminA shop if it weren't for the NO PHOTO signs everywhere. A lot of retailers seem to have them.

  11. L

    In my experience, depending on situation obviously, acting like a tourist actually gets a much more polite response. In my time, many locals preferred tourists to gaijin aliens.

  12. B

    That's different than where I live then lol. I live in San Diego, we get our fair share of tourist traffic, and most of the people I know would rather not deal with tourists at all.

  13. A

    Your comments about food makes me miss Tokyo, and East Asia in general. It always strikes me significant and symbolic that one can get very eatable food at a convenience store in Japan, while nothing would be really edible at a 7-11 in the states–and I'm really *not* at all a foodie. The same goes higher up the food scale. I still remember walking into a random tonkatsu restaurant in Tokyo, and I've never been able to order that at a Japanese restaurant in the states since without regretting it. It just can't compare. And never mind the sushi.

  14. K

    Oh god Sukiya…there was one across from my hostel when I was in Tokyo. I loved that place.

  15. M

    Asians make the best food. Hell, even the crappy burger king is done with OCD-like perfectionism.

  16. S

    Glad to see you're settling down nicely Enzo. I'm really enjoying the little tidbits from Tokyo. Traveling in Japan always makes me fat, don't forget to hit the gym after feasting Enzo 😉

  17. l

    Did the touristy bits with colleagues after work yesterday.

    Was at Zojo-ji (link). After that, off to Mori Tower at Roppongi Hills for the Tokyo Sky View (Tokyo Tower looks like a shortie here).

    Ramen dinner at Roppongi:

    Snacking on yakitori under the railway tracks at Ginza:

  18. Zoji-ji looks interesting – I haven't been to that one.

  19. l

    Went to Maruzen at Nihombashi yesterday morning. Picked up Volume 1 of Mix. Other that that, mostly touristy stuff:

    Refurbished/rebuilt Tokyo Station:
    The current rage due to the refurbishment being recently completed in early October.
    View of the north dome
    View from across the street
    A look at the interior of the North dome
    Early evening view of the South dome

    East Gardens of the Imperial Palace:
    There's a free walking tour in English every Saturday at 1pm. Meets at Marunouchi Central Exit, Tokyo Station. Bumped into it when they were gathering interested tourists.
    Corner tower
    Main gate: Ote-mon gate
    The largest guardhouse: Hyakunin bansho
    Central lawn in the garden which used to have the shogun's quarters
    One of the gardens within
    Internal walls for 3rd line of defense

    Went to Akihabara at night to look around. Had dinner at one of the eateries along the back roads of Akihabara. Close to the Mandarake shop. Stir-fried pork strips with green pepper and bamboo shoots set for JPY700:
    The dinner set
    The eatery

    Too sensible (and money-watching) to fall for the full-on marketing for:
    AKB48 cafe
    Gundam cafe
    One of the maid cafes

  20. w

    Heard from a friend thru FB…another earthquake with magnitude of 5ish??? there in Tokyo. But having lived in California, you must be used to it…

  21. Not so much as in Tokyo, no. But it wasn't a big deal.

Leave a Comment