Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Ikenoue

This is my neck of the woods

Ikenoue (pronounced Eeek-e-no-uwaaay, thanks Elo!!) is my neighbourhood.

Today as I was walking home, I was thinking about how much I love my neighbourhood. As close as it is from the neon lights and teeming streets of Shibuya (I can walk home in thirty minutes), it's a little nook of peacefulness, narrow roads, steep hills and old traditional houses.

Ikenoue stands on top of the hill from Shimokitazawa, and the name implies it (ue means up, and shimo means down). I like how easily I can access all the vintage stores, espresso joints and cafés of Shimokitazawa, while quietly residing in the back streets. My neighbourhood is very affluent, as most houses are massive and cars luxurious, and I'm probably the least rich person in this area, but I like playing the part. I can luckily (?) share one of those large residences with a handful of housemates. I chose to live with roommates in Tokyo because I was so lonely in Shikoku and Osaka, and it's a great way to make friends and share costs while living in a great location.

My train station is Ikenoue, and despite how crowded and infrequent the Keio Inokashira line can be, I think the station is very quaint, and so is the area around it. It's like a small village, with a post office, old style cafés (called kissaten), and various shops lining the roads. There's definitely nothing too modern, but I love that aspect, as it kept its traditions. It feels so withdrawn from the usual Tokyo scramble. Here is a little tour with my notes.



Ikenoue train platform, looks a bit countryside, which I love

Entrance of the train station,
I seem to frantically run up those stairs every morning

A tiny shop that never seems to be open,
but they have a cool fish tank outside with a small turtle and fish collection.
I'm scared the fish won't survive the summer heat.

This is a low-budget grocery store.
They only have a few things, but the bananas are only ¥88 a bunch.
One of the cashiers loves practicing English with me,
he always greets me with a speedy "thankyouverymuch".
Maybe don't buy wine there.

France-ya is owned by an elderly man.
They serve great little dishes to take out, bento style.
I'm a little scared to go there, as you have to be precise when ordering quantities.

This shop sells futon and oversized pajamas I'd never wear.
I am constantly fighting the urge to buy a big Hello Kitty pillow
they display, but I haven't yet.

We have a 7-Eleven. It's my favourite conbini.
I usually grab a tuna sandwich there after coming home from a night out.
The tuna sandwich used to come in a combo with an egg one, but they now sell it on its own.
I like the employees there, always so friendly.

This drugstore sells um, medicine.
I've gone there a few times to buy painkillers when hungover.
I wouldn't buy anything too personal there though, I bet they gossip.

There is a Family Mart right across from 7-Eleven.
Family Mart has MUJI snacks, so I love it.
I like the older cashier lady with a raspy voice, she is soothing
and patient when I take ages finding the exact change.

This is a house (maybe) and a post box.
I sometimes mail letters and postcards there.
I've never used those vending machines.

This is the best bento place in the world.
You can pick and choose ingredients for a customized box.
The man tending the place loves British music, so we always talk about bands
with my limited Japanese and I teach him words in French.

I love running on this street, especially sprinting
all the way to Higashi-Kitazawa train station,
down the road on the Odakyu line.


A tiny yakitori (grilled meat) counter.
If you squint you can see a cute dog on the balcony above.
He went back in after he saw me taking his photo.
Whatever.

The maze of streets leading up to my house.
Everyone who tries to visit me gets lost.

I really like Ikenoue. If you ever move to Tokyo, I strongly recommend this neighbourhood, for its location and peacefulness. The neighbours are friendly, and I love greeting the elderly people with おはようございます。(ohayou gozaimasu means good morning). The only thing I don't like are the big black crows flying about, they are so scary and oversized. Many house cats roam about, and once I saw an entire family of raccoons crossing the street. It's not the most exciting place, but who needs excitement when Shibuya is a few steps away?

13 comments:

Komainulock said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Komainulock said...

Today I was touched by this article. This is the first time I left a comment. Even though I know my English is awful, I could not stop myself from writing this comment. I have been your subscriber to learn English since the beginning of the year. Every time I read your blog with my English it is not easy, but it's fun. To my surprise you are where I grew up. What a Coincidence! Yes, I went to Ikenoue elementary school until I was 10 years old. Now I live in Nara, though. Anyway I am happy you love Ikenoue. I hope you keep up the good work. Take care!

Vivian said...

Hello Komainulock,

Thanks for your wonderful comment, and I think your English is great!! I'm happy you enjoy my blog and can learn some English from it, it means a lot to me.

I was very touched by your comment. I think it's amazing you used to live in the Ikenoue neighbourhood as well, it's such a beautiful place and I feel so lucky I'm here. What a coincidence! Now you are lucky because Nara is equally wonderful, I like to think it's the most magical place in Japan :)

Take care,

Vivian

Komainulock said...

Hi Vivian!

Thanks for replying.
I'd like to add one more thing. I don't know if you've already tried these cookies, but I recommend you try them. They are called "Four Sec".

http://www.pierre.co.jp/item/four_sec/four_sec.html

I had them often when I was a kid. It's kind of soggy feeling at first, but once you taste them, you won't be able to get enough. Anyways, please check them out.


Good luck!

MoreThingsJapanese said...

This looks like a great place to live! If I ever move back into a big city after living in rural Japan, I hope I can find a little place like this. I love how you can find unique communities all over Japan.

Vivian said...

Komainuluck: Thank you so much for suggesting Pâtisserie Pierre!! I had walked by it but never peeked it. It's simply wonderful!! I bought a few Four Sec cookies, they were so delicious! Thank you thank you, now I have a new favourite shop in Ikenoue!!!

Tim Olson said...

Pierre bakery is amazing! I don't know how they stay open because they're always closed by the time I come home from work but the few times I've been, they have amazing food.

I just unpacked in Ikenoue. The picts are great because they are familiar but also completely foreign. It's such a wonderful maze of new sites and people when you take a different route. I always seem to see something new in this tiny little area.

Tim Olson said...

Pierre bakery is amazing! I don't know how they stay open because they're always closed by the time I come home from work but the few times I've been, they have amazing food.

I just unpacked in Ikenoue. The picts are great because they are familiar but also completely foreign. It's such a wonderful maze of new sites and people when you take a different route. I always seem to see something new in this tiny little area.

Vivian said...

Hi Tim! Welcome to ikenoue. I hope you love it here! Email me if you have any questions or I can introduce you to some great spots. You'll probably run into me at the station!

Modellista RC said...
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Modellista RC said...

Hi Vivian,

great post, but you shouldn't promote our "secret" neighbourhood online as the more people discover it the faster Ikenoue will loose its peacefulness... ^_^

PS for France-ya the way to go is definitely "omakase bento".

Vivian said...

Modellista RC- Ah, yes, I'm usually quite protective of my little haunts. Howeverm doubt I have enough readers/following to create a surge into Ikenoue, I'm not that popular ;)

Thanks for your comment! France-ya is GREAT indeed!

Adam Koh said...

Hi Vivian, read your blog and am visiting Tokyo in another 5 days. Just found Pâtisserie Pierre through google maps. Thank goodness for google maps. haha. am trying to find Kiya the bento shop and France-ya on google maps. wish me luck! haha.

I'm Singaporean and living in Singapore, i hope this shows how your articles are reaching out!
Ever been to Singapore? ;p

this is in response to your comment that you are not that popular. haha~~