|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 It feels so withdrawn from the usual Tokyo scramble.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.
|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.
|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?