January 28, 2009


One stop on from Komagome, and I had no idea what to expect from this area as my small Tokyo atlas had very little detail about the area ~ in fact there seemed to be a blank area near the station.
On exiting the north side of the station I was greeted the ubiquitous sound of Andean pipers, usually in groups admittedly, but maybe this was a reflection of how lucrative a busking spot this station is.
It was a long walk over a bridge over the rail tracks and a large area of railway sidings before the slope down to Tabata-Shinmachi.

I walked and walked, then walked some more, but the area seemed mainly occupied by apartment blocks and small warehouses, with little of interest to the casual visitor.
Some railway bridges in Tokyo have interesting murals painted on them, sometimes reflecting something of the area. The one here, together with the 'railway track memorial bench' below, seem to indicate that trains have been a part of the daily life here for some time.
A short while later there were a few streets with some shops that seemed to have a bit of character.
The ideal spot for masochists to have a coffee? [OK, scraping the barrel, I know , but I was getting desperate to find anything interesting to snap by this stage]

This liquor shop is a throw back to the Showa era, and probably has the same layout as when it first opened.
All the walking with little to show for it meant I had worked up an appetite, so I popped into a local restaurant for a katsu-don set, which hit the spot.

Over the road from the restaurant was the right place to go to buy a new lawn, or they could conceivably be in the window business given the mix ups you can find.
Then it was a hike back over to the other side of the station.
Tokyo is well-known as a city that makes use of every spare piece of land, but this corrugated iron dwelling is ridiculously narrow.
A pleasant place to get your hair done.
I don't know what he sells, but I don't imagine there are many other Arnolds trading in Japan.

After wandering past more and more apartment blocks and building sites (there seemed to a lot of construction going on), I eventually found the Tokaku-ji temple, with its collection of impressive statues.

This figure is Ninomiya Kinjiro, who was a real person, and traditionally can be found at some temples and elementary schools. From what I understand, he is supposed to embody the notion of hard work and diligence.
The view over the tracks from the south exit of the station.
This sign was displayed all along the main shopping streets, though I'm not sure I would agree with the sentiment somehow when comparing it to other parts of the capital.

January 27, 2009

Musings to Myself

Go Go Power - Sugar Pie DeSanto
Back To Funk - Robert Lowe
Fading Away - The Temptations
Musings To Myself - El Michels Affair
Sahara Swing - Karl Hector & The Malcouns
Time - indigo jam unit
Eastern Step - Hajime Yoshizawa
And It All Goes Round And Round - Andrea Pozza Trio featuring Alan Farrington
A Pocketful of Grease - Osian Roberts/Steve Fishwick Quintet
Better Get It In Your Soul - Charles Mingus

Cafe Montana in Kichijoji

I spent Sunday looking around Kichijoji and for lunch decided to go to the small but popular Cafe Montana on Nakamichi. Despite it's very western sounding name, it's a cafe specialising in Thai food and soup curry. I opted for beef soup curry, which was great, though it contained the occasional surprise when I chomped down on small bits of hot pepper.

January 23, 2009

Pub in Komagome

The perfect place to go if you're fed up of all those extra terrestrial establishments.

January 20, 2009


Komagome is the next stop along from Sugamo, and this was my first Yamanote Line stop of the New Year on a day that had almost spring-like weather. There are two exits to the station, and headed to the North/South exit, which looked more promising as far as things to see were concerned.
On exiting the station you hit Hongo Dori. To the left takes you south into Bunkyo Ward and towards the famous Rikugien Gardens, so it was in this direction that I headed first of all.

The main road is mainly lined with apartment blocks housing shops on the ground floor, many of which were selling zakka and traditional handicrafts. After about 600 metres you get to the entrance to the gardens. The entrance fee is 300 yen, but it is well worth it as the gardens are both extensive and beautiful. According to the English pamphlet I was given, the garden dates back as far as 1702 and is a classic Japanese pond-style garden.
The large pond is the centrepiece of the garden, but there are several paths leading to different teahouses and viewing points, making it a pleasant place to wander around.

Yours truly relaxing in one of the teahouses.

Sketching from Fujishiro-toge, the tallest hill in the garden.
Picnic by the pond.
On leaving Rikugien I continued south towards Hon-Komagome. On the way I saw this poster for an art exhibition.
Soon after I passed an art gallery called 'Famous' and in front there was this work of it, called 'Empitsu', which is Japanese for, believe it or not, 'pencils'.

A block or two further on from there and you reach a large temple called Kichijoji. From the entrance (above), there is a long pathway that leads past several small altars and a large Buddha, before you reach the bell tower and the main temple building.

After looking around for a bit I headed back to the station and then went towards the north side. After a couple of hundred metres, you pass into Kita Ward, and the neighbourhood has a slightly different feel to it than the area around Rikugien.
Leading off Hongo Dori is the Shimofuri shoutengai (or shopping street) filled with lots of small shops for doing the grocery shopping that have probably been there for many years.

This cafe has an intriguing name that translates as 'bananacrocodile'.

The other famous spot for visitors in the Komagome area are the Kyu-Furukawa Gardens, which has a mix of Western and Japanese styles. Set on a hillside, the upper part features a western-style residence and rose garden, built in the Meiji era, and the lower section features a more traditional Japanese style garden.

It's probably better to see these gardens in the summer when the roses are in bloom, but it was interesting nevertheless. Apparently, the teepee like structures you can see in the pictures here and in Rikugien are designed to protect the small pine trees from frost and snow.

On the way back to the station I saw this graffiti and just liked the mix of marker, faded paint and wood grain.

All in all, given that I knew nothing about Komagome before coming here, I found it was an interesting place to look around, and Rikugien is certainly a garden worth visiting in any season.