On Sunday September 11th I took my second solo adventure to Ikebukuro. This time I was determined to find the Pokemon Center, which I failed to do the first time. (Not that I was really trying since I just wanted to explore). I also had planned to go to the Sunshine City Aquarium, but with a 200o yen (~$20) admission fee I was somewhat hesitant. I’ve been spending too much money the entire time I’ve been in Japan and at this rate I’ll definitely run out too soon.
To get to Ikebukuro is pretty easy since I just have to take the Tobu-Tojo line all the way to the end, which takes about 50 minutes. Once I got to the station I took the same exit that I went through the first time I went then immediately headed to the underground tunnel below the train station. With Google Maps in hand I purposely chose to walk the path opposite of the path that I had taken the last time I came. If I go on a familiar path then I tend to walk in circles for a while.
This new path took me to somewhere that was actually familiar to me! I was surprised to end up in the same area where I stayed when I came to Japan with the Kakehashi Project last December. It was super nostalgic to see the same shops and convenience stores and the areas that I explored with the new people I met during that program.
When I first entered that area I was greeted by the Tokyu Hands sign and even though I wasn’t supposed to really be shopping I still decided to go and check it out since I was there. I ended up going straight to the top for no particular reason and only decided to purchase some polaroid film. That part’s pretty boring but what was super surprising was the fact that the cashier who rang me up was actually someone I knew! The cashier was a student who studied abroad at my home university last year. It was at this moment where I thought, “wow, I’m really living in Japan now.” It felt a little bit surreal and strange to see someone I knew working somewhere which I considered far from where I was living. This is something that I would expect at home in Hawaii since it’s a small island but not in a place as large as Japan. It was interesting!
After I was done at Tokyu Hands, I continued down the street looking for those stores that I remembered visiting and reliving the memories. When I came last it was Christmas time so when we went to Baskin Robbin’s they had all of the cute Christmas themed ice creams. It’s strange that even with my bad memory I could still remember even the crosswalk that we had to cross. I think that being back in the same place really refreshed my memory.
At that point I realized that I was starting to drag because I was so hungry so I just popped into the closest restaurant nearby that had solo seating and was not very crowded. I ended up going to Doutour which is a coffee shop. I picked up this Pork Croquette Sandwich and an iced mocha. It was super refreshing to just sit and rest my sore back in an area that wasn’t too busy and had many other solo people just chilling and doing their business. Some dude next to me had a calculator and seemed pretty frustrated so he was either doing math homework or his taxes. Not too sure.
After fueling up I was ready to continue! I finally made it to the Sunshine City Shopping Center! When I first walked in I recognized the floor since it was the same floor that had the entrance to the hotel that we stayed in. Even writing this now I feel overwhelmed with nostalgia. That really was a great trip. If you want to read about that you can click here to view the mini report that I wrote up about my experiences then 🙂
Once I got here I realized that I probably shouldn’t spend money to go to the aquarium when I already had a pretty fulfilling adventure. Instead I joined the crowd to watch some sort of free concert that was happening on the shopping center’s main stage. I had no idea who the groups were that were performing but the music was good so I just watched. I figured you weren’t supposed to take pictures because no one else had phones out, but I couldn’t resist snapping a few for the memories.
All of the railings on all four or so of the floors were pretty crowded so I guess the groups performing were pretty well known, but not so well known that they don’t do mall performances. After sticking around to watch 2-3 of the groups perform I decided to finally head to the Pokemon Center, which I knew from past experience was somewhere in this mall.
However what greeted me at the store was not something I wanted to get into. It was super crowded and full of tourists and foreigners. Even just to pay their were at least 15 people standing in a line. I was only considering buying a small souvenir so I didn’t think it was worth it. I mainly just wanted to come and see the store but I didn’t have anything I really wanted to buy.
(They did have cute Halloween themed merchandise for sale though).
After walking through the different floors and checking out the different shops I was beginning to get a bit tired so I decided to walk outside and just relax. Outside the mall there are these really cool asymmetrical steps that you can climb so I did that, took pictures of the tall building with the pretty sky, and then relaxed on a bench in the nice weather.
By the time I was ready to head back inside I thought that even though it was a bit earlier than I intended to return at, I had seen a lot and was ready to head back home. On my way back I passed by the outside of the hotel and they had that pretty mural so I stopped to take a picture of that then made my way back to the train station. I’m not sure how I did it considering how hard of a time I had finding my way to that shopping center, but I suddenly just reappeared at the area that I knew led to the train station. It was a little miracle but I was happy for it since I was tired.
Once I got back to my home station it was probably a couple hours before my host family usually eats dinner and I was hungry since all I had for lunch was a sandwich, so I decided to try out an udon shop in the mall. It was a little embarrassing because I didn’t understand the person who was taking the orders when he was asking what size and when I said I didn’t understand then he just stopped talking and just gave me whatever. It was a little bit of a sobering experience to end my good day and the noodles didn’t taste so good after that, but it was still good nonetheless.
With my good mood slightly ruined by that impatient udon store man I continued home. It was a super fun day as a whole and I think that Ikebukuro is a fun place to explore. It feels like the city but it’s not as full of tourists as areas like Shibuya and Harajuku were (I’ll be writing about my adventure there in a future post!). I love the feeling of just being able to blend in with a crowd.
I think that this post was pretty boring but I still decided to write it so that I can look back on it later and relive this day. If you read it, thank you! Hope to have more interesting things to share about soon like my international camp experience or my host family trip to Yamanashi.