19th August 2016.
Bunkyo and Taito are two special wards located in the northern parts of central Tokyo. While these special wards contain plenty of points of interests such as the prestigious University of Tokyo, the Tokyo Dome arena and the giant Ueno Park – the quiet residential housing in and around the area may sound mundane in comparison but they are a sight to behold. With many properties still standing strong from the post-war era alongside modern housing infrastructure that has been constructed since, it creates this constant juxtaposing of new and old on every street you turn to.
For the most part of the trip thus far I’ve been visiting one particular location and spending that day exploring that one particular spot. This day was going to be a little different as I wanted to try to explore and see more places across different locations in one full day, covering ground in Bunkyou and then wriggling ourselves into Taito.
Huge thanks to Otamega for explaining in much detail for the route we took for the day!
We setted off on our adventure to our favourite train station Kikukawa Station at 9am in the morning.
Our first stop on our speed tour was Tokyo Dome City!
The rollercoaster at the back in this photo was the amusement park the cast went to in the anime Tsuki ga Kirei!
Tokyo Dome! I was unfortunately 4 months late at the time after µ’s had performed their historical final live performance back in April 2016…
A koshien-like baseball match seemed to had took place when we visited as a lot of spectators and boys in baseball team uniforms were running about.
After walking around Tokyo Dome and checking out their baseball souvenir shop, we continued our trail zigzagging through residential areas to our second waypoint; the prestigious University of Tokyo.
Many notice boards around the residential areas have an illustration of a man in construction uniform bowing his head down to apologise for inconveniences caused for upcoming maintenance works. Because we had just finished watching Anne Happy at the time where one of the characters was in love with the illustration we chuckled everytime we saw it.
In Japanese residential areas the pedestrian and vehicle paths merge into one flat road; sometimes with a white painted line on the sides but often absent. Even though they drive pretty slowly on these streets it’s better to be aware of oncoming cars – or those deadly trucks.
The University of Tokyo! Abbreviated as Todai, it is the university of all universities in Japan.
The Komaba Campus building; essentially the face of Todai.
We entered into one of the other buildings nearby that looked like we weren’t supposed to be in there to use their toilets.
We soon wounded up in Sanshiro Pond inside Todai! The pond and forestry around it was absolutely stunning and (excluding the crying cicadas) tranquil; disconnected from the hectic noise from the bustling city outside. We saw plenty of koi fish and tortoises swimming about in the green pond!
Some resting spots outside had display momuments showcasing research projects from Todai students and professors.
The Tokyo University student shop was closeby which allowed you to purchase stuff with money on your Suica card!
Walking out the other end of Tokyo University we proceeded forth to our next POI Nezu Shrine up north zig-zagging through more residential areas rather than the main roads.
It’s pretty interesting to see traditional Japanese homes situated in-between modern built homes creating a mish-mash of old and new.
Arrived at Nezu Shrine!
Spotted a wild Japanese Pizza Hut! Their pizzas here costed just as much (some even more) as it does in England…
Walked into a dead in in this residential street which had mini shrine.
My Nexus 6 phone has always been generally hot to the touch under heavy load but its been hot as ever since arriving in Japan’s hot and dry Summer weather. My way of combating the heat for my phone was wrapping it with a frozen water bottle with my Sore ga Seiyuu towel I picked up from Comiket!
Arriving at Yanaka Cemetery we instantly got lost inside underestimating just how big the place was while minding we weren’t stepping on places we weren’t supposed to. Decided not to post any detailed photos I took there out of respect for the people and related who’ve passed.
Continuing our trail we became increasingly tired from the constant walking as we travelled back down south into Ueno park! A summer festival seems to have been taking off as plenty of food stalls were set up around Shinobazuno Pond.
This is one of my favourite photos I took in Japan because it represents the peak of popularity of Pokémon GO; everyone in the photo is looking down on their phones playing the top grossing mobile game of 2016.
Decided to relax a little by aesthetically riding on the swan pedal boats you can rent on Shinobazuno Pond! You can ride the swan boats for 30 minutes at a surprisingly budget price of 700 yen! Regular cycling and rowing boats are also available at equivalent prices.
After pedalling around pond we let the momentum take over as we had a blast raving out to the Haifuri OP/ED song from our phones. I never expected it to be so stupidly fun!
After frolicking in Ueno Park and a quick trip to a 7eleven, we broke our walking streak as our feet were totally knackered from the swan boat pedaling and took the train to the touristy area of Asakusa to check out the Sensou-ji!
The main district leading up to the head shrine is lined with dozens of small souvenir shops packed with quintessentially Japanese items. A great place to buy things to let friends and family know you’ve visited Japan however, you should watch out for the expected tourist price markup.
A toy shop in Sensou-ji had a few nendoroid figures on sale at such exorbitant prices you might as well just simply import online. I definitely don’t recommended buying figures from here.
As evening fell we chilled on the bank of Sumida River as all anime main characters do with Tokyo Skytree looming in the distance.
Walked across Kototoi Bridge for our final stop to Tokyo Skytree.
I was thinking about going up Tokyo Skytree but ultimately passed on it as tickets going right up to the very top was priced at a costly £40 in British money…
So we decided to explore a little around the shopping mall underground.
Ticked yet another to-do off my Japan bucket list by trying out their KFC! A little more pricey than the KFC back in the UK but the way they fry the chicken here blows England’s chicken out of the water.
The 19th of August 2016 was also the Japanese premiere day for the second entry to the Kizumonogatari movie trilogy; Kizumonogatari Part II: Nekketsu-hen.
To finish off the day we met up with Otamega late in the evening in the same Toho Cinema to watch the Accel World movie earlier in the week to catch the last screening of the day.
Celebrating the release Toho Cinema had a table of Kizumonogatari merch you can buy as well as a Ichiban Kuji ticket raffle you can draw to win more Kizu stuff! I remember walking out of my toilet cubicle and seeing this guy placing the top prize Kisshot figurine by the sink to wash his hands.
They even had a Kizumonogatari popcorn and drink set for 1500 yen! In hindsight I probably should have took advantage of that while I was there.
Shin Godzilla was also screening at the time so they were offering a humongous mega popcorn bucket!
Going through the gate you also get a bonus Monogatari short story booklet written by the legend himself Nisioisn. I heard you can collect different bonus books if you see the movie again the week after and so on.
Obviously no English subtitles were present, however since I’ve cunningly read the novel earlier in the year I already knew what was going on lol.
Decided to play it simple and picked up the movie guide booklet at the cinema!
A quick Kizumonogatari Part II review; I absolutely loved it! The brilliant dark noir aesthetics from the first part carries on into the second, the fight scenes are beautifully choreographed and is an amazing radical interpretation from the novel. Watching this movie framed in cinematic widescreen in a screening room natively framed in the same aspect ratio was also a plus too. Seeing the final moments for this second film only made me even more hyped up for the big twist in the final film which came out in January 2017!
And so ends another grand eventful day out in Tokyo~
Waiting for the last few trains back to our Airbnb I noticed this peculiar sign on the floor notifying passengers on weekday morning these trains here are only for women.