Gritty Tokyo Neighborhoods:Off the Beaten track
Replies: 86 - Last Post: Dec 7, 2012 8:33 AM Last Post By: BuildingMyBento
Oct 16, 2007 2:43 AM
It's on the Toden Arakawa line at the station conveniently called Arakawa Yuenchi!
I've never been inside the one at Asakusa - the one at Arakawa is just as retro - if not more -
and quite a bit bigger. There are quite a lot of sakura along the Arakawa near there.
Speaking of Asakusa, if you like Daigaku imo there is a shop on the north side of a kind of biggish
street that runs east west, about 10 mins north of sensoji.
Oct 16, 2007 2:53 AM
Oct 16, 2007 3:01 AM
Oct 16, 2007 7:39 AM
49Does Maru Biru still have the Easter Island moai? I thought it was only for a limited time, up to about the middle of September- have they decided to keep it? Actually it includes the lower body as well as the head and was fairly recently carved by Easter Island elders, so not an old one. It wasn't as big as I was imagining either, but worth a look if you are in the area and they still have it there.
Oct 16, 2007 3:54 PM
Oct 16, 2007 4:48 PM
51I looked up the book discussed in #51. There is actually a sequel to the original volume. Amazon reviews pretty much pan both books, giving them 2.5 and 1.5 stars out of five. That's pretty critical for Amazon. The main criticisms are; the author can't write to save his life, he builds castles in the air, he doesn't know background history well at all, he has a built in bias toward conspiracies and he lacks any conclusive evidence. One reviews states that, "If the Oedo Line was built using pre-War tunnels, why couldn't he find even one construction worker who worked on the Line who would back up his claim?"
I guess I won't be buying this after all.
Oct 16, 2007 9:52 PM
52Didnt even know they had a thread of the day! But cool!
The Easter Island head at Marunouchi was a temporary exhibit, not a permanent thing.It was opened by the Chilean PM on her trip to Japan. However there is also that (very new-looking, non-ancient) Easter Island-like head outside Shibuya Station West exit, in a flowerbed full of trash and cigarette butts. Very unloved-looking! It called a "moyai" (rather than a moai) and it comes from the island of Nijima, off Tokyo, where they are apparently made.
Does anyone know: are the rest of the Nijima Island moyai this new? Is it an old tradition or a relatively recent idea, to rip off Easter Island statues?
Nijima and the other islands are actually another great idea for an off-the-beaten path Tokyo experience. When people think "Tokyo" they see neon lights, great crowds, whizzing subways - not smoking volcanic islands in the middle of the Pacific, clear blue seas and swimming with dolphins , do they? But you can do all those things, technically within the city limits!
The seven Izu islands are an overnight boat trip from Takeshiba sanbashi, right by Ginza. You leave from the bustling heart of the great city at night and wake up on the open sea headed to the islands.
Nijima is a small volcanic island that was once a place of exile for criminals. Today it boasts calm swimming beaches on one side and a roaring surf beach on the other, an annual surfing festival and a rave, and a clifftop Grecian-style outdoor hot spring, as well as the moyai.
Izu Oshima is the largest and most touristed island famous for camelias, and was the setting for the Japanese "Ring".
Miyakejima or "Bird Island" is covered in thick forest, and surrounded by coral reefs. In the 1990s the volcano started smoking and all the residents were evacuated to the mainland. Some have since returned and visitors - after a long period -are now being allowed again but you MUST wear a gas mask when walking on the island. Talk a about an offbeat adventure! Nearby Mikura-jima is home to many dolphin-tours. You can swim in the sea with the creatures around this almost uninhabited island.
Southern Hacihoji-jima features a scenic peak, walls built by Edo era exiles and convicts, glow-in-the-dark mushrooms, and sea turtle hatcheries (as the waters here are quite warm all year round)
These are the main islands, but there aothers...After the Izu Islands, a second island chain called the Bonin Islands stretches out into the pacific and almost as far south as the Philippines, while still stayed part of "Tokyo" for admin reasons... A whole new face to the city! Its also a pretty cool weekend break, but in Summer you have to book in advance - especially if you will be in Nijima for one of its big events- the rave or the surf festival. I wanted to go last Summer but the ferry was booked out. And its not cheap , a weekend here will cost you about as much as one of those cheap quickie-trips to South Korea.
Oct 17, 2007 1:16 AM
53This is an interesting thread. On one of my random exploration trips, I found the original Tokugawa era mizu-shobai (prostitution) district, the Yoshiwara. It's not that far away from Asakusa but not very close to any subway stop. As I recall the closest public transit is the end of the Arakawa trolley line. I was wandering around on a bright Sunday afternoon and found the place -- a five or six square block area of tawdry sex clubs, already open for business at 3pm on a Sunday afternoon. Periodically, a black car would drive by and a customer would get out, quickly popping into one of the clubs. A few touts even tried to get me to come in, quite a change from the pre-bubble days when this sort of club would commonly have a "no foreigners" hand-lettered sign outside. Problem is, I am not sure I could find the area again. No matter, it's gritty, but not that interesting.
Oct 17, 2007 1:39 AM
54I think we kind of started at gritty and gradually branched off into general quirky/under-the-radar/off the beaten track....although gritty is still good!
Like, I am totally excited about this Dinosaur Adventure Park now (which sounds not gritty in the least, but hey, how "japan" is robot dinosaurs??) ! I think I'll head into the wilds of Saitama and see if I can find it. Apparently Saitama also has two "bonsai villages" - where the bonsai "farms" are grouped together in clusters, a wolf-worshipping temple, a Cartoon museum, mountain hiking in the Chichibu National Park, whitewater rafting and a John Lennon museum.
I recall a friend once tellin me about the museum. It is largely curated by Yoko Ono, and at one time had a phone that was kind of a direct Yoko-hotline, as one of the exhibits. Sometimes she would call and have random chats with whoever was there. Hope its still there!
Oct 17, 2007 4:25 AM
55A problem because you want to visit Richard ;-)
It's called senzoku, 4 chome I think, it's easy to find on a map.
The streets are differnt.
The John Lennon museum is just outside Shintoshin station.
I haven't been there, but have heard the Yoko Ono influence is such
that you'd hardly know that John was a member of the Beatles.
I'm intrigued to hear your reporting on Dinosaur land.
The real ex-dinosaurs in the Science Museum at Ueno are impressive.
There is a lovely little temple near Kaneiji in Ueno that has 87,000 jizo (apparently).
I'm sceptical on the number but worth a look.
I used to teach with an old Japanese man who said when he was a child in
Ueno, they used to pull bullets from the posts around Kaneiji that were remnants
from the Boshin wars.
The memorial they have there to dead insects is quite touching.
Oct 17, 2007 7:31 AM
56"The memorial they have there to dead insects is quite touching"
......Now THAT intrigues me!!!!!!!!!
I second the Science Museum in Ueno. I wasnt that keen on visiting but decided to give it a go for the recent "Inca, Maya and Aztec" exhibit (which I recommend if its still going - mummified guineapigs!) But I was hugely impressed. Its so not so much the exhibits themselves but the way they are displayed . It is cutting edge!!!
On the top floor is a room of fake trees with stuffed deer and squirrels, like an indoor forest...that halfway seamlessly merges into a research lab. Then you walk into a huge darkened room where on a blue-neon edged podium, stuffed animals stand under a spotlight like an artfully arranged army - polar bears, deer,antelope. You can even walk over some of their heads on a transparent plastic floor.
In the basement are the remnants of huge prehistoric turtles. They hang form the ceiling, under atmospheric blue lights. Shadows representing schools of fish dart on the floor below. From the right angle, it looks like the turtles are diving down right at you! There are also displays obscured behind smoked glass that "magically" clears up from a certain angle and suddenly you can see the cloudy form infront of you is some lumbering dino. Great stuff, very stylish.
But the highlight perhaps is Hachiko. Everyone knows the story about the dog and its statue in Shibuya (which this year was reported stolen by Chinese scrap-metal merchants in a Japan Times April Fools story). But how many people know you can see the body of the real Hachiko, here?
Oct 17, 2007 10:30 AM
57The moyai, as seen at Shibuya Station, is a typical case of machiokoshi. This phenomenon involves creating a trourist attraction to arrest economic decline or simply to put your town on the map. Moyai seems to be a post-war creation. Niijima, not Nijima, went around giving a lot of these away in the 1960s so there are quite a few of them around the country.
I don't think Miyake is known as Bird Island. There is a separate one called Tori Shima, Bird Island, much further south. The entire island is a natural monument to protect the albatross colony and unauthorized landings are prohibited.
Hachijo Island was host to some very famous exiled people. Particularly well known is Ukita Hideiye, one of the losers of the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600. He lived until 1655, longer than any of his adversaries from the battle. His descendants lived there until the Tokugawa Shogunate itself disappeared in 1868.
I've been to a Hachijo Jima cuisine restaurant in Kichijoji. I remember eating some sushi and a tempura of a plant, with no English name, called ashitaba.
Of all the Izu islands, I would like to visit Mikura. This island is surrounded by cliffs, hardly any people or tourism and is the wildest of the seven.
Ogasawara, Bonin, Islands gets some mention here but I don't think we've heard a report here from someone who's been there. Because the ferry takes about 28 hours, I think the minimum trip time is four nights. I would love to go.
There are islands, all belonging to Tokyo, further out. Best known is Iwo Jima but there are also Minami Tori Shima, Marcus Island, and Okino Tori Shima. I'll come back and post about them later.
Oct 17, 2007 12:36 PM
Oct 17, 2007 12:37 PM
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