By Truong Cong Yen Nhu
To access the Komaba campus of the University of Tokyo, the best way is to take the Inokashira Line and get off at the Komabatodaimae station. This is a piece of basic information that every Todai student knows. But have you ever wondered about the line that you may perhaps be using everyday, and where it leads to?
If a Todai student is asked where the line leads to, they would most definitely be able to answer ‘Kichijoji.’ However, how many of them have been to Kichijoji, and what can we find there?
I have been asking myself that question, but it was not until last Sunday that I had a chance to go there. Follow me for a day in Kichijoji!
10:00 After 30 minutes from the Komaba campus, I finally arrived at Kichijoji. Near the station, there is a long, covered shopping arcade called ‘Sunroad,’ with many shops ranging from small boutiques to department stores. Although Kichijoji is not as big and modern as Shibuya, you can still find everything you want in this arcade: clothes, shoes, grocery, electric merchandise. People living nearby seem to frequent the area on Sunday morning – the road was quite crowded. To get ready for the adventure, hot, fresh croissants are readily available from the many bakeries around the station.
11:30 One and a half hours is quite enough to explore every corner of the arcade; then head straight to Inokashira Park. To get from Kichijoji Station to Inokashira Park, you will have to pass an alley with some outside cafe shops along the mosaic pavement, which can make people feel as if they are lost in a European town. In particular, this road is full of nice bohemian-styled shops, but the prices are not as pretty – almost everything is fairly pricey. However, if you want to change your usual style to a bohemian one, this place is worth visiting.
12:00 Inokashira park is not so far away from Kichijoji Station, but if you are a person who loves wandering, you may have to spend a bit more time getting there. Autumn exists everywhere in the park- trees bring an atmosphere of serenity and romance to the park with their yellow and red leaves. In the middle of the park exists a big lake – the Inokashira lake. There is a myth that if a couple rows a boat there, they will break up. Perhaps because of this myth, there were only families rowing boats, as far as one can tell. However, at the lakeside, there were also some couples sitting around, eating ice-cream and chatting. Some artists were trying to capture an autumn moment with their pencil. Every being is a small detail that makes for a peaceful and charming picture.
13:00 After going around the park, maybe stopping at a roadside eatery would be an good idea . I decided to buy grilled mochi (rice cake) from a small food shop near the lake and have a picnic lunch. In such a cool weather, it is not a bad idea to have lunch outdoor while enjoying the peaceful atmosphere and watching leaves getting blown by some light wind.
13:30 If you are a fan of Japanese anime, the next destination is a place you should definitely visit while in this area. It is the Ghibli Museum, headed by director Hayao Miyazaki, with the purpose to give visitors an experience ”that makes you feel more enriched when you leave than when you entered.” There is a very large Totoro figure standing at the front of the building with the sign ‘Ghibli Museum, Mitaka.’ In the museum, you can witness the process of how drawings on paper become animated on a roll of film. However, the ticket, which specifies the appointed date of the reservation, needs to be purchased in advance. Your ticket will be exchanged into a ‘Film ticket’ – this is a cardboard frame that contains three frames of a 35mm film from an actual Studio Ghibli Movie theatrical print. Depending on your luck, you may get the frames of your favorite film.
16:00 It will take you around two to three hours to see the exhibit, depending on how big a fan you are. If you feel tired, you may want to visit Straw Hat – a pretty cafe next to the museum. The cafe is decorated in the same style as the museum. But this cafe is quite crowded, so if you want to spend the rest of the day relaxing in music and your favorite book, there are also many eateries around Mitaka station for you to choose from.
Kichijoji offered many beautiful scenery and interesting places. I will definitely come back. Are you ready to go to Komabatodaimae station and get on the next train to Kichijoji?
Truong Cong Yen Nhu is a first-year PEAK student at the University of Tokyo.