where I've declared home for 3 months! can't say I'm compelled to stay but then again, I promised I'd accept my choice as a powerful choice! call this the "90 day experiment" if you will....

Completion Thoughts

Akihabara is in the eastside of downtown Tokyo off the Yamanote line. considered "far" for a lot of "young folks" who tend to live in the Roppongi and Shibuya areas. admittedly, I mostly saw an older working crowd with younger people only around because of the array of tech and anime shops in the area! I did not really find the place all that scenic to walk around and thought shops closed rather early (8pm!) to really support an active nightlife (thus a music & dance scene was severely missing for me). I did find my fair share of everything I needed in the neighborhood (as you will see below) - what was clearly lacking for me was feeling it was either stay in the apt or take a hike on the train to get to places I really wanted to hang out (which admittedly wasn't far - just 20-30 minutes but it also meant i couldn't hang out past midnite or just go out and go people watching like in Shibuya!) I'm a big foodie and didn't find the selection of restuarants anything special - I'm sure there are gems but they aren't obvious and for the most part, I didn't find much online or in official guidebooks in general. The area is quite close to the "old Tokyo" which consists of Ueno and Asakusa both known for it's museums and culture. I was quite surprised to discover the hub of trains that serve this location - it is practical if you travel a lot and don't plan to spend much time at home! Ginza is only 10 minutes away and even the Hongo campus of the University of Tokyo is only 10 minutes away too. One of the things I discovered towards the end is the area is now starting to get popular for IT R&D - University of Tokyo has their Creative Informatics dept here and the research capital of Japan, Tsukuba is only 40 min away by train!

The last thing I want to say is, yes, I was there when the stabbings happened in early June 2008. I "wandered" onto the scene a few hours after it happened because I woke up late that one Sunday. It was a bit confused as I heard they close the main street on Sundays to allow people to walk freely around. I just thought the crowd was there waiting for a parade passing by or something! My heart does go out to those who feel isolated, lonely, and feel like they don't quite have the life others have around them - people do their fair share of flashing their money in this city - quite impressive at times! Japanese are known to be more inward and for one to get to a level of outward aggression wanting to "kill anyone - it doesn't matter who" is not exactly the norm! I didn't really get a chance to discuss this at length with many Japanese and look forward to learning more about what they intend to do about this "trend" that is happening amongst this younger generation. Made me think about social work while I was there and if anything psychological applications of our work at Dance Labs to address this disconnect in communities impacted by IT and the Internet!

(insert scan of special edition of local neighborhood newspaper received in mailbox)

Restaurants

http://www.kananet.com/akihabara-restaurant-eng.htm (map)

Services

ideally this would be an interactive map

pinpointing

  1. job - see job search :) my target location is not Akihabara though...
    • there is a Sony marketing office nearby..
    • there is a Nintendo office nearby...
  2. world food grocery store - got couscous here and even saw all kinds of drinks I am so used to seeing in Thailand here! i just can't find it again!
  3. bank - plenty...just need to choose...
  4. dept store (Tokyu Hands claims to be one!) (looking for closest one in this area...)
  5. maid cafe - a ton of "maids" handing out flyers esp near the train station. nope, never did get the guts to drop into one in fear of being ripped off and general embarrassment! :-o

need clarification

  1. community center - found right in front of my apt but with no english, it was hard to figure out what service they provide!

located

  1. hospital - Mitsui Memorial Hospital - note: limited Japanese (not an International hospital, see below)
  2. train stations
    • lines: Ginza, Yamanote, Hibiya, Tsukuba Express (TX)
  3. supermarket - Y's mart
    • fresh vegetables & meat
  4. market - open 24 hrs
    • fresh veggies outside (larger quantities)
    • lots of meats
    • bulk items (esp for restaurant owners)
    • dairy products in rear
  5. used bookstore - EN books
    • Book Off (near Akihabara JR station)
  6. convenience stores
  7. print/copy/fax/scan - Kinko's
  8. restaurants - cheap and expensive (try myself...)
    • indian, japanese, bento, noodle, chinese, beef bowl, yakatori, cold noodle (nato)
  9. convenience stores - ampm
  10. liquor store
  11. dentist - Dr. Nagami (same block!)
  12. drug store (large)
  13. AV shop (no shortage here!)
  14. bar - locals
  15. combostore
    • Takeya - supermarket, office supplies, cookware, clothing, ...
  16. bank - international cash advance at ATM ok
    • 7 bank
  17. thift shop - Daiso (by Akihabara JR, close to McDs) - "100 yen" or "1 coin" shop
  18. electronic megastore - Yodobashi Camera
  19. munchies - mochi, belgian waffles, ... (plenty near train station)
  20. coffee shop
    • Tully's near JR
    • local - passed by, haven't tried coffee
  21. discount store (distinct from "thrift") - Donkeyhote (on main street, near Y's mart)
  22. .toy store
  23. bag shop - in east/west passage of Akihabara JR station. also sells men's dress shirts
  24. art supply shop - found paints! (Tokyu Hands is the walmart of creative supply!)
  25. post office - be nice to find one in the other direction (between this place and the station)
  26. pool 03 3864 8931 - found one near my apt. 600 yen for 2 hrs. 10am-9pm (check schedule for blocked out hrs)
  27. courier - right down the street near the Family Mart. shipping my HP C5280 to Tama city cost approx 2000 yen.

to eval

  1. dry clean - place across the street! dropped in for the first time and 50% off til the 22nd - wow!
  2. university - University of Tokyo, Graduate School of Information Science and Technology, Creative Infomatics

non-issue

  1. pharmacy - seen a place near my house - i have no idea if it is a general one...hospital is fine for now
  2. clinic - i know they exist near the JR station. defer to hospital
  3. internet cafe (near Akihabara station) (to try)
  4. guest hotel - Hotel dormy inn (actually looks fancier than I expected from the lobby)
  5. tailor - there is one right out in front of the main road - looks like they'll tailor a whole suit if you want! (curious what 29,800 yen gets ya...)

curious

  1. Tenjin library (near hotel edoya) (in vicinity of suehirocho stop)
  2. Yushima lifelong learning hall - ?

located by train

  1. International Hospital - St. Luke's International Hospital 03 3541 5151
  2. zen garden - Kiyosumi Teien (stop: Kiyosumi-shirakawa, A3)
    • rolling man! :)
  3. yoga
    • current: Lava in Shibuya
    • TODO: Brain Yoga (next station over)
    • GOAL: yoga at home
  4. mall - Shibuya
  5. bars - Roppongi - EN?
  6. dance - ballroom/salsa Roppongi
  7. bookstore - Kinokuniya stock EN books? location?
  8. public library - newspapers, EN books (Hibiya)
  9. museum (Ueno)
  10. embassies
  11. Apple store
  12. camping supplies
  13. clothing - UniGlo Shibuya
  14. music - Shibuya
  15. temp office - Servcorp Shinagawa (and more)
    • Bangkok locations: Siam & Sathorn/Silom
  16. fish market - Tsukiji
  17. movie theater (art house) - Ebisu Cinema
  18. park
    • Yoyogi park
    • Hibiya park
  19. art house films - Ebisu (there are plenty more! see Time Out)
  20. business library - JETRO Roppongi (Ark Hills)
  21. office supplies - Office Depot (Kamiyacho, near Roppongi)

to eval

  1. Japanese language classes - in English
  2. university
    • Sophia University - 10 minutes away by train (15 min including walk)
      • volunteer Japanese classes on sunday
    • Waseda
    • University of Tokyo
    • Keio University - Second Life joint research
  3. fitness center - Tipness (website JP only) (Shibuya, Roppongi and other locations)
    • aerobics, dance workout, stretching, yoga, pilates; pool, suana, jacuzzi; cycling?

Not Now

  1. rock gym
  2. movie rental - recent movies (DVD)
    • TV in apt is ole skool - VHS rental? (concern: cannot select language track)
    • consider netflix type of service
    • alternative Apple TV
  3. home improvement (think: Home Depot)
  4. furniture - there is an IKEA in the area...