Japan Autumn 2012 – Day 11b: Kichijoji
Continuing on from Day 11a, I left Kugayama after charging up my phone, headed towards Kichijoji which is only one stop away. The area around Kichijoji station was confusing due to the lack of maps and the whole station being under some renovation and constructions, but I managed to find my way with GPS. After wrestling with the crowds of tourists and locals on the streets, I turned towards Inokashira Park in the hopes of at least having some breathing space there.
From my brief google search on Kichijoji, the shopping districts are full of activity but nothing particularly special, whereas the park is a popular destination for locals. However, I didn’t know anything about the place or it’s significance before going. It was readily apparent that many foreign tourists frequented the place as I heard quite a bit of English being spoken so I got my camera ready. There must be some interesting sights around here.
The sunny asphalt street lined with cafes quickly transitioned into a large open space heavily shaded by foliage as I entered the park. There were people everywhere, some watched the street performers who had stationed themselves next to their favourite trees, while some walked by, seemingly with another purpose in mind for coming to the area. I took a look at a map conveniently located nearby which revealed that the park was actually a long and narrow compound lining both sides of a river. The Inokashira Park Zoo and the Ghibli Museum were situated off on one side, and was where I decided to head in the direction of.
The park became alot quieter as I proceeded further away from the entrance and at the edge of the compound itself before opening out into the road was a temple situated in the middle of the river.
Leaving the compound, I followed the signs pointing towards the Ghibli museum which led me to yet another densely vegetated area. The environment was strange and surreal, with many wind chimes of different sizes tinkling from all directions.
Eventually, the wind chime area gave way to a proper street which I had to pass through to reach the Ghibli museum. As I had heard that entry to the museum requires a ticket purchased beforehand online, I just wanted to have a look at the place before heading back the way I came.
Going back the way I came, I deliberately took the long route over to the side of Inokashira park which I had not been to. This part of the park was catered towards the locals. There was a large open field where children (and Kamen riders) could play and a flowers and herbs sale going on next to it. Some volunteers from the local council were busy erecting sculptures and arranging plants along the walkways.
Re-entering the park, I found myself back at the temple in the middle of the river. Unfortunately, I couldn’t walk on the other side of the river without paying to enter the zoo, which seemed like a waste of money considering that it was already late afternoon.
I went back to the picturesque bridge since I had to cross the river anyway in order to get back to Kichijoji station.
I would later learn that Inokashira Park is a very popular destination for couples due to the paddle boats and trendy, laid back atmosphere. Takayanagi Akane had her mini music video filmed here for the SKE48 album’s DVD.
Having seen almost the entire park, it was getting late and I was starting to feel hungry. On the way back to the station, I bought a pork floss bun and melonpan from a bakery and stopped by a ramen shop which boasted a signature garlic cha shu ramen.
Back at Kugayama, it was time to stow away all the junk I had accumulated from today and recharge all the gadgets in preparation for the big day tomorrow. I was also surprised by an email informing me that I had won a ticket to the AKB48 theatre performance happening the next evening too.