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Kelsey: Ikebukuro/Nerima adventures

April 6, 2010

Today was great! I got a lot accomplished, and at the same time saw a lot of sites and new places. I think I only need to get lost walking back to Azalea House a few more times before I know the entire Heiwadai area like the back of my hand.

At 8:30 a.m., Priscilla, Anna, Claudia and I left for Nerima City Hall to get our Alien Registration Cards. Nerima is one of the 23 wards of the Tokyo metropolitan area, and Heiwadai, where I live, is one of the neighborhoods of Nerima. It’s kind of like Nerima is the county and Heiwadai is a town within it. At the City Hall, we had to submit a form and our passport to get registered. Then Priscilla and I went to the post office, where I mailed a note to my grandparents and exchanged some money. It was exciting to do everything on my own and in Japanese!

Next we took the train to Ikebukuro, where Priscilla had open a savings account at CitiBank (“Shitty Bank” in Japanese, no joke). We wandered around the building, which had 10 stories of different stores like HMV and Claire’s, then ate at “Maku” (McDonald’s). The place was packed, but an elderly gentleman got up to give us his seat, and said “Have a nice time.” as he was leaving. It was very sweet.

After some more wandering in Ikebukuro, we decided to go back to the train station to get our student commuter passes. At the Tokyo Metro ticket office, after a little bit of confusion from my broken Japanese, I got my pass! It cost 12270 yen, which is about $130, for 3 months. The way the passes work is I pick a route from Heiwadai to Sophia, and with the pass I can go anywhere in between that route for free. The station clerk told me I picked a bad route because I go through Shinjuku station, but it is worth the extra time to get to school because Shinjuku is within a really good area for sightseeing, nightlife, shopping, etc.

At this point, we decided to head back to Heiwadai. We first went to a store called Life, which is pretty much like Walmart only so, so much better. The food section of the store was amazing. All the produce was pristine and very tasty looking. I bought a 6 pack of ramen noodles and some bananas for under 400 yen, and then some stuff for my room in the other sections of the store.

We were on our way back to Azalea when we ran into some people who were going to Donkihote, so we decided to suck it up and go with them. This store was INSANE and we’re going back tomorrow. It was like as if someone had crammed a Super Walmart, Spencers, toy store, and arcade into 6 floors. I can’t describe it any better than that… but I took a lot of pictures.

Priscilla and I left and headed back to Azalea, when genious me said, “Hey! I know how to get back from the Heiwadai library. It’s a shortcut!” We got fairly far back to Azalea, and to be fair, it was a pretty good shortcut, but then I second-guessed myself and decided to ask for directions. We stopped at a little tobacco/convenience store and talked to the owners in Japanese about where we were going. They were so very nice and helpful and just super adorable. I’m glad we stopped. I bought some Pocky as a thank you to them, and Puri-chan and I finally made it back!

I feel like I’ve walked a million miles since I arrived here, and the rest of the week sounds like it will be just as much!

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