Hey! So, today's post is another Japan post, yippee! The day after we went to Hakone, we'd planned to head over to a place called Nakano, specifically their shopping mall Nakano Broadway. We went there mostly as one of Martin's choices, Nakano Broadway being one of the other Meccas for Otaku, the first one being Akihabara.
Nakano was, surprisingly normal. I was expecting a mini-Akihabara, but the place had a much quieter feel than all the central areas of Tokyo we had visited so far. There were much bigger, open spaces and the buildings didn't tower quite as high. It felt more like 'normal people' lived here, rather than the blindingly fast-paced, capital-city dwelling residents of Shinjuku and Shibuya.
First we strolled around for a vending machine (which we have lovingly christened 'Vendys') and spent a while actually trying to find nakano broadway, but when we did, we happened upon a little covered shopping street that led up to the complex. The shops were hugely varied and all pretty affordable (and, see in the picture above, a place called Octopus Army? No clue what was but, yeah, fantastic, carry on Japan)
We wandered around the little shops and I bought myself a few pieces of kitchen/tableware from a shop selling little bowls for 500yen (£2.50 ish!) along with other tablewarey objects of lust. Again, I had to be super restrained here as I couldn't have a load of plates clattering around in my suitcase, so I chose one little one, and I chose bowls that are actually plastic to minimise the chance of breakage. Amongst the other shops were sweet little bakery stands selling cream cakes and a 'street food' stall selling what were essentially tiny pancake sandwiches, filled with cream and chocolate sauce. The line for this stall grew massive every few minutes, with the ebb-and-flow of the commuters leaving for home or returning home. For a while, we sat at the beginning of the walkway and speculated on the dads bringing home treats for their kids, and the couples lining up for a cheap and delicious snack.
Inside Nakano Broadway, Martin found geekery-heaven. Here, the shops weren't as picked over and frequented as those in Akihabara, and he actually found what he wanted. The mall was a bit of a menagerie but had some really gorgeous shops that weren't all just 'japanese stuff', which made it seem even more 'normal' than the places we'd been previously. I did however find a clothes shop in which everything had cats on it. It sounds horrendous but actually, everything was super tasteful. I wanted it all but as you might imagine, it was pretty expensive.
Afterwards, we wandered the backstreets through bustling bards and the smoke of izakaya, and happened upon another arcade, where we played a few rounds of Groove Coaster and headed back to Shinjuku for dinner.
The next day we'd reserved for doing all the 'Shinjuku ' stuff that was near our apartment. This day kept getting moved around as we prioritized other stuff, and when it came to it, it was raining! And I mean raining. This was our first experience of the proper rain there and let me tell you, even being a Brit did not prepare me for the level of downpour. My shoes were soaking all day, enormous puddles formed, roads flooded with water in the space of about 20 minutes. We were both huddled under one umbrella sprinting from cover-to-cover and it was not an ideal day to visit an observation deck, or the park!
Still, the rain eventually let up and after killing some time in the enormous Odakyu shopping centre where we couldn't afford anything, we headed over to Shinjuku Gyoen, the huge park/gardens in Shinjuku. Sadly, we didn't get a huge amount of time to take in the teahouse on the lake and the Japanese gardens as it shut at 5pm, and we found ourselves ushered out over speaker-phone by very polite Japanese lady, followed by a continuous loop instrumental of Auld Lang Syne. The reason for this eludes me entirely, but it was still entertaining to skip towards the entrance, past the lake, to the tune of the new year.
It turned out to mostly be a bit of a non-day, but it was also just nice to have a bit of a break and just wander aimlessly. Afterwards we grabbed a waffle from Mr Waffle (apple and cinnamon? Um, Yum??) and once again, headed back to our little apartment.
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