tokyo dreaming: ikebukuro


While I was in Tokyo I stayed at the Kimi Ryokan in Ikebukuro. Ikebukuro is a fading pink district that’s in the process of gentrification, though there are still plenty of massage parlors, pachinko palaces, and hostess clubs in the area. There are also a ton of really tasty and quite reasonable restaurants, lots of bars and cafés, and, since Ikebukuro Station is located on the JR Yamanote line, you can easily get to anywhere in central Tokyo in a short amount of time.

One of my favorite Ikebukuro moments (apart from the time I got lost on the second floor of the wrong building while looking for Bar Nox and found myself in front of a blond woman with long silver nails who was wearing a pink yukata and chatting on her mobile phone in front of a door that said “massage”) occurred early on Saturday morning while I was on my way to Senso-ji. As I was walking to the station I noticed a long line of about 40 disheveled looking salarymen who were standing around and drinking vending machine coffee in what was clearly the clothing they had been wearing the night before. Just as I was wondering what they could possibly all be standing around waiting for, the sliding metal doors of the building they were standing in front of were lifted open to reveal the sparkling maw of the local pachinko parlor. Immediately they begin to file in, and immediately the glorious din of pachinko began to fill the air. Those salarymen are hardcore.

This is facade of the Kimi Ryokan where I stayed while I was in Tokyo. The Kimi was a perfect cross between a traditional Japanese style inn and an international youth hostel. My room had tatami mats, and we were given yukata that we could wear while we wandered around the dark wood hallways. The futon was comfortable, and the staff were really nice. Shared bathrooms. Highly recommended.

Ikebukuro at night.

An unagi-ya right around the corner from the Kimi Ryokan. The unagi was delicious.


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