Shimokitazawa and Leaving Japan

The first half of my final day in Japan was spent in a thrifty cultural district called Shimokitazawa. The area is mostly known for secondhand and vintage fashion but also has a great number of cafes and theaters. It is located in Setagaya, another special ward of Tokyo. From Akihabara Station, the train ride was under an hour to Shimokitazawa Station with a cost of only 350 yen. Similar to Kamakura Station, Shimokitazawa Station is small in size. There are only six tracks, operated by two private railroad companies, with four of the tracks located below ground.

It was still early when I arrived at Shimokitazawa Station but it was a sunny day with blue skies. I walked over to the Brooklyn Roasting Company, a cafe that is a located near a complex called Mikan Shimokita. The cafe stands out amongst nearby businesses with an off-white exterior that reminded me of a shipping container. The front side of the cafe has, “Brooklyn,” painted across the structure in an earth-tone palette. I ordered a bacon lettuce tomato sandwich on white bread with a glass of orange juice.

Brooklyn Roasting Company storefront in Shimokitazawa.

Afterwards, I walked around the business district of Shimokitazawa in a large circle until the shops started to open. There were a few businesses I wanted to check out, which included the Toyo Department Store. The store is technically six different stores in one, with a range of vintage clothes and jewelry. There were a few hip-hop related shirts that I was interested in but decided to pass due to the higher prices. Next, I walked over to Shimokitazawa’s Village Vanguard. It’s similar in size in comparison to the Shibuya location and contains most of the same merchandise. I spent most of my time in the manga section and was surprised that I was able to find the first omnibus for I Am a Hero in Japanese.

A street in Shimokitazawa.
Man on a bicycle in Shimokitazawa.

The only other notable shop that I stopped into was a bookstore called Tsutaya. It was a sizable bookstore with a lounge that also had the largest manga selection in Shimokitazawa. I browsed the shelves for awhile until I spotted the first entry of The Fable, a manga about a legendary hitman. I had recently watched the two movies on Netflix for The Fable, so I thought it could be a good manga to switch to after I Am a Hero.

For the rest of the afternoon, I wandered around back in Akihabara. I went back to Mandarake and purchased a handful of Mandarake related stickers. I also went back through all five floors of the Akiba Cultures Zone. On one of the upper floors, I went into one of the many card shops and spotted an unopened Pokemon booster pack for 90,000 yen. Before I left the Akiba Cultures Zone, I stopped into a convenance store on the ground floor to purchase a few snacks and a can of Asahi Dry Zero. I dropped the snacks off at the hotel afterwards and had tonkatsu with fried egg at Nadai Fuji Soba. Before I called it a night, I walked over to Matsumoto Kiyoshi and purchased a new pack of disposable masks.

View of Akihabara through a wired mesh screen.
Two young woman in skirts in Akihabara.

When I returned to my hotel room, I unloaded my backpack and prepared what clothes I needed for the next day. I utilized various compression bags of different sizes for shirts, pants, underwear and socks. It amazed me how much a 28-liter backpack can fit with compression bags. I only left out a toiletry bag so that I could brush my teeth before I checked out. Otherwise, I was all set to sleep, shower and ready to have a swift exit when I woke up. The flight out of the Narita International Airport was not until 11 a.m. the next morning but I intended to check out at 6 a.m. to provide enough time for the trip to the airport and security.

The check out process in the morning was similar to how I checked into the hotel. It was fully automated via a touchscreen in the lobby of the hotel. After I checked out of the hotel, I walked over to Akihabara Station and purchased a ticket to Tokyo Station. The ride to Tokyo Station from Akihabara Station was only around five minutes and cost 150 yen. It was at Tokyo Station that I made the decision to purchase a new ticket for the Narita Express. I still had the return ticket that I had purchased when I arrived earlier in the week. However, I was nervous about the arrival time. I felt that it was too close to the flight departure time, as I would arrive at the airport an hour before the flight.

The new ticket allowed me to reach Narita with hours to spare. Though I believe I made a mistake when I purchased the ticket via the ticket machine. When I arrived at the Narita Airport, a ticket agent stopped me and I had to pay again. I’m uncertain how I messed it up but I didn’t stick around to argue. I made my way to the American Airlines ticket counter and had my boarding pass printed.

Once I went through security and customs, I bought a cup of coffee and found a spot to relax. After I sat down on a stool that overlooked the gate, an older woman from a travel agency approached me and asked if she could interview me about my recent time in Japan. She was extremely polite as she typed the information I provided onto a handheld tablet. The questions were primarily about where I stayed, how much I spent and how satisfied I was. After she was finished with her questions, she thanked me and handed over a small blue and white model of Mount Fuji. I considered the gift as a marker that the trip was over.