Saturday in Tokyo

Higashi Ikebukuro

I woke up early today just as the sun was rising. This is the view from my apartment overlooking East Ikebukuro near the Sunshine 60 Building which used to be the tallest building in Japan until 1991. As you can see the neighborhood is pretty dense. I don’t think it’s possible to squeeze any more buildings in this concrete jungle.


I headed to the KIOSK at the Ikebukuro Train Station to grab the Japan Times. They sell a variety of things such as newspapers, magazines, snacks, beer/wine, tobacco, juice, candy and even neckties. You can pay using your Suica Card which is very convenient.

Then I grabbed some breakfast. In all of my years living in Ikebukuro I’ve tried just about every breakfast joint in town but I always seem to end up back at Ootoya - great food, great service and it’s cheap! I normally get grilled fish, miso soup, grated daikon, tofu, pickled veggies, nori, white rice and natto (fermented soy beans). A lot of people don’t like natto… but I do. This breakfast costs less than a whopping $5 USD.

Sometimes I get a side dish, either steamed veggies or a salad. Today I got the salad which was pretty good and it only set me back $3 USD.

After breakfast I hopped into a monkey suit and I held a sign from 9AM - 5PM. It’s my new part-time job on the weekends! Since losing my company I figured that it would be a good idea to have some type of income even if it means swallowing my pride. It’s just temporary and being a monkey is actually a decent gig - I get to rock out to my iPod. Today I was totally jamming to some old school Bone Thugs -N- Harmony (some profanity). I always stretch before suiting up and today… it paid off.


During the lunchtime rush some young punk thought he was funny and he tried to tackle me while I was on duty. I guess he didn’t expect the guy in the monkey suit to be a trained mixed martial artist. I sprawled and defended the takedown attempt and his friends were all laughing at him. Then they started chanting, “saru, saru” which means ‘monkey’ in Japanese. The commotion drew quite a crowd and I saw some people recording the event with their cell phones. If you happen to be one of those people please send me the clip because I’d like to include it in this post and also on my personal highlight reel.

The cherry blossoms are blooming in Tokyo now so after work I took a stroll around town to take a peak. The Japanese really love ‘hanami’ - looking at the cherry blossom. When I first came to Japan I couldn’t understand what the big deal was. After being here for a couple years I’ve come to appreciate the cherry blossom and I actually enjoy this time of year more than any other holiday season.

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6 Responses to Saturday in Tokyo

  1. tony says:

    You did good on these shots. U did what I did all day except I uploaded my photos to twitpics. I ate at two different restaurants around Kamata today.

  2. >I guess he didn’t expect the guy in the monkey suit to be a trained mixed martial artist.

    I got a good laugh out of this one. Not a laugh at you, by any means, but at the situation; reminded me of the news item a few years ago back in the States when a guy tried to hijack a van — only to find it occupied by a vanload of judo practitioners. (

    These are some tough times. I read your article about how you weren’t able to sustain your company. Kudos to you for being able to keep your feet planted firmly on the ground and keep persevering. Cheers.

  3. Billy says:

    Carjacking a van-load of Judo guys - that’s hilarious. Where was youtube in 2002?

  4. ai ito says:

    where do you get part time jobs like that? i think its fun!~haha

  5. Billy says:

    @ai ito

    I have a friend who is very well connected… haha

  6. jack says:


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