I believe that this is my 400th blog post. Given that I have been writing about my favourite shinkansen recently, it would have been appropriate to write about the 400 series – but I’m trying to do those posts in order and I wasn’t ready to get to that shinkansen yet. Perhaps I could even have done a post about my novel FOUR. Instead, however, after listening to a recording of a panel at the recent European Association for Japanese Studies (EAJS) conference yesterday discussing railways and stations, I was inspired to write about Naka-Itabashi within the theme of my favourite places in Japan.
In his paper Fabian Purkarthofer referred to how many people in Japan will use the local station name when asked where they live/stay/work – even though that name may not appear on a map as the name of an area of a town/city (as opposed to being just a station name). I certainly do this. In the case of Naka-Itabashi (中板橋) (literally, ‘middle of Itabashi’ (Itabashi being the ward – 板橋区)), you will find it on some maps as well as it being a station name – though most people I know abbreviate it down to ‘Naka-Ita’.
Naka-Itabashi is the place that I have stayed in the most time in Japan (not the longest – which is Seto). Thanks to this, I included it as the place where the main character in my first novel, Hijacking Japan, was living and there are parts of the book that describe the area in some detail.
Although Naka-Itabashi continues to change, it is still one of the areas in Japan that I feel most at home. There is a great feel about Naka-ita, and it is so convenient with a large range of shops and places to eat – although the main restaurant that I used to eat at during visits to the area was Kashiwa Sushi (which made an appearance in my novel, FOUR), which was actually on the other side of the railway line in Yayoi.
The other aspect of Naka-ita that is convenient is that it’s only four stations away from Ikebukuro, from where it’s easy to access almost anywhere in Tokyo.
Here are some pictures of Naka-Itabashi…
I also managed to include the following picture of Naka-Itabashi in Japan: The Basics