Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Galaxy Express 999 in Nerima

(The mural is right behind the bus stop, making it impossible to get a good photo of the entire painting.)

Initially, I had planned on combining the section on the Galaxy Express 999 sightseeing spot in with the blog entry on Toei Studios and just leaving it at that, since my battery had died in my camera and I didn't have any plans for coming back out to this part of the city any time soon. However, I'm currently beefing up my Listing of Anime and Manga Galleries and Museums with photos and more complete descriptions, and since I wanted to return to the "Heroes of Tokiwa Manor" exhibit in Ikebukuro to pick up the souvenir book, it was a minor step to take the train farther out to Nerima for a second visit.

Ouizumi Gakuen is the nearest station to Toei Studios, and the people here have embraced the Galaxy Express 999 anime series. To further commemorate Leiji Matsumoto's work, there was a big ceremony on Sept. 9, 2009, as a 2009.9.9 event. This included having 2 of the Seibu line trains painted up with pictures of Maetel and the Conductor, two vending machines dressed up with the same art, a limited print run of tickets for the 2009.9.9 trains, and a big mural painted up on the north wall of the station at the bus stop.

When I came out the second time, I asked the station personnel where to see the trains, and to buy a set of the tickets for 990 yen. Unfortunately, I was told that the station had sold out of the tickets and they were only available now by mail. That, and the trains don't run on a fixed schedule; you have to call the station dispatch office to find out where the trains are at the moment. If you're a big train fan, the best bet would be to just set up a camera in Nerima station and be prepared to wait for a while.

Ouizumi Gakuen only has the one platform, but there are 2 sets of stairs leading up from it to the station. The vending machine with the Conductor artwork is in the middle of the platform (as of Nov. 13 when I last visited). The three Maetel banners are over the central staircase at the station level. The Conductor statue is in a corner near the ticket gates. The Maetel vending machine is between the Conductor and the gates. When you go through the gates, bear to the right and go down the steps for the north exit. At the street, turn right and follow the sidewalk to the bus stop about 100 feet to get to the mural.

From the bus stop, face north and take the diagonal street northeast 3 blocks to the next major intersection. Turn right and walk east in the direction of Toei Studios. There are a couple of light posts here that have 999 banners, and models of 999 floating over the tops of the posts. The weather was dreary and marked by a light drizzle all day, plus it was getting close to sunset when I reached Ouizumi Gakuen, so the streetlights were on, making it difficult to get good shots of the 999 models. All the more reason for you to visit Ouizumi Gakuen yourself and take your own pictures.

(The mural wasn't positioned with photographers in mind.)

Nerima ward is the home of many of Japan's anime studios, including Sunrise, as well as the Suginami Animation Museum. They're within about 5 miles of each other if you want to make this a day trip. There's no north-south train line in the immediate area, so unless you want to double back to a major hub, it may be faster to just take a bus between stations. Toei Studio is at Ouizumi Gakuen, at the north end of the region. South a couple of miles is Kamiigusa with the Gundam statue at the station and Sunrise a block east. Another couple miles south is Ogikubo station, with the Suginami Museum 1 mile away on the main road running west-northwest from the station.

To get to Ouizumi Gakuen, take the Seibu-Ikebukuro line west from Ikebukuro station about 10 stops (3 stops if you're on the correct express train).

(This is a close-up of the text next to the Conductor statue. It came out blurry because the camera was focusing on the statue. I'll let someone else translate it if they want.)

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