Thursday, November 12, 2009
Takadanobaba Refurb Project
Takadanobaba is a crowded collection of buildings located along the JR Yamanote train line, halfway between Shinjuku and Ikebukuro. The main street running east-west right in front of the station is Waseda Dori, which runs through prestigious Waseda University a couple of miles to the east. The area is semi-industrial, but also contains many apartment buildings, shops, restaurants and primary schools. I lived here from 1992 to 1993. It was a great area for finding discarded manga magazines, but the air was always pretty dirty.
Aside from all of that, Takadanobaba is the setting for Dr. Tenma's lab, where, according to the "Tetsuwan Atomu" manga, Astro was created in the year 2003. Additionally, Tokiwa Manor was located a few miles northwest (go north about 2 miles to Ikebukuro, west 1 mile to Shiinamachi station, and then double back south half a mile), and Tezuka Productions Company also had its office here, on the west side of the station. So, there's a bit of a connection between the city and the man. The wiki entry says that the train station had been playing the theme music from the TV series, starting in 2003 to celebrate Atom's birth year, but I didn't notice it when I visited a few days ago.
Recently, 2 large murals were painted on the walls underneath the train tracks. The tracks pass over the station, and the station entrance opens up under the tracks, so if you go straight north as you leave the building you'll be looking right at them.
Going west from the station, you'll see a set of 5 banners on the street posts featuring Astro Boy, Black Jack, Ribon Knight, Three-Eyed One and Jungle Emperor (Kimba, in the U.S. version). These banners run for about one mile along Waseda Dori.
Going east from the station, just the other side of the traffic circle, there's an elementary school, with two pictures of Astro Boy drawn on the name sign in front. Looks like they were created by one or two of the former students there. Unlike with Disney in the U.S., Japanese studios don't send teams of lawyers out with cease-and-desist letters whenever schools do stuff like this.