Tuesday, December 28, 2010

City of Animation, Nerima

Whenever I go to the Tokyo Anime Center, I make it a point to check out the tourist fliers table. Usually, the fliers don't change from month to month, but every so often something new gets added to the table. Even then, the odds are high that the new item still won't be of much interest to me (such as being for something down in Kyoto, or being related to Anpanman).

However, during my last trip there before the Christmas break at work (when I'm not teaching lessons), I happened across the "Animation City, Nerima" map. For those of you not aware of it, Nerima Ward is a district west of the Tokyo Yamanote train line loop. The loop, which pretty much contains the city of Tokyo, runs through Shinjuku and Ikebukuro stations on the west side. From these two stations, you can either take the Chuu-ou line from Shinjuku, or the Seibu-Ikebukuro line from Ikebukuro, and go west into Nerima. The two lines essentially border the north and south edges of the rectangle making up the primary home to many of the anime studios here. I've already done write ups of Toei Studios, the Sunrise gallery, and the Gundam statue at Kamiigusa.

The Nerima map mentions these studios and the statue, while adding information about annual events and various locations that have been used as references for buildings used in a given anime series (such as the Musashino Music School, used as a model for Nodame Cantible). The map is sponsored by Nerima Animation and Nerima City.

Now, one of the major features of the map is a list of 15 train stations along the Seibu lines that have anime-related landmark maps. Of themselves, the maps aren't much, just a couple of images from a specific series, a short description of the series, and then maps showing the locations of a museum, art gallery or other non-anime landmark nearby. So, unless you're a completist, it's probably not worth trying to visit them all.

On the other hand, if you live in Nerima, it can be something of a quest to find them. Specifically, the one for Nerima Station itself was so far out of the way that I never did find it. Many of the people working in the area that I asked had no idea that it existed. For the smaller stations, it's much easier, because the landmark map will be fairly close to the central ticket gates. In all cases, the landmark maps will be outside of the station, so if you're walking between stations (most stations are only 1-2 miles apart) it won't cost you anything. If you're trying to get from one corner of Nerima to the other by train, then you can figure that you'll easily pay $30 USD in single-station-long trip tickets.

I started my quest in Sakuradai and wrapped up in Fujimi-dai. All told, it was about 3 hours of walking and looking around. Since I don't live in Nerima, I probably won't be back for the other landmark maps. But this at least gives you a sampling of what's there.

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