My neighborhood.

Tokyo (a massive city) is made up of wards (which are often called cities on English-language signs), each of which is made up of smaller cities. 大森町 is city-within-a-city-within-a-city, but even that is made up of different districts. 大森東 is my little corner of Tokyo, and it has its own quirks and personality.

This is a fairly quiet neighborhood. The closest pachinko parlor is a five-minute walk away near 大森町 station, and it even has good soundproofing. For being so quiet, though, it’s fairly busy; you can find people walking or cycling through at nearly any hour of the day or night. (I sometimes wonder if that’s part of what keeps petty crime down in Japan; in places with a high population density, there’s always a chance someone will see you.) In addition to the Family Mart on the other side of the block, there are a lot of local shops: a tiny mom-and-pop general store a few doors down from me, a sushi place, a walk-up kushi place, a walk-up onigiri place, a bicycle shop, two barber shops, a flower shop, and a few izakaya scattered about. There’s also a food-processing place in the building next to mine. Since Japan doesn’t observe Sunday as a common day off, small businesses set their own; Monday seems to be the common rest day in this neighborhood.

Construction lamps, for lack of a better term.

Freshly-built and ready for tenants.

I say it’s quiet, but I mean more in a general sense. Since I’ve been here, construction seems to be rampant. The gas company’s been steadily working their way through the streets, one team working by day in one place and another working by night in a different spot. Also, most of these buildings seem new; I think that when a building here is sufficiently old, they tear it down and put up a new one (or at least gut the old one and renovate it). There’s a building down the street getting this treatment, a vacant lot that looks ripe for construction, another vacant lot directly across from my window where they’re doing something, and a new apartment building past the Family Mart that was just built this month. They also seem to like to park their vehicles right by my apartment entryway. (That’s not the only thing they put by my entryway: yesterday morning, I awoke to what sounded like a garage-band warmup; it seems the neighborhood was having a little festival, and the band was directly across from my building’s door, while chairs for the audience were lined up along my side of the street.)

Another thing I can say is that it’s easy to get lost here. The streets aren’t laid out in a grid; they turn and bend and connect with small alleys. I actually did get lost here one night. It wasn’t for long, and I eventually came out in a spot I recognized. This was before I had my phone, though, so I had no access to online maps. Now that I have GPS, I can explore worry-free.


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