As a foreigner in Japan, I have to inform the local ward office of my residential address within fourteen days of my arrival or…I guess I get in trouble? Anyway, being the square I am, I wandered over to Aoto on my second full day to make a visit to the Katsushika Ward Office.
Needless to say, I got horribly, grossly lost. “Just go down this street!” said Google Maps. “Nope!” said Aoto’s Not-So Mean Streets (actually, let’s be honest and blame my useless-with-directions brain). Eventually I stumbled upon the Ward Office – which didn’t have any information in English thus forcing me to run around the hallways whispering “gaijin!” until eventually I found the right place – and got my good self registered, all with the added bonus of discovering the hidden gem that is Aoto.
Before the pretty pictures of Aoto, however, we take a break in proceedings for this Omo! Public Service Announcement – two handy pictures for those future Katsushikians looking for the Ward Office and know zero Japanese:
1. Go in this door. It’s near the post office on the right hand side of the building.
2. Get in the elevator and go to Level 2 – section 17.
3. Ask/show the ladies with clipboards and armbands your Resident Card or utter the magic word – “gaijin”*. You’ll get a number because bureaucracy is bureaucracy in any country. Wait, go when called and Bob will hopefully be your uncle.
4. Wait some more as they process your address, wait until you’re called (again) and voila! You’ve become a registered with address foreign-type person!
* As much as this is considered a “bad” word now, I’m finding – at the very least, here in Katsushika – that it does get my point across. So use/don’t use, ’tis up to you!
Now! Aoto! During my travels being lost, I wandered past a gorgeous hand-pressed coffee shop called Toho Coffee (6-1-8 Tateishi, Katsushika-ku; phone: +81 3-5698-6375; open daily from 11am-6pm except Mondays [closed]) and rewarded myself with a cup for only ￥240. Perfect companion for my wanderin’s.
The Aoto area has its fair share of temples and parks, but is probably most well-known for housing the headquarters of Takara Tomy – the toy manufacturers. But there’s so much more to this little part of Katsushika-ku, and most of it is within ten minutes walk of the train station (Aoto, on the Keisei Main Line).
There’s a distinct European feel, especially around the performing arts complex, Katsushika Symphony Hills, where you’re greeted by Mozart himself (I’ll pop this into the next Omo! in Tokyo vlog, stay tuned!) and these lovely dancing nymph-things.
And, much to my excitement, you can also find a 100 Yen Lawson Store there. Aw yeah, cheap bentos are go.
If you do find yourself in the area, it’s worth spending an hour or so wandering through the streets near Aoto Station and the Ward Office. The atmosphere is very relaxed – but if hardcore shopping’s more your thing, the train station its self houses a sizeable shopping district with a Daiso down one end and a massive book store.