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16 Minutes on the Seibu Ikebukuro Line Part 1
last modified: Monday, November 24, 2008 (2:51:01 AM)
And with those directions, I headed off in search of the Toei Animation Museum.

What I later found out was that '16 minutes on the Seibu Ikebukuro Line' is about the equivalent of telling someone that the place they're looking for is in Oakland, California or Queens, New York City. In other words, not a heck of a lot of help.

But, as I ventured out for the Toei Animation Museum on October 21, I was full of high spirits. It was a free day on the tour, and I planned to make the most of it. I would head to the museum, then to Harajuku to see the Meiji shrine, then off to Nakano, where I would spend like a madman on dollar cels at Mandarake.

But, as any wise traveller can tell you, things never go as planned.

Thanks to a helpful tour aide, I had pinpointed my exact stop for the studio as being the "Oizumi Gakuen" station. At the Seibu line station in Ikebukuro, Tokyo, I noticed that the route had several trains - Express, Rapid, Semi-rapid and Local. As my Japanese is quite poor, there was no way I would be able to read the sign and figure out what station each train would stop at. But a helpful train conductor pointed to his Rapid train as stopping at the Oizumi Gakuen station. So, on the train I went.

When I arrived at the Oizumi Gakuen station, I asked the employee where the Toei Studio was. He didn't know. But instead, he gave me a little map of the area and a 'Good luck Gaijin' smile. The map, of course, was written in kanjii.

I headed to the main street near the station, Oizumi Gakuen-dori. 'Dori', as I had quickly learned, meant 'street'. Fortunately, the signs are written in English characters and in Japanese. So, memorizing the characters for Oizumi Gakuen, the map showed that I would follow this street until I reached an intersection. So, I walked.

And walked...

After fourty five minutes of walking down the street, I started to wonder if this really was a good idea. Then, I noticed a local bus whose mascot was Kimba, the White Lion. Well, certainly a bus with Kimba on must take me to the studio.

So, I stopped the bus with the number 42 on it. But the bus driver told me that he doesn't stop at Toei.

So, I waved another bus with the Kimba mascot, number 18. But the bus driver told me that she doesn't stop at Toei either. Nor does the bus with "Toei Animation Studio" written on it, which makes regular runs from some clandestine location to the studio every 15 minutes or so.

And then I waved another city bus down, but that driver told me the same thing. What I later found out, though, is that the town of Seibu has a baseball team whose mascot is Kimba. So, all public transportation has the Kimba character on it.

So, I walked.

According to the map, I would turn right when I reached an intersection with a 'video store'(so glad I invested in katakana books..) and a police station(koban). As the map looked as if it were an nth copy, I figured it was likely out of date and, if anything, the police station would be the best marker to look for.

But, guess what? The police station had been replaced by the premier 100 yen store in Japan, Daiso. It took about 30 minutes for me to figure that one out.

The nice thing in Japan is that, with so many drink machines around, as long as you have 110 yen in your pocket, you'll never die of thirst. So, with Daiso drink in tow, I turned right at the interestion. This was affirmed by the Toei Animation bus turning down the same intersection.

Half an hour later, and I run into a police man. I ask Mr. Policeman where the studio is and show him the map. Mr. Policeman goes on at length in Japanese about the location. The two words I pick up in the conversation are 'ima'(which I figured meant straight) and 'migi'(which I knew meant right). So, go straight and turn right..somewhere. Mr. Policeman knew I did not grasp much of what he said, but I thanked him anyways for his help.

So I continued to walk. And about 10 minu