Tokyo Stroll Supplement: Takadanobaba / Waseda University Area
This page is for locations in the Takadanobaba / Waseda University Area area of Tokyo. This neighborhood is not part of my book Tokyo Stroll.
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Celes Takadanobaba (セレス高田馬場)
One of the more "interesting" buildings near Takadanobaba Station is this wedding chapel. The brown faux gothic cathedral style front is almost flat and so devoid of ornamentation to be almost a bas relief of a church. According to their web site the interior of the wedding hall is tall giving a large European church feel that the designers intended, with the use of projectors they can even do a starry night display in the hall. There are also three banquet halls in different styles.
A hill in Toyama Koen, originally it was called Gyokuenho when this was a garden of the Owari branch of the Tokugawa family. The hill is the tallest point in the Yamanote area of Tokyo at 44.6 meters (146 feet) above sea level. The location is said to be haunted as sobs and screams are said to be heard in the area of Hakoneyama. This makes the hill a popular tourism site for thrill seekers fans of the supernatural.
Takadanobaba Station (高田馬場駅)
This is actually three connected stations, they service the JR East Yamanote, Seibu Shinjuku, and the Tokyo Metro Tōzai lines. The underpass below the tracks at the station has what will interest most visitors, a very large mural of characters from various works by the famous manga artist and animator Tezuka Osamu. Most recognizable are Atom (Astro Boy), and the illegal surgeon Black Jack. A close look will show circled images with a realistic portrait of a person and one of Tezuka's drawings. These are some of the authors of famous works Tezuka refashioned into manga. On the Yamanote Line platform the theme music from Tetsuwan-Atom (Astro Boy) is heard before each train departs. All of this is appropriate as in the manga Takadanobaba is where Atom was created. Another connection is that in 1976 Tezuka Production moved its offices to the neighborhood.
Toyama Kōen 戸山公園
This park was originally part of an estate of the Owari branch of the Tokugawa family. The park is not one continuous body but in two parts, the largest being in the east. The eastern portion was originally a huge strolling garden, the Toyama Sanso Garden. This eastern portion includes Hakoneyama and a pond, the last of many that once were in the gardens. This garden was laid out in the Edo Period to be a symbolic representation of locations along the Tōkaidō. Both portions are heavily forested making them pleasant places to stroll when it is hot.
From 1873 to 1945 part of the park was the Toyama Medical Academy, a military facility. In 1989 excavations next to the park uncovered around 100 bodies, many of which were non-Japanese. The academy apparently had a connection with the infamous Unit 731 and in 2006 Iishi Toyo a former nurse told of burying bodies and body parts in the area after the Japanese surrender. Further excavations have not uncovered any more remains. Just north of Hakoneyama there is a monument to the military academy.
Waseda El Dorado (aka Rhythms of Vision) (ドラード早稲田)
Designed and constructed by Von Jour Caux and a group of craftspeople in 1983. The building is not far from the front gate of the Waseda University, where Von Jour Caux as a student was introduced to the works of Antoni Gaudi, he would later also study at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. This apartment building includes shops on the ground floor. The exterior is composed of rounded surfaces covered in ceramic art on the combined with mosaics, sculpture, stained glass, and wrought iron. Be careful when you enter the lobby there is an undulating floor in part of the entryway, also be respectful of the residents as this is their home.
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Created October 22, 2022 | Content last updated October 24, 2022