This is a continuation from Training in Japan Part #5: Etiquette
Disclaimer: This blog post is intended for use as a reference. It is based on my personal experiences. No part of this blog can be or should be taken as legal, medical, or other advice.
Ninja Obstacle Park: One train stop past Atago station on the Tobu Urban Park Line (the one you take from Kashiwa to Noda) is Shimizukoen Station, the station you'll take to reach Shimizu Park. There is a ninja obstacle course that you can pay to do that is very fun. It isn't open everyday, so be sure to check online to see if they are open when you want to go. Also, you may end up in the water, so dress accordingly!!!
Atago Shrine Picnic: One of my favorite lunches before training in the dojo is to get to Noda early and go to the Discount Supermarket right by the train station. Inside the supermarket, towards the back, is a deli section with so many awesome selections of Japanese quick service foods. I've marked on the map below how to get to the supermarket from the train station.
Build your meal from the awesome selections (there are too many to choose from for one meal, so plan to do this again to try out more items. Then, take your food to the picnic tables at the Atago Shinto Shrine and enjoy beautiful and tranquil scenery while you eat. It is a perfect lunch and setting to enjoy before a hard training session in the dojo.
Above I've marked how to get from the supermarket to the picnic table at Atago Shrine. Head south from the doors of the store and cross the street. Walk down the little path and to your right you'll see a small gate with a beautiful path on the other side. Open this gate and walk down the tree lined path where you'll find the picnic table shown below. Shinto Shrines are sacred places, but they are also meant to be used and enjoyed by the public. So, be respectful while there and enjoy the experience, and your lunch! Remember, there won't be any trash cans so you'll need to take your trash back to the hotel, keep that in mind. Absolutely do not leave your trash behind at the shrine. And don't throw it away at the dojo either. Take it back to the hotel, this is the norm in Japan.
Shrine Shop and Tabi Shop: In Noda, just up the road from the station, is a Tabi shop that everyone in the Bujinkan visits at one point or another. Honestly, the selection isn't great, but they do have some nice stuff. Their stretch tabi are great and I've only ever seen them at this shop for sale. Directly across the street from the tabi shop is a shrine shop with many Shinto and Buddhist things to buy inside. They have the best incense here and I always make a point to buy some candles for the dojo and incense as well.
Cocos and Saizeria: Up the street a bit further is a Cocos and Saizeria. Both are decent places to get food, not great, but decent. Sometimes I go to Cocos just to pay for the "Drinku Baru." Or drink bar. Basically it means unlimited refills of all their drinks at the fountain. On a hot day, this is very refreshing with all of the sodas and juices available. On a cold day, their hot chocolate really hits the spot. Saizeria is a decent stop if you need something other than Japanese food. It is an Italian restaurant, though definitely one with a lot of Japanese influence. Like Squid pizza. But they do have mushroom pizza, spaghetti with meat sauce (though they do skimp on the sauce a bit, Japanese people like the noodles best it seems. No, you can't ask for more sauce, as mentioned in part 5 of this blog series) and sautéed shrimp. There are also chicken wings and stew over rice, among other things.
Shane Sensei is a licensed Shidoshi in the Bujinkan and member of the Shidoshi-Kai. He has trained in the Bujinkan since 1998 and regularly travels to Japan for training.