Where Rachel Sleeps - Otsuka and Ekoda

Part two of a series detailing the settings of Rachel, and why I chose to place a monster in them.

Click here to read Part One (Ikebukuro)

In attempting to avoid the more well-known parts of Tokyo, I took to the areas surrounding them; places where someone might live on the margins.

If you look at the map of Otsuka Station, you'll see the Toden Arakawa Streetcar Line, Tokyo's last remaining tram line. Walking around this area, and especially as you head further east along the Yamanote, takes you to quieter, older parts of the city. There isn't much to see out there, but they're fascinating places anyway, away from the neon and skyscrapers of the western side of central Tokyo.

Rachel lives in Otsuka at the start of the book, though she soon moves on. It's just one stop from Ikebukuro, and about twenty minutes' walk. I knew the area well, as my wife worked at a company there for a few years.

"DSCF3726" by Zengame is licensed under CC BY 2.0

"DSCF3726" by Zengame is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The picture above was taken from a bridge overlooking Otsuka Station. You can see the Tokyo Sky Tree off in the distance. Closer, it's a jumble of apartment buildings, hotels and wires, like most Japanese cities.

Otsuka station was quieter than usual... A few office ladies were gathered outside a karaoke bar, talking in drunk voices. One had a huge, brown, cuddly bear under her arm. Identical black suits.
— From "Rachel"

To be honest, I chose the area mainly for its anonymity. It's cheap and close to larger stations, and you could easily lose yourself in the tiny, winding streets that surround the area. The passage above, referring to "office ladies" going drinking and singing after work, one with a plush toy she may have won from an amusement arcade claw game, struck me as a nice piece of flavor, a sight you might see anywhere in Tokyo. Small crowds that Rachel would watch, waiting for her chance to pounce.

Whenever I visited Otsuka, I often heard people speaking French. Not sure if that means anything!

It's a spoiler for the book, so I'm not going to talk about Ekoda much, other than to say that it's the suburbs, it's quite a cheap area, and you can really see the city change from businesses to residences. An important character from the book lives in an apartment in Ekoda, and I stuck them there for those reasons. There are lots of small, cheap apartments, and it's only a few stops from Ikebukuro on the Seibu Line.

Blue Sky at Night

A photo posted by Dobromir Harrison (@tiperet) on

The picture above isn't actually Ekoda (it's about an hour walk away) but it shows the kind of place I was thinking of when I wrote the book: concrete apartment buildings and dark, quiet streets.

I doubt I'll make more posts about Tokyo, as I'll end up repeating myself. There are other locations in the book, but writing about them will contain major spoilers, so I'll probably leave them alone for a few weeks. Let me know on here or social media if you have any questions about anything in the book.

Reminder that you can buy Rachel here from Amazon: bit.ly/rachelbites