Life in Ota-ku: An Interview with Ian Maglalang.

We feature an interview each month with one of our own to remind you that Section L is made up of aliens in a flesh suit ordinary humans, with interesting backgrounds and many Tokyo tips to share. 

Above we have Ian trying out an octopus senbei (rice cracker) before pulling an all-nighter to catch 2022’s first sunrise on Enoshima.

? WHY ARE YOU IN TOKYO?

I actually didn’t think of coming to Tokyo! I just wanted to move out of the Phillipines, where I am from, to get out of my comfort zone. As long as I could do what I like doing, which is coding, I didn’t mind where I would end up. I wanted to meet a lot of other people, experience different cultures and nationalities. Just see what’s out there! It’s my first time living in another country. The first time I came to Tokyo was my very first time in Japan too.

? HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN LIVING HERE?

I came over in Dec 2019, so it’s been more than 2 years. When you first arrive, it’s like magic. It’s so different from my hometown. Everything works here, it’s easy to get everywhere. No need to deal with traffic and trains that aren’t working. It’s my first time living in a country with seasons.

Ian all smiles as he gets to do all the snowboarding he wants with the abundance of snow in Japan ?

After a while, the magic goes, and you see what it’s really like. It has its ups and downs. I felt the language barrier. I just know English and how to answer certain questions and to buy groceries. I have almost no knowledge of Japanese. I felt foreign here. Luckily before I came to Tokyo, I already had a friend who lives here, who used to be my coworker and moved over before me. Without any friends in Tokyo, it can be a lonely place to live in if you don’t speak the language.

? WHAT DO YOU DO AT SECTION L?

I make websites and web applications, handle all our apps and add new features. I ensure that our company tech highlights our values to our target audience. I build the bridge between the guests and company values, using technology.

Shot while doing this interview at our headquarters.

? DESCRIBE YOURSELF IN 3 WORDS.

Gamer. Nerd. I feel like I’m a nerd for a lot of things. Nerd is a generic word for knowing about certain stuff. Um… and mysterious.

? HEARD YOU LOVE SPECIAL KEYBOARDS. CARE TO ELABORATE?

It’s just a mechanical keyboard! There are many different keyboards, but mechanical ones have mechanical switches, which means it’s not electronic. It usually consists of a casing, a spring, and the actual switch. It gives you great feedback when you’re typing. Before, this was a niche market, but it’s popular these days because of the endless customization possibilities. It also goes with the rise in the numbers of gamers these days.

Ian’s mechanical keyboard with customized keycaps featuring Mount Fuji and a sneaky cup of tapioca tea at the top.

One good thing about these keyboards is that you can buy customized keycaps. I have matcha-colored XDA keycaps. There are also many keycap profiles. Depends on your usage. Do you use it for typing? Gaming? Or how do you angle your hands, how long your fingers are… it depends. There’s a keycap for everyone.

? WHERE DO YOU LIVE IN TOKYO?

Ota-ku. It’s near Haneda Airport. It’s a quiet neighbourhood, mostly residential. Just a few places to eat. It’s peaceful, not a lot of night life. There’s this place I go to for a run near Tama River. There’s a bridge there. A lot of people go there for fishing and runs along the riverbank. You never think that Tokyo has that kind of vibe.

The bridge along Tama River, from Ian’s Instagram stories.

? ANY SPOTS YOU RECOMMEND IN OTA-KU?

SPYRO’S, a Mediterranean restaurant near Kamata Station. It’s owned by an actual Mediterranean. My old coworker brought me there. Been there twice. Their moussaka (eggplant/potato-based dish) and souvlaki (skewered meat) are tasty. It’s not too pricey. Recently they have greek coffee. It’s so good. They also serve Mythos, a Greek beer. People can come to Tokyo and visit Greece along the way.

? WHERE DO YOU HANG OUT THE MOST?

Usually Shibuya and Harajuku. I try something new each time I go. Most recently, I went to TEX MEX Factory. Really liked the food and drinks. They had flavored magaritas, like watermelon and strawberry.

 ? WHERE IN JAPAN DO YOU WANT TO VISIT NEXT?

I haven’t been to Kyoto, or the Kansai region at all. I want to go to the most touristy places in Japan. I want to try feeding the deers in Nara. I want to see traditional Japan in Kyoto and fulfil my Harry Potter dreams in Osaka’s USJ (Universal Studios Japan)!

Click for tips to enjoy Nara Park.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at USJ.

TELL US A FUNNY TOKYO BAR STORY.

Me and my friends went to Niichome. We went into this 90s bar (that’s the actual name) where they play 80s and 90s music. The music was good. We were just dancing. This is not Halloween, but we saw some guy wearing a scanty Sailor Moon costume, so my friend danced in a flirty way with “Sailor Moon” as I laughed my head off at the side. Then I got too wasted, but was determined to get home no matter what. So I took a taxi from Shinjuku to Ota-ku, and it cost me 13000yen… I will never do that again unless it’s an emergency.

WHAT’S THE FIRST THING YOU RECOMMEND TOURISTS DO WHEN THEY ARRIVE IN TOKYO?

Get either a PASMO or Suica. You could pay for anything with it including train rides, taxis, restaurants, and conbini (convenience stores)!