Week 152: Tokyo

A week of multiple flights, not napping, delicious ramen, vending machines, Japanese gardens, drinking sake, claw machines, drinking sake, bright lights, and friendly bar staff.

Posted on by Rowan Manning.
Tagged with HolidayFoodWalking

  • What even is work? I was quite switched off in the lead-up to this trip.

  • On Friday we started our ~18 hour journey from London to Shanghai to Tokyo. It was fine, I didn’t really sleep a lot so pretty much stayed up for 24 hours solid. I burned through a lot of TV.

  • China Eastern feed you pretty frequently, don’t know how unpopular an opinion this is but I kinda love airline food. It’s a nice little surprise what you’re gonna get given. Did you know that low pressure and humidity levels reduce your sense of smell and taste a lot so they have to add a lot of extra salt to the food?

  • We landed and got the train into Tokyo, found our hotel (thanks CityMapper), had showers and DID NOT NAP. A couple of hours after arriving we met up with Luke who’s been living here for a few months. It was really nice to see him despite us being complete zombies by this point.

  • We went to a nearby Soba restaurant, chatted for a bit, then went off to bed. I think I slept as soon as my head hit the pillow.

  • On Sunday we woke up feeling fresh, the staying up paid off! I managed to stay awake for the whole day.

  • Luke wasn’t feeling the best so we had Sunday to ourselves. We started by going to a ramen place near our hotel which was amazing, I’m told that it’s difficult to find a bad one. The staff were friendly and patient explaining how the ticket vending machine worked; as somebody who hates the part of a restaurant experience where you’re waiting for the bill, I’m a big fan of most places either being pay-up-front or take-your-reciept-to-the-till.

  • A view of the traditional Japanese gardens in Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden

    Our plans were mostly to explore a bit of Shinjuku City, which is the area we’re staying in. It was a lovely sunny day so we explored Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden which is beautiful. I tripped over a loose paving stone and fell onto my wrist which still hurts a bit but think it’s fine? We managed to work out how to buy ibuprofen and I can move it without too much pain 🤷

  • After the gardens we got coffee and sat for a bit then decided to make the most of Luke not being there by having dinner in McDonalds. Yes I know it’s kind of a travesty given how good and cheap the food is everywhere here, but it’s a tradition of ours to try the regional McDonalds menu. Teriyaki burgers are very good but quite sweet, excellent sauce selection, McNuggets are different and more delicious.

  • We wandered around a bit, went to a few small arcades and wasted money on the claw machines, and then stopped in a little bar. The owner spoke no English and we spoke no Japanese but he was really keen to chat via Google Translate, he gave us some snacks that we must try and recommended a lot of other places to visit in the area. Very friendly, would go there again and I’m glad I listened to my inner child when picking the bar by name alone (@home shot bar BJ).

  • A view across a busy street crossing in Kabukicho, to tall buildings covered in lit-up signs

    A few beers and sakes later, we headed back out again and walked up to Kabukicho which was the barman’s recommendation for nightlife. At night it’s lit up in a way that matches my expectations for how Tokyo looks based on TV and film. There’s a lot going on, we just zig-zagged across the area for a while stopping for sake.

  • On the way back to the hotel we stopped off for snacks in 7/11 and FamilyMart and ate them in the room. A lovely day!

  • Everything is really quite easy and convenient here so far, despite only having a few very basic Japanese phrases which I’m probably butchering. Food’s great, people are friendly, there’s an overwhelming amount of stuff to do.

  • We’re off to some different parts of the city today and then travelling to Kyoto later in the week, I’m excited!