I realize that each blog post about our trip to Japan will probably be pretty long. The trip was so special and awesome I wanted to write everything we did in Japan, so it may sound more like a journal than a blog post to many of you. I’m hoping that the people who’ve never been to Japan can feel what Japan is like, and maybe I’ll be able to help people plan their trip to Japan! If you have any questions about our trip to Japan, just leave a comment. I’ll do my best to answer it!
Day 02: 11/03/2010 (Tue) Nakano -> Shibuya -> Harajuku
We got up about 8:00 AM, and went to pick up some breakfast at a Seven Eleven nearby and waited for our luggage to be delivered.
After our luggage was delivered around 11:00 AM, we headed to a ramen place in Nakano.
We were pretty hungry by the time we got there, but the place turned out to be closed because they were attending a huge ramen show in Tokyo…
So I asked my brother for help. He called up his ramen expert friend and recommended this tsukemen place, Mukyoku.
Mukyoku (tsukemen place), Nakano, Tokyo
I ate: Tsukemen (500 yen), with an egg (100 yen), extra scallions (100 yen), extra seaweed (100 yen), extra menma (100 yen), total 900yen
Tsukemen is a kind of noodle where you have noodle and soup/broth separately. You dip your noodles into the soup first and then eat it, kind of like zaru-soba. This place was famous for their super thick tonkotsu (pork broth) tsukemen soup. When we got there, there were already a couple of people in the line. We waited for about 10~15 minutes, got inside, and bought tickets for our noodle.
TIPS & NOTES:
Not sure if this is a tip, but almost all ramen places in the city, like Tokyo, have a vending machine by the entrance so you can buy the tickets for ramen in advance. You can also buy tickets for extra toppings like extra scallions, extra egg, etc… and also drinks from the vending machine and you give the tickets to a waitress/waiter when you’re seated. This will save so much time for both customers and the ramen place because when you finish eating, you can just walk out. Don’t worry if you can’t read it, just ask the waitress/waiter there “Osusume wa dore desuka?” (Which one do you recommend?) That’s what I’d usually do.
As the greedy person I am, I bought the ticket for a regular tsukemen and tickets for an egg, extra scallion, extra seaweed, and extra menma (bamboo shoots).
When we got our orders, they didn’t look like a lot. The noodle looked thick like regular tsukemen noodle, and the soup looked just a little thicker than regular tsukemen soup. But once we started eating, we realized that the soup was a LOT thicker than it looked. It wasn’t like we were eating the soup either, we were just dipping the noodle in it, but we were quickly getting full. The soup was that thick with fatty juice & collagen from pork. (in a very good way.)
I couldn’t believe how such a small amount of noodles made me so full. I mean, I eat a bowl of thick tonkotsu ramen every other week. How could I be full already?? Derek who can eat twice as much as I can barely finished his noodles. And I had all the extra toppings… I cursed my greediness.
Then I saw a sign on the wall, and it said something like this:
“Our soup is very very thick. Everyone has a different sense of taste, so it’s completely okay if you don’t like it. We just want you to enjoy our noodles. So if our noodles are not to your liking, just let us know, we’ll give your money back. Thank you.” It was the most modest sign I’ve ever seen.
I liked their thick mud-like tonkotsu soup. It was very unique and nothing like any other tsukemen I’ve had before. I just wish I had a bigger stomach or they had a half size. Nothing makes me feel worse than wasting food, especially when the owner seems so modest. I learned later that you can ask them to water down the soup. (but I’d probably feel bad asking them that too.) Next time I go there, I’ll finish it! I swear!
We were soooo full after that and it was getting late, so we just headed to Shibuya to visit the faithful dog, Hachiko to say hi to him.
After we went to Mandarake (their site is in English) in Shibuya which is a store in a basement filled with hundreds and thousands of doujinshi, manga, used toys (many are very rare), adult anime games, etc… anything anime related!
Derek bought doujinshi of Moyashimon (non-adult, of course) and I got something for my friend. We weren’t going to buy any other stuff there anyway so we just looked around but if you’re an anime otaku, don’t take too much money with you (you won’t be able to resist)… You can check out their website for more locations! You can also buy stuff online now too.
Then we went to Tokyu Hands (their site is in English) which was across the street from Mandarake.
Tokyu Hands is a place you can get anything. The smallest umbrella, wacky toys, expensive knives, craft stuff, sports product, hats, suitcase, furniture, pens, ANYTHING. I went there to look for kyaraben stuff but we were very overwhelmed. Just check out the floor map for Tokyu Hands in Shibuya! I wish we had Tokyu Hands in the U.S. You can probably spend all day there and it’s also a great place to buy unusual/unique souvenir.
It was such a nice night and we wanted walk off the tsukemen we had earlier that day, so we walked to Harajuku from Shibuya. It’s only one stop on the JR Yamanote line but we didn’t want to deal with crowded trains. It took about 20~25 minutes but it really wasn’t that bad and the all the funny signs on the street kept us entertained.
When we got to Harajuku, we walked down on Takeshita street. Takeshita street is a small street lined with a lot of clothes stores, from punk to kawaii to… wacky.
We had a crepe at Marion Crepes on Takeshita st.
Marion Crepes (crepe stand), Harajuku, Tokyo
I ate: Strawberry and strawberry ice cream crepe (400 yen)
There’s another crepe stand called Angel’s Hearts right across from Marion Crepes. Seems like Angels Hearts looked more popular and Angels Hearts store looked newer than Marion Crepes but we did enjoy our crepe! The crepe was very thin and crispy. We only ordered one because we weren’t sure if we could finish it, but it was just the right amount.
Then we walked down on Omotesando street in Harajuku and stopped by at Kiddy Land. Kiddy Land is a large of toy store that fills an entire building, and they sell different kind of toys on each floor.
I went there because I knew they carried official Studio Ghibli merchandise. As soon as we got to the Totoro section of the store, Derek was just overwhelmed surrounded by Ghibli stuff.
We were low on cash (we couldn’t exchange more money earlier that day) but we couldn’t just leave there empty handed… so we bought these amazingly adorable reusable grocery bags!!
We were getting pretty tired, so we went back and got ourselves burgers from Mos Burger at Nerima station and headed home.
Mos Burger (fast food)
We ate: Kalbi barbecue rice burger (350 yen), Pork burger (340 yen), Shrimp croquette burger (350 yen), fried potato size L (270 yen)
Pretty much immediately after we ate the dinner, Derek completely passed out. I took a nice hot bath again, checked my email, and went to bed around 2:30 AM.
I was also very tired but I just couldn’t go to sleep. Maybe because I was too excited about going to Ghibli Museum the next day!
We have over 4000 photos from this trip and there’s no way I can post them all on my blog. So I’m uploading photos from our trip to flickr as I write a post for each day. If you’d like to check out random photos from Japan or us goofing around in Japan, check out my flickr collection by clicking the link below!
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