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Japan 2010: Day 02

November 18, 2010

in Japan,Travel

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.

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Behold! Sake & shochu shelf in a convenience store!! So beautiful...

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Sake in a juice pack Comes with a straw too!

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Yamato (Star Blazers) curry! They were doing the promotions for Yamato the live action movie EVERYWHERE.

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Even the coffee had the Yamato uniform on.

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Would you like to drink curry risotto?

After our luggage was delivered around 11:00 AM, we headed to a ramen place in Nakano.

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Can you see "w00t! Ramen!!" written all over my face?

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"Be careful of the closing doors." So cute makes me want to stick my fingers between the doors.

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His mom took her son's shoes off before letting him stand on the seat. No wonder the seats were so clean.

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…

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This was our first choice, "Muteppou"

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

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* Regular tsukemen comes with scallions, menma and seaweed

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).

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I was really really hungry!

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.)

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Regular tsukemen, w/ an egg, extra scallion, extra seaweed, extra menma at Mukyoku

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Look how thick it is!

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Their soft boiled egg was perfect.

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.

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He's such a good boy.

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Smoking area next to Hachiko. It had walls around it but still sooooo disgusting!

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!

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It looks like a shelter for otaku.

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.

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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.

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O_O

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.

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Cutest puppy made with ice cream, banana and chocolate EVER!

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"Around the Shoes"

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"Slangy - the Perfect Black World - Racial"... WHAT?

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.

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Balloon clown awaits you!

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Cute socks at Mighty Soxer (chain sock store)

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Nudy Boy needs clothes?

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Right after this, two girls came up and grabbed the exact same pants saying "OMG!! This is so cooooool!" (in Japanese)

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We came to the conclusion that Takeshita street is where clowns shop. (explains the gate at the entrance)

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A message to duck storage places all over the world.

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)

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Sooooo many crepes to choose from!

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Strawberry and strawberry ice cream crepe (400 yen)

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Nomnomnomnom

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.

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Angels Hearts, right across from Marion Crepes

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Kids sitting in front of H&M, playing with their DSis, no parents to be seen. (They're probably inside.) I thought it was a very Japanesey sight.

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.

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Another great souvenir store

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Elmo in all the colors in rainbow

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.

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Awww

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Awwwwww

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Awwwwwwwww

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!!

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There were several different kinds of eco bag by Studio Ghibli. (Laputa, Kiki's Delivery Service, etc...)

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Cute AND practical!

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)

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What's so special about Mos Burger? They use 100% domestic meat.

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Mos Burger's Menu

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I love their rice burger! (The buns are made with rice.)

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!

Continue to day 3…

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!

Japan 2010: the most awesome trip ever!

** The comments have been very buggy on wordpress, and sometimes it won’t let you leave a comment. If that happens, please email me at annathered[at]gmail.com! **

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

SamNo Gravatar November 19, 2010 at 7:57 pm

OMG!! Those bags are so cute >.< I am really enjoying your posts about your trip! It's like my own *much needed* (darn you school) mini-vacation, reading about it from you. ^_^

Reply

AnnaTheRedNo Gravatar November 28, 2010 at 1:52 pm

Sam, the bags are indeed cute, and super practical! The problem is that because it’s so darn cute I still can’t bring myself to use them…

Kai chan, rice burger makes so much sense, doesn’t it?? And they are delicious.

Athena, I’m glad that you enjoy my trip post! The tips & notes are some things I didn’t even know and learned from my experience. I’m from the countryside so even I experience culture shock in Tokyo. When I’m done blogging each day I’ll try to compile all the tips and notes about my trip!

Heidi, it’s funny you mentioned that, I love Kamikaze Girls! It was funny, cute and sweet. I love watching Anna Tsuchiya as a high school “yankee” girl. (dyed hair, short uniform top, long skirt, knock-off designer’s clothes and tricked out scooter) We didn’t see that many people with crazy fashion but the hammer pants with union jack were… special.

Reply

kai chanNo Gravatar November 20, 2010 at 3:52 pm

rice burger looks legit!
you’re really enjoying it over there! i cant wait to visit it one day :)

Reply

AthenaNo Gravatar November 20, 2010 at 6:56 pm

Yay! Thanks so much for sharing~! I love your play-by-play pictures/commentary. It makes me feel like I’m touring Japan a little, something I won’t be able to do in the near future. =D It really is like you’re letting us readers go on vacation with you! Plus, the little tips you’re mentioning are be carefully filed away in my brain for future reference. You’re obviously aware of how many details about what to expect on a trip to Japan get left out on typical travel agency sites. Please tell us more!

Reply

HeidiNo Gravatar November 21, 2010 at 2:00 pm

Wow! That’s a busy day. I of course love all of the food pictures. I love all of the pictures actually.

I have to tell yo though, when ever I hear Harajuku it makes me think of the girls dressed in their Lolita clothes. Which in turn reminds me of a really good movie, Kamikaze Girls. Have you seen that movie? It’s based on a Japanese novel Shimotsuma Story, I love it. :)

Reply

TherresaNo Gravatar October 31, 2011 at 4:10 am

Hihi!!! Uuuum I was just wondering how much you think you spent in total on the trip. I’m planning to go back to visit my family next year and Im looking to estimate how much it would be! Any info helps!! thankz!!

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