So it’s day 2 in Tokyo (although technically we arrived midday yesterday, so we’re half-counting this as full-day 1) and we have our eyes firmly set on some big views. We’re a little slow to rise today, out of the apartment around midday, and decided to make lunch our first stop.
Jane and I have been doing lots of research into foods of Tokyo, Hong Kong and Macau, and today was no different. Despite having ramen last night, we knew we needed to check out Fuunji Ramen in Shinjuku.
After successfully(!) navigating the subway system, we had only a short walk to this small restaurant. We’d heard that people would queue for an hour or more for the ramen here, so we were hoping for the best. Stepping inside the front door is a vending machine – I’m going to call this the “menu box” – where we insert money, push a button, and hope it means we’ve ordered the right thing.
I opted for “Special Ramen” (950¥) whereas Jane selected “Special Dipping Noodle”, also known as tsukemen (1,000¥).
With our food tickets we joined the queue, only three-people deep, and watched locals slurp their ramen.
Within 10 minutes we were seated right in the centre, able to watch the eccentric chef perform his magic – it was quite a show!
The food came to us promptly and it was delicious. The “large” portion of Special Ramen was a little too much for me, I should have opted for “small”.
Jane’s feedback on her dipping noodles: This was my first time having tsukemen, so I wasn’t sure what to expect; I just knew this is the specialty here and I had to try it. The noodle was cold and the perfect hardness. It was delicious dipped in the rich, thick hot broth (and I’m glad I learned how to juggle the plate and bowl before coming here). The broth was almost too strong (and fishy), especially as I neared the end of my meal, but I’m proud to say I finished it!
With our bellies full we now turned our attention to that view-point. Just around the corner was the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (we’d planned this to the T) that provides views across Tokyo from the 45th floor (for free!). No queues here so we were up in no time. This building actually has two viewing towers (North and South); we chose the South – we’d read that the views were practically identical. Mount Fuji could just about be seen way out in the distance, but the bright sun was obscuring any good photos.
My one complaint about the viewing level (and I hate complaining about free things) was that it was too hot up there. They needed a good dose of A/C, but perhaps kept it warm to keep people moving, or force us to buy drinks at the cafe.
Travel Tip: Make sure you collect the free stamp before getting on the elevator to leave the observatory level as a souvenir (unlike Jane who spotted it when it was too late.)
We walked back to the subway and went in the direction of Meiji Jingu. Unfortunately by the time we arrived, the gates had just closed (4pm – it closee at sunset) so we were turned away. This was one of our top picks for the trip, so we’ll come back tomorrow!
We did stumble across a British Pub, so odd to see one, but alas no time to check it out.
Slightly frustrated by the closed Temple we stopped for a snack:
- Taiyaki with custard
- Taiyaki with red bean
Next up was Takeshita Street in Harajuku to again submerge ourselves in a bustling Japanese set of streets. It was busy (and cold) and there we so many underdressed people eating crepes and ice cream!
We walked our way to Tokyo Plaza for our second view-point of the day. On top of a seemingly small mall-complex was a Starbucks that had a rooftop garden with some so-so views of the surrounding Harajuku.
Our final pitstop for the day was to be Shibuya Crossing – said to be the busiest pedestrian intersection in the world. It was around 7pm by this point (I think) so the streams of workers and tourists were out in full-force.
We walked across the street a few times and grabbed a few pictures. It was extremely intense, but also super-efficient. Everyone made their crossing in such a controlled manner – few straggled behind after the green-man turned red.
We grabbed a coffee at the local Starbucks (the Japanese really love their Starbucks) and watched the crossing again and again:
Wondering if it’s worth a visit if you’re in Tokyo? I’d say so – just don’t get in anyone’s way!
Neither Jane nor I were particularly hungry for a big meal this evening, so we stopped by a local grocery store and picked up some fruit (persimmons) and ice cream.
Another 12,000 steps today – more walking tomorrow.