Follow us on our Tokyo Trippin’ adventure starting here! 🙂
Ikebukuro (池袋), Tokyo
We awoke to a rather chilly morning, and decided that we have not explored Ikebukuro enough yet, though that’s where we will be calling ‘home‘ for the next few days. Taking in the sight of locals going about with the daily life is such a soothing and relaxing experience. After walking aimlessly, we have decided to stop by at a local ramen store for our brunch.
We were attracted to the signage that screams ‘GYOZA MAX!‘. That was enough to lure us into the premise. After placing our orders via the vending machine, we were ushered in and seated immediately.
Ramen (ラーメン) & Gyudon (牛丼) Set [¥ 930] [RM 33.20]
As we once mentioned in the Day 2 post, it is common for the Japanese to have rice and noodles in a single set meal for one person. Being Malaysian, the gNOMes had to share this. The tonkotsu (pork bone) base ramen looked amazing indeed, and was even better to the taste. Served with a dash of chili paste, everything in this bowl was NEXT LEVEL – from the chashu, to the ajitama (flavored egg), even the bamboo shoots didn’t have that pungent smell!
Served along with a raw egg to mix into the rice, the gyudon (beef bowl) was absolutely amazing. The beef tastes a little more grilled and tasty, while retaining the tenderness. The tare (sauce) was simply a perfect match with the beef as well. The gNOMes are salivating even as we recall this meal again.
Gyoza [¥ 300] [RM 10.70]
The gNOMes are huge fans of gyoza. Already regularly having the lovely gyoza in one of our favorite Japanese restaurants in Damansara, Ramen Kanbe, it was indeed eye-opening to have gyoza in Tokyo itself. The 2 most important elements for good gyoza in our opinion are juicy and well-seasoned meat, and excellent tare. Check and Double-Check that! This was a winner.
After done with our brunch, with a full belly, we marched onwards to our next adventure. 🙂
Harajuku Station (原宿駅), Tokyo
Our next adventure led us to Harajuku Station (原宿駅), which is also known as the Meiji-Jingumae Station (明治神宮前駅). This station is located along the Chiyoda Line on Tokyo Metro, and is sandwiched in between Omote-Sando Station (表参道駅) and Yoyogi Station (代々木駅). One can also reach this station on the JR line by using the JR Yamanote Line.
Harajuku Station has been operating since it’s opening in the year 1906, and has retain it’s beauty for the architecture back those days.
Words cannot describe the beauty of this lost-in-time station. And being a major/main station in Tokyo, there are a lot of gems around this place.
For those of you who are into shopping, talk a walk down the Takeshita Dori street, the birthplace of Harajuku Fashion, or along the Omotesando Hills, dubbed as the Champ-Elysees of France, or the Oriental Bazaar which house one of the biggest souvenir stores in Tokyo. Although these days many say it has become too commercial and slightly overrated, people still pay homage to this place as the pioneer of the quirky, trademark fashion-forward Japanese style.
Culture & nature lovers may want to stroll along Meiji Shrine, Yoyogi Park or pay a visit to the Togo Shrine. The map below shows a snapshot of the gems around this area. Map courtesy of Japan Guide.
Being culture addicts, we have decided to pay a visit to the Meiji Shine.
Meiji Jingu/Meiji Shrine (明治神宮), Tokyo
Located in Shibuya, Meiji Shrine is a Shinto shrine that is dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shōken. This is definitely a must visit for us tourists, for Meiji Shrine is one of the most popular Shinto shrines in Tokyo.
The main archway greets locals and tourists alike, and the beyond this Torii gate, lushful greens beckons. Walk along those gravel roads and in no time, you will meet the next attraction.
Barrels and barrels of sake (nihonshu) on display, these are actually gifts from the worshipers and followers of the Shinto religion. Mind you, these barrels do contain sake! 🙂
One will not only be enticed with the beautiful surrounding, but also the peace and tranquility this place emits.
In no time, one would reach the main entrance into the holy grounds. But before you step in, why not try out the Temizu?
The Temizuya (手水舎) is a Shinto ablution pavilion meant for purification rite prior to entering the shrine. The Temizu (手水) is a form of ablution. One does not need to be a Shinto follower to practice this.
How to perform the Temizu (手水) :
- With your right hand, scoop a ladle of water. Rinse your left hand, and then followed by the right.
- Scoop up a ladle full of water again, cup your left hand, pour some water onto your left and rinse your mouth.
- Repeat the rinsing of your left hand and place the ladle back to its’ original position.
There, now you are good to go.
Upon entering, one will be greeted with Shinto Talisman hanging around. Visitors may also write their well wishes on the plaque provided and hang them.
And, if you are lucky, you will be able to witness a Shinto Wedding Ceremony.
On both occasions gNOMe 2 was there, she managed to catch two different Shinto weddings. Meiji Shrine is one of the most popular venues for Shinto Weddings to be conducted. To read more on how a Shinto Wedding ceremony takes place, read them here.
After spending hours here, we decided to move on to our next adventure.
Yoyogi Park (代々木公園), Tokyo
Yoyogi Park, also known as Yoyogi Kōen, is one of the largest parks in Tokyo city. The park boasts of abundant greens, ponds and wide lawns.
The view was breathtaking, we had a good walk around Yoyogi Park.
If only we have brought some packed sushi and onigiri along 😛 We were a tad too early for Autumn, hence the leaves were just only turning color. No Autumn Foliage just yet 😦 But nonetheless, the cooling weather was a plus point! 😀
After strolling for quite some time, our stomachs had started to rumble, and off we go to Shibuya!
Shibuya (渋谷), Tokyo
Since Shibuya was about 1.5km away from Yoyogi Park, we decided to walk. A good 15-20 minutes walk nonetheless. We loved traveling on foot in Tokyo, everywhere is relatively safe and pedestrian friendly. We reached the North Side of Shibuya, and decided to dine there.
We were walking up and down to decide on the place to eat, and then, we stumbled upon this humble eatery. With no signage whatsoever, just a long queue outside the shop.
Located right between Rhythm Cafe & Bar and Brasserie Cafe lies this unpretentious, hole-in-the-wall BBQ restaurant. The queue was painstakingly long, and the literally doesn’t move, as they are very obviously understaffed. We had to queue for over 40 minutes to secure a seat in this rather ‘run down‘ and compact place.
We were given the menu in Japanese, and trying to figure out what they have to offer is baffling. Thankfully, for us, one of the waiters there spoke decent English. Hooray! 😀
Practically every (edible) part of the cow is served in this restaurant. We had the tongue, cheek, diaphragm, ox tail and short ribs. Orders were placed, another 15 minutes of wait, and then, our meats came.
Wagyu Beef BBQ [¥ 7,390] [RM 263.40]
Using the traditional method of charcoal BBQ, one will place the raw meat above the flames and grill to your own liking. All beef used here is Wagyu Beef, and hence comes at a premium. Nevertheless, the prices here are still very much cheaper than having Wagyu Beef outside of Japan.
The wait was extremely lengthy, and the shop owner made it a point to repeatedly apologize for the long wait. But the wait was definitely worth our while! The beef was filled with exceptional natural sweetness, every cut of meat tender and well-seasoned, melting into the mouths of our grateful food gNOMes. Itadakimasu! いただきます!