Japan

Good morning, Tokyo!

After my quiet night ride from Osaka, I found myself awake in Tokyo. It was rush hour when I walked into the Shinjuku Station. Famously listed in the Guinness World Records as the world’s busiest transport hub, the station has over 36 platforms and 200 exits. There’s something exciting about navigating new underground transit networks. Perhaps because transit networks are shaped by the way planners and residents think about their city, you find yourself experiencing a place through their logic. With no mishaps, I hopped on a train towards Tawaramachi, Old Tokyo.

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Welcome to Old Tokyo! I stayed at one of Tokyo’s smallest boutique hostels located in a quiet residential alleyway. It was renovated from an old family home by a carpentry team called Watanabeya. I loved the main communal area, with Takagi Masakatsu playing softly in the background and hot matcha brewing in the corner. Nae, the friendly owner of Retrometro snapped this photograph of me and my bursting Baggu bag!

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If you explore beyond the Asakusa tourist traps, Old Tokyo has lots of tiny eateries that have been in operation for decades. Raishuken (来集軒) is a classic Tokyo-style ramen shop, which has been open for over 100 years since the Edo period. I didn’t realize how small the ramen place would be, so I actually passed by it twice until I realized I was there. Beyond the sliding door, they only have a handful of tables and a simple white-board menu on the wall surrounded by framed signatures of famous people. I was greeted by an elderly woman who must have sensed my hunger. She swiftly took my order and brought out my bowl!

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A taste of success! Extra-porky shoyu broth on perfectly squiggly wheat noodles.

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Dinner was pleasantly shared with two girls I randomly met at Retrometro! Aurelia and Simona were both traveling in Tokyo alone, so the three of teamed up for an okonomiyaki meal.

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Me and Aurelia holding some beers on draft, waiting for the monjayaki.

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Pork belly okonomiyaki on the grill!

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After dinner, Simona and I took the train to walk around Shinjuku together. Tokyo adventure continues!

17 Comments

  • Reply
    Crystal
    November 3, 2013 at 8:29 pm

    The ramen looks delicious! I love all of the pictures and hearing about your adventure in Japan. I have wanted to visit Japan since I was really young so I love being able to vicariously travel by looking at other people’s photos. 🙂

    • Reply
      Sewon
      November 4, 2013 at 5:59 pm

      Thanks for the kind words, Crystal! Your new blog design is looking lovely, by the way. 🙂

  • Reply
    Heather
    November 3, 2013 at 9:37 pm

    Great post! I love Tokyo. It’s one of my favorite places. Have fun 🙂

    • Reply
      Sewon
      November 4, 2013 at 6:01 pm

      Thanks, Heather! 😀

  • Reply
    Sara
    November 4, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    You make me dream about Tokyo 😀

    • Reply
      Sewon
      November 5, 2013 at 4:22 pm

      I hope you can visit someday soon! 🙂

  • Reply
    Winnie
    November 4, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    Oh this looks like such a great trip. I’ve heard that Osaka is a crazy busy station and I’d definitely love to see it for myself one day – I love living vicariously through your blog posts!

    • Reply
      Sewon
      November 5, 2013 at 4:26 pm

      Aw, thanks Winnie! I often have HK dim sum fantasies from reading your posts. 🙂

  • Reply
    katie
    November 5, 2013 at 3:18 pm

    my favorite is the whiteboard menu and frame signatures… so effective! visual storytelling and edible storytelling !

    • Reply
      Sewon
      November 5, 2013 at 4:28 pm

      Thank you, Katie. 🙂 I’m curious to learn more about your video work in Bosnia.

  • Reply
    Jenny
    November 6, 2013 at 11:44 am

    Thank you for posting about the boutique hotel! I might have to look into it for my next trip. I just don’t find International hotels as enjoyable as I have the smaller ryokan or private hotels I’ve stayed at ya know? 🙂

    • Reply
      Sewon
      November 7, 2013 at 6:32 pm

      I know what you mean about hostels, and I also didn’t want to splurge on a solitary Tokyo trip! I was really happy about the warm and peaceful stay at the Retrometro. 🙂 I highly recommend looking into boutique hostels next time, in case you’re ever interested in budget or casual accommodations.

  • Reply
    emilie
    November 6, 2013 at 7:10 pm

    200 exits, oh my god !

    • Reply
      Sewon
      November 7, 2013 at 7:36 pm

      I know! It made it so confusing to meet up with friends around Shinjuku because of all the exits!

  • Reply
    Rina
    November 6, 2013 at 7:21 pm

    Sewon your photos from Japan are so lovely! I was really looking forward to seeing them.
    Aah, I totally imagine myself wondering around Tokyo when I listen to Takagi Masakatsu.
    Can’t wait to see more photos! 🙂
    ♥ &hearts

  • Reply
    Johanna Tagada / Bonjour Johanna
    November 7, 2013 at 7:17 am

    Ah such a pleasure to read about your journey and see photographs!! :))
    Best wishes and love,

    J.

  • Reply
    petal and plume
    November 8, 2013 at 11:08 am

    you are so talented – your blog is a dream!
    xx

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