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.
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!
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!
A taste of success! Extra-porky shoyu broth on perfectly squiggly wheat noodles.
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.
Me and Aurelia holding some beers on draft, waiting for the monjayaki.
Pork belly okonomiyaki on the grill!
After dinner, Simona and I took the train to walk around Shinjuku together. Tokyo adventure continues!