Lovely sunny day in Tokyo today and we took the opportunity to explore near where we are staying. Tokyo is full of surprises, not the least of which is the fact that the totally hyper modern is tucked up right next to the ancient. As tourists we often tend to see the bright lights and flash, but even a short wander reveals a whole different view of the city.
Today we were in Yanaka, which through geography and fate has survived earthquakes and fire to retain an older feel. The narrow twisty streets are full of tiny little shops – day to day necessities and specialty artisans line the main shopping area. At some point many of the shrines and cemeteries from other parts of the city were moved here (when I say some time I mean sometime within the past 500 years….)
I’m not going to be able to place my pictures just where I want in this post but you will see at the bottom pictures of the street, a cemetery view and the outside of the restaurant where we had lunch. We were taken upstairs (after removing our shoes) to sit on the tatami floor and eat our lunch. The food was good, but even better was the look on other customer’s faces when they came up the stairs and saw US! I don’t think they get many Westerners in this district.
In the afternoon we went to the Ueno Zoo – a very compact but very nice zoo. Pandas and elephants and penguins and polar bears – oh my! And about a zillion kids!
We had in our mind a particular ramen shop for dinner, which turned out to be a process. It took a lot of walking, much perseverance and process of elimination (it is on this block and it is not the hotel nor the dry cleaners so it must be this one…) to find it. No English signage. No romanji signage. Only the word ‘ramen’ in hiragana, which I could decipher. The rest in kanji….
Many ramen restaurants have a machine out front – you put in your money, push a button with a picture of what you want, take your ticket and hand it to the waiter – easy peasy, don’t even have to talk to them. I direct your attention to picture below of the ticket machine – not a picture on it. Do we just push buttons randomly and see what we get? Fortunately there was a fellow ordering who spoke English and was able to advise us. Pick the top left button – that’s always the house speciality. And it was delicious!