Tokyo: Days 3 and 4

Two days ago, I went to Ramen Kai for lunch. It took me a while to figure out the ticketing system that the ramen restaurant used. I had to select which ramen bowl I wanted on a machine, then inserted cash to get a ticket. Then I gave the ticket to the cook, who would make the ramen. This ramen place is known for its salty broth base. I thought the ramen was just OK. I had better ones back in the United States.

Ramen at Ramen Kai

On the way back to the hostel, I stopped by a bakery/cafe that didn’t even have a store sign. But I had the best iced milk tea there, along with a dessert.

My favorite milk tea was in an unknown bakery

When I came back to the common area in the hostel, I chatted with Arturo and another traveler named Chris. Chris is a game developer from Poland and has been in Japan a few times already. His Japanese is the best among the three of us. Chris and Arturo invited me to the Japan Sake and Shochu Information Center where I can taste different types of sake. I decided to go with them.

The Information Center was in a spot that’s hidden behind the main street. I ordered an amazake, which is a non-alcoholic drink made from rice. Supposedly it’s very good for a woman to drink. The amazake tasted very grainy, which I thought was just OK. Chris and Arturo both ordered sake sets. I had a few sips, but didn’t really like the strong alcoholic taste.

Tasting some sake with Chris and Arturo

Arturo had to go back to the hostel so Chris and I walked around the nearby area of Shimbashi. There were so many narrow alleyways in that area with hole-in-the-wall restaurants. We ended up at a rather expensive restaurant where I ordered a dish of puffer fish skin, marinated cucumbers, and an eel skewer. All three dishes were very small, appetizer-sized. But the quality made up for the lack of quantity. I also tried Japanese pepper grinds. It made the tip of my tongue have a numbing feeling, which was very strange.

One of the many alleyways of Shimbashi

Puffer fish skin and cucumbers

Japanese pepper

After dinner, Chris and I took the subway back. I had some sleep, but still woke up before the sunrise.

I wanted to try an instant ramen bowl to see if it’s any different than the American ones so I walked to the same supermarket that I went to on my first night. I picked out one of the more expensive instant ramens and some premade food to go with the ramen. I made the ramen in the hostel and it tasted better than the American ones I had at home. Maybe it’s because it contained more flavor packets.

The local 24 hour supermarket

My night-breakfast

Another thing I wanted to try was to go to a Japanese cafe for breakfast. In Tokyo, almost all the restaurants open at 11 AM for lunch then close in the early afternoon for a few hours before opening for dinner. It was hard to find a cafe that opened in the morning. But I found Kojima Coffee that’s nearby and tried their iced coffee. It was so light that I didn’t even have to put in cream or sugar. On my way back, I bought a can of caramel coffee from the street vending machine and that tasted better than the coffee at the cafe.

Coffee from the street vending machine

Due to the excessive heat, I didn’t do any exploration during the day. Instead, I just chilled in the hostel and updated a spreadsheet where I tracked my spending for the trip, among other things.

For lunch, Chris and I walked to a ramen restaurant that’s recommended by the hostel staff. The restaurant also used a ticket machine for ordering ramen. I noticed that this shop focused on shoyu ramen. It seemed to me that each ramen shop specialized on one type of ramen, where as the ramen restaurants in America would have a variety of ramen.

I liked this shoyu ramen better than the Ramen Kai ramen. It had more flavor and a better presentation.

Shoyu ramen

Back at the hostel, I did coin laundry using the washer and dryer and rested for a while. Around 7 PM, Arturo and I walked about 20 minutes to the Ueno district. There were so many pedestrians walking on the main street that’s parallel to the train tracks. This area seemed like a happening place for the locals who just got off work. Plus it was a Friday night.

Ueno district at night

Arturo and I met up with Chris and the three of us went to the food court in Ueno for dinner. I had a Korean beef bowl, but I was craving for ice cream. We sat down at another restaurant in the food court and had some delicious matcha coconut ice cream.

We all ordered the same matcha coconut ice cream

We talked late through the night about our different cultures until we had to leave the food court since it was closing. As we sauntered on the street, we decided to visit Ueno Park. We saw some skateboarders practicing their tricks. They reminded me of my skateboarding days when I was in high school. I was surprised that I wasn’t tired yet and still kept up with Arturo and Chris.

Arturo and Chris in Ueno Park

From the park, we walked back to the hostel. Chris decided to share some Polish vodka that he had brought. I took a few sips. I liked the Polish vodka better than the Japanese sake since the vodka was flavored with black cherry. We chatted deep into the night about cooking. Both Arturo and Chris inspired me to cook more once I get back home from my trip.

Polish vodka

A late night with Arturo and Chris

I went to bed around 3 AM. I only slept for about three hours last night. Since today is my last full day in Tokyo I want to visit the Imperial Palace so I took the subway there around 6:30 AM.

Tokyo residents doing morning exercises at the local park

The Imperial Palace grounds is actually closed to the public. I thought I could just walk in and take few photos of the palace, but I couldn’t even see the palace from the outside. I ended up taking photos of the gates.

One of the gates at the Imperial Palace grounds

I had breakfast at Wendy’s since it’s the only restaurant that’s open around 8 AM. I had a breakfast burger and a matcha shave ice. The shave ice was so much better than the one I had in Honolulu and cost half as much.

Japanese Wendy's has matcha shave ice

The Godzilla statue across from Wendy's

Passed by Hibiya Park

I went back to the palace grounds hoping to get into the East Garden. There was a long line of people. I would need to get a ticket to go into the garden. Due to my impatience and the heat, I decided not to do that and took the train back to the hostel.

Models of different dishes from a restaurant window on my way back to the hostel

I plan to hang around the common area during the day time since it’s another blistering hot day. But I’m glad I was able to do some exploration in the morning.

Tomorrow, I will take the bullet train, also known as Shinkansen, to Kyoto. I have to make sure the next time I come to Japan it won’t be in August since it’s the hottest month here.


  1. I'm glad you found some people to explore Tokyo with. I warned you about the weather in August 😁

    1. Yes, the heat was too much for me. I had little control over the timing of my trip so it is what it is. LOL!


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