Ah to be 20 again!

Tokyo Travel Blog

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So today I spent the whole day in the company of a 20-year-old Japanese student named Mamoru. We met in Shinjuku, then attempted to eat at a few okonomiyaki restaurants, all of which were closed. Afterwards, we found one that was open, and I had the house special which was okonomiyaki on top of noodles. Took forever to get, but man was it worth it! Apparently there are two main styles of okonomiyaki to be found: Hiroshima and Osaka. Although Mamoru prefers the Hiroshima style because he grew up in that area, the Osaka style (in which all ingredients are mixed in the batter) is more popular in Tokyo. That's what we had for lunch.

Mamoru is a very nice boy who loves to travel, and we met in Vang Vieng in Laos. After lunch we wandered for a while around Shinjuku, browsing department stores and looking for a gift for the Satos, who will pick me up from the hostel tomorrow morning at 9 am. After considering several cookie, cake, and macaron options, I ended up getting a nice gift cake in a wooden box for them. Before the purchase, we stopped for some Japanese style ice cream.

Afterwards, we had dinner at this awesome ramen place, which he claims has the best ramen ever. The noodles actually come separate from the broth, which was dark and perfectly spiced with bamboo and bonito flakes. The noodles themselves were thicker than normal, and it's the first time I could accurately describe my ramen as al dente! Ha. We dipped the noodles in the broth before slurping them up. He was right; it was the best ramen ever. As extra bonuses, they played blues music in the background the entire time, and we arrived just in time to avoid the line, which extended out the door and around the corner by the time we left.

As we left the noodle shop, Shinjuku was just starting to wake up. It's a relatively calm area during the day, but because it was Friday night (and of a holiday weekend no less), hordes of folks in their business suits and/or weekend best were getting the weekend started with a drink in the bright lights of Shinjuku.

To cap off the night, we headed over to a teeeeeeeny tiny bar upstairs in some alley,which was owned by a backpacker lady he'd met at Khao San Road this spring. The woman is over 60 years old and still travels every chance she gets. She's owned the bar for 22 years, and it's filled with mementos of her travels. Also, there are bottles lining the walls with people's names on them -- her customers can buy bottles and leave them at the bar so they can continue drinking them on their next visit,how nice! After hanging out for several hours at the bar (where we were the only patrons), we left to catch the last train back to our respective abodes - mine at Akebonobashi station, and his about 30 minutes away from Shinjuku. All in all, a very nice day, and I'm looking forward to more fun tomorrow. Good night!

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photo by: maka77