Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Tokyo. Japan has been so good since the minute I stepped off the plane. Okay, so I was pretty sleep deprived and basically a zombie, BUT I still had a really good day. I had my normal stressful situation at the airport. New country. New language. No money. Once I got everything sorted and found the train station, I was good to go. I took two different trains to make it to the closest station to my hostel, which was only a 5-minute walk, however, both train rides took about 2 hours total to complete. Tokyo is BIG and the airport is FAR. I tried not to be too upset about it though, because I know so many people have to deal with that commute daily.
I found the Imano Tokyo Hostel pretty easily with their online directions, despite not having data/wifi. I was able to drop off my bags until check-in and left to explore Shinjuku. My first stop was Ichiran! Because what do you do when it’s hot and humid outside and you’re already sweating bullets? You get ramen! Ichiran is a famous staple in Tokyo. I went pretty early, around 10am, so there was no line and plenty of open booths. You go in and pay for your ramen via machine. You grab your ticket and get seated at an empty booth. Each person has their own booth, separated from the rest of the party, so that you can focus on the taste and enjoy the ramen. I had everything at the recommended level and it was DELICIOUS. Not sure if it’s because I was starving, but I didn’t leave a single drop left in the bowl.
After breakfast/lunch, I did a bit more exploring around the Shinjuku area. I got myself a local SIM card so that I can use my phone without wifi. It cost me $40 USD for 3GB, which is pretty much the same as Australia, BUT I had just came from the Philippines where I had unlimited data for about $13 USD. Le sigh. I went to a few more shops, had a quick bite at a conveyor belt sushi place, and walked around for a bit before returning to the hostel around 2pm. Luckily, my room was ready and I was able to check-in early! I set up my space and started on my laundry.
I gave up on the tumble dryer, because after two cycles, my laundry was still moist. I’m not sure if Japanese dryers have the thing to remove the excess lint, but I couldn’t find it. So I just hung the wet clothes up around my bunk to dry so I could leave again. It was almost nightfall. I went back to the Shinjuku Station area and found a tempura place that I had past earlier that had a few people waiting outside. I slid the door open and had a seat at the counter. I’ve never had a proper tempura-style dinner, but this was crazy good. I ordered the set menu for about $27 USD and added some tempura fried ice cream for dessert. Man, did I splurge or what? I started with tiger prawns, white fish, and assorted vegetables. It came with rice, soup, and little side dishes too. At one point, I think they served me the prawn legs deep fried and battered, but I ate it anyway. It was a little salty but very tasty! I even tried the seawater eel, and it was pretty darn good. I left feeling great! Not at all bloated and very very happy.
After dinner, I made one last stop at Seria, which is a 100 yen store. They have all kinds of things that you’d find at your typical dollar store, but they’re good Japanese quality. I know I’m coming to the end of my trip, because I’m starting to buy souvenirs now. Prior to Japan, I had to stop myself from buying stuff because I simply could not fit it into my backpack. I’ve only got one flight left, the flight home, and I plan on checking-in an extra luggage so that I can fill it with all the crap I buy along the way. Overall, I’d say today was a pretty successful travel day and adventure. I ate everything I wanted to eat in Japan all in one day.
First impressions. Japan is a really neat country. It’s very clean and everyone is very quiet and respectful of others in public spaces. The trains were silent. The food is amazing. The people are friendly. The language barrier is a bit bigger than any of the other countries I’ve visited, I think. I had to use a phone translator at the store today to buy my SIM card. (Now I know how the patients at work feel.) I just laughed.