Ever since I’ve gotten here all I had in my mind was “ramenramenramenramen…”. Ramen is basically a japanese noodle dish. It consists of noodles served in broth, full of toppings such as meat, seaweed, tofu, egg, onion etc.
But, believe it or not, I haven’t tried it yet! I wasn’t necessarily hunting for it, but I always hoped that the next restaurant would just have it. For some reason my naive thinking led me to believe it’s an obvious menu item here in Japan. Today, I finally had another chance to make the dream come true – to degust a finely prepared bowl of legit Japanese ramen soup.
My plan was to visit the Ueno area, so I naturally googled for a place to eat up there. Happy to find one, I made my way to the spot of my choice. It was a bit tricky to localise it, but I managed, was sat at a table and received a menu card. Knowing what I wanted, I just asked the waiter “ramen, please”. In return, I got a very confusing gaze that yelled “what the hell?”. I repeated the name 3 or 4 times and still no results. Another waiter was called in who apparently spoke better English, so I gave him another chance and tried to order ramen soup the same way. Didn’t work.
I decided to google images of the “ramen” soup and showed them to the waiter. Got a final “no” once more. Shame. Confused with the situation, I ate something else and moved on.
If anyone knows what’s the ramen dish called in Japanese or if it wasn’t my fault, let me know =)
Japanese life style and patterns are reflected in everything they do. Their patience, respect for others time and private space, order and commitment are something the World could learn from.
I was astonished when I saw them queuing up for a taxi. Like literally, form a queue. Not just wonder around a taxi stop and try to play first come first serve game.
You know private car parks, right? They are usually off a main road and the entrance crosses a footpath. Instead of letting it all play out itself, they hire a traffic controller who makes sure all pedestrians and cyclist can pass the parking drive safely without watching out for leaving cars. Even more, he stops the main road traffic, so the car leaving the parking can join in!
Want more? You surely found yourself in a situation where you casually walk down the road and an upcoming person walks in your way causing you both jumping legs. It’s a bit awkward, isn’t it? So to avoid that there is this superior rule where you are suppose to always keep left on staircases, footpaths, crossings and anywhere you walk pretty much. To remind you, pavements are split with a yellow strap, so you can stick to your side of the walking path.
Ueno is the best part of Tokyo for just strolling and observing. It’s dominated by its huge park containing the National and Shitamachi museum. It is possible to find pockets of narrow streets lined with tighly packed homes, especially in the Yanaka area, which escaped destruction by war and earhtquake.
I never expected the Ueno Park to be such a beauty. Shrines, national treasures, entertainers and gardens kept me busy and invested for a whole few hours. I listened to an acapella band, who you can watch at the top of this article. Then I found this crazy street entertainer, who presented a few tricks and talked fast as hell (my brain melted…). Note how everyone spontaneously emerged themselves into the play! Great fun. Watch yourself =)
Going farther afield, in halls and shrines you could pray and buy tokens and charms, which would lead you to something wholeheartedly wanted eg. healthy growing kids, business success etc. You can’t miss pagodas, which are Buddhist temples (usually tiered towers) used as reliquaries.
Additionally, the Shinobazu Pond surrounded by street food merchants is situated right in the midst of everything, so you can enjoy a great and unusual snacks while seeing around. Or, if you fancy something average you can always pop-in to Starbucks which is there, too!
All-in-all, a great day. Learnt a lot about the locals, food and the history. Definitely looking forward to tomorrow.