Japan: Tokyo

1:57 PM

Going to Japan has always been my dream as a kid. Luckily, I was able to embark on this journey last year in October! Yes, I know it has been some time already. However, all of the memories are still fresh in my mind.

We made it to Japan in the evening. No matter the time, people are always out and about doing things late into the night. I appreciate the night energy while traveling in Asia. It is very lively and you don't really experience that sort of life style in the US (unless you live in the city). Although it was dark outside, I still felt relatively safe. Japan is known to be a pretty safe country, so traveling around at night isn't a big problem.

This is one the first photos I snapped once we arrived! I really liked how the color gradation turned out in this one. There was no color editing for this photo! The natural hue of the image is green! The dark night life color of this photo reminded me of my favorite anime, Psycho Pass. (Yes, I know it might seem sort of cliché to compare Japanese scenery to anime, but that is the only way I know how to describe it. It sort of feels like I've been here before!)

Since we did arrive late, our travel group was feeling pretty hungry. We decided to stop and get something to eat!

Here are some screenshots taken from the vlog! 
(If you haven't watched the vlog yet, it will be posted at the end of this post.)





After filling our stomachs with food, we headed back to the hotel to get lots of rest! Our flight to Japan had been pretty rocky. We flew through a typhoon, which caused lots of turbulence on our flight. It was pretty difficult to get rest and most of us were running on a few hours of sleep.

EARLY BEGINNINGS: 

Chili Tomato cup ramen
A long long long time ago, they used to sell this flavor of cup ramen in the US! However after some time, it had been discontinued :(! I was so surprised to find this in a Japanese connivence store! I used to love eating this flavor as a child. It tasted just like I remembered it to! Started off my day right, with this cup noodle haha!

We headed for the train station early in the morning.

Ticket stub for Shinjuku 

MEIJI SHRINE
The entrance of the Meji Shrine
Our first destination was to visit the Meji Shrine. It was definitely a beautiful destination. There were lots of green trees, which contrasted the busy metropolitan areas across the street. You could literally cross the street and you would see lots of city buildings. This contrasting sight was pretty amazing!

The Sake Wall
This wall was completely covered with sake barrels. Each barrel was intricately designed and put up for display. It was definitely a cool sight to see. Lots of people gathered in front of this wall to take photos. I managed to sneak a picture without anyone in front of my shot! I felt pretty accomplished!


Sign leading to the main shrine

Wall of wishes / prayers
For a small price, you could purchase a wooden plaque to hang on the wall of prayers. There were over hundreds of handwritten notes hanging on the wall. Most were written in Japanese with some written in different languages.

Many people visit the shrine to write their prayers and wishes on this wall.


TOKYO STATION
Heading out of the shrine, we made our way down to the famous Tokyo Station. It had a very cute style of architecture. With a vintage style, this station contrasted the modern day aesthetic of the city. Many people gather to this station on their daily commute.

Here are some shots of the city surrounding the station!




ICHIRAN RAMEN
Of course, while in Japan it is important to try out the famous Ichiran Ramen. If I had to be completely transparent, I did not know that this ramen shop was so famous. I have heard about it in passing, but I didn't quite know the magnitude of its popularity until I came back. This ramen was absolutely delicious. I know some of you may be thinking this is hindsight biased, but I believe it was one of the best bowls of ramen I've ever had!

The ordering process is very interesting and efficient! Before you enter the restaurant, you order everything you want in your ramen through a "vending machine" ticket dispenser. You click on all the options that you want and then you present your server with your tickets. They prepare your ramen exactly as your ordered it. 

Just take a look at that bowl of ramen!
I really enjoyed dining here because you are given your own booth to eat. You have a little curtain that separates you from the kitchen. The servers will pass you your food through the curtain. For the most part, you are able to dine in complete solitude. This may seem a bit weird, since most Western customs focus on interaction between customer and server. However, it is quite nice being able to eat without interruptions. There is a small spout where you can pour your own water inside your booth.

If you need to contact your waiter, you press a small green button and they will come to serve you. If you want to order a refill, a refill paper (located on the left of the photo) takes care of the verbal interaction. Even if you do not speak Japanese, you will be able to order. No need to fear a language barrier.

I picked up a small can of coffee from the many vending machines located across the street!
Overall, our first day in Japan went quite successfully!

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