Day 3 – Tokyo

Saturday 2 June, 2018
Day 3 / Tokyo

[Missed Day 2? Read the previous post here

We’re so knackered from the first two days of activity that we sleep in until midday. Despite that I still head out for a run at the athletics track down the road where a basketball comp is getting started. We don’t end up starting our day until 2pm and decide to walk to Roppongi for a self-guided food tour.

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Line-ups for bubble tea on the streets of Shibuya

Our first stop is Uogashi Nihon-Ichi, a standing sushi bar in Shibuya.

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Standing Sushi Bar

If you ever speak to Cheye about Japan, he’ll most likely tell you about the time he accidentally discovered the most amazing standing sushi bar in Akihabara, ironically located between a McDonald’s and Hungry Jacks (and which I’ve just discovered is the same chain as the one we are eating at today). I love these places because they are a simple yet effective set up, and you get to see the chefs in action as they make your food in front of you.

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Sushi Chefs making your order right in front of you

We order tamago and avocado nigiri, and kappa and oshinko hand rolls with some green tea.

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Delicious sushi!
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Self serve green tea

Not far down the road, we discover a French bakery called Boul‘ange.

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Just some of the delicious baked goods on offer

Everything looks and smells amazing and we spend a lot of time wandering and browsing.

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So much bread, so little time…

After much indecisiveness (mostly from me) we eventually decide on a mixture of sweet and savoury breads… tomato and cheese, olive gruyere cheese, fig banana, cranberry almond.

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Fig banana and cranberry almond loaf. We ate the others before I could get a photo!

After filling up on delicious bread we continue walking towards Roppongi.

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Wandering towards Roppongi

On the way we pass loads of vending machines…

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European style residential apartments…

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Tall apartment building

…and cute doggies!

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Hi doggies!
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Cheye always makes friends with cute dogs whenever we travel overseas

About an hour later we arrive in Roppongi. In the evenings, this area is known as a lively entertainment district with buzzing late night bars and clubs. In the day it seems like a completely different place with boutique fashion stores and art museums.

We stop in at Coco Ichibanya as we hear they offer a vegan menu. It’s one of those cheap and cheerful curry places and quite a popular chain, with branches all over Japan.

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Coco Ichibanya

We order a vegetarian curry and salad to tide us over as we’re on the hunt for the famous giant shaved ice dessert.

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Vegan Curry and Salad at Coco Ichibanya

Shortly after we wander a bit further down the road and make our way to YELO.

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YELO Shaved Ice Bar

The place is quite hidden at the basement level of a building, but you can tell when you’re there as there will always be a line-up of people down the quiet street.

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Annnnd there’s the queue…

In this instance there’s already 15 people patiently waiting in line so we join the end of the queue.

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Get used to lining up when you’re in Toyko!

We sit down for a bit, not knowing how quickly the queue will move. Across the road is an electric darts bar having a competition so we watch on for a bit to keep ourselves entertained. After half an hour the queue has only gotten shorter by four people. We figure we’ll be lining up for at least another two hours so we decide to skip the shaved ice and walk back to Ebisu as we have plans to meet Rory at for oden 🍢 at the Yokocho.

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Walking the residential streets back to Ebisu

The last time we met with Rory about four years ago we asked him to show us around town, however his knowledge of Tokyo wasn’t as good as we had expected. Not only we got lost but he took us to Takeshita Dori (famous fashion street in Harajuku) after everything had closed. This time he redeemed himself. He takes us to a small place of hidden Izakayas.

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Ebisu Yokocho

You’d never know it was there unless someone told you about it, and even if you do find it you’d have a difficult time ordering if you don’t know how to speak Japanese.

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Ebisu Yokocho
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Ebisu Yokocho

Rory impresses us with his fluent Japanese as places the order.

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Placing the order with our lovely waitress
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Japanese food menu

He order us some mochi, tofu, noodles and veggies plus a few beers.

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Japanese cuisine
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Just pose like a Japanese school girl!

The place is packed and it’s buzzing!

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Busy getting our order
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Lucky we got here early!

We then head to Shigezo, an Izakaya Grill restaurant just down the road.

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Shigezo Restaurant
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Just pose like a Japanese school girl!
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Japanese Izakaya Menu

Rory orders rolled Japanese omelette plus bean shoots and bitter gourd.

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Rolled Omelette
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Bean Shoots with Bitter Gourd

We also get some sides of seaweed, wasabi peas and something called Grapes of the Sea which I’ve never heard of before. They are like miniature grapes but are crispy and salty, which is a bit confusing on the senses.

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Selection of side dishes including Sea Grapes

Later we head to Rory’s favourite bar What the Dickens which is a strange bar full of expats and local Japanese girls looking for gaijin.

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Heading up to What The Dickens

Rory bumps into a bunch of guys he knows so we end up sitting with them and spending the rest of the evening making some new Japanese friends.

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Japan Travel Tip #3

Japan has one of the most efficient but complex train systems in the world. To save time and money, and avoid having to queue up for a ticket each time you catch a train, a Suica card allows you to tap on and off at stations on multiple different train lines. You can purchase the card for ¥500 then top up however much you like (cash only!). The deposit and remaining card value are refundable at the end of your trip.

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