Due to jet lag, we were ready to explore Tokyo at 3am on the 2nd day we were in Japan. The night before I was looking up places open late and found a ramen shop called Ichiran that opened 24 hours. It had excellent reviews so we decided to give it a try. Luckily for us, Ichiran was only about a 7 minute walk from our airbnb so we decided to get ready for the day and have a super early breakfast of noodles!
Ramen was one of the top things on my MUST EAT list so this was the perfect opportunity to grub on noodles since the Ichiran in Shibuya technically never closes. I’ve been to a few ramen shops in Seattle (Samurai Noodle, Hokkaido Ramen Santouka in Bellevue, and Fu Lin to name just a few) but I was never a fan of any of them. I didn’t get the ramen hype so I figured we had to try it in the motherland to see why everyone was so obsessed.
We left our airbnb around 4am, headed toward the Shibuya Crossing, passed a Mcdonald’s by a couple of stores and then headed downstairs through the glass doors to the Ichiran entrance. Upon entry, we were greeted by two mechanical ordering machines. We put in our yen and then proceeded to check out the food menu. This was our 1st time ordering anything from a machine (not including a vending machine). So COOL!
We both opted for the bowl of ramen with pork and a half boiled salted egg and Anthony ordered an extra side of pork. After we received our order receipts from the machine, we were greeted by an Ichiran host and were assigned two seats to the left side of the restaurant.
Upon arrival to the seating area we looked around and realized that the seating arrangement was much different than what we’re typically use to. In-between each guest, there was a little divider making eating alone much more private. When you sit down, to the left of you is the water spout and cups and to the front of you is a little bamboo curtain that folds up and down. The server lifts the bamboo curtain to get your order receipts and to deliver your food. On the table there is a button to call for service as well.
Once we sat down, the same host lifted up the bamboo curtain and handed each of us a form to fill out. It was for us to customize our bowl of ramen. How neat! I circled the light oil broth, extra firm noodles, 1 garlic clove, light green onions and the normal portion of their house special red sauce. Anthony had a similar order except he chose the extra rich oil broth (of course 😉 ).
Our ramen arrived just a couple of minutes later and we were so ready to dig in. The noodles came piping hot with a generous amount of 2 slices of fatty pork, green onions & a dollop of red sauce. The ramen noodles and soup broth at Ichiran were SO. GOOD. SO GOOD. SO GOOOOOD!!! The soup was the perfect saltiness- so rich and creamy. The fat & flavor from the pork bones used to make it were prevalent. It was so flavorful, I couldn’t stop sipping on the broth. The homemade noodles made in house were extra chewy, which is how I like my noodles. The red sauce was just the right amount of spicy and the garlic wasn’t overpowering. Damn, I want a bowl of Ichiran ramen right NOW!
After our delicious ramen breakfast, we just sat there looking at each of our almost empty bowls (I didn’t drink all of the broth to save myself from many bathroom trips) and couldn’t believe what we just ate and HOW GOOD IT WAS. You bet we came back to Ichiran many times in the two weeks we were in Japan. I LOVE japanese ramen now. I don’t get why people love the ramen in Seattle though…Anyway…heh.
We literally left the noodle restaurant smiling and made our way to Shibuya station. We took the train to Asakusa station via the Ginza line to the famous buddhist shrine there where we would spend most of our morning.
After going through the Kaminarimon gate (1st big gate you see coming from the station), which by the way is the symbol of Tokyo, we walked along Nakamise. Nakamise is a street filled with many shops selling cute Japanese souvenirs, kimonos, rice crackers, sweet mochi desserts and miscellaneous goods like wooden kitchenware. Nakamise street led us straight through to the Hozomon gate (2nd gate) where we finally reached the main hall of the shrine.
No adventure is complete for us unless we stop for snack breaks. We tried some sweet red bean filled pastries, mochi, rice crackers made on the spot and green tea ice cream! Everything was really delicious but the green tea ice cream was on point even though it was a little chilly outside with a light drizzle. It was worth it to freeze eating the ice cream at Funawa.
We finally made it to the shrine and upon entering, we stopped by a little goblet filled with lit incense. I didn’t realize that people were trying to waft in the smell. I was taking my hand and waving it side ways to get rid of the incense smell as others were waving their hand front to back to inhale the incense. Oops…. Super tourist mistake made by me hehe.
We donated some money and decided to get some fortunes. Similar to buddhist temples we shook a little jar with #’d wooden sticks until 1 came out of the jar. Then we picked up the fortune associated with the number on the stick we got. After reading our fortunes we decided to walk around and see what else was around Asakusa. We passed by small residential areas and many local eateries packed with diners on their lunch break.
It was a nice & quiet stroll around Asakusa with the majority of people and tourists at the shrine. Feeling hungry again we decided to stop by for another snack. This time we had hot green tea, orange soda (random huh?), stomach lining (tripe) stewed in a spicy soy braised sauce and traditional beef stew with tendon. Both were delicious and hearty and really the perfect small snack for two people who weren’t hungry but wanted to eat! As you can see from the picture below, this restaurant was poppin inside with many diners. Go where the locals go!
We kept walking and saw a little shop selling homemade takoyaki. Knowing we couldn’t just pass up and keep walking we stopped by for some octopus balls. We got an order of 6 balls served in a cute little boat that looked like wood. The octopus pieces inside were big & generous and the dough slightly soft, almost gooey. It definitely wasn’t the best takoyaki I’ve had since I prefer a little bit more of a bite to the dough but it was still tasty nonetheless.
Deciding we could snack no more and needed to really burn off all the calories we ate, we kept walking. Ok, I’ll just admit it. We did stop by for one last snack of croquettes. We each had a potato croquette….When on vacation….
After our FINAL snack in Asakusa, we stopped by a small arcade for Anthony to play a few games before heading back toward the station.
Instead of taking the train back to Shibuya Anthony wanted to keep walking to see where we would end up. We have this thing where we love to just get lost for no reason. We think it’s the best way to discover hidden gems and see a city. We walked past the station, crossed the bridge and ended up in Sumida City. Still energized from all of the fats & carbs we continued walking.
In the distance through the fog and semi-darkness since the sun was starting to set, we saw a large skyscraper and decided to follow it. 15-20 minutes later we finally arrived and found ourselves standing under the Tokyo Skytree skyscraper! It was a beautiful sight and unexpected since I hadn’t planned on even visiting the Skytree at all. We decided since we made it all the way there that we had to pay the admission to go up to the top. Fun fact: The Tokyo Skytree tower is the tallest building in Japan!
We rode the elevator all the way to the top and walked around enjoying the night view of Tokyo. It was a pretty sight with all of the lights and the fog but in all honesty, it was like visiting any other skyscraper at night. We took our time taking pictures and admiring all the twinkling lights of the city.
One thing we didn’t know about Japan was how big, no huge Halloween was. We didn’t even know they celebrated that holiday at all but I guess it’s a huge deal over there. The top floor of the skyscraper was decorated with halloween themed items like witches and pumpkins. On that evening, there was a special show that everyone was crowding around. Not knowing what to expect we waited around with everyone else and when the clock stuck 7pm all the lights turned out, techno music started playing and glow in the dark witches came out dancing. It was interesting to say the least but fun and festive. The crowd got really into it haha ;).
We took the escalator down to the middle floor and decided to rest our feet and enjoy the night view from some leather benches. We made our way to a walkway made of all glass for us to glance down and see how far up we were.Tired after being up since 3am and out and about until then, we decided it was time to go back to Shibuya. Too exhausted from all the walking, a little jet lagged & not wanting to walk anymore we made our way to the Skytree station to train back to our airbnb. We made a bathroom pitstop inside the mall connected to the Skytree and there it was…!
Our first experience with a bidet! It was love at first sight. I didn’t use the bidet but I sat on the seat and it was so warm and made my bum feel so good since it was cold. I didn’t want to leave that bathroom stall that evening….We actually loved the bidets so much we ended up ordering and installing one for our house. 😉 Heated toilet seat 4 life! Holla!
On our way out of the loo we followed signs to the Skytree station and to my surprise we found ourselves inside the official Rilakkuma store! Let me say it again. THE OFFICIAL RILAKKUMA STORE! If you know me, I am a huge Rilakkuma fan. This was a huge deal.
I had refrained from buying anything (except for a pillow & folder…) Rilakkuma in Seattle because it is $$$ and I knew we were going to the land where Rila was created. I did some damage inside the store buying some cute stationary & accessories before finally getting on the train to go back to Shibuya.
Feeling hungry and wanting to escape the pouring rain we decided to stop by a gyudon restaurant and each had a bowl of rice with beef slices. Anthony got the original gyudon bowl and I had curry gyudon. Barely able to stay awake we passed up on claw machines and headed back to the airbnb. That’s how tired we were!
By this time it was around 930pm and we were ready to hit the hay. It was a long day but so much fun. It truly felt like a spontaneous adventure since we had stopped by the shrine as planned and ended up at the Skytree which we never planned on visiting at all. Oh where our feet will take us :).