Monday, August 12, 2013

Japan - Shinjuku, Tokyo

For as long as I could remember, I've always wanted to go to Japan. I love the food, fashion and anything Japanese - I even learned three years of Japanese in High School. Japan was on the top of my list for countries to visit.

In 2008, andy (my best friend and lover) surprised me with a trip to Tokyo, Japan as a birthday present. I was stoked - he made my wish come true! We spent five days in Tokyo aimlessly wandering around the city, eating at restaurants we thought looked interesting, confused ourselves with their crazy subway system, and just taking in the city. But five days in Tokyo was not enough. As our plane departed, I whispered to myself, Japan, I will be back!

Fast forward to May 1, 2013. I'm jumping up and down all giggles in the living room after Andy tells me that our next destination would be... *drumroll* Japan! This time around, we would be staying a full two weeks! This time around, I was in charge of the intinerary, so I made sure we hit all the right spots and visit all the places we missed the first time around. In our two week span, we went to Tokyo, Osaka, Kobe and Kyoto. I can't remember the last time I've felt more excited for a trip!

We stayed in Shinjuku, Tokyo for our first three nights. 

Shinjuku is home to a variety of restaurants, bars and entertainment. Everything is within walking-distance.

Entering Kabukicho, a street famous for its bars, restaurants and special services *ahem *wink
We stayed at the Sunroute Hotel in Shinjuku. It is rated 4.5 stars on,, and Expect hotel rooms in Japan to be small - imagine the size of those cruise ship cabins. This one was no exception, but it was very clean, conveniently located (subway was right next to the hotel!), and the staff were very friendly and spoke English (most Japanese people speak limited English).

After we settled down in our hotel, we were tasked with satisfying our growling stomachs! After a long flight, a ride from the JR, and a walk to the hotel, a bowl of comfort ramen noodles was needed. We came across a ramen shop with a pig logo - I thought that was cute. Also, there was a small crowd waiting to get in, so we thought, if there is a crowd, the food must be good! And it was!

My first official meal in Tokyo :)

Andy's bowl
I love ramen noodles, but I am not nearly as in love with it as Andy is. During our trip to Japan, Andy and I strived to have a bowl of ramen noodles everyday. The above pictured bowl of ramen is the BEST bowl I've ever had in my life. We think the soup base is key to a delicious bowl of ramen noodles. Following that, is the firmness of the noodles and the toppings. For me, this bowl hit every spot. The soup base is very creamy, like clam chowder creamy, but not as dense. And the noodles were just perfect in terms of firmness. I loved how flavorful the pork was, the seaweed that surrounded the noodles, the plentiful green onions and bamboo shots. My mouth is salivating as I recall how delicious it tasted. Andy enjoyed his bowl (so much that he ordered extra noodles!), but he didn't think it was the BEST bowl he's had. More on that next time.

It was a very small restaurant, smaller than the smallest restaurant I've seen in LA.
This is the inside of the restaurant. It was very small. We were seated in the corner of the restaurant with barely any room. Most ramen noodles are set up bar-style. Many people come and eat alone. Japanese people slurp their noodles quickly and leave promptly - these shops are usually not much of a 'wine and dine' atmosphere. I think this is considered their type of fast food restaurant. We were here for less than an hour and within that time span, many people came and left.

The outside of the restaurant - Hakaia Tenjin
I forgot to snap a photo of the restaurant the night of, but the next day when we passed by it again, I remembered! It's kind of hard for me to remember the Japanese name of the restaurant, but because of the pig logo, thereon I called it the pig ramen shop. We stumbled across this pig ramen shop by accident, but when we started looking through our Tokyo Guide Book, this restaurant was on the 'must-try list'! Lucky us!

Our Tokyo Guide Book also directed us to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building to get a nice view of Tokyo. The Tokyo Metropolitan Building is located in the west side of Shinjuku, where all the skyscrapers are - imagine it like downtown LA or Wall Street in New York, except super duper clean. We were able to walk to this building from our hotel. It was a good 20-30 minute walk (partly because we kept thinking we found the right building, but we didn't :p). Here are some pictures of the city when we were finally on top:

View of Tokyo from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building

View of Tokyo from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building

View of Tokyo from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building
The observation deck is at the 47th floor and admission is free. Unfortunately, we experienced hazy weather the day we went. I've heard that if the skies are clear and sunny, you could even see Mount Fuji! There were hardly any people at the observation deck (this could be due to the hazy weather). I enjoyed sitting down, relaxing and enjoying the hazy view with Andy.

Alright, to avoid overwhelming you, until next time :)


  1. That bowl of ramen looks super yummy~ for a second I thought the bowl was made of seaweed! ha. =) Did you get to do any shopping here?


    1. Yes, thinking about that bowl of ramen makes my stomach growl!

      I did do lots of shopping, which will be posted in a later entry. Stay tuned :)