Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Tokyo North

Sensoji Temple
Today was a day of great excitement for the children. The Kohs arrived in Tokyo and will be joining us for the next week or so! 

Our plan for the day was to cover the sights roughly in the north of the city. We arranged to meet at Kaminarimon, the first of two large entrance gates leading to Sensoji Temple . As we walked up Nakamise Street, the shopping street that led from Kaminarimon to the temple grounds, the Kohs scrounged around for breakfast. Sensoji Temple was built in the 7th century and was one of Tokyo's oldest temples although the current buildings are post war reconstructions.


The Kohs are here! Nakamise Street

From Sensoji Temple we walked through Kitchen Town (Kappabashi-dori), a street in between Ueno and Asakusa selling everything related to...the kitchen! They were shops which specialised in just coffee related products, tea related products, fake food items used for displays, ceramics, knives and much much more! Be sure to check which Wednesdays the shops are closed if you happen to want to visit on a Wednesday as most are closed every 4th Wednesday of the month.

The start of Kitchen Town

The children fascinated with the fake display food stores

Ceramics store

Cookie cutter store where we of course made a purchase!

And we believe this is a wedding?!?

We caught a subway to Ueno where we had our first unique dining experience for the day. Lunch was tonkotsu ramen at Ichiran, where your ramen is served to you in individual confessional booth like seats! Each ramen ordered is specified with strength of broth, firmness of noodles, amount of garlic, amount of chili, and type of onions (green, white or none). Once your ramen is served, bamboo mat in front of you is lowered and you concentrate on eating that ramen! Finding seating for 10 was a challenge. Timing how fast we ate without being able to speak to each other was another challenge! Although we obviously scoffed down our noodles at the same rate as we all exited around the same time. By the way, the ramen was good!

Once you've specified your ramen options, you wait for a "booth" to become available. The restaurant has 4 aisles and each dot represents a seat. Red/yellow means occupied and the green character means a free seat! 

What you see when you enter your allocated aisle

Each individual booth. You serve yourself water with the tap on the left. Cups were above just out of shot

The children just happen to be seated opposite me across the serving corridor!

My ramen!

verdict from the kids is thumbs up! Check out the line behind them...

We had a quick stroll around Ueno Park to walk off lunch before continuing down Ameyoko Ueno Markets that consisted of long market lanes that run from JR Ueno Station to JR Okachimachi Station. This area has over 500 shops that sell everything from basic foods to high-class imported goods at reasonable prices, and it was crowded with shoppers.

Ueno Park

Captivated by a comedian street performer

Ameyoko market

The next place to tick off the list was Akihabara, also known as "Electric Town" due to its huge range of shops selling electronic appliances. Walking through the streets was a sensory overload with big crowds, music in the background and bright neon lights from the surrounding buildings. We headed for Don Quijote where we had our second unique "only in Japan" experience at maid café @Home Cafe. In contrast to the ramen joint where one pays to be isolated, the maid cafe has people paying "maids" to serve and chat to their "masters". The food was slow in coming so guests can maximise their interactions! No photos were allowed with your maid unless you've paid for a polaroid shot with your set drink or food. Although they do allow you to take photos of your food. Thank goodness!


There was a big crowd for people to ride bikes simulating a horse race?!?

There was an equally long linen for...

....the maid cafe!

She could draw latte art for you...

Our desserts

A surprisingly nice sweet and sour parfait!
Elliot was our nominated person to take a photo with our maid as it was his birthday soon!

Samurai Star Wars display while walking around Akihabara

My favourite. Boba Fett!

Dinner was at a lovely specialty tuna restaurant where the chef and his family has been in the tuna business for 10 generations. During our earlier explorations, Malcolm had managed to request for one of the girls at the information centre to ring and make a reservation for us. He also managed managed to get a private room which was a nice change! The tuna served at the restaurant was superb. We ordered and devoured all different cuts and parts of the tuna cooked in a variety of ways including fresh, deep fried, grilled and simmered.

The heads of the families studying the menu. Ordering was an important task

Tuna sashimi

Several cuts and different parts of the fish

Tuna steak

That was one very large piece of tuna cheek!

Snow crab (ok not tuna)

Deep fried

Survival of the fittest!


  1. Is that Jason using google translate on the menu?

  2. Yes that would be correct. After spending an eternity studying the set menus (to make sure we pick the one with the best value) we were told that they had to be pre-ordered so the studying began afresh