Ueno & Ginza, Tokyo

Day 3: Friday, October 12, 2012
Before hopping on the subway, we went in search of the famed ramen chain, Ichiran, which just so happened to be on the other side of the Shinjuku station (relative to where we were staying), near the Central East exit.

Just look for that logo along this alley way. It’s located in the basement with an unassuming entrance, unless there’s a line out the door. (We went at 10am so there was no line. We went back around 7:30pm another day, and there was a line backed up the entire stairway.)

You order meal tickets from a vending machine at the entrance, then walk over to a billboard to see which booth seats are open.

You sit down at a compact booth, fill out a form customizing the chewiness, spiciness, oiliness, green-onionness of your ramen, place your meal ticket(s) and form in front of you, and press a button.

Within minutes, someone hands you a hot bowl of ramen through the narrow window, before rolling down a curtain to let you eat in peace!

Happily stuffed, we hopped on the metro and got off at Ueno Station, not knowing anything about the area other than the fact that there was a museum at the park. Much to our surprise, we stumbled upon a bustling flea market with two major alleys. Ryan bought some fancy green tea and ice-cream while I found myself some takoyaki (octopus balls)!

Having quite a lot of food to walk off, we headed to Ueno Park where we found a man playing a saw, really cute school children, and green structures of various kinds.

We finally arrived at the museum, and much to my amusement, one of the buildings coincidentally looked like San Francisco’s City Hall!

Afterward, we walked through a really colorful part of the park before arriving at Innsyoutei, a historic teahouse dating back to 1875. We had a mini kaiseki meal of sorts, though I think my favorite part of the meal was the unique soybean tea, which I ended up buying a package of!

Later that day, we hopped back on the metro and checked out the hoity-toity Ginza district before concluding that we couldn’t afford anything or walk another step. At least we didn’t need dinner that night!

All in all, a very fulfilling day — not just gastronomically speaking.