Aoyama Girls Night Out – Tulip Team Style!

Omotesando’s more down-to-earth neighbor and Harajuku’s more sophisticated older sister; Aoyama is a place to refresh, get inspired and feel fancy. So it only makes sense that our staff decided to make it our go-to destination for a girls night out – Tulip style!

There is a certain air to Aoyama that gives it an exclusive feel, perhaps because it is tucked away in the hilly slopes of Tokyo, but the small streets do not feel too narrow. Or maybe it’s the effortlessly fashionable artists and designers that can be overheard talking about their up and coming projects in passing. The tiny, boutique shops and local bars’ dedication to their craft to produce top-notch quality and protect the artisan culture, or maybe it is the eclectic architecture that somehow the groups of tourists have not yet discovered.

Heading over to dinner, we passed by Sunny Hills, designed by one of Tokyo’s most beloved modern architects, Kengo Kuma. Fans of Kuma’s work should definitely check out his many projects scattered around Kagurazaka, where we also happen to have two lovely share houses, Chilli Pepper & Cream and Happy House Kagurazaka.

As we approached the restaurant, we were taken aback at the gorgeous exterior and atmosphere. Walking through the bar area (and slightly regretting our outfit choices), we were shown to a table seated by a lit-up terrace. 

Cicada is located just a minute’s walk from Omotesando Station and specializes in modern Mediterranean cuisine. The space itself has a Euro-chic atmosphere but the flavor of the dishes were deliciously authentic. We started with some toasted pita accompanied by various dips of your choice – we went with the classic hummus and a carrot, yogurt, & mint spread.

The cocktail menu was very impressive, which is expected as the restaurant is owned by Tysons & Company, the founders of T.Y. Harbor Brewery.

After our lots of chatting, laughs and “kanpais!” we scoped around the area for a place to grab some cocktails. We stumbled upon Radio Bar and were intrigued by its retro atmosphere, like something out of an old Japanese movie. It turned out that Radio Bar has been around since the 1970s, and THE place to go for cocktail connoisseurs and aspiring mixologists to enjoy a proper pour (which is hard to come across in Tokyo nowadays amongst all the Lemon Sours and Whiskey High Balls).

Accompanied with an incredibly delicious spread of fresh fruits and cheese came Bar Radio’s original cocktails served with impeccable presentation. Each cocktail has been meticulously crafted and perfected over the decades and we appreciated the attention to detail until the last very last drop. Because of the high standards of the establishment, the cocktails are not at all cheap and be prepared to be on your best behavior, that also means to dress accordingly!

Satisfied and slightly emotional over how exquisite our night has been so far, we were not ready for it to end. We decided to check out the nearby Commune 2nd, suggested by our staff Jan who is in the know about many Tokyo’s hidden gems.

At Commune 2nd, you will be greeted with hip, neon clad signs, beer and food stands with a modern-style food truck-like layout, and groups of merry making locals and foreigners alike enjoying themselves over drinks and food.

Commune 2nd closes at 10 PM, let’s clarify that all the shops and eating spaces close at 10 PM sharp! We had too much fun in the lively atmosphere and did not want to leave, but had to take a team pic while we were getting kicked out.

Although at first a bit intimidated and unfamiliar with the Aoyama area, it has become one of our favorite places to explore. Stay tuned for hopefully an Aoyama Part 2 Guide by the Tulip Team and also a possible share house that will be newly opening up  in Aoyama some time in the future 😉

Thanks for reading and enjoy Tokyo to the fullest! Tulip Real Estate specializes in female-only share houses in Tokyo. Send us a message to ask about our share houses and we are more than happy to recommended our favorite places to check out nearby.

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Share House Gourmet: Ethnic Eats

Moving to Japan from a different country for the first time is such an overwhelming experience for us foreigners – especially when it comes to dining! It is a dream come true to be able to indulge in the real deal of authentic Japanese food at the izakayas, cheap yet high quality sushi from the revolving conveyer belts, and piping hot yakitori fresh off the grill.

Image Source: Justonecookbook

But when we get homesick, it can be tough to find a spot that gives our taste buds just enough to remind us of home or the exotic flavors we crave. Life in a share house is great for those who are interested in learning about other cultures – especially when it comes to international cuisine! Residents in our share houses enjoy having dinner parties, cooking together, and exchanging recipes from their home countries – what better way to make friends than sharing your favorite food together!

1. Lotus – Nerima, Tokyo

Lotus, a newly opened cafe specializing in Southeast Asian flavors has caught the eye of many locals with its natural & trendy decor, colorful murals of Vietnam on its walls, and exotic menu that packs a spicy punch! Try the banh mi or spicy green curry with a cold guava juice/coconut milk to cool you down from the kick.

Located walking distance from Happy House Clover, Happy House Mint, and Happy House Herb share houses – click the links for more info and resident reviews!

Address: 1-7-2 Nerima, Tokyo

2. Poca Tacos – Nakano, Tokyo

Image Source: Chari Cafe

The Japanese have mastered taking the essence of international food and experimenting with flavors that work well with the Japanese palette – creating a delicious homage to the original dish. At Poca Tacos from Oregon, you won’t find a 20₱ or $1 giant burrito that you might get from an authentic taco truck, but if you’re looking for a light and tasty taco to hit the spot, your taste buds will surely have a fiesta – and there are vegetarian options too! The Mexicali-inspired interior is spacious and colorful, making it feel like you’re enjoying a lunch in Tijuana…now pass the Tequila!

Located near Happy House Orange, Happy House Asian, and Happy House Vitamin Color share houses – click the links for more info and resident reviews!

Address: 2-12-11 Nakano, Tokyo

3. Negura – Koenji, Tokyo

Image Source: Moshi Moshi Nippon

In the style of Koenji, Negura is a hidden gem with funky vibes, scattered with local art goods, ethnic trinkets, and super cool owner that all the locals know for his fascination of India and exotic spices. There is only one curry on the menu daily and the chai tea rum is a must try!

Located near Happy House Koenji – click the links for more info!

Address: 3-48-3 Koenji-Minami, Tokyo

4. Shamaim – Ekoda, Tokyo

Shamaim, meaning Heaven in Hebrew, most definitely lives up to its name – our staff had the pleasure to host last year’s holiday party here and the food was simply divine! With the all-you can eat course, your desire keep on ordering the authentic pita and hummus will be neverending.  Perched on the first floor of an inconspicous suburban building just a minute’s walk from Ekoda station, Shamaim presents an intimate atmosphere of middle-eastern decor, friendly staff and lively music.

Located near Happy House Herb – click the link for more info and resident reviews!

Address: 4-11 Nerima, Tokyo

5. L.A. Garage – Mishuku, Tokyo

There are countless places to have a burger in Tokyo, but few that reach the “it” factor of a truly glorious burger – we’re talkin’ drip-down-your-arm juicy status! Eating at L.A. Garage feels like hanging out after school with friends in a diner/friend’s garage/drive-in movie all rolled in one. Get emotional over their juicy jalapeno cheeseburger and get all the nostalgic feels as Tom & Jerry cartoons play on their huge projector screen!

Located a 1-minute walk from Witt-Style Mishuku share house – click the link for more info and resident reviews!

Address: 3-29-4 Ikejiri, Tokyo

Thanks for reading and happy eating! Tulip Real Esate specializes in female-only share houses in Tokyo. Why not make a viewing appointment to check out one of our share houses and get yourself a bite to eat afterwards?

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Resident Interview: Klaudia from Poland

Resident Interview: Klaudia from Poland

 

We met up with Klaudia, a resident in our Happy House Vitamin Color shared house. We strolled through the park with her and ask about her experience in the house.

Happy House Vitamin Color

Klaudia, what interested you to live in a shared house?

 

As a foreigner, looking for a place to live in Japan is pretty difficult. It was a much easier method than an apartment and I really liked that Tulip’s shared houses are for women only, so I don’t have to worry about feeling uncomfortable.

 

What is your favorite thing about living in Happy House Vitamin Color?

 

I work and am a student so I actually don’t spend too much time in the flat. But I love to cook so I use the kitchen often and also love to relax in my room. I have a balcony in my room so I can even sit out there!

 

Admiring the rainy season’s hydrangeas

 

How would you describe the surrounding area you live in? Do you have any favorite spots?

I think Nakano is great because it is a bit of a student’s area.  Other areas like the main Shinjuku area or Shibuya are very loud and are like party places. I’m a student so for me, it’s better to live in this area because it is so much more quiet. It’s so nice because there are a lot of parks, temples, and shrines around here.

 

Taking a stroll at the nearby park

 

What are your favorite things to do in Tokyo?

I am busy working usually, haha! But I love travelling outside of the Tokyo area like to Kamakura or Yokohama because of the port. At night, it really looks like a movie with all of the beautiful lights. I like the Chinatown in Yokohama too.

Has living in a shared space help or change you in any way? How so?

I love cooking at night and early in the morning, but I think about others more like, “Oh, people are asleep right now. I can’t be noisy!” In Poland, we make a lot of food that will last us for a couple of days. But because there is not so much space in Japan, I get to cook more and am more aware about space now.

Klaudia’s favorite jogging route

 

 

Have you had any challenges in the house that you were able to overcome or resolve?

I don’t have any problems with the house or the people living here. I’m so relaxed so if someone is making a little bit noise, it doesn’t bother me. I’ve heard some people singing in the house sometimes and I think it’s really funny!

Do you have any other plans in the future while you are in Tokyo?

I would firstly like to finish my Japanese studies and would like to have some time to travel more in Japan. Since I love to bake pastries and cakes, it would be great if I can open my own business here one day and run a bakery.

  

             

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers about your experience in your shared house?

 

If you have never lived in a shared house before, it might take a bit to get used to at first. It’s important to remember that you are in Japan, so the size of the spaces are different if you come from a western culture. It is a good and unique thing to experience here!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tokyo Day Trip: The Tulip Guide to Enoshima and Kamakura

Tokyo Day Trip: Kamakura Hase Temple

So you’ve been up and down the Skytree, shopped your heart out in Shinjuku, have an album of photos from the Shinjuku Gyoen in all four seasons, and are itching to discover a different side of Japan… buttttt hard-pressed for time. May we suggest a day-trip to the neighboring Kanagawa Prefecture with its gorgeous coastlines and unique slice of history? If so, read on for the low down to an easy-breezy inexpensive day trip to to the beautiful island town of Enoshima and the historic temple city of Kamakura!

Tokyo Day Trip: Eoshima Kamakura Enoden

1. Enoshima-Kamakura Free Pass

First things first, transport. We highly recommend purchasing the Odakyu Line Enoshima-Kamakura Free Pass. The one-day pass includes one round trip from your departure station to Fuijisawa, unlimited hop-on and offs on the Enoden Line between Fujisawa all the way to Kamakura, and discounts to a few attractions. The pass is available at the Odakyu Sightseeing Service Center in Shinjuku or at any Odakyu Line station ticket machines.

Enoshima-Kamakura Free Pass 江の島・鎌倉フリーパス
Price: 1,470 yen (From Shinjuku Station)
See here for a guide on how to buy from the ticket machines.

2. Katase Nishihama

ENoshima Kamakura Guide 1

Hop off at Katase-Enoshima Station and make your way over to the Katase Nishihama Beach for some of the closest beaches to Tokyo and an amazing, unobstructed view of Mount Fuji! Popular with surfers, the beach is also the scene of a number of parties in the warm summer months. From there, take a 20min walk across the ocean via the connecting bridge to Enoshima Island.

Katase Nishihama Beach 片瀬西浜
3 Chome Katasekaigan, Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture 251-0035
〒251-0035 神奈川県藤沢市片瀬海岸3丁目

3. Enoshima Jinja

Tokyo Day Trip: Enoshima Jinja

Sitting on Enoshima Island is the Enoshima Jinja, one of the nation’s Three Great Shrines dedicated to the Benzaiten (弁才天) goddess of art and fortune. Legend has it that this particular Benten shared a love story with a five-headed dragon, hence the many dragons decked out on the grounds. The Enoshima Jinja is also home to three goddess and their respective shrines – Hetsunomiya, Nakatsunomiya, and Okutsunomiya (from lowest to highest). Psst! Tulip Tip: the stairs aren’t as daunting as they seem! Stretch your legs and save some cash by skipping the escalator and hiking up to the top. It’s a charming 15-20 min walk from the bottom shrine with lovely views of the island town and its coasts.

Enoshima Jinja 江ノ島神社
2-3-8 Enoshima, Fujisawa City, Kanagawa 251-0036
〒251-0036 神奈川県藤沢市江の島2丁目3番8号

4. Lovers’ Hill / Ryuren Bell of Love

Taking the trip with your significant other? Follow the signs off the main path and make your way over to the Lovers’ Bell. Ring the bell, make a wish, and attach your lock onto the fence with the many others to enjoy eternal love. Purchase a lock at the shops on the way to the entrance, or opt to bring your own! Singles, feel free to skip this attraction and head on over to the Iwaya Caves and Chigogafuchi Abyss.

Lover’s Hill / Ryuren Bell of Love 恋人の丘「龍恋の鐘」
2-5 Enoshima Ryunogaoka Natural Forest, Fujisawa City, Kanagawa 251-0036
〒251-0036 神奈川県藤沢市江の島2-5江の島龍野ヶ岡自然の森内

5. Iwaya Caves and Chigogafuchi Abyss

Nestled on the wesern end of Enoshima Island are the Iwaya Caves and the Chigogafuchi Abyss. Previous buddhist monk training ground in the Nara era, the Iwaya Caves consists of two natural caves-turned-shrines housing relics and statues from Enoshima’s past. While the caves are not much to write home about, the walkway to the caves overlooks the Chicgogafuchi Abyss, boasting gorgeous coastal views of crashing waves alongside a breathtaking view of Mt. Fuji. Heads up, the area is subject to very strong winds so we highly suggest extra precaution when climbing up and down the boulders to avoid being blown away!

Chigogafuchi Abyss 稚児ヶ淵
2-5-2 Enoshima, Fujisawa City, Kanagawa 251-0036
〒251-0036 神奈川県 藤沢市 江の島 2丁目5番2号

Tokyo Day Trip: The Great Buddha of Kamakura / Kamakura Daibutsu

6. The Great Buddha of Kamakura / Kamakura Daibutsu

Next up on the itinerary is Kamakura, oozing of traditional architecture with its many Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines. And what’s a visit to Kamakura without paying respects to the iconic Kamakura Daibutsu (Great Buddha)! A designated kokuhō 国宝 or National Treasure culture heritage site, this particular Daibutsu is vying for a spot on UNESCO’S list of World Heritage Sites, making it a must-see for culture-lovers. To get there from Enoshima Island, walk or hop on a bus to Enoshima Station, take the Enoden Line heading towards Kamakura to Hase Station, and follow the signs for Kōtoku-in.

Kamakura Daibutsu 鎌倉大仏
4-2-28 Hase, Kamakura, Kanagawa 248-0016
〒248-0016 神奈川県鎌倉市長谷4丁目2番28号

Price: 200 yen entry and an additional 20 yen to get inside the Daibutsu.

7. Komachi Street / Komachidori

Beginning from the round-about outside of Kamakura Station, and leading right up to the Tsurugaoka Hachimangū is the Komachidori Street. Legend has it that it began as an outdoor market held in front of the shrine. Today, more than 250 restaurants, cafes, and boutiques selling traditional gifts and sweets line the bustling street. It’s the perfect place to do a spot of souvenir shopping enroute to our final destination at the Hachimangū!

Kamakura Komachidori 鎌倉 小町通り
Komachi, Kamakura, Kanagawa 248-0006
〒248-0006 神奈川県鎌倉市小町

Tokyo Day Trip: Kamakura Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine

8. Tsurugaoka Hachimangū

The most proninent of Kamakura’s Shinto shrines, the Tsurugaoka Hachimangū is located both geographical and culturally in the city center.  After defeating rival Taira clan in 1180, Kamakura Shogunate founder Yoritomo Minamoto established Kamakura as the nation’s defacto capital and built the shrine as a tribute the Hachiman (八幡神), Japanese god of war and archery. Today, the shrine houses two ponds representing rival clans Minamoto and Taira (Tiny Trivia: the Taira pond has four islands, as “four” holds the same pronunciation as “death” in Japanese), a peony garden, and a small museum. It’s also among the nation’s most popular shrines for hatsumode (初詣), with record breaking visitor numbers of over two million!

Tsurugaoka Hachimangū 鶴岡八幡宮
2-1-31 Yukinoshita, Kamakura, Kanagawa 248-8588
〒248-8588 神奈川県鎌倉市雪ノ下2-1-31

Not up for a day trip or a lengthy train ride?  Check out our Ultimate Nakano Guide for a low key yet fun-filled afternoon right in the heart of suburban Tokyo!

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By: Lydia Hon

Tokyo’s Hidden Gems: Sangubashi’s Park Life

Sangubashi is a charming, hidden suburb nestled between the tourist hotspots of Shinjuku, Harajuku and Shibuya. Its great location has lead it to become a popular residential area with Japanese and non-Japanese alike. Judging by the flash cars crawling down the busy shopping street and tiny dogs in designer wear, you can guess that the local inhabitants are pretty well off.

If you’re looking for a place to live or just a short term visit, Sangubashi has overflowing appeal. These are our top picks for things to see, do and, most importantly, eat.

Yoyogi Park

The charms of living in Sangubashi are obvious from one quick look at the map. The giant, green blob that has gobbled up the whole area from Yoyogi to Shibuya is Yoyogi Park. Massively famous, this grassy sprawl offers a place for Tokyoites to just chill, while watching sparkling fountains in the summer sun. At the weekend you can be entertained by the street performers lining the path. Fashion hub Harajuku can be reached by a pleasant walk to the other side of the park.

 

Meiji Jingu

Although it is not Japan’s most eminent shrine, Meiji Jingu is arguably the most famous one, with most tourists at least making the effort to pop in. Coming in from the Harajuku entrance, visitors take the sudden plunge into a spiritual nature walk with towering trees blocking out any trace of the Youth-culture capital outside the shrine’s walls. Coming from Sangubashi you can take the little-known back entrance, avoiding the crowds… initially at least. If you’re feeling a bit run down, check out Kiyomasa’s Well, a ‘power spot’. Japanese people believe you can get a bit of extra energy from visiting such places. It’s worth a try right?

If all this sightseeing works up an appetite, hop over the road from the Sangubashi exit of Yogogi Park. Park Arms is an American style restaurant that sells all manner of hamburgers as well as formidably sized sandwiches. Even better than the food is the fact that dogs are welcome to sit in with their owners, so there’s plenty of cute pups to fawn over while waiting for your meal to arrive.

Teppanyaki Restaurant En

This restaurant seems to be always busy, the raucous laughter of merry-makers is audible from outside most evenings. If you’re in the mood for affordable slabs of okonomiyaki and monja-yaki with various toppings available you’re in luck, but we recommend you make a reservation in advance.

Two words: cheese naan. This Nepalese restaurant offers inexpensive set meals at any time of the day, choose your curry from an extensive list and it comes with salad and your choice of rice or naan. For a few extra yen you can make your naan cheese or garlic, and we really advise you to do so.

 

All-nighter

It’s not unusual to see unfortunate salary men who missed the last train home sleeping rough in an array of strange locations. Luckily, if you’re staying in Sangubashi you can party all night in Shinjuku, Harajuku or Shibuya and walk home. Or even jump in a taxi without breaking the bank. There’s all night arcades, karaoke, restaurants, the fun never ends. Shibuya has many 300 yen per drink establishments popular with locals as well as travellers. You can easily forget all about that last train, without ending up asleep on a park bench.

 

Want to live in or visit Sangubashi? We have a share house there that also accepts short terms stays through AirBnB.

Eat Like a Local: Japanese Halal Restaurants in Tokyo

If you have a dietary restriction, eating out in a foreign country can feel really unfair. You want to be able to try everything and eat like the locals do. Food is such a massive part of a country’s culture you can feel as though you’re missing out.

Luckily for Muslim visitors and residents in Tokyo, you can sample plenty of ‘Washoku’ (traditional Japanese dishes) as well as Japan’s other famous dishes in restaurants that are completely Halal. Here’s a guide to must-try foods for Japanese cuisine beginners, complete with links to Muslim-friendly restaurants.

Washoku

Washoku is traditional Japanese cuisine, characterised by light dishes with subtle, refreshing flavours that are packed with seasonal ingredients and use rice as a base food.

Yoshiya (Shinjuku)

 

Ramen

A typical comfort dish of soupy, noodly goodness. Japanese people eat it to regain their strength after a tiring night and now you can too! Honolu  even serve sides of Halal gyoza which will definitely help you get your genki-ness back!

Honolu (Ebisu, Hamamatsucho, Shinbashi)

 

Soba

Another noodle dish, soba is a bit like ramen’s healthier cousin, buckwheat noodles swimming in a light broth. It can also be eaten cold with a dipping sauce. Yoshitomoan offers Halal options for all your soba needs.

Yoshitomoan (Kagurazaka)

 

Sushi

A classic. If you like your fish uncooked and lying on top of a little vinegared rice bed, you are in for a treat.

Sushi Ken (Asakusa)

 

Yakiniku

Yakiniku literally means grilled meat. Based on Korean barbeques, this Japanese favourite involves ordering raw meat to cook yourselves on a grill in the middle of your table. 10/10 for fun, 10/10 for socialness, 10/10 for deliciousness. (But it can be pricey!)

Gyumon (Shibuya)
Sumiyakiya (Roppongi)

 

Shabu Shabu

Like yakiniku, shabu shabu has the do-it-yourself fun factor. You swish the meat around in boiling broth until cooked. This restaurant is pretty expensive due to the meat being Wa-gyu (premium Japanese beef) so don’t go unless you’ve got those yens to spare.

Hanasakaji San (Shibuya)

 

Bento

Bento are a staple of Japanese culture. People take great care making bento (lunch boxes) for their partners and children, to show love and get them through the work/school day. This website delivers bento to your door, what’s more caring and heart-felt than that?

Taste and Discover Japan (Order Online)

 

This is of course, not an exhaustive list. Please give your own recommendations in the comments!

Tokyo’s Hidden Gems: Nerima’s Suburban Attractions

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Nerima has a reputation for being a bit relaxed (read boring), but there’s actually plenty of little-known attractions for an easy-going day out around Nerima station. If you’re looking for somewhere to live, this convenient and cheap residential area is perfect for commuting to areas such as Ikebukuro, Shinjuku or Roppongi.

(Extra info about prices and locations of the attractions will be at the bottom of this blog!)

Walking through the unassuming suburbs there’s no way that you would guess there’s a theme park awaiting you around the corner. True, it’s not exactly Fuji Q Highland, but there’s charm in this old amusement park yet. The wooden merry-go-round of Toshimaen theme park is a designated important cultural property.

But thrill-seekers never fear. Once July rolls around the water park is open, with plenty of scary water slides to get that adrenaline rush, and a beautiful night pool where you can float under the summer stars.

Nature lovers will also be happy to know that surrounding the amusement park are beautiful gardens designed by the famous Japanese landscape architect, Kenzo Kosugi. They were designed specifically so that every season would give a different look. The best way to enjoy these gardens, is a dip in the Niwa no Yu onsen (public bath) next door. The outdoor baths give a gorgeous view. There are even co-ed saunas where you can hang out with your partner or guy friends (in bathing suits of course!).

Get ready die-hard mountain fans, because Nerima City Hall offers a view of Mount Fuji for free. But definitely check the forecast before going as it can only be seen on clear days.

You can also catch a movie at the United Cinemas cinema complex by Toshimaen station. Wednesday is ladies day meaning you can see all the latest flicks for a very affordable 1100 yen.

Pig Plus is one of the best restaurants in Nerima for sure. Nerima was a farming area back in the Edo period and nowadays there’s still plenty of farms on the outskirts. This restaurant uses only Nerima produce for its celebrated dishes. They even do take-out if you feel like taking a full rotisserie chicken home. No judgement here.

 

Toshimaen Theme Park
Price- Amusement pass – 4200 yen for adult, 3200 for child (Entrance only pass 1000 yen for adult, 500 yen for children)
Location- 1 minute walk from Toshimaen station
Opening Hours- Varies according to season (guests with tattoos may not enter the park)

Niwa no Yu
Price- Standard ticket 2310 yen, Night Spa ticket 1295 yen (No children allowed)
Location- 1 minute walk from Toshimaen station
Opening Hours- 10 am to 11 pm every day (Night Spa is not open during New Year, Obon Festival or Golden Week)

Nerima City Hall
Price- Free
Location- 5 minute walk from Nerima station
Opening Hours- 8.30 am to 5 pm on weekdays, closed for New Year

United Cinemas
Price- 1800 yen (Ladies Day 1100 yen every wednesday, Late Show 1300 yen every night after 8pm
Location- 1 minute walk from Toshimaen station
Opening Hours- Movie schedule

Pig Plus
Price- Menu
Location- 1 minute walk from Nerima station
Opening Hours-  13 seconds past 5 in the evening (I don’t get it either) until the early hours

Cup Noodle Inspiration in Yokohama

The Cup Noodle Museum is a committed monument to the history of instant ramen and the perfect excuse to spend the day in Yokohama this summer!

I took a day trip with my friends to learn exactly how such a culinary miracle became commonplace in Japan.

As we left the Minato Mirai train station, we planned to head straight to the museum. However we were instantly knocked back by the sheer sparkling beauty of Yokohama on a sunny day and were sadly delayed at least half an hour due to unavoidable photo opportunities. Compared to cramped Tokyo where everything is piled on top of each other, you do feel the difference. Yokohama feels open-air, with wide spaces and low buildings.

Although on the surface it seems like a classic ‘crazy’ Japan thing, the museum itself was surprisingly inspiring and definitely doesn’t take itself too seriously. The main take away message of the museum is not as you may think, cup noodles are tasty (they are of course) but ‘never give up’, since the inventor of instant ramen went through several failed businesses before he struck noodly gold.

The definite highlight is the make your own custom cup noodles section of the museum, which consists of drawing on the cup, then getting embarrassed about your pathetic art skills. (There was a young woman in front of us who had drawn a gorgeous full colour cherry blossom design. I had scrawled Yokohama 2017 on mine.) You then join a Wallace and Gromit-esque production line in which the staff make the cup ramen of your dreams! Well… limited to to 3 toppings… of your dreams!

Our cup noodles perfected, we then hopped over the road to Cosmo World. A little theme park which is surrounded by glistening sea. There’s no entrance fee as you pay per ride. The many roaming teenagers in uniforms gave us school trip vibes as we giddily waited to get on the one ride that actually looked a bit scary. It was pretty good and totally worth the 700 yen ticket!

We then headed to Yokohama’s famous China Town. Not only do you save money by walking instead of taking the subway, it gives you more of a chance to get a feeling for the area. We were even more convinced of how wide open and clean Yokohama is.

China Town was lively and colourful and as someone who has never been to China, I wondered how close it was to the real thing. But according to my friends who have visited China, this was much, much more orderly.

CHINA!

The place was awash with delicious street food smells and we treated ourselves to a few free samples before settling on some dumplings. They were amazing and reasonably priced at 500 yen for a 4 dumpling selection.

We really felt like we’d escaped Tokyo on a mid-week getaway. But we were back in Shibuya in just 40 minutes and our IC cards only took a hit of 960 yen round trip. Not bad if you consider the priceless life lesson we learned;

Cup noodles are tasty.

Only joking! It’s never give up!

 

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Tokyo’s Hidden Gems: Street Market of Sugamo

Along Tokyo’s popular Yamanote Line are famous stops we’ve all heard of such as Harajuku, Shinjuku, Ueno, and Ikebukuro. But a gem that you might not be familiar lies right outside of Sugamo Station.

Known for it’s 800 meter long shopping street, traditional shops, food stands, and temples, Sugamo is a must if you want to experience street shopping like the locals do and get a glimpse of old-world Japan.

On the 4th, 14th, and 24th of every month, a large flea market is held on the main Jizo Dori and stretches all the way from Sugamo Station to Koshinzuka Station. I was lucky enough to finally experience the bustle of it all myself!

Right as you enter Jizo Dori, you’ll be greeted by Sugamo’s official mascot duck named Sugamon, or I should say a giant plush of Sugamon’s behind (only in Japan can you rub a plush duck butt for good luck)!

After you’ve checked that off the list, goods and food stands of all kinds are lined up further than the eye can see! Get adventurous and try out some of the fresh and home-made food that are staples in Japanese cuisine. “Nukazuke” are vegetables that are fermented in rice bran and are delicious and refreshing side dishes.

If you are looking to find a nice “omiyage” to take home to family/friends or even a cherished treasure for yourself, ditch the cliché sanrio character souvenir and dig through the tons of unique gifts like teas, fabrics, and hand-made crafts that’ll surprised even your most well-travelled friends!

The stand merchants are so friendly, you can practice some of your Japanese skills and some will even let you try some samples of what they’re cooking up.

If you’re feeling extra adventurous, why not taste some “habushu,” Japanese sake that is flavored with snake? It’s believed that the snake has medicinal properties and gives strong stamina. But if you’re like me and snake beverages aren’t really your thing, don’t worry. You can still try something unique like seeing what your future holds with a palm and face reading!

Aside from the flea market, Sugamo is also frequently visited for its famous temples. Jizos, the bodhisattva deities in Japan, are protectors of children, traveller’s and lost souls. Sugamo is home of the Togenuki Jizo statue which is believed to heal illnesses and ailments. Many visitors pour water over the statue and clean the areas of their pain.

 

Next to the temple is an entire alley dedicated to flowers, bring a few flowers home to brighten up your living room or just take in the colorful and fragrant stroll through!

All the exploring will definitely  work up an appetite and there are plenty of ready-made treats to choose from. It is way too hard to decide what to get with all the options.

Strolling through Sugamo’s flea market feels like being able to experience what a Japanese street market would have been like 100 years ago. Whether you are living or just traveling in Tokyo, straying off the main path is always full of surprises and unique experiences.

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