Monthly Archives: January 2015

Dinner at Ninja Restaurant (The Restaurant)

What I am going to describe now is one of the most amazing experiences that my life offered up to date. This is not only regarding the food that I ate, but because of the overall experience in a restaurant that is nothing like anything else I have seen in all my life. Anyway, …..

Looking for the Restaurant

After taking Purikura at Ueno, we headed to Akasaka. When Mari came to London the week before I move to Japan, she told me something about the Ninja Restaurant, and I told her not to tell me anything because I wanted to be a surprise. I don’t like to be told information about places before going there because I love surprises and I love to find out by myself because it makes my experience more surprising.

Entering the Restaurant

When we arrived at Akasaka, we went to look for the Ninja restaurant. The building from outside was all black, and because of that, it was difficult to see the entrance. Once inside, everything was black and dark and there was a girl with a ninja uniform waiting for her customers and she told us to wait for few seconds to wait for ‘another’ ninja. After few seconds the other ninja came and took us through a dark short dark corridor from a hidden door. After few yards the corridor was blocked by a pond and no other way to go in front of us. The ninja at that point said that we had to say the magic word ‘ninja’ all together in order to go through. The ninja said: one, two, three….. and then all together we said ‘NINJA’!!! and a door came down working as a bridge for the pond for us to enter the……ninja village!!! and then we entered another dark room.

Ninja Village

Inside the new room was lying a small ninja village set in the ninja period. For me it was an exciting and unique experience that I will never forget for the rest of my life. Also the village was all dark. It was made by small dark stone houses and a pathway that goes in between of the houses. Each small dark house was a small private room for customers to eat. The village seemed real and gave a real impression of a ninja village. Our room was at the end of the village on a small staircase.

Dining Room

After walking up the small staircase, we entered a tiny dark room with a dark stone wall which was lit carefully in order to present the room as from the ninja period. The room had only one table that can accomodate only few customers, probably up to 4 people could sit into that room. Considering that Mari and I have been surprised along the way to our private room, the dark atmosphere of the room gave us the impression that the surprises were not over and we had more surprises to come. Apart from the room being dark, everything esle inside the room was traditionally Japanese with a short leg’s table, thin cushions where people sit on and room under the table for people to put their feet and legs inside in order for the people to sit rather than crossing their legs.

The food is on the next page>>>

 

 

Purikura at Ueno

After leaving Asakusa, we got the train to the nearby station of Ueno. Ueno is one of the main points of Tokyo, probably one of the most important. This is because it is sited on one of the main corners of Tokyo on the train line that goes round like a circle.

At first Ueno seemed a bit like Camden Town in London, because it has a market along the rail bridge, but still Tokyo style. Mari and I didn’t stay long at Ueno and because it was already getting late and we still have to go for dinner, she took me straight to an entertainment shop. Once inside the shop we went straight to a Japanese style photo boot. That photo boot is not one of the classic photo boots that are used to take classic photos, such as passport photos, but it is like being inside a photo-shop machine.

We had to stand inside the photo boot and there was a screen with a lot of different options and everything was in Japanese, and because at the time I could only read Hiragana, some Katakana characters and my Japanese was limited only to few words, I really couldn’t understand anything of what was written. Anyway, we put around 500 Yen into the machine and then she started playing around with the screen by choosing different options and then we had to pose to take photos. Mari did everything and I just had to pose when she told me to.

The machine started taking photos very quickly, every few seconds. I can’t remember how many photos the machine took, but they were quite a lot.

After taking all those photos, we came out from the machine and she started playing around with another screen attached on the outside of that photo boot. With a special pen that can be read by the screen we started decorating the photos and we started writing few things on the photos in different colours. That machine was really powerful. When finished to decorate the photos, she had to enter on the screen her phone email address. Then we waited few seconds and a set of different photos came out from the machine in the same way a normal photo boot does. Then she also received an email with the photos taken. We cut the set of photos, I took some and she took others and then we left to the next destination.

Asakusa: Beauty of Sensōji Temple

While we were leaving Tsukiji Fish Market area she suggested to go to Asakusa (Pronounced Asaksa). For me anyway it didn’t matter where we were going to because I was sure that was going to be a surprised, because as I said in a previous post (see First Time in Akihabara (With Mari) – First Day in Japan), I didn’t know anything about Tokyo.

As soon as we arrived at Asakusa, Mari took me to see Sensōji Temple. Inside the entrance there were many traditional Japanese food stalls in both rows of the way towards the temple. All those food stalls gave me an impression of real Japanese culture that have been passed through generations and generations.

Food Stalls

The food stalls impressed me a lot for different reasons. One of the reasons was because they all looked very colorful. Another reason was because they gave me the impression that I really was in Japan, in fact, they really looked very Japanese with all the Japanese characters written above the food stalls. Another reason was because there were so many people walking along the way and stopping to buy some of the delicacies that they were selling. Another reason was because there were many girls (18-20 years old about, maybe more or maybe less) that were selling food in most of the food stalls.

Each food stall was selling different food, much different from the food stalls found in UK or in the Western countries in general. I was so glad to be there in that country that I loved for so many years, even though I had never been there before. The food that the food stalls were selling was made fresh on the spot. Some of them selling chicken such as yakitori, others selling sweets made with rice and others were selling other kinds of food.

I remember that at the end of the stalls there was a gate with two paper made (I don’t know how to call them) balls that were hanging from the ceiling (one of them is part of the background photo of the blog, also see below), one in each side, they were red with white stripes with written something in Kanji and Katakana characters. The pathway was in the middle. I decided to took photos because they looked so beautiful and interesting.

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The Paper Balls (I don’t know how to call them)

After the gates there was a square with a big open temple at the end and a tall pagoda on the left. I really loved that place because it looked so traditionally Japanese, I would love to go there every day because it would relax me and would make my heart warmer (like I was feeling at that moment).

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Asakusa Temple from outside
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Asakusa Temple (View from Corner)
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Me in front of Asakusa Temple

When I reached the temple I decided to go inside to have a look. As I can remember, I think I wasn’t allowed to enter properly inside the temple. Anyway, I remember that I took photos of the temple inside and at the ceiling. Then I went to have a walk around. The overall environment is to beautiful. I took the photo at the pagoda near the temple, at the trees and at everything that was surrounding the temple.

After that we decided to leave and grab a coffee at Starbucks. I didn’t really want to go to Starbucks, I had preferred go to a Japanese style cafe’ rather than going to Starbucks, we just went there because I needed internet and I knew that Starbucks would have provided it. While we were going to look for a Starbucks, we had to go through an arcade of shops. At first we couldn’t find it and then I saw a McDonald and I said to Mari:

– Look, there is a McDonald, if a McDonald is there it means that Starbucks should be nearby.

I was right, Starbucks was like 30 seconds away just round the corner and across the road. However, that Starbucks provided wi-fi only to Softbank customers (Japanese mobile phone provider), however, we had already spent the money for the coffee so we stayed there for a little while.

After leaving, near the Starbucks I saw a statue of a man in Kimono  in pose and I could see Tokyo Sky Tree not far away, then decided to take a photo with the man in Kimono and giving him a high 5. Then we left to the next next place…..)

Tsukiji Fish Market

As soon as I woke up and had a shower at the Ryokan after my first night in Tokyo, I went down the stairs at the reception. The lady that could speak at least 3 languages greeted me and presented me with the breakfast before going to meet Mari again. I really cannot remember what I had for breakfast because I am writing this post one 1 1/2 years after the experience. Anyway, after the breakfast I picked up my ruck sack and left the Ryokan greeting the lady.

While I was waiting for Mari at Yotsuya station, I noticed that the few western tourists (or residents) were wearing the same white safari hat, I was wondering why, probably because of the sun (it was really hot in Japan those days) but I decided not to wear anything like that and be myself with my Oakley shades, t-shirt and Jeans.

After Mari arrived, we headed to Tsukiji. Tsukiji is famous because there is the biggest wish market in the world, even though I just heard that few months ago they shut it down and moved it somewhere else. As soon as we arrived we found that the market was closed, so we decided to ask around why it was closed. They said because Sunday is the only day that the fish market is closed.

However, we didn’t leave the area. We decided to stay there and go to a restaurant to eat some sushi and sashimi. While we were walking to find a restaurant, we also realised that in that area also the most of the restaurants are closed, however we still managed to find one, and according to Mari, that restaurant is actually quite popular.

We entered the restaurant, Mari asked me if it was OK to sit at the counter and I answered that was fine to me. Then we looked at the menu before deciding what to order. While deciding, Mari told me that she couldn’t eat some of the fish because she doesn’t like them, I don’t have any of those problems and I will tell in a blog I will write down in the future what fish I had when I went to Osaka and if I will remember I will do a link from here to there. Anyway, we both decided to order sashimi.

When the sashimi came to the counter where we were sitting, the sashimi was just looking amazing. I really loved looking at the sashimi because it looked so good and so colourful so I decided to take a photo at the sashimi. I really would had loved to eat that sashimi all day long and everyday (this is what I was thinking before eating it). Both of the sashimi dishes ordered were on a bed of rice.

When I started eating it, I realised how good it actually was. It was so tasty and I really wanted to order more but I decided not to be greedy. So we just had one dish each. Anyway, the sashimi was not really cheap and we ended up paying 3000-4000 yen each (£17.50-£23.50 each or $29-$39). I wanted to save money because I might need them to do something else.

After eating we left the restaurant and took a photo outside together in front of the restaurant and kept the photo as a great memory. Then we left Tsukiji and headed to….(day 2 continue on the next post)…….

Second Day in Japan