We’re back! In Japan that is. Its Spring and we’re here hunting for Sakura of course! Who cares about the food the people the exquisite craftsmanship and the earnest culture of doing their best in everything they do.
Well we invaded the country via Narita Airport and I wrote this paragraph on the awesome Keisei Skyliner (which burnt a hole in our wallets). We bought the Keisei Return Ticket plus Tokyo Metro 48hrs ticket which will cover the 13 subway lines managed by Toei and Tokyo Metro. Total damage was 10010 Yen for 2 pax, which is about S$120..
Anyways Skyliner will take about 30-40 mins before we arrive at Nippori station which is about 3 stops away from Sugamo, our base of operations for this Sakura Hunting trip.
We arrived right on time! The forecasts are saying it’s full bloom (mankai) time at most of the popular Hanami places. Hanami (花見) if you don’t already know, literally means ‘flower viewing’. It’s in Japanese culture that one would sit under a flowering tree, most commonly one of the many Sakura trees, viewing and appreciating the beautiful blossoms.
This has a somewhat poetic feel, it’s like appreciating God’s creations. Pondering about life and all that. To Claire and I, its usually simpler: we just appreciates beautiful things. I always liked whatever pretty little things nature has to offer, while Claire just ran around all excited and chanting ‘Pretty!’ the whole time..
But we haven’t had any food since we arrived, so the hunting is put on hold.
Took us 15mins to find Tsuta Ramen, the one Michellin star ramen joint. It was plain coincidence that we chose to stay near this area, we were just out of choices and out of budget, so we booked the next cheapest hotel with good ratings.
BUT, by 1pm, when we were there.. The tickets were totally sold out. It’s a weekday you know!
I read prior to coming here, Tsuta Ramen sells tickets as early as an hour before it opens. You pay 1000 yen as deposit, then the staff will pass you a ticket with the time period where you come back… to queue. Once you got a seat, they will refund the 1000 yen deposit and you will order and enjoy your Michellin starred ramen.
No such luck for us, so we moved on to the safest choice: Yoshinoya’s gyu don! Hahaha lame right! Who cares, we’re happy with our food. Itadakimasu!
Shopping for Supplies
I.. kinda screwd up the 2 boxes of instax film I bought specially for this trip. I forgot to take it out during our security checks, it went under the deadly x-ray 2 times.. So all our shots has some artifacts on it. BUT my main objective was to find Snow Peak double-walled stacking mugs for our hanami adventures!
But I always underestimate the complex transport hubs and shopping malls plus we can’t really read Japanese. So we wasted lots of time and transport fees to feed my ‘needs’.. Heh heh…
Hanami.. in the Dark
After going through my list of options, I think Ueno park is the best because its close to our hotel and I’m sure it’s lit at night. So we bought our food from Ueno, just like the first time we came here years ago. A tinge of nostalgia here. And went on to our Hanami session!
This place is really teeming with activities, we even see people bringing their own table. The boozy environment also mean you’ll see people stumbling while trying to wear their shoes and puking into the huge bins set up in the area. But it’s still a merry atmosphere where sakura blooms.
Food trucks are aplenty, so even if you forgot to bring your food, you won’t go hungry in the park.
But then check out the crowd below…
It was so crowded, all the stipulated picnic grounds were all taken. So we just wandered around, taking photos and then finally finding a quiet corner to have our meal.
Not exactly hanami in the sense.
So we ate and promised to come back here tomorrow morning for our breakfast picnic!!
End of Day One
We got really tired, did I mention about Claire who sleeps on my shoulder whenever there is a chance. But despite all that, I have to drag her around as if she’s sleepwalking and I’m her dad.
Let’s rest up and go for more hunting tomorrow!