japan travel

{travel} wombmates in tokyo: ichiran and shibuya crossing

January 20, 2016

When I had planned our trip, I figured we’d be jetlagged during the first night so I wrote that we should check out Womb, one of the top 10 nightclubs in the world. With four different floors, this club can hold up to 1,000 people. What’s even cooler (to me, at least) was that the club scenes in Babel starring Brad Pitt was filmed here! Apparently, the busiest hours at this club fall between 2am-6am, basically Vegas on crack! Unfortunately, my sister and I were tired from our airplane ride, so we called it an early night and didn’t go. Fortunately for our wallets, we didn’t have to cough up 3500-6000 yen (~$31-52) per person for their cover charge.

2015-12-26 05.57.03The next morning, my body automatically woke up at 5am. Clearly, it doesn’t care where I am or which time zone I’m in… But at least we got to FaceTime with our parents and brothers before we headed out for our day’s adventures! Clay gave us the stink eye and said, “The point of you guys going to Japan was so we DIDN’T have to see you guys.” It’s too bad the power of technology is so awesome!

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2015-12-26 06.33.26When we left our Airbnb, we noticed that everything was eerily silent. Nothing was opened, and no one was out and about! Tokyo doesn’t seem to be an early rising city. Since Steph and I are used to waking up early, we took advantage of this by walking around and exploring in the mornings for the rest of our trip.

2015-12-26 06.36.14Although we didn’t see anyone on the streets, the train was surprisingly full of people.

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2015-12-26 06.53.24What is the best way to start your day? Ramen at Ichiran! Open 24 hours a day, this restaurant ended up being one of Steph’s all time favorite places. (Seriously, I think she loves Ichiran more than she loves me.)

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2015-12-26 06.54.08Once you walk down the stairs, you pre-pay for your ramen at the vending machines.

2015-12-26 06.57.16Don’t know how to read Japanese? No worries! There is a sign in English, and all the buttons have pictures.

2015-12-26 06.54.27After we got our ramen tickets, we were told to take a seat inside.

2015-12-26 06.57.57The restaurant part is really an alley-looking area with private booths. I say private because they have dividers between each stall. And I say stall because every seat is numbered. Yelpers weren’t joking when they described the eating experience like how horses eat.

Don’t fret if you don’t like eating by yourself, the dividers on each side can be folded inwards, so you can have a shared eating area. But really, why would you? With a bowl of Ichiran ramen, I’d like to stuff my face with no judgment.

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2015-12-26 06.59.08Once you’re seated, you fill out the preference form (in Japanese, Chinese, or English!) and pass it through the open curtain to a mysterious man on the other side. If it was possible to love a guy without ever conversing with him or seeing his face, this is when it happened for me. After a few minutes, this mystery man places a bowl of pippin’ hot ramen in front of me, bows, and closes the curtain.

Puts food in front of me, gives me a little attention, and then ignores me? He definitely knows how to get the ladies!

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2015-12-26 07.05.54I had a hard time picking what was my favorite thing about this bowl of ramen. The broth was flavorful, rich, and creamy, and the noodles were firm and so delicious… we almost ordered an extra portion.

2015-12-26 07.31.17Steph and I didn’t talk for the whole duration we were slurping on our noodles. 🙂 We weren’t sure what these forms that were hanging on our dividers were, but we figured they were comment cards. Perfect score in our book!

2015-12-26 07.37.15When we walked out, we noticed that there was a seating chart board. This is pretty handy for people who have to wait.

Did you know? Ramen shops in Japan are not designed for long meals (hot dates, hang out with friends, or straight chillin’ with a beer). They have a “eat and leave” concept so the wait to dine here is a lot shorter. So leave as soon as you’re done!

2015-12-26 07.39.33Happy faces all around cause our taste buds and tummies were more than satisfied!

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2015-12-26 07.54.37Since everything was still pretty dead at 9am, Steph and I took advantage of the most popular Starbucks in Tokyo aka the Starbucks located with the best view of Shibuya Crossing.

Located in Tsutaya (look for CDs!), Steph and I had a little trouble finding the entrance at first because we ended up seeing a to-go Starbucks booth close by. But once we were in, we grabbed an English menu, ordered our drinks, and headed upstairs. We hung out there for a bit hoping more people would be up so we can see just how crazy Shibuya Crossing looks in the day.

2015-12-26 07.56.13An hour later… still dead. It was fine though since we walked the crossing the night before! It is pretty amazing seeing organized chaos happening right before our eyes – a sea of people crossing from every direction, but once the intersection clears out, traffic resumes like no big deal.

2015-12-26 08.12.18We did see a group of women get together to pick up trash. If only we had more people like this in America (specifically San Francisco). One of the things I loved most about Japan was how clean everything was. The streets and sidewalks were always spotless and people smoked in designated areas. Basically, people actually care about the place they’re living in.

When I walked to work on my first day back in the bay area, I saw a pile of feces (that was way too big to be dog poop) on 2nd. In that moment, I missed Japan quite terribly.

2015-12-26 08.35.17Since Steph was busy finishing up her last semester of nursing school before our trip, I took care of doing all the research and planning. In return, she volunteered to take care of all the google mapping and leading. This was a really good tradeoff because my sense of direction is terrible! Out of the all the times I’ve tried to figure out where we were going, I was only right four times. I was wrong so many times, we started to just go the opposite way of what I would suggest.

Getting around Tokyo ended up being a little harder than expected because we weren’t really sure how to read street signs. Most of the time, Steph would just be on google maps (thank god for smart phones), figure out which direction we should be walking, and follow the blue dot. Whatever works!

Before our trip, a lot of my friends told me it would take some time to figure out the public transportation system. But I have to give a big shout out to my sister for being a boss and figuring it out fast! We didn’t lose any time since we always got on the right lines. 🙂

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  • Reply Lilly January 20, 2016 at 3:25 pm

    OMG I LOVED ICHIRAN!! my next blog post is also on the Ichiran restaurant in Shibuya! great minds think alike 😉 great post!

    • Reply Christine Shieh January 20, 2016 at 3:53 pm

      LOL! I love that we both went to Genki Sushi on our first day too… great minds really do think alike! 😉

  • Reply {travel} wombmates in tokyo: yoyogi park and meiji shrine | petite christine January 21, 2016 at 10:06 am

    […] getting our caffeine fix at Starbucks, we headed over to explore Yoyogi Park in Shibuya (since nothing was opened still!). With time to […]

  • Reply {travel} wombmates in tokyo: shinjuku gyoen national garden | petite christine January 24, 2016 at 10:11 am

    […] I said Steph was obsessed with Ichiran, I wasn’t joking. Still not adjusted to Asia time, we woke up very early the next day again. […]

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