HK5 Japan: Chapter 2 “Ramen Dreams & Charm Wishes”
Our second full day or 3rd day in Tokyo was spent at key tourists stops. Rain was in the air but thankfully only sprinkles. We hit Tokyo Tower first because it made the most sense since the crowd mount up there by noon. We decided to skip Skytree on this trip because, we wanted to leave something if we decide to come back when the kids are a lot older some day. Tokyo Tower has two decks to visit, sadly on such an overcast day, the top deck was shrouded in clouds and the ticket attendant hinted sternly for us to just choose the main deck, I under “waste of money”. The view was nice, especially in planning our next stop to Zojoji Temple. Lesson learned from the tower, GO EARLY!
We left the tower and headed over to what I thought was a little shopping area but turned out to be a large traditional restaurant called Tof-yaki Ukai. Instead we made our way to the famed Zojoji Temple which is home to the collection of the Ankokuden Stone Dolls. I put together a movie of the dolls, because as usual I was pretending I was a Spielberg. The temple turned out to the better highlight of the visit. We just happened to visit on a day when the temple worships the pets who have crossed over. Three large wood pet statues decorated the temple square and inside the main temple, owners took photos and paid respects to pets who have passed or were alive. You could also write them a prayer and pass it onto the monks.
Next door to the main temple, is a smaller temple with services running non-stop. When we first arrived 4 monks were doing to chant prayer. They took a 5 minute break and then greeted a Japanese family with a baby and then proceeded to start baptism ceremony. It was amazing to watch the service but felt like this horrible lurking tourist. Situated right behind the family were the tables covered prayer and good luck charms and so much more. It was an interesting setup. Fair warning, most of the Buddhist monasteries only accept cash, no cards.
We hope back on the metro and headed up to the famed Akihabara district and hit the LABI stores to check out the mass amount of goods for sale. In all honesty! I’ve seen more in the US and cheaper price on Amazon! The kids went nuts in the Toy store LABI, even though the selection was widely limited. We did manage to walk in the R18 section and my oldest pointed out, there were a lot of boobs and nipples on all the girl anime items. Remember when I said we were great parents.
For dinner we finally hunted out a good ramen meal and opted to stay local in Shibuya. We stayed at the Cerulean Tower during our stay and while the hotel location was central for Tokyo and Shibuya presented a wealth of food and shopping options. The construction of the Shibuya Station before the Olympics is our chaos. Thankfully we figured out a foot bridge that allowed us to find a shortcut into the neighborhood. Best part is we got to walk through the Love Hotel section of the district. We choose to eat at a small ramen shop because it got rave review by Tokyo Zebra (fair warning some of his top picks are out of date, 3 of top 5 are permanently closed.)
We arrived at Kindenmaru Ramen and thinking or expecting to wait for a seat at a table. The front salesman immediately sat us at the bar, 3 kids and all, and we were ordered and food sitting in front of us, in less than 10 minutes of our arrival. The ramen was amazing and so thick. Such a stark contrast to American ramen dishes we have tried. I think we were done eating and out of there in less than 35 minutes. Those ramen shops have it down packed.