#GeraTravels to 東京 (Tokyo): Ramen + Fancy Washrooms

28-29 June 2015

Officially my very first time in the land of Nippon! 😀 Super excited – needless to say!

And while Mark was lining out where to visit in Japan, we had to stop at Tokyo. For 2 reasons:

1. His all-time favourite ramen was there.
They were in Ramen Champion in Singapore and Mark became a die-hard fan. So when they officially left the country, he was utterly devastated. He actually boycotted ramen for a good month. It’s quite impressive in Mark-time.

2. Visit my dear little brother.
We were close back in the old days when we were still in school uniforms and our lives revolved around the sound of bells. Then he left to study in Japan and we didn’t see each other for years!

So after our little stay in Hong Kong, Mark and I hopped onto a plane and arrived in Japan at midnight.

Like a happy little boy going for an excursion

Now, once we cleared customs and all that – I was determined to check out their loo! Heh.

Everyone is talking about how sophisticated they are! I simply had to see it for myself.

And my verdict?
I could sit there ALL DAY even without the need to go.

Spacious cubicles
Self-heating and anti-bacterial seats

Okay, so here is when I really started to love it.

The buttons! *squeals*

You get to a rather thorough butt washing with these buttons. You can choose between the type of water flow, the pressure and the angle which the water sprays out.

But the part that was the coolest to me was this little sound device.

Since I sat down, it started giving out sounds of flowing water and I initially thought, “Wow! So considerate. Sounds to stimulate those who might have problems getting the flow started.”

But actually, no. It’s a privacy device. With the sound – no one else will know what business you’re up to in the cubicle.

Impressed, please!

After about 15 minutes of swooning over the comfortable washroom… Hey, you cannot blame me.

If you remember correctly, I didn’t really rest properly in Hong Kong. If I dare say it, the washroom in Japan was way more comfortable than my apartment itself in Hong Kong… So yes, I actually found some long-awaited comfort on that warm toilet bowl.

And off we went to hop onto a taxi to head to our apartment! 😀

It was the most expensive taxi ride I took… A whopping SGD100+! And that was after some tourist welcome discount. My face was a combination of 😮 + :/ .

But everything was quickly erased once we settled into the super comfortable apartment! ❤ ❤

A cosy & adorable apartment tucked in the streets of Shibuya that comfortably fitted two of us!

Super clean. Really comfy. Everything was in great working order. Ahhh~

And when I opened the door, the first thing I saw was this sweet welcome message from my host!

It was so refreshingly comfortable, I immediately got my appetite back! Mind you, I was vomiting through the days in Hong Kong… Any food at all made me nauseous.

Mark whipped up some instant noodles! Or what they call – ramen. 🙂

Preparing to do work while slurping away on noodles!

And I slept sooooo well… I didn’t mind that I was ‘wasting’ time sleeping while I was in Tokyo. It felt too good to get out of the tatami bed.

It took a while, but I got my butt out of bed and enjoyed the morning sun at the window. 🙂

Actually I woke up and couldn’t find Mark in the room… As usual, he went on his little exploring around the area. To him it’s all part of taking care of his little spoiled princess (aka me). He needs to know what’s around like convenience stores, transportation, shops…

So he went to grab some breakfast for me! All of their food was SUPER fresh!

I decided to be all Japanese-y about my breakfast. Munching on some fresh vegetables with Japanese dressing, sipping on green tea and watching some Japanese variety show. *grin*

The coolest part of it all was that we had these portable WiFi devices that basically made us WiFi hotspots! 😀 So I was able to communicate anywhere! …till the battery wore out.

So Mark and I set out into the streets and were all ready for a day in Tokyo with my little brother! ❤

The adorable thing was the streets were riddled with these small little eateries everywhere! It was literally impossible to try everything out even if I ate like a hobbit in Lord of the Rings.

Another thing that was close to impossible?

Not getting confused & lost on the subway.

The maps were more complicated than any subway maps I’ve seen before. With my weak Japanese and less-than-adequate-brain, it was mighty confusing. ❓

So many foreigners in Singapore say that our MRT lines are confusing… Wait till they see this. o_O

To top it off, we were coming from Shibuya Station – which is rather complicated on its own. It has multiple tracks on several different levels, we were running around like headless chickens for a while.

Albeit after a ride of two, we slowly got the hang of it! 😎

Tokyo Train Ticket

The trains are rather interesting!

Like Singapore’s trains, they’re very clean and are quite heavily used for advertising. One main difference you will see is that unlike Singaporean trains, they don’t really have individual seats on the train. Instead, it is a long cushioned bench which allows people to sit comfortably or squeeze if they have to. Most of the time, they willingly squeeze a little to make way for others. 🙂

And unlike Singapore trains which have what we call “Priority Seats”, in Japan they have “Courtesy Seats”. The end section of each train cabin is known as the “Courtesy Seats” that are reserved for elderly, disabled and pregnant individuals. The interesting thing about this area is that not only is it meant for those who are more in need of the seat – you are discouraged from using your mobile phones in that area. With the reason of radiation that could affect any pregnant woman.

And my personal favourite is the “Women Only” Cabin! 😀 We don’t have it in Singapore, albeit I’m beginning to see the rising need… Anyway, this isn’t some hard & fast rule. It basically only applies to the rush hours when there are a lot more people and therefore women’s modesty could be compromised. However there are some grey area timings which are a little outside the peak hours, when the cabin is hardly crowded – but it is an unspoken rule that it is still a “Women Only” Cabin. So when I led Mark into the cabin one day, then he slowly began to wise up to the overdose of estrogen in the cabin… He glared at me throughout the entire journey.

Women Only Cabin

Honestly don’t know what he was complaining about. I just served him up a cabin-full of women! 😕

So anyway, we got very lost the first time we took the subway and ended up being about an hour late in meeting my little brother, Terence.
Who spared no time at all in expressing his shock at the amount of weight I gained since he left Singapore.

😥

Anyway, he brought Mark to his soulmate-ramen.

TA-DA! Behold the sacred Bario Ramen!
Many people asked why is there a “男” (boy/man/male) word in the ramen restaurant’s name. I honestly don’t have a definite answer – but my best guess is that because it is supposed to be some macho thing? It’s spicy, with super thick soup and thick noodles…

And you don’t place your orders inside. You put in your money into the vending machine where you press your orders and you get these little colour-coded tokens that you hand to the chef inside!

It is such a flawless and efficient money-handling system… It’s every accountant’s dream.
The restaurant could’ve given Mark (an accountant, plus his undying love for the ramen) an actual orgasm. If it were a woman, I would’ve been dumped.

Order Vending Machine

I loved how the Japanese are just so efficient with everything. Even when it came to eating, they just slurped and left.

We slurped, slurped, slurped and still slurped… About 3 rounds of people came and went, and we were still there! Bet many of them were all, “Bloody tourists.”

Bario Ramen

Incidentally, the ramen restaurant was in the Central Business District of Tokyo! So it was great to walk around in, with all the scintillating buildings. And despite it being a Sunday, I still saw many people in the business suits running about like it was a normal workday for them.

My heart ached for them.

Well anyway, Terence was quite excited about showing us the World Famous Tokyo Station! He claimed it was a building which you wouldn’t think was a train station.

And he was right! The old colonial building was so nicely refurbished and reused for the use of the bustling Tokyo Station. ⭐ Total aces in my book!

World Famous Tokyo Station

It was really long! I looked at it and thought wouldn’t it be great if Singapore’s Clarke Quay Station was built in the Old Hill Street Police Station (currently MICA)? It’ll be really gorgeous too! And we could have little shops in there and all that. ❤

And if you take the time to look properly at the buildings around, you will realise a lot of them are semi-colonial. 😉

Like this one right here! The base of the building is of a Western architecture and then the building was built upwards on it. The lovely blend of time present in the designs was a joy to look at!

The 3 of us didn’t really have any plans to do anything – our main plan was really just to satisfy Mark’s Bario ramen craving. So we decided to walk down to the Edo Castle (Tokyo Imperial Palace) for some tourist-y sightseeing!

Alas we went at non-visiting hours… So only pictures outside! 😀

Replying Whatsapp chats because I have a WiFi device! MUAHAHA.

And there was a statue of Samurai Kusunoki Masashige! He’s recorded to be a brave warrior that fought for the Emperor Go-Daigo against the Kamakura shogunate. He is remembered to be the ideal of samurai loyalty! *claps*

I’m not even loyal to a type of sushi. Impressed, impressed.

As the Sun was beginning to set, we decided that it was time to fill our tummies! 😀 So Terence whisked us away to Harajuku!

I was honestly very exhausted by then… But all the sights and nice people were enough to keep me going!
Plus the SHOPSSS!!! Oh, the shops. ❤ ❤ ❤

So apparently in Japan, the real expensive food is the desserts.

Terence recommended “Eggs ‘n Things”! And we were real lucky to only have to queue for about 10 minutes for a seat! 😀 Yay!

Great place with super cute ambience!

And my little brother who was never very willing to take pictures… But he obliged anyway. XD

And their restaurants have these little holders on the ground that let you put your bags! I simply LOVE it! You don’t need to be like an inconsiderate person and take up a whole chair just to put your bag – yet your bag doesn’t have to be placed on your lap or on the floor.

Mark had a beef omelette which was literally to die for. The egg was fluffy to a chronic level… And the meat inside was super tender, along with the sauce that fills your taste buds with delight.

Terence and I went for pancakes instead. And LOOK AT THAT TOWER OF CREAM!

…I finished it all. I was really full towards the end of it, but it tasted so fantastic – I ordered my stomach to make room.

It definitely wasn’t a cheap meal – but I’d say it was worth it! *thumbs up!*

And naturally I had to visit the washroom! Hehehe.

Notice that the women can use either washrooms, but the men can only use that one?

My favourite part – the buttons!

I LOVE how technology is all around to make life better us. ❤

Check out this mega vending machine!

We ended off the day with a stroll down Harajuku Street!

And I flounced inside the biggest Daiso! The entire building was filled with items all going for 108 yen each! ❤ ❤

Harajuku Station

And Terence brought us to this special Starbucks that was on a rooftop! It was quite a sight.

The entire place was so romantic, it wasn’t surprising to see many couples there. 😉

Rooftop chill out

Famous Shibuya Crossing

The famous statue of Hachiko – the movie that will make you cry like a baby.
Oh, I miss my own dog so much! *bawls* I would give anything to have him back to let him know I love him.

I’m such an emotional creature.

Hachiko!

Oh yes, another thing I learned about Japan – the electrical output from their plugs are different from Singapore’s. The amount of power discharged is significantly lesser… So while using the laptop, it won’t charge – it’ll just run on the power. And while using the laptop, you cannot use the same plug for anything else.

Charging our mobile phones were also relatively slow… So in main thing is – do not buy any electronics back to Singapore. With the power discharge from our plugs, they are bound to blow up.

And it was quickly our last night in Tokyo! 😦 I really wished we planned to stay longer!

Maybe next time. 😉
Nay. There will definitely be a next time. Hehe.

So before I went to sleep, I decided to write a note back to my dear host! He played a pivotal role in making our stay in Tokyo so wonderful.

Ah, yes. Many friends asked more about my Tokyo apartment! Click here for more details. 🙂
If the link doesn’t work, copy and paste this URL into your browser (http://www.homeaway.com.sg/vacation-rentals/japan/tokyo/shibuya/tm-5W72JZgXq2L).

Next up – Kyoto!!!

Till next time, peeps! 😉

XOXO, G.

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