We landed into Tokyo around 5pm on Saturday, eyes wide open, eager to start taking in Japan. We were not disappointed and as we landed in Narita airport we were immediately aware of just why this culture and people are lauded for their efficiency. Everything was clean, and we got through security in about 20 minutes total. Though it can be overwhelming with all the Japanese signs, there are clearly labelled English directions everywhere you go.
We easily navigated our way to the Narita Express (there are other ways of getting into the city but this is the fastest, not the cheapest though, it was about £17 per person one way) The airport is about an hour outside of Tokyo and the Narita Express took us through the industrial looking suburbs and then on to the ancient capital of the land of the rising sun!
We had booked an Airbnb, as prices were cheaper than a hotel room. Our accommodation was located in Shin Okubo; about 15 minutes’ walk to Shinjuku station, and as I later found out is Tokyo’s Koreatown! Just one stop away from Shinjuku, it was a lively neighbourhood, yet the apartment itself was very quiet
Door to door from the airport to our apartment was about 1.5 hours which I find amazing. We quickly dropped off our stuff, chucked our clothes in the washing machine (one of the benefits of using an Airbnb) and headed out towards Golden Gai, intending to walk through Shinjuku.
I would describe our accomodation as clean and compact but this is to be expected in one of the densest and most expensive (per square meter) places to live in the world.. The recycling facilities in apartment blocks here are also at a different level to what we have back home – we could learn a lot.
The Golden Gai is a historic network of tiny alleyways, all stuffed with bars and places to enjoy a quick snack, chat and/or drink. Most of the places are tiny, about 6 seats in total for some of them, and a lot charge a cover charge but if you look closely, there are quite a few that speak English and do no cover charge.
We didn’t stay too long, as our long flight had started to catch up with us and we were getting tired and hungry.
We were looking for a ramen place, but realised that as we were walking back to Shin Okubo, that we were actually walking AWAY from all the ramen. Before long we were back in Koreatown and the Korean BBQ places and KFC (Korean Fried Chicken) the smells of fried and charcoal grilled meat wafted through the busy lit streets and we noticed the amount of queues there were. Queueing is a normal part of Japanese eating culture, especially for the good places! Finally, we settled on a Korean Fried Chicken place literally a stone’s throw from our apartment (with that comfy bed!)
We ordered a small selection of friend chicken, which was amazingly crisp and flavourful, and washed it down with a bottle of refreshing Soju.
Bae likes to get creative with his facial expressions when he is really enjoying food.
They even give you gloves to wear so you can eat with your fried chicken properly without getting messy fingers!