Carla and I took a one-week trip to Tokyo. It was my sixth visit to Japan's capital, and it was my favorite so far. For the next few days, I'll be writing about recommended things to do there. See them all here.
After our refreshing visit to the hot springs, we took a short train ride back to the Kichijōji neighborhood of Tokyo.
Some of the train and subway stations have English on their maps, and some don't. It can be a bit of a challenge to get around, but the conductors speak English and are happy to answer questions. (The two photos below were taken at Yoyogi Station, not Kichijōji.)
It was early evening, and we wanted to have dinner at one of the dozens of little 8-seat bars in Harmonica Yokocho, a grid of alleys next to the train station. It was crowded with pedestrians (the alleys are too narrow for cars) and the stores had red lanterns to entice customers. The coziness and intimacy here was magical. Most of the seats in the bars were fully occupied, but we eventually walked by one that had two open seats. A worker saw us looking through the window and waved us in.
We sat down and could smell the delicious food that the guy behind the bar was cooking on an electric grill. He asked us in Japanese what we would like to drink, and we said cold sake. He filled a couple of glasses with crushed ice and poured sake from a large bottle. We asked for toriniku (chicken) and he went to work putting skewers of chicken on the grill. We ended up eating a lot of different kinds of chicken organ meats – gizzard, liver, heart – all new to me, but tasty and spiced to perfection. The bill for the both of us, including a lot of chicken and grilled mushrooms, onions, peppers, and sake, was about $20.
I'm sorry I didn't get the name of this place, but I'm sure you will have a good time sampling the different places at Harmonica Yokocho. If we had more time in Tokyo, we could have returned for the Harmonica Yokocho morning market on the third Sunday of every month.
Next, we walked around the fashionable shopping streets of Kichijōji. I've read that Kichijōji is one of the most desirable places to live in Tokyo. I could see why. It reminded me a bit of Montana Blvd in Santa Monica, or Abbot Kinney St in Venice, CA. The most interesting thing I saw there was this pet store, called P's-first, that was selling tiny dogs for over $5,000. The most expensive dog was $9,000. The store was packed. My favorite was this little white puppy. Does anyone know the breed?
After seeing the pets, we started to go back to the station to ride the train to our Airbnb, but we got waylaid by Flipper's (11:00am to 8:00pm), a place that sells fluffy soufflé pancakes (which are a thing in Japan). You can get a bunch of different toppings. We shared a plate of with whipped cream and berries. It was incredibly delicious – warm, light, slightly sweet. Perfect!
Tomorrow, I'll write about our most extreme day – a morning in the serene mountains and an evening in frantic Kabukichō!