More photos of Ueno and Ameyokocho on that hot October afternoon a few weeks ago! This place really is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Tokyo, both for domestic and foreign visitors to Tokyo. The shopping is in my opinion second to none in Tokyo, both in terms of prices and in variation. There’s a huge variety of shops and many little arcades and malls nestled among the restaurants and hidden under the train tracks. This is also where quite a few different genres of subcultures converge for their shopping needs, as you will see anyone from sports team freaks to old men trying out golf jackets to rockabilly boys, punks, skaters, vintage military gear lovers and many more. The area is right between Ueno and Akihabara which means that you could easily spend a couple of days slowly browsing your way from one end of to the other. The first photo is of one of the three different tourist bus lines heading out from Ueno station and covering the area, a great way to see the city if you are a tired of walking around. The bus is called Megurin.
It is the last day of October and the word most suited to describe this month would probably be “hot”. We had the highest October temperature ever recorded in Tokyo, earlier in the month, and I am still rolling up my shirt sleeves when stepping outside. On one of those really hot days, as the sun was setting, I took a quickie walking photo tour of the colorful Ueno/Ameyokocho area. Starting from in front of Ueno JR Station, the shopping streets here are full of shops, street stalls, restaurants, hotels, cafes and even the odd house of ill repute. The third and second photo from the end should be of special interest to the casual tourist, as it shows one of the restaurants of the biggest tempura chain in Japan, Tendon Tenya. Apart from cheap and good tempura it also serves soba and udon, and it is a cost effective way of experiencing these three Japanese specialities. The portions are larger than the average Japanese fast food restaurant’s as well. You can see their mouth watering official web site here. They also have a shop in Bangkok if you want to try Japanese food in Thailand.
If you are looking for something out of the ordinary when it comes to restaurants in central Tokyo, I can wholeheartedly recommend 246COMMON in Omotesando, very close to Omotesando subway station. According to their website, it is a collective of cafes, restaurants, designers and makers who have gotten together in an unusual mix of entrepreneurs, chain stores and big corporations to create a rather wild open air food court in the middle of the most fashionable place on Earth. I have been in this spot hundreds of times as it has put to various uses over the years, the land itself probably the victim of the burst property bubble in the early nineties, I have seen it used as everything from a gallery spot to a car park to a farmers market. You might remember the post I did on the Hakushu Whiskey the other day, that cafe is at the far end of this spot. It gets buys later at night but it is by no means really discovered yet, so if you are in the area for lunch, dinner or drinks this summer, I really recommend heading over to try it out, There’s also a few stores selling handicrafts, and who wouldn’t want to buy handmade shoes while eating a vegetable burger and sipping champagne? I wish more of the urban blight areas in our cities could be put to instant creative use in this manner!
As a continuation of yesterday’s post, here’s more snapshots of the performance at the Awaodori Restaurant in Nishi Ginza, my new favorite izakaya here in Tokyo! The teams responsible for the two nightly shows are rotated member teams from the Koenji Awaodori association (and sometimes unaffiliated teams as well, I hear), the most influential awaodori team association in Tokyo. When I visited, it was the Edo Kabukiren doing a great performance with some of their best dancers and musicians. As part of the show visitors are also encouraged to join in the dance – the basic movements are very simple and takes about 30 seconds to learn – and several diners took the chance to really give their best! A handsome and very uncommonly bearded father did a great job (as did his entire family, including his very enthusiastic son), as well as some of the better looking attending business men in the audience. A couple of foreigner did their best as well, as one of them even landed the participation price that is handed out to a couple of the audience dancers. Naturally, I was busy with my camera, and besides, if I ever joined a team it wouldn’t be as a dancer! Really, I can’t recommend this restaurant enough. Great food, great service, great location (right in the middle of Yurakucho, Shimbashi and Ginza stations, about as central as you can get), great entertainment and decent prices. You simply must go!