16 May 2014
To begin our Tokyo experience, we rode the Sky train from Narita Airport into Tokyo and into, a suburb of, Ikebukuro to go to our Ryokan (Kimi Ryokan). We arrived into Narita Airport at a little before 4pm Japan time. We were through customs with no hiccups and on the Narita Express into Tokyo Station. The Express was a little expensive…but we really wanted to get into the city quickly and we were new to the train system. Or at least that’s my excuse, since I was the money manager and the navigator and the translator during the trip – not that I knew very much Japanese, but since I was the one carrying the money and knew where we were going, it was kind of a default. After settling in to our room and taking a shower/washing clothes in shower. Then we went out for food.

Kimi Ryokan, Ikebukuro, Tokyo Experience Japan
Kimi Ryokan, Ikebukuro, Tokyo Japan

Once settled at our Ryokan we were back out on the town to find food. We were hungry. After wandering around for about an hour we went back to the Ryokan and asked for any recommendations for food. They recommended going back to the train station as there are food malls with plenty of options, but after a long flight and being up super early to go¬†through TSA we did not feel like walking all the way back, so we settled for the closest decent looking restaurant. It happened to be Chinese…. Ma La Gong Fang…alrighty, so we looked at the menu which thankfully was a picture book. And made two selections a celery, peanut stir fry and one that looked like sweet and sour. The server told us “no” and then started talking in Japanese…”uhhh, why not?” was our response. After trying to figure out some English to stick a sentence together that would make some more sense to us, which didn’t work out very well, one of the other customers blurted out “chicken heads” to try and help the server and us out a little. “Well alright, we don’t really want to eat chicken heads on our first night in Japan” is what was running through our heads.

Ma La Gong Fang Chinese Restaurant in Tokyo Experience, Japan
Chinese Restaurant

We then asked for recommendations and ended up with a stir fry rice dish and some other things. Once the third plate arrived we were a little bit more confused by our food and how to eat it as they also provided a bowl of water with it. After tasting it was a sweet potato that had been caramelized in ginger which was still piping hot, so to make it cool enough to eat you had to dunk it into water and then eat, but first you had to pry it off the plate with your chopsticks. It was a decent meal and we even made friends with a couple of the other customers. Our fellow neighbors ordered us a traditional Chinese tea WANG LAO JI…oh, goodness, it was better then the sweetened chilled tea that you can buy in the US. Sharing the experience with the fellow restaurateurs was nice and even fun. It was a fabulous welcome to the country, even if it was on the basement floor of a Chinese restaurant.

Our initial Tokyo experience was exhausting and exhilarating, and no doubt to be followed by more amazing experiences.

Day 2’s adventures | Read other¬†Japan explorations here