Tokyo: Ichiran Ramen

November 27, 2014

Before I went to Japan, I was super picky about noodles. I only ate certain kinds of noodles and ignored everything else. I know, it's terrible but keep in mind that most noodles that I had here in Toronto was very inferior.

After sightseeing all morning in Tokyo, I was starving for lunch. My bf found this ramen shop..I forgot the name..sorry!

I was intimated to go in but he said that we should try it (he's more adventurous and definitely more Asian than me). We had to figure out how/what to order using the vending machine outside the restaurant door. It's actually a great idea that they have vending machines to purchase your food. You can order what you like and get additional items/side dishes and drinks. You just select what you want, pay and it prints out a ticket(s) to take inside the restaurant. We had to wait in line for a few minutes until a booth became free. We were seated side by side.
You just press a button to call the attendant. He/she will take your ticket and you have to fill out the form for your preference on what you want on your ramen. 

Everything that you need is in your booth..chopsticks, cups, spout for water, and tissues. My bf and I didn't realized until later on that we can open up the booth divider. 

It's so interesting that what you have in front of you is a bamboo blind that goes up and down when the attendant is serving you. I only saw our attendant's face once, the rest of the time I saw the middle of her body. 

The service is very efficient and quick. It's really good! and we ordered ours with extra noodle so we just used the buzzer to call our attendant and she had the extra noodles ready in a flash.

It's just a great concept. I would like to slurp my ramen in the privacy of my own booth if I'm eating alone.

I wish we had this near my office because I would eat there every single day!

P.S. since coming back from Japan, I have been hounding ramen restaurants more and more in Toronto. Sadly, I have yet to find a place that's comparable to ramen places in Japan, any tips? 

Tokyo: Meiji Jingū Shrine - Make a wish!

November 24, 2014

Inside the Meiji Shrine, you will find the wishing tree full of wooden blocks with written messages/wishes from people all over the world. It costs about $5 to purchase the wood blocks and you can write your own message or wishes.

Of course, I had to do it too. Here's hoping it will come true! 

Winter is coming..survival guide

November 22, 2014

Let's face it, winter can be cruel. In order to minimize the cruelty of winter, I put together a list of items that I use to make it more bearable.

The key to winter for me is to be prepared. You need to prepare every day and dress for the weather in order to be warm and comfortable.

1. Boots - can make or break you during winter. I suggest investing in a good quality boots that will last you a few years. I made a mistake before of always buying low quality boots and every year I would have to get a new one and I was never comfortable because I didn't have the full support I needed. Finally, I bought boots that are higher quality. It wasn't cheap but worth it. It's very warm, waterproof, and sturdy.

2. Coat(s) - this is also an investment piece. I don't know what took me so long to buy a down filled coat with a removable hood but it changed my life!! I was no longer freezing even if the wind chill was -30. The hood made a difference. It protected me from the wind.

3. Heat tech/thermal clothing - my friend from Japan sent me heat tech clothing from Uniqlo and it really made a difference. I love to use it for layering because it's so thin but amazingly warm. I have leggings, long sleeve shirts, socks, and a scarf - all heat tech to use during winter. I stocked up during my recent trip but I still feel like I also need more heat tech since winter is so brutal here in Canada.

4. Vitamins - it's very common to catch a cold and have deficiency during winter so to avoid that I take vitamins. It's usually vitamin C and D. And I throw in some Echinacea for good measures. Very popular right now for strengthening the immune system is oregano oil. I take it in drops with juice to cut the bitterness. It's disgusting but it works!

5. Vaseline - this has saved me from dry skin. You can put it on your face, dry lips, body, etc. and it keeps it moisturized. I never leave home without it during winter.

6. Accessories - i love buying a new scarf, hat, or gloves each's a fun way to change up your winter outfit without breaking the bank.

7. Tea/hot chocolate - i enjoy a cup of hot chocolate on a snowy day but my go to drink in the morning is tea. I have them in all flavours depending on my mood and what I want that day..I have green tea, rose hip, peppermint, and chamomile at home. I also pack a couple of bags at work instead of going out and buying it.

8. Red wine - this is the best part!

And if all else fails, book a plane ticket to a warm destination and say goodbye to winter! 

Tokyo: Meiji Jingū Shrine

November 20, 2014

The good thing about jetlag is waking up early and getting up to go sightseeing. If you don't get up, it doesn't count. 

I would count this as Day 1 of our trip because we finally saw daylight for the first time in Japan after arriving late the day before. 

It felt like Spring that day! We took the subway to Meiji Shrine without getting lost. The first thing I saw when I entered the sprawling grounds was the Torii. I loved the wooden gate. It's impressive! 

And after that, I saw the wall of sake (empty?) sake barrels and that was for me a dream because I've seen it all over instagram..haha. So of course, I had to take a picture of it and with it. 

Ok, back to the impressive Torii gates; it is a massive 40 foot high structure made of 1,500 year old cypress!

I loved walking around the grounds because it's surrounded by a park. It was so peaceful aside from a few tourists milling around. I felt zen right away. 

The details of the wooden buildings/architecture were just stunning. I really love wooden structures and I was quite enamoured by it. 

Most shrines are strict about not allowing photos inside. Signs/rules must be respected so take pictures outside instead. 

Hello Japan!

November 17, 2014

Where to begin?

I guess, I can start from the plane ride to Tokyo. We took a direct flight from Toronto to Tokyo via Air Canada. Almost 14 hours straight. And I got sick. It was a horrible experience. I blame it on the plane food and motion sickness. I threw up twice and I do think that planes should have thicker sick bags. I had to double bag mine after my first mishap. Gross. 

I was thankful for the lady sitting beside me because she was so understanding and even helped me by giving me paper towels soaked in cold water so I can put it on my neck and feel better. I love the generosity of strangers. It gives me a warm feeling that nice people still do exists after all.

I didn't eat much after that except for some plain crackers and ginger ale. I didn't have any appetite so when we landed in Narita I was hungry. I had to hold off on eating though because we had to take the Narita Express train to Tokyo and that took over an hour.

On the train, we bought some snacks and water to drink. I ended up just watching the night view outside.

We arrived in Shinjuku station confused and jet lagged. We didn't know which station to use to get to our hotel but we found an information desk and got it sorted out. Shinjuku station is ginormous! It's all busy and packed with people. The temperature inside was cranked up to warm and I was sweating inside. I don't know why it was so hot when the temperature outside wasn't even cold yet. I wanted to take my clothes off, lol.

It was a maze inside the station, trying to get to the subway line to our hotel. We had to walk a lot, take a lot of stairs/escalators just to get to our line. The subway map of tokyo looks like a spider. It's intimaditang to say the least. My bf is an expert in navigation so he took over and I just followed him.
We got to our hotel in one piece. We stayed in the Hatagaya area which is not far from Shinjuku but it was quieter. We loved it! It was quiet and full of little gems in our area.

After checking in and dropping off our bags at our hotel, we searched for food. On our walk to the hotel, I noticed a ramen restaurant 2 minutes from our hotel and I knew that's where I wanted to eat.

I don't know if I was just hungry (after not eating for 10 hours) or what but that was the best darn ramen I've ever tasted in my life. It was so good. So heartwarming. I was so happy! and yes I was starving so I ate everything including the rice and a few gyoza. It was Aaa-ma-zing!!! The name of the ramen restaurant is Hidakaya.You're welcome.

I still think about that meal. In fact, I have dreams about it.

Home is where my suitcase is..

November 12, 2014

My trip to Japan and South Korea was amazing!!! It was one of the BEST trips I've ever taken in my life (so far?). I fell madly in love with Japan (as predicted). Everything about my trip was amazing. But the very best part was spending time with my two best girlfriends in Japan and Korea. They spoiled us so much with their time and generosity. I can't thank them enough for showing me their home turf.

I cannot wait to share it with you all once I catch up on my sleep and get rid of my awful cold/sore throat. Just my luck that I got sick once I got back to Toronto.

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