Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Walking from Kamiyacho to Ginza, to Dover Street Market, and contemplating a 105 yen bowl of udon noodles in Tokyo



It was one of those days when too many things happened, in Tokyo, living a never-endingly eventful Travelife.

Gifted with a spare morning and a day that was neither hot nor rainy, I decided to take a walk from the Tokyo American Club in Kamiyacho to Ginza.

It's not really a terribly long distance, but I don't know anyone who walks from Kamiyacho to Ginza -- and so I was quite proud of myself.

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CHANGES IN MY OLD CITY

I wanted to walk, just to see the changes taking place in the only city I've really known for most of my adult life.

Until about four years ago, you see, this was home. And then it was time to move on.

I found 3 famous French chocolatiers in a row in Ginza.
This is the one that's been around the longest.


This Provencal chocolatier just opened recently next to it.

This is the 3rd shop in the row.
How does anyone ever choose between these 3?
I couldn't, so I ended up not going to any instead.


Since then, I've been back to Tokyo countless times, but never for long enough to contemplate such a walk like this.

What I found was a city that was curiously so much just as I had left it -- in spite of all this 21st century hype.

And at the same time, it was different.

OLD AND NEW STILL CO-EXIST



What hadn't changed? You might be asking.

I still found neighborhood shrines and little temples nestled amidst tall glass buildings, and so many holes-in-the-walls that wafted tempting aromas as I passed.

Interestingly, a glance at the shop windows told me in a flash that prices had risen across the board in Tokyo since I had lived here.

Everything was more expensive than I had left it, even if the newspapers in Japan over the weekend were full of news about how Japanese employees are spending much less than they used to.





LESS SPENDING POWER

In 20 years, the disposable income of the average employee in Japan has halved to about 35,000 yen a month, and many people reportedly budget just over 500 yen for a meal.

Yet, in that one-hour walk between Kamiyacho and Ginza, I couldn't find a meal for 500 yen.

The average meal was about 1,250 yen, and I'm not talking about anything fancy.


THE 105 YEN UDON



Except in one place.

An udon restaurant under the tracks of Yurakucho that had a line snaking down a block. "Udon from 105 yen," read large signs at the entrance, and that comes up to about 45 pesos for a bowl.

That's the ultimate basic bowl, I suppose, with prices rising depending on if you want onions, eggs, or chicken in it.

For a minute, I was tempted to try it, just to see what a 105 yen bowl of noodles actually tasted like. I've had cheap noodles before, of course, but never for this price.

But the line was just too long, and some pretty irresistible sales awaited me in Ginza, on just another interesting morning in my never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.





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