First Morning in Tokyo

Connor stretches his legs at Noborito Station

Follow the adventure: The Tokyo Toddler

Our first morning in Tokyo dawned bright, warm and lovely. Last night’s wind and rain were a memory, a story to tell when we got home. We chatted briefly with our host, a young Japanese man who works both in business consulting and as a musician. We also chatted with our fellow couchsurfer, a Frenchman who’d spent the past few weeks in Japan and was now leaving for Malaysia.

After cleaning up and getting our bearings, it was time to get out in the sunshine and start feeling our way around this slice of Tokyo.

Taste of home? Freshness Burger is a chain of “burger cafes” in Japan. We have it on good authority from a Yank expat that it’s good, “especially if you wants to remember what a hamburger is like.” We haven’t tried it yet, but we shall see…

Only a few hundred yards down the area’s main street, we wandered past various shops. People went by on foot, in cars, on bicycles and on mopeds. This wasn’t a touristy part of town; it was simply a place where people got on with their lives. We enjoy seeing the sights just like any other traveler, but we also like glimpses into people’s day-to-day lives. After all, when you get down to it, most people are more similar than different. They want to get through today better than they got through yesterday. They have dreams and disappointments. They have work to do and homes and families to take care of. No matter where we go, we always like just being in and about different neighborhoods to get that feel of the pace of life.

I have no idea what these places are, but don’t they look interesting?

In this area, men in suits rode bicycles to a huge parking lot where the sun glinted off thousands of chrome handlebars. Then they would dash off to the train station to head into central Tokyo. Children in school uniforms walked by, carrying bookbags or instrument cases (quite a few of which were violins, Jodie noted with not a little satisfaction).

Coffee and baked yumminess

It turns out that Noborito Station is really easy to find from where we were staying. Not only that, when it’s not raining sideways the station’s top platform makes both for great people-watching and a great place to have a relaxing breakfast. Since so many people use the trains to get around day to day, the train station had a supermarket, a noodle shop and a bakery.

Various friends had told us that the Japanese have amazing bakeries, a claim we of course had to test.

Wee pubs and eateries, like this ground floor place with the brown doors, are all over the place.

The coffee was rich, complex and perfectly roasted. The baked goods were tasty and satisfying, yet light on the palate. And not too sweet, either. There was sweetness, but where many American pastries go over the top on the sugar, these Japanese pastries brought out more flavors along with the sweet. Though these balanced flavors have a downside—they’re so fun to eat, so tasty, that you want to get about five times more than you normally would. But hey, we’re walking everywhere, right?

Noborito Station’s grandmotherly cleaning ladies quickly grew fond of Connor.

We ate in the sun and talked about the craziness of the night before. We also talked about the day to come: later in the afternoon, after lunch, we were meeting a friend of a friend. She was Japanese, and was going to show us around some of Tokyo.

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