We arrived at Yurakocho by JR Yamanote Line. Past the modern train station, this neighbourhood has a laid back feel. A stretch of restaurants had been established under the Yamanote railway track, “gadoshita”. It is pedestrian only street at this time. The eateries mostly appeared to be “izakaya”, pub like or “yakitori” establishments. These are like cafes’ offering a range of snack food along with beer and other beverages. Low tables filled with steaming food extended onto the road as diners tucked in meals whilst seatted on low chairs. Red lanterns, “akachochin” hung at the entrances and the interior warm, cosy and welcoming.
“….my impression of Japan, the food was always delicious and always well- presented and all the dishes I had eaten so far had satisfied that” – Navindd
In these establishments, language is a challenge but most are obliging. The patrons were mainly salary man – average office workers, some in suits and ties. This was our first “izakaya” experience. As usual, a big welcome from the staff. Thsi place had ambiance. A kitchen staff delighted the small crowd with a Japanese musical instrument. A few guys at the counter table joined in. The atmosphere turned light and jovial. Like every other place we had dined, food was good – chicken yakitori, stir fried bitter gourd, steamed tofu with a sweet sour sauce and delightful vegetable and fruit pickles. All this downed with sweet plum sake.
One of the interesting experiences here is to take efforts to communicate – either by sign language, verbal, pictorial or the take the brave step and point out at other patron’s meals. The rapport in moments like this is jovial and the mood light. Seeing the expression, of being misunderstood yet wanting to please, on their faces was wonderful – the human connection in every travel experience. Anyway, we did get what we ordered and that in itself is testimony of that ‘lost in translation’ effort works. Well at least this time.
Yurakocho, located between Maraunochi and Ginza districts is also a great shopping district. This is evident just around the train station. The night was still young and locals shopped and eat leisurely. The night was cool, pleasant and bustling. This part of town was distant from the modernity of the Tokyo Station. This is a living museum piece of old Japan. It is also ideally located on the main rail line and attracted mainly the average office workers after work. Yurakocho Station was buzzing with activities. We liked this unhurried old world charm but vibrant atmosphere.
“….get some rest that we all needed after a full on first day in Japan” – Navindd