I was standing again at train platform, in Shibuya Station, in Yamanote Line, on 3:48 p.m. The sun had retreated on city skyline and made the temperature degraded to a point of 3 Celsius Degree. Then the air which was nearing to freezing easily penetrated thick black gloves on my palms. But it would be a shameful precedent if I had to give up and chose to curling up in Yadoya Guesthouse bunk bed.
I had already prepared myself to explore Taitō Special City District. Twelve kilometers northeast of Shibuya Special District, thirty minutes away in distance.
Ameya Yokocho was the main reason for my stop over to Ueno Station. It was a one-stop shop, cheap and all discounted. It was said that if wanted to get a cheap dinner, so travelers flocked to that ex-black market which had existed since World War II.
I arrived at Ueno Station exactly on 5:35 pm. Taking Hirokoji Exit, the largest exit in south of station building. This exit has a large courtyard and directly faces Chuo-dori Avenue, opposite Ueno Marui Department Store (OIOI), a famous fashion center with nine-story in Taitō Special City District.
Darkness began to acquire the day when I started my steps towards Ameya Yokocho. More simply called Ameyoko or Ameyoko Market. I hadn’t yet imagined that this market was already starting to get crowded and smell of food was spreading. Made my stomach growl along the way.
I walked down the road under train overpass, heading south. The market distance is about two hundred meters, only five minutes from Hirokoji Exit.
I arrived at a t-junction which in a street stood Ameyoko Market gate. I faced two other streets in t-junction, both of which were part of market lane. But I thought wrong. It wasn’t sweet smell of food which I smelled, but rather fishy smell of sea fishes which firstly pierced deep into my nose. Of course I ignored it because my attention was drawn to the crowd over there.
Not unexpectedly, there would be a number of typical Turkish restaurants and several kebab outlets there. I thought it won’t be difficult to find halal food for Muslim travelers here. Meanwhile, along the next street, several outlets selling marine fish were interspersed with fashion outlets, souvenirs, minimarkets, sport equipment and various other outlets.
I didn’t think that I would prepare some budget to buy anything which was traded in this market, except for dinner. I kept combing every inch of Ameyoko Market until I was finally attracted to an image of a bowl of chicken ramen. Not about contents in the bowl, but the price listed below, it was just 399 Yen.
I didn’t understand about a menu name, but I had a strategy. I took my smartphone and took the picture. I rushed into the restaurant. I started to look around, the table design was elongated and circular in an oval in the middle with several tables on each side of wall which were already filled with local residents. They were so noisy in sipping noodles in their bowl. I went to the waitress and showed a picture on my smartphone. Then that waiter shouted into kitchen while mentioning the name of a menu which I showed then she pointed at an empty seat. I see, that was my dining table. I sat at a table against the wall and waited for the menu to be served.
Meanwhile, I started pouring a pitcher of water with ice cubes in it. I continued to pay attention to visitors behaviour in restaurant. Once they entered the room, they would remove their jackets on a hanger in the corner of room, then sat at dining table, ordered and quickly ate their food. Everything was in regularity.
Soon the waiter served a menu I ordered and I started to eating it. According to a reference I had read, Japanese people will slurp the noodles they order with a sound enough to be heard to showing that the noodles are delicious and as a respect gesture for the chef. So I had the same scene even though it was a bit of a hassle and made my noodle soup splattered onto the dining table. That wasn’t enough to embarrass me, because a water pitcher on my table was completely ran out, I didn’t know how many times I poured it in my small glass. A maidservant who had been watching me for a while covered her smile with her hand while intermittently whispering to other maidservants. She certainly knew that I was a traveler with have a different skin from japanese.
As a result, I paid for the food with a big smile on her, because she never closed his smile when she looked at me.
I finished dinner on 5:45 p.m., and hurried out from Taitō Special City District.