I'm on my longest trip to Tokyo yet. I moved here! They granted me a one year visa, and I've been here for twelve days now. I still can't believe it. My dream for many years has finally come true.
I left Los Angeles before Thanksgiving to spend time with my family in Ohio; and there are as many ramen shops in Cleveland as there are big asses in Tokyo, which is why you haven't heard from me in a while. After a three-day delay due to the worst winter weather in 20 years (it was negative 12˚F the day I was supposed to fly out), I finally lifted off American soil. 13.5 hours later, I was at Narita and immigration was a little bit different this time around -- instead of the usual 90-day visa, I had this nice little present.
Unfortunately, my name was already too long to add "Ramen Shaman" to it.
What's the first thing I did when I got into Tokyo? Bunsuke.
If you find yourself in Asakusa you've got to hit up Bunsuke, a superb Jiro-style ramen right next to the Sumida river. Check out my review from last year for more info. It was massive and garlicky with hearty, thick noodles, a mound of cabbage and bean sprouts, and huge slabs of chashu on top. Yes, you can customize the amount of toppings. I can't think of a better bowl to break my over month-long ramen fast -- this is probably what they serve in heaven... or hell, depending on your preference.
Since then I've had ramen probably every other day (I'm trying to be reasonable). I hit up some of my all time favorites, like:
The miso ramen supreme at Kururi:
The original monster ramen at Jiro:
Akita, still the best shoyu ramen I've ever had:
Plus a few newbies that I'll be writing about.
Moving to a new country is fun! There's a lot of pain-in-the-ass stuff to take care of, like registering for health insurance and going to class during the day (just kidding, that's fun too!). That and I had a horrible time getting my iPhone unlocked and set up with a Japanese SIM card (let's just say I won't be going back to AT&T when I move back to the USA).
But most of it is great. I set up my room, did some decorating, bought some clothes, met all my new housemates, met my classmates, caught up with old friends from past trips here, drank a TON of beer, quit my job (!!!) and completed three massive quests this past week:
1. Buy a guitar
Accomplished at Shimokura in Ochanomizu, the Tokyo guitar mecca.
2. Buy a bike
Accomplished at the Suginami Green Recycle lot, where old dudes volunteer to fix up abandoned bikes and sell them at super cheap prices.
3. Buy new underwear
By my calculations I should have a girlfriend in a matter of hours.
Joking aside, if you have even the faintest desire to live abroad before you die, and especially if you have a specific country in mind that you just love, DO IT. Find a way. My story isn't any more special than yours, I just made it happen and I haven't looked back yet.
2014 is the year of the Shaman.
2 Chome-15-6 Hanakawado
Taito, Tokyo 111-0033
3-2 Ichigaya Tamachi
T: +81 (0) 3 3269 0801
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Koenji 3-70-1 Koenji Street 2 Avenue B1F