DAYS 3 – 5: GOOD DAYS IN SHINJUKU

Our days in Akihabara were intense but short. For the following eleven days we had booked an apartment in Shinjuku, close to the Gyoen Park. This part of Shinjuku is a little bit quieter and not as crowded as the streets surrounding the station.

On our first night we met an old friend of us, who we had last seen 8 years ago. Time goes by so quickly…. We had some beers in a pub in Shibuya and then he took us across the famous crossing to a sushi place, where you order the sushi via iPad and after a few minutes it’s delivered to you automatically. We had heard about this place in a blog and were happy to see it. After some Umesho and more beer we had to say goodbye, hoping the next time seeing each other wouldn’t be in 8 years. On our way back home we saw our first sakura–cherry blossom.

So the next day we decided to go to the Gyoen Park and find out if more cherry trees were already blooming. There’s a cherry blossom calendar on the web which shows when the blooming is about to start and when full bloom is accomplished. We were a little too early, only a few trees and beautiful Magnolias were blooming, but the rest of the park was still sleeping. Never the less it was beautiful. A japanese garden, an english garden and a french garden can be found and it was tranquil in the whole area. In some places you can’t see the city’s skyscrapers and so it seems you’re in real nature. After we left the park and had a long walk around it, we found a restaurant which wasn’t as good as expected. Almost every food we had so far was great, but sometimes it’s not. And so we were happy that we had booked a cooking class for the next day and forget last nights dinner.

The cooking class was extraordinary. We met our host Yukari and the other “students” at the Shimo-Kitazawa Station. Though it’s not far from Shibuya, this part of Tokyo seemed almost rural. Small houses, narrow streets, only local people. And it was quiet. We loved it and even more the supermarket where Yukari took us. She bought all ingredients for our cooking course and explained nearly every item in the supermarket. There were so many things we had never seen before and were truly fascinated. I tried to resist not to buy anything but couldn’t avoid it. It all looked too delicious. Afterwards we took the train to Yukaris home where her cooking studio was. We were seven people from all around the world: Two Dutch, two from Singapore, one from the US (his parents were Korean) and the two of us. And none of us had ever cooked Japanese before. Yukari started by telling us the basics like how to hold a knife properly and how to cut. Through the whole lesson, she didn’t stop telling us new things and we learned a lot. The menu we prepared together consisted of a big sushi roll, a typical salad (some kind of oozy radish), a miso soup with clams (Yukari had made the miso paste herself!!) and Daifuku (mochi with red bean paste filling) with a strawberry. This was accompanied by two kinds of green tea and sake. All the parts of the menu are typical Japanese dishes and things like the miso paste are a base of the Japanese cuisine. In the end we were given the menu on paper so we can’t forget what we had learned. This class was a real good experience and the group was great. But especially our host was fantastic and we definitively can recommend this experience.

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