Thursday, May 17, 2012

It's Good to be Home - Ogikubo, Tokyo

It's good to be home. I've lived in Ogikubo, on and off (mostly off, rather than on) since I was 8 years old. My dog, Ogi Kubo, is named after this area on the western edge of Tokyo. And, although my last name is Kubo, my family has nothing to do with the name of this area, Ogikubo! Just a coincidence, I guess.

For entirely opposite reasons than why I love Alabama (post on the most relaxing place on earth), I also love Ogikubo because everything is accessible within 5 minutes of the house - major train station, huge retail center, small quaint side streets with restaurants, bars, entertainment - basically, everything that you will ever need and the point where my dad rarely ventures out past the train station to go anywhere else. If we wanted to go elsewhere in Tokyo, it only takes about 20 minutes to get to Shinjuku - the city center - by train.

Ogikubo residential neighborhood where house is.

Why should anyone visit Ogikubo? Well, good question. It's really not a tourist destination. Just a great place to live. However, Ogikubo is known for its place in ramen history, as this is the birthplace of Tokyo style ramen. (Don't think instant ramen. The art of making ramen noodles and broth in Japan is equivalent to the art of barbecue in the States. Every region has its distinct style and broth, and no two are alike. There are ramen fanatics and books written about ramen, but more on that later.) A visit to Haruki-ya Ramen would be a worthwhile trek. Ogikubo also has an Anime Museum, for you Japanese comic/animation enthusiasts. Other than that, it's my Japan hometown, and that's why I love it.

Our futon beds in tatami mat in downstairs bedroom.

Supper at home: last night we made Japanese curry with rice, green salad, and bought fresh maguro (tuna) sashimi at the fish market.

My dad welcomed us with a nice green tea ceremony at home. Using matcha (powdered green tea), the tea and hot water is beaten to a froth with a bamboo frother in special matcha stoneware. Japanese sweets (youkan = red bean paste dessert) complement the tea nicely.

Beautifully displayed fruit at the supermarket...

More grocery store finds:
At Seven-Eleven convenience stores
Various seafood
More groceries...
...and more seafood, wagyu beef, fruits and veggies