Tokyo, continued

Another perfect day in Tokyo.. Hiked up Mount Takao, temples temples, stopped for the local specialty – soba noodles and roasted duck in cold broth, went to a Japanese hot spring onsen, and ended the day with the best sushi I’ve ever had.

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MY PRECIOUS. These shoes…I giggle every time I look downwards. They had awesome reviews and ended up being ridiculously comfortable; I’m willing to overlook the fact that I look like a fourth grader in the 90’s. All I need is a Lisa Frank pencil pouch…
Jokes aside, I am so glad I brought these along. Safe to say, they made my two hours stair-mastering up Mt. Takao (see below) that much more bearable.

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Sometimes there were stairs…

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Most of the time, there weren’t. Abel, you were absolutely correct. Unintentional leg day on vacation, I cannot feel my kundi as I sit here typing this.

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About a third of the way up!

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The last stretch was killer. Straight stairs for about 30 minutes. I had to stop and motivate my asthmatic bum self off to the side every twenty steps or so. HUGE kudos to the Japanese appachens (grandpas) running past me while I was hacking up a lung in the corner.

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So worth it though. Mt.Takao, you took my breath away (in every way possible -_-)

There were several temples and food stands on the way down..

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Was a little excited, so naturally, I forgot to take a picture before I ate the sesame dumplings.. Noticing a pattern? The bite-sized balls of yumminess were similar to the sesame seed buns found in dim sum, but instead of a steamed texture, these had a crunchy exterior that gave way to a more molten filling. (No competition to the salted egg yolk custard buns from BK Bistro though.)

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These looked like irises, can’t be certain. Pretty to see dotting the path downward.

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Special ladles to wash your hands and face with blessed water.

I finally got to the bottom and it was lunch time! I was told that soba noodles were a specialty native to the Takao region, so decided to find a soba restaurant nearby.

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Bingo, lovely interior.

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Very unlike anything I’ve had before, but I think I enjoyed the soba noodles more than I did the ramen from the prior night -and that was some delicious ramen.-The broth was surprisingly not heated, yet still had great depth to it. Something something umami. The soba noodles were nuttier than your typical all purpose flour noodle; I suspect that’s due to the buckwheat. I love my noodles al dente and chewy, and these were just that. In the adjacent bowls, there were vegetable pieces similar to asparagus, mushrooms, slices of roasted duck, green onions, and grated yam. I dumped everything together (doubt that’s the proper way to eat it) along with some shredded seaweed, togarashi seasoning, and a touch of soy sauce. Couldn’t have asked for a better post-hike meal!

Another attraction the Mt. Takao region is known for, is its ‘onsen,’ or natural hot spring baths. This specific spa experience was sourced from ‘Keio Takaosan Onsen.’ There are some pretty strict rules for entering the onsen (see below.) Glad to not be a gangster! The spa is segregated by gender, and each section have five or six different pool and massage options that are included under a blanket admission fee.The experience was quite lovely after the awkwardness of everyone being stark naked had subsided. The word ‘freeing’ comes to mind. My muscles (or lack thereof) were as happy as can be after the spa experience. #treatyoself

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The exterior (no photography allowed inside)

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No gangster relations…will you make the cut?!?

Headed back to central Tokyo with no set itinerary. Ended up wandering around the Imperial Palace, and finally settled down in the garden with my Kindle. (thank you Donna for the recommendations!)

Circled back around to Tsukiji market for dinner. Was craving sushi (big surprise) and boy, did Sushizanmai deliver!

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Got seated at the sushi bar, it was fun watching the chefs pull everything together in minutes.

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Winner winner, so much better than a chicken dinner. I think this was meant for two people.. Safe to say it was a jasmine-sized portion. Need I say more?

Ran into the end of the Santa festival on my way back. Very enthused!

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The Sensō-ji temple area came alive during the evening due to the ongoing festivities.

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Special thanks to K’s House Oasis; I couldn’t have asked for a better first-time hostel experience. 

Tokyo, it’s goodbye for now; I will be back! The Sakura cherry blossoms are still on my bucket list..

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