After a morning full of new and exhilarating experiences, we felt ready for any adventure. When we decide to stop for lunch, we choose Ebisu off the subway map completely at random.
Every turn we’ve taken in Tokyo was toward something new and interesting, so how could we choose wrong?
It turns out there are some turns you shouldn’t take, even in Tokyo.
If the train station is any indication, finding food shouldn’t be difficult at all here in Ebisu. The station is practically a mall with several floors of shops and restaurants.
But you don’t get to know a city by staying in the train station. You have to walk the streets, breath the air, and most importantly, eat the food if you want to really get down with a town.
With that, we leave the safety of the train station behind to explore greater Ebisu, certain that we will find something unique and tasty to eat.
You Will Wander
Explorer’s Rule #3: If you are looking for something, you definitely will not find it.
The area around the station is not exactly bustling with activity, but it’s not dead either. Nonetheless, there are surprisingly few eateries nearby. Though the day is still young, the restaurants that we do encounter are closed. Perhaps you need to get further away from the station to find life here in Ebisu?
We walk on and urban structures quickly give way to houses and small apartments. Now fully surrounded by suburbia, finding a place to eat is looking more and more unlikely.
The lack of commercial niceties is one thing, but it’s the silence that makes Ebisu really feel like a ghost town. The further from the train station we walk, the quieter it seems to get.
Our impromptu stop in Ebisu is looking like it might have been a mistake.
Oasis or Illusion?
About an hour and 3 miles of walking since leaving the station, we spot some signs of life on the horizon. Sure enough, we soon arrive at a small strip of shops and restaurants– an island in a sea of one and two story houses.
Fortunately, some of the restaurants are open here.
Salvation comes in the form of a piping hot bowl of ramen and a side of gyoza courtesy of Marukin Ramen. I’m not usually the biggest fan of noodles in broth, but the ramen here is hearty and satisfying.
A New World
Sufficiently recharged by a hot meal and a chance to rest our weary feet, we leave Marukin Ramen with a newfound outlook on Ebisu.
Sure, Ebisu is deathly quiet and virtually devoid of people, but there are pockets of life here. When you find one, you must embrace it.
We eventually come across a couple more pockets of life in Ebisu before arriving back at the train station. Each one is unique in its own right.
For example, there was the French Quarter— a few blocks of French shops, restaurants, and even a gathering place for French-Japanese cultural exchange.
Ebisu may not be bustling with activity and overflowing with people like some of Tokyo’s other wards (cough, Ikebukuro, cough), but if you’re willing to look a bit deeper (and you’re not too hungry), you might just enjoy getting lost in Ebisu.
5 Days in Tokyo
- Otsuka — Tucked between Tokyo’s hot spots is a place where golden hour never ends.
- A Different View of Harajuku — We discover that serenity is surprisingly easy to find in Harajuku.
- Lost in Ebisu — A random stop in Tokyo turns out to be more than we bargained for.
- Old Town Akihabara — Pass under the bridge to a different side of Tokyo’s futuristic district.
- Ginza to Tsukiji — A search for fresh fish leads to a surprising discovery about Tokyo’s Ginza district.
- Lunch at Tsukiji Fish Market — This is where you go to get the freshest fish in Tokyo.
- The Solitary Soldier — Sunset at Japan’s Imperial Palace.
- Finding Peace in Hibiya Park — A small pocket of peace amidst Tokyo’s never-ending activity.
- Cats of Hibiya Park — Hanging out with some furry friends.
- Saturday in Ikebukuro — Ikebukuro. Weekend. It’s over.
- Okachimachi Crunchy — Walking down Tokyo’s multifaceted shopping boulevard.
- Hidden Yanaka — Frozen in time.