Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Travel: Japan 2017 Day 2 // Walk: Shin Yokohama Ramen Museum; Enoshima Island // Stay: Iwamotoro Honkan Enoshima

07 December 2017

Today we checked out of Hilton Odaiba and headed to Shin-Yokohama - about 1 hour train trip. We also asked the bell-desk to organize our larger suitcases to be sent to the hotel we would be staying at on 9 December because we planned to do some lengthy trips and lugging suitcases on trains was not ideal.
If you stayed at hotels, it would be very easy to organize this luggage deliveries as they would do the hard work for you (filling the forms and organizing the pick ups). But it's not impossible to organize it yourself if you stayed at other unmanned locations (such as apartments), just a bit harder if you can hardly speak Japanese (like me. Haha. My Japanese is very limited).
And this trip was a short one, I didn't want to waste anytime organizing and waiting for luggage pick ups & deliveries, so hotels were the best option for me.

*When travelling in Japan, I recommend to either look up your intended destination's train schedules on hyperdia OR download a free train schedule app on your smartphone. On Android, I used JapanTransit-Planer and JapanTravel. It will save you a lot of confusion. The apps also dictates which platform you will disembark at and which you will need to transfer at. Saves so much time.*

Getting our Pasmo Card for public transport travels
Random - but how cute are these donuts from a Krispy Kreme shop located at the food hall at Shin-Yokohama Station

From Shin-Yokohama station it was about 10 minutes walk to the Ramen Museum - our intended spot for ramen fiesta.

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Entry fee ticket is 310 Yen per person. Loved the ticket with the maneki neko with its own ramen bowl picture <3

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Upon entry there's a front desk as well as small souvenir shop where you can buy take away ramen packs or design your own ramen.

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Rows of magazines dedicated to or reviewing ramen on the walls

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Christmas is in the air

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Make your own ramen kit
When we arrived, there were a couple of ladies doing some surveys. We were asked to fill in a questionnaire and for our (almost non-existent) effort and time, we were given some souvenirs - mini nigiri sushi variety figurines. Nothing fancy, but cute nevertheless.

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The main attraction of the Ramen Museum, however, is found downstairs. The setting of the place is absolutely pretty - old town style. Apparently it is based on a town in Tokyo called Shitamachi. Spanning over two levels, you could find various shops specializing in unique ramens famous throughout Japan.
For more info to current shops, do check out the website.

With fake sky for the high ceilings, and the shops & fake buildings styled as if you were transported to the old era.

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You'd probably be very wary walking through dark & dingy alleyways like this in reality. However here, it's part of the charm and I loved it.

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There's a small shop as well selling various items - mainly candies and old-time toys.

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The details they put in this make-believe town are incredible. Complete from neon lights for supposedly-bars, to public bath/onsen (of course, there's no real onsen), and women's lingerie hung on balconies (to illustrate the nightlife of this old town).

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And what about this old vending machine. <3

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There were 9 shops operating when we came. They are listed below (English detail can be found on the website and on the brochures they would give upon entry).

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Ordering ramen here is quite easy - you just have to make your choice at the vending machine that would be located at the front of every shop.
You HAVE to order at least one ramen per person (you are not allowed to share one bowl of ramen only). This makes it a bit tricky as I am telling you - their normal regular portions are HUGE.
Luckily, the shops provide small/mini versions of their signature ramens.

If you cannot read whatever noted on the vending machine - FEAR NOT: the shops provide an english menu - you can normally find them hung on the side of the vending machine.

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Our 1st stop for our ramen fix was Shop # 8 - Shina Soba-Ya. Of course we ordered mini versions of their Shio Ramen and Shoyu Ramen. Both were equally DELISH. Normally you could only taste the saltiness of a shio or shoyu based ramen - but Shina Soba-Ya does the broth SOOOO perfectly, the flavor just burst inside your tongue without feeling heavy.

The mini portions are perfect - not too big to stuff you up (because of course we planned to conquer other shops as well) but not too small either so we felt quite satisfied tasting enough yumminess from the bowls.

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The next stop - in a hindsight if I knew better - should have been done later, as Shop #7 Sumire's mini portions are not really mini >_<
Don't get me wrong, their specialty Miso Ramen is absolutely the best miso ramen I have ever had - but the taste errs towards heavier side. And with the generous portion (almost double than what we had at Shina Soba-Ya), this left us feeling quite full.
Their shoyu based ramen was equally delicious, but we loved Shina's shoyu ramen more (personal preference).

Sumire is one of the more popular ramen shops. Hailed from Sapporo, their Miso Ramen is famous. At the museum, I saw it's a popular shop even for the locals (saw some office workers eating there) - not just the tourists. There was a bit of queue when we ate there, probably 15 minutes.

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After eating at Sumire, we felt stuffed, so we decided to take a break and drank at the only 'bar' on site (on the lower floor just by the main stairs).

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We chose Yuzu wine and "3 type of Awomori Tasting set" (both are alcoholic drink). The tasting set definitely packed a punch. Haha. Head a bit spinning, we had to sit for a while after finishing the 3 shot glasses.

*There are quite a selection you can choose for your tasting set, but we just left it to the bartender/waitress to choose for us. I just told her to please just give us her favourites :)*

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Not feeling quite beaten down yet, as soon as our stomachs felt able to fit more, we headed to Shop #3 - Yuji Ramen. Yuji specialized in tuna broth Ramen. We opted for the mini Tuna-Kotsu Ramen and the dry vegetable ramen.
To be honest, I can't say I like the tuna-kotsu ramen. It's a tad too salty for me. Flavor's definitely there, and you don't really taste the fishiness of the broth, just the depth of the stock's flavor. But still...

I did enjoy the vegetable dry ramen though. Suitable for vegetarians as well.

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We knew our limit, so our last stop was Shop # 6 Komurasaki, specializing in Tonkotsu based ramens. We opted for mini Tonkotsu Ramen and Tonkotsu-Miso Ramen.
Portion's also generous, and broth were both flavorsome.

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If you asked my favourite, I would say Sumire's Miso Ramen. Their flavor cannot be found and tasted at your everyday local ramen shop. Just tasty and it lingers in your tongue. However if you aim to conquer as many shops as possible, you may want to leave this shop towards later. It will fill you up easily.

Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum is definitely a worthy destination. Yes it would end up more expensive than your normal ramen shops you could find everywhere, but for 310 yen entry fee, you can taste ramens from some specialty shops you won't find anywhere else in Tokyo.

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At around 3 p.m., we had to leave the museum as we were already quite late for our next intended destination - Enoshima Island.  Another 1 hour journey, we arrived at Enoshima Station.

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How cute is this. Haha, even the metal birdies outside the station were kept warm.

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We planned to go to Kamakura the next day but wanted to stay at Enoshima Island this night and originally wanted to explore the island beforehand. However as our stay at the ramen museum exceeded our intended time, we only had limited time to walk around.

From Enoshima Station, it's about another 20 minutes walk to the island via the bridge.

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En-route you can see Fuji Mountain from a distance. Man, I miss FujiGoKo :(

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Entry to main 'street' of Enoshima Island
We decided to check-in and dump our daybags first at Iwamotoro Honkan - our accommodation for the night.


Accommodation: Iwamotoro Honkan
Booking made through Japanican
Total night:1
Total price: 30,240 Yen for 2 people, including Dinner and Breakfast.

Iwamotoro is a traditional Japanese Ryokan, apparently the building has stayed since the Edo era. The rooms are spacious and the balcony opens to the oceans. (some have Mt Fuji view)

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Yukata provided for your stay

They have 2 in-house onsens/baths, rotated for male & female use throughout the day. The first type is roman style and it's a much much smaller than their 2nd onsen.

outside garden with dried up pond

Their 2nd onsen is - to put it simply - a cave :D

Apparently the bath was carved naturally. It's a beautiful set up, if not just a tad solemn due to the small shrine located at the end of the corridor... .

Iwamotoro also has a small musem displaying artifacts and items from old times.

We decided to take a short stroll around while waiting for dinner time. There's Enoshima shrine just at the end of the path from the main street. We didn't go all the way up though.

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Enoshima has a lot of cats and they are sooo fat. Haha. Oh I missed Senpai so much at this point :(.

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so majestic...
At and around Enoshima Shrine...

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Making our way further up the stairs, we came to a park illuminated with lights. Gorgeous.
Enoshima Island has night time illumination on display from December to mid February. We didn't get to see the Love Bell where there's more illumination and there was no time :( But if you go there, do check it out.

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Some couples have hooked locks on the fencing...

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Heading back to Iwamotoro for our dinner, it's kaiseki style smorgasbord. Kanagawa's Kamakura and Enoshima are pretty famous for their Shirasu (those small schoolfish), so the dinner do feature some of them.

Everything was as tasty as they were beautiful.

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Not much taste for the turban shell, but dinner at Iwamotoro is unforgettable/

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Dessert was homemade mochi with berry sauce.

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Then our mattresses were laid on the tatami floors, and we tucked in for the night. (sleep, eat, travel, live :))

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