Monday, 4 July 2016

The Japanese Food Adventure Chapter 2 - Days 21 & 22. Exploring Koenji and the journey home...

Day 21

The day we'd been dreading had finally arrived, today it was time to leave Tokyo and and make our way to Narita Airport where we would spend our last night before returning home again. We still had the whole day ahead of us though so we found somewhere in Koenji serving set breakfasts at a reasonable price.

Just ¥450 (about £3.30) for a thick slice of cheese and ham on toast, a side salad, a boiled egg and an iced coffee. My wife chose the cheese omelette set breakfast, it didn't include an egg though so I shared mine as there's nothing worse than boiled egg envy when they are as good as they are in Japan.

We said goodbye to Koenji Guesthouse, we loved this place and enjoyed staying here more than any of the other hotels on the trip. The roof terrace and shared kitchen certainly made it feel more homely and spacious and it had heaps of character.

For ¥600 (about £4.40) we were able to store both our cases safely at the train station whilst we explored Tokyo for one last time.

It was interesting to see how often the trains run on the Chuo line during rush hour!

My wife wanted to go shopping for some sweets and snacks to bring back home, we figured Harajuku would be our best bet so we jumped on the train.

Daiso in Harajuku is huge and with nearly everything costing just ¥100 (about 87p), your money goes a lot further here.

These were like the trays we were served breakfast on in Yokohama, my wife decided to buy some so we could relive that moment again at home.

With no end of sweets and snacks in Daiso my wife with was able to stock up.

Next we headed to Shibuya, famous for its busy crossing in front of Shibuya Station.

The streets of Shibuya are crammed full of shops and restaurants. Last time we were here we spotted a man pushing lots of cats around in a pushchair, no sign of him today though.

We did spot a dog in a bicycle basket though, he looked really content in there!

Having enjoyed Milky sweets many times on this trip I was delighted to see this Milky drink in a vending machine, it captured the flavour of the sweets superbly.

This tourist information centre outside Shibuya station is an old subway car.

We returned to Koenji for the final time, we were getting hungry and had somewhere in mind for lunch.

We'd eaten lunch at Hattifnatt on our previous trip, it's such a incredible restaurant though we just had to return here again.

They serve a set lunch menu consisting of starter, main and a drink for just ¥788 (about £5.80) which is well worth it as the home cooking here is real comfort food and you won't need anything else all day!

The cafes charm lies in its unique decor and design, this room is our favourite so we were delighted to find a space to sit in here.

The illustrations painted onto the walls were based on a book my wife found on a nearby shelf.

The iced coffee here is so refreshing and the menus are covered in hand stitched fabric. Our starter was a salad covered in a really delicious dressing.

My wife chose a creamy mushroom bake topped with melted cheese.

I chose a delicious aubergine and mushroom bake, these dishes were steaming hot so watch the roof of your mouth!

Before leaving Koenji we went for one last look around the shops here, there's no end of small independent businesses selling vintage goods and collectibles.

Koenji is also a great place to explore if you love vintage clothing.

I wasn't particularly bothered about buying anything to bring home with me except for fish sausage snacks. They were not easy to find but a small supermarket in Koenji had just what I was looking for, we had a beer to celebrate!

As we looked in a few more vintage shops the reality was difficult to ignore, our trip was fast coming to an end...

If you look hard enough in Koenji you can find a few record stores hidden away. There was nothing I wanted on this occasion but on my previous trip I found a rare Meteors LP here.

These steps are so rickety, each step sinks down as you tread on it. I'm sure health and safety would have a field day back at home but here it wasn't a problem.

We stopped here to take in Koenji one last time before collecting our cases and heading to the airport.

We raised a can of sparkling plum wine to our incredible time in Japan. In 21 days we'd visited so many places and seen so many incredible things, I don't think we could have really fitted much more in if we'd tried.

From where we were sitting in the square my wife suddenly spotted a familiar orange, green and red sign less than a minutes walk from where we'd been staying. We took a closer look and noticed there was a Koenji branch of Hanbey, it's probably a good job we hadn't noticed this sooner though as we may have never visited any other restaurants and bars in Koenji.

With suitcases in hand we glanced over from the platform at the guesthouse down below. It was time to make our way to Narita Airport.

We changed trains at Shinjuku where we went in search of some food for the train journey.

Family Mart came to the rescue providing us once more with something tasty for the train journey. I enjoyed this chicken salad with meat and egg filled rice snacks.

My wife also bought some salad and a rice snack, she bought the S&B spicy powder from a supermarket earlier in the day.

I found these sweets given to us from Hanbey yesterday, very pretty but solid cubes of sugar that would test the strength of any filling that dared to munch on them.

Our final hotel on the trip was Narita Rest House which is located inside Narita Airport. A double room at this spacious but incredibly depressing looking hotel that conjures up thoughts of The Shining cost ¥7920 (about £58)

The hotel has a Family Mart vending machine in the lobby packed with affordable snacks. We tried a large chocolate chip bun which was incredibly nice, I washed it down with some Mitsuya Cider.

Day 22

We woke up once again to glorious sunshine on our final day in Japan, we wouldn't be here long though as we were flying at 10.30am.

We waited outside for the free shuttle bus to the terminal. Airport Rest House is a very convenient hotel but the 70's interior and depressing hallways will make you glad to be on your way.

We were flying from Terminal 1 and had arrived here well ahead of time, we went in search of some breakfast.

None of the food outlets particularly grabbed us so we opted for Fasola Cafe where they  had a vegetarian option for my wife. I had my final iced coffee and my wife enjoyed a nice cup of tea.

My wife's vegeatarian pizza could have done with the topping covering slightly more of the base, she quite enjoyed it though.

The best thing I found on the menu was this sausage selection served with sauerkraut, mustard and a single rocket leaf. Not a patch on my favourite Archers sausages but quite enjoyable all the same.

We were moments away from flying over the Pacific and away from this incredible country. A sad moment indeed although at this point of the trip the return flight is never as exciting as the flight out, now airborne we just wanted to be back home as soon as possible.

With a 12 hour flight ahead of us all there was to do was think about the food arriving on the hostess trolley. This arrived shortly after take-off and even as I study it now it baffles me! Rice topped with egg and peas and a slab of something meaty to the left of the dish, it was ok for airline food but nothing to write home about.

The chocolate cake looked quite dry but actually wasn't too bad.

A bottle of red to help soften the blow of returning back to reality. 

With Japan a few hours behind us now it was a nice surprise when this Japanese ice cream arrived, really creamy and I would have happily eaten another one of these.

My wife watched four films on the return flight, I played this so many times that I lost count, very addictive!

My wife spotted this on the flight information screen, I hadn't seen anyone else eating one but really fancied trying one. My wife asked a passing hostess who went off to prepare some for us.

Basically a pot noodle but slightly nicer!

Having eaten the cup noodle our next meal arrived which was err.. noodles! The highlight was most definitely the smoked salmon with potato salad and red wine.

Somebody on my facebook page requested that I tried a cherry blossom flavoured Kit Kat. The only type I could find were green tea and cherry blossom flavour, not bad but I do prefer original Kit Kats.

These Milky chocolates not only had a great box but also an incredible effect in your mouth, they contained popping candy.

Green tea Milky chews, delicious!

On our final flight from Amsterdam to Norwich we received some baguette bites and some water, I can't possibly let this be my last photo of the trip though!

Back at home we tried a Tokyo Banana, a beautifully decorated sponge cake filled with banana cream. We were back to reality from this incredible adventure in Japan. If you read these blog posts then many thanks for joining me on this trip, I hope you enjoyed it as much as we did!

Click here for
The Japanese Food Adventure - Chapter 3


  1. I loved reading your blog as I plan to travel to Japan early next year. Your recommendations will help my planning so many thanks. By the way, I tried the pre-meal snack suggestion of cabbage pieces with Hellman's Japanese Yakiniku Sauce and then Salubrious Breakfast Sauce. Salubrious Sauce and cabbage won the contest!

    1. Salubrious Breakfast sauce as a cabbage dip is an excellent idea, gonna have to try that!!

  2. I've thoroughly enjoyed reading your adventures in Japan - thank you for sharing! I loved all the food photos and snippets of information! Rachel

    1. My pleasure Rachel, glad you enjoyed it! :-)

  3. Genuinely enjoyable as always, thanks for sharing.

  4. On behalf of those of us restricted to armchair travel, thanks for all the work. It's a nice change to read a blog which is anchored in the real world, i.e. no puff pieces in return for concessions, and all done on a realistic budget.

    1. Cheers! I wanted everyone to be able to see the real Japan and how it can be done on a budget. The local convenience stores where a god send!

  5. Really enjoy your blog and the travel ones are brilliant. Down to earth, interesting, funny and just a delight to read. Thank you!

  6. Brilliant. So sad it's over. I have so enjoyed sharing your food journey through Japan - thank you! Bring on 2018!

    1. Thanks so much, can't wait till 2018. There may be a few smaller food adventures before then though!

  7. Another excellent read, thanks very much, some great photos and descriptions. Of all the things you ate and drank, that Sweetcorn drink stands out as probably the most unusual thing (to me at least). I'd be intrigued to try it one day.

  8. Loved this....... always brillant to read!thank you ;-)