Another Tokyo

Scott Campbell Issue: Section:

Planning on going to Tokyo?  
Areas like Shinjuku and Shibuya with the big clubs/restaurant are
definitely a lot of fun, but try and take time to explore other less touristy neighborhoods for a different
kind of Tokyo experience.

On my third and most recent trip to Tokyo I had the pleasure of randomly staying in one of these off
the tourist beaten path neighborhoods, Asagaya.  Located about 20 minutes from the Shibuya, Asagaya
had a less frantic pace and more of a small town feeling.

Our hotel was located right outside the Asagaya JR Chuo line train stop, an amazing location.  On one side
of the station was a covered shopping district called Asagaya Jazz Streets filled with hundreds of little shops
and delicious restaurants.  One restaurant that we particularly enjoyed was a Japanese take on Italian hand made
noodles (a sort of linguine spaghetti hybrid) with meat sauce.  A line out the door was good enough for us to give
it a try.  It was definitely worth the wait.

But the best part of Asagaya was on the other side of the train station.  A maze of tiny 10' wide lantern lined streets that could really
only be described as a drinking and eating district. It looked like something out of a movie from 60 years ago, nothing was new or modern.   Quite the change from the
sea of neon lights and omnipresent video screens of other areas.  Every 10 feet or so was a different tiny 5 to 10 seat bar or restaurant.
It was a bar hopping dream.  Bars were often theme oriented -  a surf board bar made up of what else, but surf boards, an upstairs
bar called simply "Bar Catnip" filled with Scotch and framed photos of cats. Other places included tiny sake bars, ramen restaurants (open 24 hours!)
izakayas and jazz cafes. There was even what must have been the world's narrowest Italian restaurant, two
stories tall but no more than 8 feet wide.

Everywhere we went we were welcomed warmly and made friends with other patrons who would bring us to the next spot. Repeat this a few more times, throw in some Karaoke,
and some Ramen at 8 in the morning and you had what made up an unforgettable evening.  We loved our new little neighborhood so much that we
often skipped heading "into town" and opted for the cozy streets of Asagaya.

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