Tokyo Diaries – Hanegi Koen

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So long ume, hello sakura.

Today’s brief entry chronicles adventures on the Keio Inokashira Line, my old stomping grounds from my early days in Tokyo.  The Inokashira Line spans a vastly underrated and very pleasant area of Tokyo spanning from Shibuya through Shimokitazawa (where the Natsu no Sora anime is set) to delightful Kichijouji – where I lived in a guesthouse for my first month here.  Along the way are quiet, unassuming neighborhoods and parks that make you feel like you’re a long way from the busiest metropolis on the planet.

My first stop was Senrigan, a hugely-popular (despite its out of the way location) Jiro-style ramen joint near Ikenoue Station.  Senrigan may just be the best Jiro-kei ramen I’ve had – it has all the richness but just enough delicacy not to be as gut-destroyingly heavy as most Jiro places.  The chashu is superb and best of all, they offer a “han-ban” noodles option, which means you can finish a bowl without killing yourself.  Even the high-school guys in line ahead of me went this route, so I didn’t feel like too much of a yowamushi for doing so myself.  They also offer a unique topping called karaage – but this isn’t fried chicken, rather spicy tempura batter bits.  It adds an interesting bite and crunch to the finished product.

Afterwards I walked to Shimokitazawa, about a mile away.  This isn’t my neighborhood – it’s really for hipsters in their early 20’s – but it’s a good deal of fun for people-watching and window shopping.  The real point of the journey was Hanegi Park near Higashi-Matsubara station, one of Tokyo’s premier ume-viewing locales.  I missed the peak here by several days, though the weather had a lot to do with that, but it’s still in pretty good form.  There are a lot of ume here – Tenjin would love the place – and I imagine a week ago it would have rivaled sakura season for sheer spectacle.

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6 comments

  1. e

    Yay more blossoming goodness *o*. Here trees have barely begun instead.
    No picture of the ramen du jour after such an encouraging description? I'm mildly disappointed :,)

  2. Y

    始まった!うらやましい… (yeah… totally don't know the kanji for that one 😉

  3. F

    Where I am the cherry and peach trees have just started to open the first blossoms (for some reason peach blossoms are my favorite of the fruiting tree variety flowers) but the plum trees are just after their prak, so they are still very healthily in bloom.

    Still – I dearly wish I could have seen the ume in Japan this year. Ah well. ^^

  4. M

    So beautiful! <3

  5. R

    Thanks, Enzo. I enjoyed immensely reading your hanami series last spring. It's one of my dreams to celebrate the hanami in Japan, ideally in Tokyo, but it won't happen in the near future. I'm excited to read all your posts on sakura blossom again, and the weather seems pretty nice there.

    I think I'd prefer Senrigan's Jiro-kei ramen better. Last when I read your post on Jiro-ramen, I was thinking that — well, as popular as it is — my stomach might explode with just one bowl of Jiro-ramen, or if I could ever finish half of a bowl. I think when it comes to anime or food, I prefer delicacy and subtlety…lol.

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