Wednesday 1 July 2015

A random day off - Harmonica Yokocho and buying a bicycle in Japan

I recently caught up with some friends on a Sunday night in Shinbashi and a couple of drinks turned into and all-nighter at karaoke (I'm getting too old for them.....).  I arrived home after sunrise and proceeded to sleep until the afternoon.  My first thought after waking was "food" quickly followed by "hamburger".  I had heard of a couple of good burger places at Kichijoji so I quickly showered and jumped on the train.  After arriving at Kichijoji and armed with my "trusty" Google map I started out in search of one of the burger places.

Walking along with my nose buried in my phone I occasionally looked up to see where I was and thankfully I looked up at the right time because I saw this!  Harmonica Yokocho (yokocho literally means alley or land). 

Then I looked down and saw this.

I'm not referring to the schoolgirls either rather the tiny alley they were looking down.  Anyone who has read this blog on a regular basis will know that I love tiny alleyways and cannot resist the temptation to check them out so this definitely required further investigation!

Following this guy into the labyrinth

 I first came across a bar that was just getting ready to open.

It was about 4:30 pm and a fair few of the places were closed.  I could only imagine that after 6pm the place would be buzzing with business people having a drink and a bite to eat after work.

Some of the places were open though and I wandered past one where a few guys sat drinking and watching some Sumo.

It wasn't only bars and small izakayas that lined the sides of the maze of alleys, I wandered past a couple of clothes shops too.

I truly felt like I was intruding as everyone was going about their business with me trying hard not to get in the way!

Next I walked past a scene which put a smile on my face.  Now this is the Japan that I love!

I long for the day when my Japanese is good enough to walk into one of these places and to be able to read the menu and chat with everyone.  Having said that, there were a few places that did have English on their menus

but not the really old traditional places.

Nearing the end of my little adventure, I finally passed a couple of food shops.

I made my way back into the sunlight and as my GPS got callibrated again my stomach started talking to me so I walked off in the direction of the burger place. (I plan to come back to Harmonica Yokocho in the future and try a couple of the little bars with a friend, so keep a look out for that post).

Pretty soon my phone beeped at me signalling that I had arrived.  I looked around me, and looked around again.......  No burger place!  Thanks Google maps!  I searched for the second one that I knew was in the area and started off in that direction.  About 10 minutes later my phone beeped again.......and again, no burger joint!  Damn you Google maps!!

My stomach was now talking to me so I looked around the area and found a place called Montana curry and beer. 

(I would have a photo of the place here but the photo didn't work out very well so I have borrowed one from the great website

I ordered a delicious looking black curry which was really good and the pork literally fell apart as I tried to pick it up with my fork!

Walking out, my stomach again started talking to me, but this time it was thanking me rather than cursing me.

For some strange, inexplicable reason I suddenly had an urge to buy a bicycle.  Now, some of you may know that almost two years ago I had a rather nasty accident riding my bicycle.  Now, due to a pretty hard knock to the head, I don't remember too much about it except that a cat ran in front of my bicycle and I guess as I swerved to miss the cat or as I slammed on the brakes, I came off my bike and as Murphy's Law states (I was riding without a helmet too......) I landed fair on my head, opened up a big gash that cut into an artery.  Since that day, I have avoided riding that bicycle again believing that it is cursed!

Believing that third time is a charm, I checked Google maps again and found that there was a bicycle shop nearby.  I soon found it.  It was a branch of a chain of shops called Cycle Spot.  You can find it on google maps here.

I told the lady in my best Japanese (which is not that good) that I wanted to buy a bicycle.  Once she realised how poor my Japanese was, she started speaking to me in English!  That made the process a lot quicker.  She was very friendly and helpful, so if you live in the area around Kichijoji and you are looking to buy a bicycle, I recommend this place!

Jumping on my new purchase I set off for home.  I just hope that this bicycle treats me better than the last one, and yes, I did buy a helmet with it!

Thanks again for reading.  I have to apologise (again) for the long break between updates.  I have had a cold for the last couple of months which turned out to be pneumonia.  Hopefully that will disappear soon, and I will be back out and about a little more regularly soon.  Again, please leave a comment below if there is anything that you would like to see me write about here.

See you next time


  1. I would like a photo of you on your new bike! I'm assuming you wrote the last one off. And I can't believe it has been two years! Holy crap time flies :)

    1. Nope, still have the old one mate. It's been gathering dust over the last 2 years. I might get a bicycle mechanic to service it and then give it away!

      You are right, that has gone quickly!

  2. Hello Jason,nice to see you out and about doing a bit of shin bashing^^.
    As long it is not your shins,now that you are back on the tredly again.
    The Dons have just been thrashed by St.Kilda.They keep saying they have a good list;it appears not.Hird will no doubt be thinking his time is up...interesting few days ahead.
    As always some great shots along the narrow streets of Tokyo,with so many food choices.They are especially appealing as night falls and the lanterns light the way,with kana and kanji.
    Bye for now and bottoms up,Noel.

    1. Hi Noel,
      I saw the footy score earlier today. Not good reading!
      Do you think they would make a move on Hirdy halfway through the season? I bet Bomber is sitting at home with mixed feelings.
      I also read the tragic news about Phil Walsh too. I was stunned when I found out. A damn shame.
      Anyway, you take care Noel.