tokyo life

Archive for the 'Travel' Category

Eric was in London

for a whirlwind business trip. He leaves again tomorrow.

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Myung Dong eats

Dad and I went out for lunch and did an impromptu tour of the best eats in Myung Dong. This one alley way near the cathedral has many good eateries that’s been around forever (forever meaning since the war).

The beef soup place we were going to go to was closed for renovation - it had been in business at the same spot for 40 years and looks it. Hopefully they won’t renovate too much. Interesting contrast with the fake LV bags next door…

A couple of doors down, also with a long history, is Myung Dong Gyoza, famous not for the gyoza but the incredible Kalguksoo noodle. This is where we had lunch. I like how they have only 4 things on the menu.



Chung Moo Kimbab, where my parents took me to when I was 9 or 10 on one of my rare outings to the city. Just simple rice roll with kimchi but really really good kimchi.

Famous grilling place and nengmyun place behind the alley. Haven’t been but apparently well known to the Japanese tourists.

Diagonally across from Lotte Department store is an historic food alley way. Nam Po Myun Ok is one of dad’s favourite. Famous nengmyun place he used to come for lunch when he was working in the city. It’s often featured on TV - perhaps that’s why it looks so proper now.



The one with white sign is another one of his haunts - serves a peculiar old-fashioned soup dish of fish and tofu.

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Uncle, rest in peace.



2009 August 23rd.

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Lunch at So Rae

While in Seoul the last time, my parents and I went to a small fishing village we last visited perhaps 20 years ago. It was hard to know what to expect - things have certainly been developed, but at the same time a lot were still quite raw. Just an hour away from Seoul, but quite a different world.

A small fishing-net-making industry was thriving there.





Enter the fish market.



The system was, you pick the fish and they slice them for you on the spot.



Voila, the dining hall… mats on the floor!

Me and mum.

Lunch part 1: Sashimi, Korean style.

For sure one of the most interesting dining experiences we’ve had.

Lunch part 2: Our main goal was actually the local “flower crabs” which were in season. We picked up 4 crabs from the market,


took them to the restaurant nearby

and they steamed them for us for 8$. (Crabs were 25$ or so?)

Super fresh - perhaps not the best looking, but certainly the best tasting.

More scenes from the fish market.




Being in Korea is being inundated with color, noise, taste, and a little bit of craziness.

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Hwa Jung

My cousin Hwa Jung is getting married in a couple of weeks. The Song cousins got together yesterday to welcome the new family member Mr Park.

The soon-to-be married couple.

Soon Yi the teacher jumps in.

Moon Gu the doctor-in-training is stymied by the digital camera.

Baby Ji Min.

Ki Hoon and family.

The baby makes the rounds.

All of us and the aftermath.

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MJ in Seoul

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Another old villa

I’ve read that Atami is a has-been resort town, and perhaps there is some truth in that… Just by skimming through the town (like we did) it doesn’t score so high on the charm meter. We were mainly there for Kiunkaku, another fancy villa from the eras past. Built by a successful businessman around the turn of the century, in the 40s it was turned into ryokan and many famous Japanese authors came to stay here. Hence the rooms they had occupied were turned into mini-museums. It was interesting to say the least, to see the mix and match of Japanese and British architecture, plus a Roman bath! Could it be the birth place of post-modern interior design in Japan, haha. A buddhist sculpture above a western style fireplace! A little absurd by today’s standards I thought, but I’m not sure if that’s a popular view point here. Definitely, wealthy people’s propensity for the European style runs deep here. And they do go all out - the quality was still amazing even after 100 years.





















Around Atami.







On a whim we tried a local hotspring bathhouse. It is perhaps the spookiest bathhouse I’ve tried yet. But it felt good to dip in after a sweltering day.







After searching for places to eat….




we ended up with McD!

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We made an unexpected stop

at Mishima and before changing to an Atami-bound train, and decided to see what was around the station.

Rakujuen, as it turns out, is a villa built by a Japanese prince in 1890.


















A little neighbourhood water park - a perfect place to be on a dog day summer afternoon.








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Eric on holiday





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Summer onsen

This past weekend we thought we would check out the Izu peninsula, a popular onsen destination from Tokyo. I picked Shirakabeso ryokan in the Yugashima onsen area. It was a little tricky to get to, via two trains, one bus, and pickup from the bus stop, but well worth it.




























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April 13: Leaving the island

First, ferry to Takamatsu.








Then flight to Tokyo Haneda.


Eric, is that you?

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April 12: And we got nothing to show for it

The most memorable of all was the last place we visited, the Chichu museum designed by Tadao Ando. Chichu, meaning inside or the middle of earth/land. Unbelievably, these are the only shots we have from there because this time we were forced to put the camera in a locker before entering the museum. The museum houses only a few selected pieces by Turrell, De Maria and Monet, and they are probably the luckiest artwork in the world. The building structure seemed to be literally built around each one of them and the rooms specifically calibrated for their display and our experience.

In Tokyo we often see of Japan’s strive for perfection in material goods and mass consumption - but here we were blown away by how it was applied to the exhibition of art. It was an incredible experience of art, culture and nature all in one, the highlight of our Japan tour so far.

On the way to the museum was a garden recreated from study of Monet’s paintings.



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April 12: More art houses

SANAA-designed Honmura Lounge. What a great space. Upstairs is office.




More amazing art houses by Tatsuo Miyajima (the numbers art), James Turrell & Tadao Ando (the darkness art), and Shinro Ohtake (the crazy art). Photography was not allowed and we wanted to respect the art and all, but it was way too hard to resist.









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April 12: The map reader

and exclusive tour operator for Eric.




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April 12: Art houses

A short shuttle bus ride away from Benesse complex is Honmura, another Naoshima art project that turns old houses from this sleepy island village into art. We walked around the village following the ‘art house map’. There were around 10 or so? Installing art in a remote fishing village may sound cheesy and potentially pretentious, but none of them were. They were all incredibly thoughtful and just really really amazing to experience. The best part was that it felt as if they belonged there. It was as if you don’t know where art ends and life begins.

Breakfast with Basquiat.


Walking around Honmura.
















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