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Tokyo Night Life

 The entrance to Aoba

The entrance to Aoba

Given how food-centric my life and travels tend to be, one of my favorite stops of the second night of my Tokyo Night Life tour was a ramen place called Aoba in the Nakano district, a counter-seating only kind of place hidden away in a tangle of small, quaint streets lined with bars and restaurants.

Like many Japanese eateries, the bulk of the floor area in Aoba is taken up by the kitchen, so each patron at the counter is guaranteed a front-row view of the action. It was easy to fall into a trance watching the repetitive, careful assembly of ramen bowls one after the other, all virtually identical given that there were few items to choose from.

Aoba is known for having a fish-based broth (versus the normal pork-based) and I was surprised to find it more than pleasing to my sometimes fish-averse palate.

In addition to stops at Dear Stage, the club in Akihabara, and Aoba, the fish-based ramen, Tokyo Night Life day 2 involved anime karaoke and a walk through Shinjuku’s famous Golden Gai.

Before hitting up an anime karaoke spot (yes, a karaoke spot that focuses specifically on anime songs), our tour took us through the never-ending halls of Nakano Broadway, a collector’s dream. To some, Nakano Broadway eclipses Akihabara as geek central, with floor upon floor of countless anime, manga, and collectibles shops. 

It was a long night and by the time we arrived at Golden Gai, we were too tired to do much besides just walk through the narrow alleys of bars and listen to our guide talk about the area’s history. Now mostly bars and tiny restaurants, it’s one of the few parts of Tokyo that reflects what the city used to look like before modernization.

In the end, we emerged from Golden Gai, passed the popular Robot Restaurant, and I got into this cab, wrapping up an intense two nights of exploring Tokyo Night Life. Still, though, I feel like I’ve only just scratched the surface.

 Aoba's fish-broth ramen

Aoba's fish-broth ramen

 Quick stop for Anime Karaoke

Quick stop for Anime Karaoke

 Mandarake

Mandarake

 Nakano Broadway

Nakano Broadway

 Leaving Shinjuku at the end of the night

Leaving Shinjuku at the end of the night

 Seen in Shinjuku's Golden Gai

Seen in Shinjuku's Golden Gai