76 CH76: Hello Asakusa

    "Dessert is like a feel-good song,

    and the best ones make you dance."

    - Edward Lee


    Delilah, Shay and Farah have finally arrived in Japan. They had just left the train station from the airport and were now standing in what was supposed to be the nearest station to their BnB.

    Next to their legs were their suitcases and just ahead was a flight of stairs. Looking up, they realized that they had to climb that, carrying their suitcase. Inwardly groaned, they were also relieved that they decided to bring along a not so large suitcase. Yet again, looking at the stairs, it does make one tired, even without climbing it yet.

    Farah had gone on looking for a lift earlier but found out that it was at the end of the station, which seems so far. It just wasn't worth it. So, in the end, they decided to suck it up and 'dragged' their suitcases up the stairs. By the time they reached the top of the staircase, the three women were already out of breath, oblivious to the curious stares of the people around them. Then they quickly stood aside so that they wouldn't block other people's path and began to check the message sent by the owner of the BnB on the directions to the place.

    Since it was Delilah who had arranged and booked the BnB, obviously, she was the one who was in contact with the owner. She quickly opened up her email and began to read on the directions the owner had sent to her. It was fortunate that before they had left the airport, they had rented a pocket wifi, enabling them to use the wifi anywhere and anytime.

    With her phone in her hand, Delilah began to guide her two cousins on where the BnB was. It was the winter season in Japan so the weather was rather chilly. Even with a thick sweater and a winter coat, it felt like it wasn't enough to stay warm. Hence why these three women were kind of in a rush to find the BnB so that they can get warmth. The weather was so cold that Delilah can make little puffs of smoke by blowing.

    After they left the station, they walked around for a few minutes until they realized that they were a bit lost as they got confused with the roads and all. They were lucky enough to meet a local, who knows a bit of English. He kindly guides them a few metres away before pointing at a direction where they should just go straight. After thanking the man, the three women continued to walk, dragging their suitcases behind them.

    Few minutes later, they finally arrived at the BnB. It wasn't huge, rather it was like a humble small apartment. The space around the small apartment wasn't that spacious either so they had to walk in line to get to their place. According to the email from the owner, all Delilah needs to do is to key-in the password on the digital smart home door lock that was on the door. Fascinated, Delilah cautiously key-in the password and soon after, there was a click sound, indicating that the door was unlocked.

    Entering the house, they were greeted by quaint and modest decorations. The front entrance was quite small, enough to place their shoes. Once they stepped over the threshold, they were already in the living room, which combined with the dining area. It wasn't that big either where the dining table can only occupy three chairs as it was pushed against the wall. There was also one small sofa and one small armchair, facing a television. Beside the television, there was a door that leads to the bedroom. Inside the bedroom, there was only one queen-sized bed, together with one wardrobe and one small bedside table. The bathroom was outside, just beside the door to the bedroom. Inside the bathroom, it was quite crammed with one high bathtub, toilet and a toilet sink. The small kitchen was in the middle, between the front hall and the living room, where there was also a small washing machine. One word that Delilah would like to describe the house would be that it was quite minimalist.

    Although they were not used to small spaces, it was fortunate that none of these three women were claustrophobic. In fact, it was quite an experience.

    After they were done looking around the room, they decided not to unpack since they will be going out soon again. They took a few minutes rest, propping their legs on the small coffee table and just catching their breaths.

    Soon after, they found themselves at Asakusa. It was crowded where there were many people walking here and there. They wanted to look for a vegetarian ramen shop as recommended by one of the people in a website review. They thought they would give it a try. However, before they looked for the shop, they decided to walk around and do a little window shopping around the many stalls there.

    At some point, Farah and Delilah saw one of the stalls selling ice-cream. The flavours of the ice-creams looked interesting as they have never seen such flavours in their home country, other than those in packets, such as black bean, cherry blossom and matcha. While Shay was still walking around, looking at the other stalls, Farah and Delilah decided to buy a cone. Delilah ordered the matcha while Farah ordered the black bean. They shared their ice-cream, taking a bite from each other's cones. They were about to leave the store when the storekeeper called them back. Apparently, they cannot walk around while eating. So they stayed inside the stall, finishing their cones before joining Shay.

    Once they were done, they thanked the storekeeper and went out of the stall. They then went to look for Shay, who was still window shopping at several stalls away. They spent nearly an hour just walking around, intrigued with the merchandise being shown at the stalls.

    There were so many things to see and despite the crowd, it didn't dampen the excitement of these three first-timers women to Japan. They looked around with their round big eyes filled with fascination and awed. While they were walking, they did not realize that they stumbled upon the exact vegetarian ramen shop that they were looking for.

    It was a small shop with other small shops beside it. It was a two-storey little restaurant with a huge glass window in front. There was a white bicycle at the front of the shop with little plastic grasses below it used for decoration. As they walked in through the glass door, there was a little tinkle sound of bells to indicate that someone had entered the threshold.

    There were two young women behind the counter. One of them was cleaning the glasses and cups while the other one was behind the cash register. The two of them looked up and welcomed Delilah and her two cousins with a smile. "Welcome!" they said in English. Probably knowing that these three were tourists, they immediately spoke in English.

    The three women went straight to the counter where a menu was being placed on top of it. They took some time deciding on what to eat and finally chose the same dish. However, Shay ordered hot coffee, Farah hot green tea and Delilah hot milk matcha.

    After they had placed their orders, they went to grab an empty table and make themselves comfortable. There weren't any other people, other than the two employees and the three women, hence, it was somewhat quiet, other than the soft music in the background.

    While waiting for their meals to be served, the three women began to discuss their next plan. For that day, they decided to go somewhere nearer since it was just their first day in Japan. And they were worried that they might get too tired. So, they agreed to go to Shibuya and Shinjuku, which was a couple of stops away, using the train.

    Shortly after, their meal arrived. The waitress placed each bowl in front of them and they were hit by the fragrant and aromatic smell of the ramen. They could also smell the earthy and ammonia-like odor from the mushrooms in the ramen. The three women had ordered vegetarian ramen, which consisted of shiitake mushroom, egg, baby spinach, shredded carrots, ramen noodles and scallions.

    Delilah grabbed the soup spoon and began to scoop the broth out. She took a sip and felt a huge burst of flavours coming together in her mouth. The broth tasted silky and not so greasy. Although it has a hint of umami sauce, the earthy flavour from the mushroom was stronger. But Delilah wouldn't say it was that bad. It was quite nice, truth to be told. The mushroom was soft and chewy. The baby spinach was soft and silky. The egg was half-boiled so there was a bit of runny yolk still in the egg, which made the flavour of the ramen more distinctive. She could never be able to cook the egg just like that. 'I wonder how they did this,' she thought as she ate the egg.

    After they had finished eating, the waitress came and took away the empty bowls. She then came and served them matcha ice-cream. At first, the three women were confused since they did not order any dessert. But then the waitress said that it was free and that since they were first-timers in Japan, the dessert served as a welcoming gift to Japan.

    Feeling touched at the nice welcome, the three women digged in the dessert. The ice-cream was soft as it melted inside their mouth. Although it was not creamy as other ice-creams, it has quite a strong rich earthy tea taste to it and was a bit slightly bitter. Nevertheless, it was quite nice and even though the weather was already cold, it did not stop these women from enjoying the dessert. Especially since it was free.

    Once they were done with their meals and paid for it, they walked out of the restaurant and continued to window shopped around the nearby areas. After they felt like they had enough, they decided to go straight for the station to Shibuya.

    As they stood inside the train since there weren't any empty seats around, Delilah began to compare Japan's public transportation and her home country's. She really could see the difference and she was still in awe with Japan's technology. It was just amazing. She really was looking forward to see more of Japan's wonderful sights and amazing mechanization.
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