Mrs. Noritake has low-key made it her mission to bring breakfast to Tokyo. Dismayed to see Tokyoites rushing to inhale a coffee or konbini onigiri on their morning commute, she launched her “Okasan no Breakfast” menu at her ryokan near Yushima Station, UENO FIRST CITY HOTEL. The menu is inspired by the traditional breakfasts lovingly cooked by Japanese mothers across the country and the leisurely pace of life in her favorite place, Hawaii.
She runs the little establishment in Ueno with her husband, and cooks up traditional Japanese breakfast every morning both for her overnight guests and passing diners tempted in by the cozy atmosphere. Relaxing Hawaiian tunes drift through the cafe and, in true mother-hen fashion, Mrs. Noritake spoils her guests and tries to meet their every preference: serving their eggs just how they like, or brewing the hand-drip coffee using their preferred type and strength of bean.
“I love Hawaii,” says Mrs. Noritake. “On the island, the pace of life is leisurely and the people feel healthy,” she says. “The entrance to our ryokan feels like Hawaii and we play Hawaiian music in the morning. I want people to enjoy a slowly-served Japanese-style breakfast to set off their days feeling strong and refreshed, instead of rushing with a convenience store lunch.”
The classic “Okasan no Breakfast” set includes ever-so-fluffy rice, grilled fish, miso soup, and four different kinds of side dishes, which Mrs. Noritake frequently switches up with her longer-staying guests in mind and also offers other breakfast delights like airy pancakes and syrup-drizzled French toast.
Even if you live in Tokyo, it’s worth visiting UENO FIRST CITY HOTEL just to spend some TLC time to unwind, whether it’s for breakfast or treating yourself to an overnight getaway from the commotion of life.
The various Japanese and regular-style guest rooms can accommodate between one to six people, perfect for a quick solo retreat or a get-together with friends. “I hope when people stay here they can feel welcomed like a member of our family,” Mrs. Noritake says. “During the coronavirus, of course there are less international guests, but the ryokan rooms can be booked for day-use like for telework, too. We still see domestic travelers and international students coming to stay.”
Mrs. Noritake also loves to share the history of the local area with her guests. As a third-generation owner of the hotel, Mrs. Noritake knows the local history of the area well, and loves to share this with her guests. “The neighborhood used to be called ‘Kuromon-cho,’ a place which often appears in historical drama,” she explains. “Although this name has now been lost, the shrine besides the hotel and other memories still remain. This shrine is for a god who protects you from fire, and there have been no fires in this area for a long time so I think they are protecting it!”
Stamp Rally Project
UENO FIRST CITY HOTEL is currently one of six ryokan in Tokyo taking part in the Stamp Rally Project. Hotel guests can inquire at the front desk for an original stamp tenugui (Japanese hand towel) and can then collect stamps from each ryokan taking part. Once you’ve called all six, you’ll receive an exclusive gift.*
1-14-8 Ueno, Taito-ku, Tokyo
*Gifts vary by hotel and season, and may not always be available. Please check with the hotel staff during your stay.