Travel

Tokyo: Tsukiji Fish Market, Shibuya, Meiji Shrine (Day 2)

April 16, 2017

I thought I had this jet lag thing figured out, but today I woke up at 3.30am and couldn’t fall back to sleep. Finally at 5am I got up and wanted to work on my computer, but my laptop wouldn’t turn on. Ulli to the rescue who made it work and saved my day! That’s how we got up super early today. On our agenda today was a visit of the largest Fish Market in the world! We were in Ginza district by 7:30am and not only discovered the fish market but also Tsukiji Outer Market. They have everything from fresh meat, vegetables, dried foods, knives, dinnerware and of course lot and lots of fish. We tried many new items – my favorite was a snack with gunnel and walnuts – sounds gross but was really good!

 

At around 8:30am we had breakfast at one of the sushi restaurants. Yes, sushi for breakfast. There are several small places that fit only 10 people at a time and if you read online you should go where the “longest lines are”. Well the wait for these lines was a minimum of 2 hours and some people were standing there for 5 hours already. When Ulli asked why this is such a good place, all they said was “this had the longest line”. Well that wasn’t good enough reason for us to waste half our day, so we just went to a place that was literally next door to the other one. They only have 5 items on the menu and I choose a tuna bowl while Ulli picked the sushi sampler.

There’s only a counter bar, no other seats in the restaurant and the entire space about 2m wide and 8m long. The sushi chef put each piece in front of Ulli with already wasabi on it and told him when he should use soy sauce and when not. He would present one piece at a time and Ulli would eat it with his hands (not chopsticks). It was very good quality sushi – but pretty much everywhere in Tokyo. 😊 The experience was worth more than the taste of the fish (in my amateur opinion). I had three different kinds of tuna – but my least favorite was the bellyfat tuna (too bland and fatty in taste for me). When we got out of our restaurant there was now a long line in front of our place – so good timing and this just means people don’t go where they know it’s good but they trust where the lines are is good.

We continued walking around the small food stands and tried more food. One old lady sold handmade red bean dessert with different shapes of animals. I chose the “panda” (we have a running joke between us the way she repeated “Panda?!” …she just made it in the morning as it’s not so popular and finally someone actually bought it …hahaha…so cute this lady). 

 

At 10am the fish market opened to the public and we finally went in. It’s the largest fish market in the world and we walked aisles and aisles of seafood vendors. Some of them already cleaned up and some you could see how they took apart the large tunas. I imagined being in the water with these kind of tunas – I think I would be more afraid than the sharks I’ve seen. They’re huge! We also saw how they scrape every small piece from the fins so it will be sold as well (usually when you have tuna roll that’s the part they use). After our visit at the fish market we continued walking through the food stands outside, selling everything from dried fruit, nuts to fish of course. I wish I could have tried more food – but I was full already. 😊

After walking around in the Ginza district, we headed over Shibuya to see the famous crossing. It’s a must see when you’re in Tokyo as pedestrians are walking on the same intersections from all sides. It’s organized chaos. We headed to the Shibuya Hikarie a skyscraper with a nice view on the topfloor and from up there the intersection looked like ants speeding in all directions. At the Shibuya section is also the statue of Hachi-ko (the dog) that we wanted to see before. I kind of liked the statue at the University even better as this was where the professor studied and it was less crowded. From Shibuya we walked to the Meiji Shrine  which had this massive troii gate at the entrance of the park. When you enter through there it’s a change of scenery from the busy city into the tranquil Meiji Jinug forest with over 100,00 trees. I loved walking around this area as this was such a contrast to the busy morning.

 

When we walked back it started raining a bit, but we thought it would pass by quickly. We headed to Takeshita Dori, which is a street lined with trendy shops geared toward trend concisous teens, used clothes stores and most famous crepe stands. All of a sudden a real storm – hurricane like winds and rain – came down. So we stayed in one store and looked out to see all the people running buy and the winds destroying their umbrella. It was quite the spectacle to watch. I also bought an umbrella which I didn’t use once – but now I have one as a souvenir from Japan. 😊 It was another fascinating day in Tokyo.

      

Some new things learnt today…

  • Black suits and beige coats are everywhere! I’m not sure why beige coats are such a big trend with women in Tokyo but everyone wears them. We started noticing them in each shopping window from small to big designers….not sure if the rest of the world is getting in on this trend?

         

  • There’s more than one cat café in Tokyo – we found another cat café in Harajuku … so not sure what the original one is now 😊
  • An apple is not just an apple: we bought an apple for $7 today in one of Japan’s most famous deli stores (not sure of the name, but they told us). The owner of the store hand selects all apples from a special region and Japan and showed us how to test if an apple is good or not. Yes I will share the secret with you: you flip your thumb and pointer finger against the apple if it makes a high sound its a good apple if it makes a dull sound – don’t buy it. Well this apple was worth it’s $7!

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