1 March 2015

Tokyo - Day 2


Our Tokyo adventure continued with what was - thankfully - a much drier day. Still bitterly cold but minus the relentless rain of the day before. It made doing the whole tourist thing so much more pleasant!

No Tokyo guide or recommendation I encountered came without a mention of Tsukiji Fish Market. It's one of the world's biggest, handling over two-thousand tons of marine products each day. While the fish market used to be somewhat of a tourist secret, it's now such a huge attraction that new rules had to be put in place - tourists are not allowed to enter the premises until after 9am when the wholesale business of the market is winding down.

The array of fish and seafood on display was fascinating as well as rather mind-boggling (and smelly)

There were lots of stalls in the outer market offering samples. It may have been as early as 10.30am but I had to give some of this fresh fish a try! When in Rome and all that.

The majority of the time I had no idea what I was eating.


Unsurprisingly, there were quite a few unusual sights. Fried whale for example. Packaged blubber. Even what appeared to be a real stuffed panda wrapped in plastic! Not cool.


Our next port of call was the Senso-ji Buddhist Temple in the Asakusa neighbourhood. It's Tokyo's oldest temple, dedicated to the bodhisattva (someone who devotes their life to Buddha) Kannon. According to legend, a statue of the Kannon was found in the Sumida River in 628AD by two fishermen. The chief of their village recognised the sanctity of the statue and enshrined it by remodeling his own house into a small temple so that the villagers could worship Kannon.


When you visit temples and shrines in Japan you will usually notice a small stone fountain with ladles perched on top. These are called Chozuya and visitors use them to "purify" themselves with water before entering the temple to worship.

The street leading up to the temple is called Nakamise-dori; one of the oldest shopping streets in Japan. There are many stalls and shops offering all sorts of food and souvenirs. These themselves are part of a living tradition of selling to pilgrims who walked to Senso-ji.


There were so many sweet treats there to sample. Having watched them being freshly baked, I couldn't resist trying a ningyo yaki - little pancake-like pastries filled with sweet anko bean paste.


We spent a good hour or two, just wandering around, taking it all in. You can do a lot of that on the streets of Tokyo. 


But regularly I was lead astray by sweet temptations! There was warm sweet sake...


...and croissant-taiyaki fish!


Taiyaki is a traditional fish-shaped cake. Normally they're made with a kind of pancake or waffle batter but the "cronuts" are made with sheets of croissant dough. Inside the croissant-taiyaki is the traditional azuki sweet beans. Rather yummy!


Onto Shibuya. We had to take a stroll across the famous Shibuya crossing! When the lights turn red at this busy junction, they all turn red at the same time in every direction. Traffic stops completely and pedestrians surge onto the crossing from all sides!

Good old organised chaos!


That evening we headed to a restaurant that specialises in some of the finest Kobe beef Tokyo has to offer - 511 Kobe Beef Kaiseki.


I indulged in my new-found love of sake...


...and decided upon one of their seven-course tasting menus.

Each course was stunningly presented. The beef was exceptional - especially the little piece of Kobe sushi in course two - and the food was generally very good.

Well, all except for course four - the steamed egg in a tea bowl - which I thought was so unpleasant it had to be rejected completely!


A few of you may be aware of my love for karaoke. Singing my heart out (reasonably badly) in a booth with my nearest and dearest is one of my very favourite things to do on a night out and a karaoke queen such as I could not possibly come to Tokyo and not partake!

And finding a place to do it in this city is no hard feat; you can find a karaoke box chain on almost any street corner.

Let's just say the set-up at Big Echo wasn't quite as sleek and modern as Lucky Voice! But it was still a lot of fun and at least the song choice wasn't too shabby.

Also, the ridiculously cheesy videos that accompanied the songs kept me highly amused for the full two hours!


Ah, good old karaoke. It was the perfect ending to day two of our Tokyo travels.

Day three, coming soon! (ish)

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10 comments:

  1. Isn't the Senso-ji Buddhist Temple just beautiful? And Karaoke is simply a Tokyo essential :)

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    1. Yes it really was. And karaoke - I couldn't leave without getting involved could I! :)
      Cxx

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  2. Oh my god I'm so jealous right now, taiyaki are one of my favourite Japanese foods!! In fact I basically love anything filled with anko bean paste haha! Can't wait to go back to Japan this summer x

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    1. Oh you lucky thing! I would love to go back again, maybe in summer when it's a little warmer than it was in February!
      Cx

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  3. Another fun day in Tokyo - although the fish market would be my worst nightmare!

    Victoria x
    FlorenceandMary.com

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    1. It was Alex's too! God knows how I convinced him to come along!
      Cx

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  4. What a fantastic trip this looks like! Not sure I fancy the fish market first thing in the morning though!!
    Lx

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  5. This post brought back so many good memories from my trip there in November. I did Tsukiji and Sensoji temple (along with the sweet sake - so good). It looks like you had a fantastic trip.

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  6. Looks like a lot of fun. I think I would be slightly terrified at the thought of eating so many things with no idea of exactly what they are! haha!

    Katie <3

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  7. This brings back a lot of memories. I had a stopover in Tokyo on my own for 13 hours and it was an interesting experience to say the least! I managed to get to the fish market and see the palace. Shibuya crossing was interesting- sat in a cafe for a good hour just watching the world go by. Would love to go back with some company (looking at you, Katie Matthews) and explore rural Japan.

    Ben | www.twentyfirstcenturygent.com

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