Saturday, July 19, 2008

Tsukiji Fish Market 4/19/08

We woke up at reasonable time (9am) and went down to the famous Tsukiji fish market. We arrived late so we didn't see the million dollar tunas, but we did eat some fantastic fresh sushi (from that morning) at the market. The restaurant we ate ate had a line and was extremely cramped. The sushi chef really liked us and gave us ample amounts of sushi. Kates and I shared 31500 yen assortment of fresh raw fish including clams, tuna, mackeral, hamachi, mini squid, and finally salmon roe. The squid and claim were gushy tender and almost felt a bit like eating something that was in midst of transitioning from death to life. All the other fish tasted delicious very fresh and buttery. After lunch, we walked around the outdoor market looking at the different cookware and dead sea life that was in its boxed coffin crate. It was really a blast and made me like the section of town, which was like a giant farmer's market with ma and pa stands selling their goods. The vendors were very polite and friendly. It was really fun sampling their raw fish.

After roaming the market we followed the signs in Tsukiji to a Temple Tsukiji Hongwanji. The temple had a ceremony or mass going on. We walked up to the entrance and watched the people sit near the shrine. I tried to make myself as invisible as possible so I could observe.

Katie wanted to get Mikey a Tokyo Giant's hat and the only place that seemed to sell them was at the Tokyo Dome so we ventured off in that direction on the subway. The dome was in Hibaya and was noticeable in every direction from the downtown. Katie found the hat and we discovered that the park was not just for baseball, but had an amusement park and a outdoor mall. Katie and I caroused the mall buying nice bowls and other random things. Then we went to a local restaurant and had bento boxes with tempura and noodles. The portions were huge and very flavorful. Katie and I chatted at the restaurant until late. We decided that talking at the restaurant was better than going out and partying. Our goal for going to Japan was to breathe in the culture and not numbing our senses. We went back to the hotel to relax and plan out our day trip for tomorrow.

Shabu Shabu 4/18/08

Today was another rainy day in Japan. Although, the rain did pour down on us we didn't let it get our spirits down. Instead, we felt it fit to do some indoor activities. Tokyo's Ginza area is pretty comparable to New York's 5th Avenue. Shopping here was fun regardless of a minor tiff we had that both made us sore. Though, being friend's for so long we knew what it took to quickly resolve it and move on to some fun. The department stores were pretty comparable to ones in the States except for the general layout where instead of being only two stories most of the malls had at least nine. The malls' exterior were impressive to look at these sky scrapers had enormous product placements in the form of video advertisements. It was futuristic in a sense and what interested me was why in the States we don't see this type of technology advancements. It was almost hard to appreciate the good marketing scheme because it was overwhelming. After walking around for half the day and buying only little affordable knickknacks we rode the train to the Edo-Tokyo museum.

The museum's girth was astonishingly large. It was filled with life size replicas of battle scenes, traditional dancing scenes, and a full scaled ryokon. The inside of the museum was spacious and had many facts and displays about the history of Japan from shoguns to rickshaws. The exhibits and mini replicas of villages were wonderful.

All this walking around stirred up a healthy appetite. We took the subway to an unexplored Shinjuku and went out to Lonely Planets recommended Shabu Shabu. Dinner cost a mere 2500 yen each including sake and loads of meat and veggies. It was my first shabu shabu experience and I was disappointed in the bland and uncreative dish. Even cooking to meat was boring. Luckily, I didn't get sick eating all the beef, an item I haven't ate in nearly ten years. Both of us were still hungry after we left, though we weren't starving. We followed wearily Lonely Planet's guide to Golden Era and stumbled upon a punk-rock bar. What caught my eye about this bar was it was punk, red, and had a cute young yellow haired punky bartender. Katie and I sat and talked about everything from my boyfriend Ian, work, relationships, and so on. It was nice to let go of my thoughts to a good friend.

We talked with the bartender who told us about Japan punk made us tasty drinks lychee
soda and melon ball. The Japanese bartender was fun to talk to, he spoke English pretty well, but it was more like a guessing game trying to figure out what he was saying or like playing charades. Katie and I went home and slept very well.