Day 6 – Tsukiji

So as part of my New Years resolution, I had vowed to finish blogging about japan and hopefully get all the pics uploaded soon after. I’ve quickly gone through the 7278 shots and selected a few from each day which I thought highlights our trip and now it’s just time to post them up and write a few things about the adventure of each day. Day 6 would be the long awaited wait to visit the Tsukiji Fish Markets to check out the sights and have some delicious sushi. We didn’t go for the tuna auctions as they were at 5am, so when we arrived, we just perused the fish markets themselves. On the way there we saw a bunch of police officers (or something) handing out fines to bikes parked on the street, gave me a bit of a chuckle.

Cops fining bikes

Like the Lonely Planet book warns, you really have to get out of the way of these carts which blaze along the markets. The operators are in a real rush and get rather impatient annoyed when you’re in the way (unlike what you get in the streets of Japan where they just wait until you make room then they make the run for it.

Carts used in the markets

First thing going through the markets, we see various stores selling kitchen knives, they were rather expensive, most selling for over a hundred Aussie dollars. Other things that were for sale were picks, at first we didn’t know what they were for, but it became apparent that they were used to handle the large tuna.

Knives for sale

 

Going through the market, there’s all kinds of seafood on display for sale, the only things I’d be able to name are some Yabbies, Octopus, Puffer fish and some of the fish.

Some kinda shellfish
Octopus
Yabbies
Colourful tails
Puffer fish

There was also some funky stuff I had never seen before and have no clue what they are.

Various things for sale

Obviously you see a lot of tuna there, and I found it quite interesting that the majority was frozen and the workers at the fish markets were cutting it up using a saw. Rather than preparing food, it looked more like they were doing some woodwork.

Cutting tuna like it's wood
Rough handling of tuna

There was one stall we saw working from fresh tuna, instead of using a motorised saw, they were a bit more delicate in their handling of the fish. They had a few sets of hand saws some which required two people to operate as they hack the fish up.

Cutting up fresh tuna

Exiting the main part of the market, we had to go eat and enjoy the opportunity to have the best sushi ever. We got to a restaurant with a small line and waited about 15 minutes before there was room for all 8 of us. Once we got in, we set our budget and ordered away.

Sushi time

We had dishes like fatty tuna sushi to more fatty tuna sushi as well as salmon, yellow tail and octopus sushi.

Crazy Toro Salmon is the one in focus

The fried squid legs were delicious with a little salad and mayonnaise, but my absolute favourite was the “Crazy Toro Salmon” which was a lightly cooked piece of fatty salmon sprinkled with a little seasoning and pepper. It was absolutely divine, the salmon just seriously melts in your mouth and the seasoning is to die-for.

Fried squid

The final dish was Kujira (whale) sashimi and Japan is probably the only place that you could get it, it was okay at best, I didn’t see the fascination of i (it doesn’t smell great either) t and would take regular sashimi over it any day. But it was something to experience nonetheless.

Whale Sashimi

Leaving the restaurant, we were surprised to see a rather long line outside the store curving around. It was after seeing that we knew we went to the right place for some good sushi, and it certainly impressed me.

Long line

After leaving the markets, we all split up and I had Samantha take me around (the girl I met at Womb) a couple of places in Tokyo, I opted to meet her at the Tsukiji Honganji which is a Buddhist temple and is a branch for the Kanto region of the Nishi Honganji. When she arrived, she showed me how to pray inside which involved a donation of coins a clap and two bows.

Tsukiji Honganji
Inside the Honganji

We walked around the markets in Tsukiji for a bit but weren’t there for long as Samantha wasn’t familiar with the area. Next stop was to be Ueno.

Markets around Tsukiji

Walking along, we saw this cool ‘sign’ outside of this ramen store which had a pair of chopsticks which appeared to levitate and pickup noodles by itself. So basically a giant bowl of ramen and chopsticks, rather amusing. Had a quick photo and we moved on, when we arrived at our intended destination of Ameyayokocho, it hit me that I had already been here with Michael before when we went to Akihabara. Seeing as I had already been here, she opted to take me elsewhere.

Samantha and I outside a ramen shop at Ueno

Next destination was Ochanomizu for some more food, in fact it was a recommended eat by Samantha. When we arrived it was a little Ramen joint, not too far from the station, interesting thing about this place was they had a free refill of noodles with the ramen. So when it came to ordering via the vending machine, she told me to get the special, when I had enquired what was so special about it, simple answer was more.. oil. Great. When it came out there was a fair bit of oil, but inside the soup was like miso or something, it would settle after a while just like the stuff in miso soup. The taste of the ramen itself was quite good, but still a bit too salty and oily for my liking. I guess that’s just how it is.

River running along in Ochanomizu
Samantha's favourite ramen place

This first shrine had its entrance up a high set of stairs and it was rather intriguing to see a decently sized shrine within the city itself. It seemed a little out of place in my opinion

Shrine entrance in Ochanomizu
Looking at the shrine
No safety harness or anything

Not too far from the shrine above was the shrine below, don’t know its name but it was a stark contrast from the previous. The shrine was made up of a rather deep black type material and looked rather gloomy and mysterious. Unfortunately by the time I got there it was already closed and I couldn’t see the inside of it. After seeing the shrine, Samantha and I parted ways as she had to attend a friend’s birthday and she recommended that I explore the park around Ueno.

Another shrine
Details in the roof of the shrine

Entering the garden there are a few little monuments and statues which greet you, even saw a little statue thing of a kangaroo and bears, found it rather odd, but there was a round boulder which had some writing on it which I’m hoping someone know what it means.

Rock near the entrance

Venturing deeper in, there was a pathway lined with little torri gates, in a similar fashion to the more famous one in Kyoto, not knowing where they led, I just followed onwards. Reaching the end end, I found it leads to the temple in the middle of the pond Tang and I visited after our day in Akhibara.

Pathway of small torii gates

The shrine in the middle had a couple of buildings, both of rather differing designs, not sure why though. However, inside of the main one (first picture) there was a massive round red lantern looking thing, it was larger than most of the ones you see all around Japan.

Shrine in the middle of the 3 ponds
Another shrine in the same place
Big lantern thing

Moving onwards, there were some rather modern looking buildings, I hurried along as the weather wasn’t looking too good and was sprinkling. The first building was some sort of a museum where as the second was only known to be ‘hibiki” and had a cafe inside. Surely a building that large wasn’t just a cafe, but that remains to be a mystery to me.

Some museum
Cool looking building

As the rain picked up, I made a dash to Ueno station, and on the way there it was interesting to be able to to see the sky tree under construction in the distance despite the poor weather.

Sky Tree in the distance

After meeting up with the others in the hotel room, we packed our bags and made our way to the train station to take a bullet train to Kyoto. By the time we arrived at night, the weather was rather cold and it was raining quite heavily. We had settled into our hostel room despite arriving late and had a brief wander to find some dinner.

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