A Few Highlights of Tokyo
We spent only about a day and a half in Tokyo but got to see a bit of the famous city. We were staying in the shadow of the Tokyo Tower, so we visited that. It is patterned after the Eiffel Tower, and was built in 1959.
We got up the next morning at 4:45 am to go the the Tsukiji Fish Market. You have to get there early in the morning, as that’s when all the action is…if you go later in the day, it is over, or closed. This fish market is the largest fish market in the world (sorry Portland Fish Market!). It covers a number of blocks, and has fish coming in, fresh and frozen, daily; that is unpacked, sold, and packed up and shipped all over. There is a fish auction where things like tuna are auctioned off…we did not see this, as it is sometimes open to tourists, sometimes closed, and the number of tourists let in is limited…but tuna can sometimes fetch over $30,000 a fish at this auction!
There are aisles and aisles of fish on display, being cut up, packaged, not packaged, on ice, in tanks, being bought and sold. The electric flat-bed trucks race up and down the aisles bringing fish from large trucks on the outskirts into the heart of the market…you have to watch where you are going and jump out of the way sometimes, or risk being hit! The Japanese are very formal people; they wait in lines quietly, they don’t push…but in the Tsukiji Fish Market, you will be pushed out of the way, if you are in the way of their work…tourists are, after all, tourists…and these guys are trying to make a living!
To the Japanese, fish is an important part of their diet, so all fish are valued. Also, because Japan is a small, mountainous country with a lot of coastline, fishing is historically important. That is why they still hunt whales and eat whale.
Not only at Tsukiji were there fish; there were clams, oysters, other mollusks, and things that we could not identify for sure.
We purchased a few items while at Tsukiji. We bought some fresh cut cubes of tuna to eat later as sashimi, some salmon roe (or eggs), some specialty items as pictured below.
There were many restaurants around Tsukiji, featuring fish, of course, so we had a breakfast of fresh salmon after our visit. We brought back our our goods and had a real Japanese meal of sashimi with raw tuna and salmon roe later in the day. We had to buy some soy sauce and wasabi to go with the tuna, some rice crackers for the roe, and to drink, some Suntory whiskey…so our Japanese meal was complete. (We ate the omelet the next day for breakfast.)
We thought of the movie “Lost in Translation,” starring Bill Murray, and set in Tokyo, as we drank our Suntory whiskey. His character was doing a commercial for this, which was, or course, dubbed into Japanese, so the only word an English speaker recognizes is “Suntory.” Each time we raised our glass to have a drink we would say “Suntory” with a Japanese accent! Silly, but fun!
Tokyo was a very ordered, clean city. People followed the rules. They would wait for the “Walk” sign to change to cross the street, even when there were no cars. In comparison to China, Japan is much more reserved, sedate, and quieter…obviously the Japanese are a different people!