So I found myself in Japan, as you do. Three months spun past again, and I needed to satisfy the Australian authorities once more by leaving the country for a period of time. I toyed with a few ideas before choosing to go to Japan; my dates coincided with the start of cherry-blossom season and so I thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to experience that. In total I stayed almost three weeks, spending most of that time in Tokyo itself.
Tokyo is reportedly the largest and most highly-populated city in the world. At first glance, it can be quite overwhelming and it is hard to know where to start.
I started at the Tsukiji Fish Market, if for no other reason than it was walking distance from my hotel.
Until recently, Tsukiji consisted of an ‘inner’ and ‘outer market. The inner (wholesale) section was famous for its tuna auctions; visitors would head there at 5AM hoping to be allowed in to watch.
The wholesale market, complete with tuna auctions, has now been moved out to Toyoso, a bit more of a trek if you want to visit. Now only the outer market remains at Tsukiji, although it is still well worth the trip. Let’s face it; I was never going to get myself up and out at 4.30 in the morning anyway.
Tsukiji (pronunced skee-gee, or roughly) consists of a few congested, narrow lanes, crammed full of restaurants and shops. The market first opened in 1935, following the devastating earthquake of 1923 that destroyed the previous fish market.
The market is mainly for fish and seafood, along with some other fresh produce and some connected paraphernalia such as fish-knives and pans.
It is quite touristy and the narrow streets soon become very crowded.
A few shop-owners speak a little English, but most do not. It often leaves you guessing about what a food could possibly be. I downloaded a translation app called iTranslate, which takes a photo and translates the Japanese writing to English, but the translation often left me none the wiser.
The market opens officially at 5AM Monday to Saturday, although most places actually open nearer 7AM. I got there around 8.30. It’s a great place to enjoy a sushi breakfast, as it would be hard to find fresher fish anywhere.
More Tokyo-based shenanigans to follow very shortly…