1 March 2010
Could not sleep past 5 am so showered, breakfasted and left for the fish market in Tsukijishijo. Negotiating the tube and getting the right ticket for the right line was an enormous challenge. I messed it up and had to get a refund, which was a lot more difficult when one of you doesn't speak English! Got there eventually.
The fish market is the main distribution centre for fish. Fish is brought in off the boats at 3am. It is then auctioned to wholesalers, who chop it up and pack it. It is then sold to shops and restaurants all around the country. Took loads of photos. Strangely, It didn't smell of fish! I think at when it is caught it is either stored in ice or kept fresh, so by the time it gets to the market it is either frozen or still alive. It only starts to smell fishy when you start chopping it up.
Walked from the fish market to Ginza. Hidden amongst the high rises I found an Amidi Budda temple. The security guard on the front was very helpful. He knew just the right English words to satisfy his job and get the message across, so I popped in.
It was a little bit like a western church with seating in front of a shrine. The room was filled with joss stick smoke and was very relaxing. I did the traditional prayers to Amidi which involves bowing a lot and reciting a small mantra. Amidi Buddists don't believe in a God, they believe one can find enlightenment by being nice to people. It is definitely the way too go. It's no wonder there not big on religious wars. I think Douglas Adams put it best at the beginning of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy when he was describing the time frame that Arthur Dent lived in: "Nearly 2000 years after a man was nailed to a tree for saying how good it would be if everyone was nice to each other". Enough said!
Walked to Ginza and looked at the shops. Ginza is one of those areas that every major city has. It sells top brand names and thinks that "It is - IT". Once you've seen one ridiculously over priced handbag/suite case/belt/glasses/etc you really have seen them all.
My feet really hurt from all the walking, so had cappuccino in a coffee shop over looking a huge intersection. All the girls we giggling at me behind the counter - it is a bit usual to be not-Japanese which makes you feel special.
Had a look at the Nissan Gallery which is exactly what you would imagine. The weather really heated up and it was actually quite nice. The Imperial Palace is closed on Monday so I walked around the wall. On the far side is situated all the government buildings - they have a Ministry for Diet! Laugh if you want but I've only seen one fat person since I arrived! Really!
Had lunch in authentic Japanese fast food place full of local business men and women. Used the "Point It" book Swifty lent me to ask for beef and noodles. Very nice and only ¥450.
Feet hurt a lot now! Got the tube to the currency museum but that is closed too. Went back to Asakusa. Stopped in at evil Starbucks for a latte and a rest, then back to the hostel for a lie down & a shower.
Real sushi for dinner. Watched chef make it in front of me. 2 shrimps, some spicy pink slices of something - ginger I think and some crunchy shrimp bodies! The staff were really helpful and friendly. The language was a bit of a problem but we got by. The waiter knew the English for backbone and after that I stopped asking what things were. Better I don't know ;) it was surprisingly nice though.
Came back to the hostel and the reception area was chock-a-blocked with people boozing their off licence beer. It was a nice atmosphere but by this time it was 2330 and I was flagging so time for bed.
Photos on my FaceBook page.