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JAPAN - DAY TWO - Tokyo Tour

Previous Blogs: Day 1 Tokyo | Day 2 Tokyo | Day 3 & 4 Singapore | Day 5 Singapore | Day 6 Ho Chi Minh City | Day 7 Ho Chi Minh City & Tunnels

Day 8 Can Tho | Day 9 Floating Market | Day 10 Flower Market | Day 11 Hoi An | Day 12 My Son Temple | Day 13 Hanoi | Day 14-16 Halong Bay

Day 17 Luang Prabang | Day 18 Temples-Waterfalls | Day 19 Mekong River | Day 20-21 Bagan | Day 22 Bagan | Day 23 Inle | Day24-25 Inle

Click photos for a larger image...

Day 2 started with buying a day ticket on the Tokyo Metro underground rail system - cost $6 each for unlimited train rides. The Tokyo Metro system is HUGE! They have 13 lines. Oh, and extremely confusing!!!

Once again the Japanese demonstrate their ability to organize. Yellow line to stand behind and then three lines for people to wait in until the train arrives and of course the door will be exactly lined up with the 3 lines. People exit first walking on the yellow and then you board, no pushing and shoving no matter how crazy full the train is.


Wendy's Note:  OCD sufferers REJOICE!!!!!!

We hired a local guide to take us around and give us the facts and history.  As we only have 2 days here and wanted to maximize our experience and not stumble around losing time while trying to figure our way around the city.  Mr. Ken lived in the USA for a several years in his youth (Portland, Oregon) and has visited South Africa, so he seemed like a perfect choice for us!

Our first stop was at the world famous Tsukiji Market, the worlds largest and busiest fish market. Commercial only, this is where all the restaurants and hotels come to buy their fish at auction. Each fish is sold within seconds with buyers communicating their bids to the auctioneer using special hand signals to name their price. A nice looking full size tuna can sell for several thousands of dollars. The market opens at 3.30am!!  The general public is allowed in the auction area but it is limited to the first 100 people.  After 9am (when the frenzy is over) is when anyone is allowed to peruse.  Still very fascinating even tho the "action" was long gone by the time we got there.

Rows and rows of seafood as far as the eye can see!

These guys I called Kamikaze Pilots because they drive those little machines like crazy weaving through the people.

Under the chopper


The fish market will be moved in November 2016 with a new state of the art facility, better docks, more parking and fantastic working conditions for the fishermen.  There is much controversy over this move.  Tradition vs. Capitalism vs. Progress.  The reason they are moving the Fish Market is because Tokyo was awarded the 2020 Olympics and need this space for the Olympic Park.  

Outside the market is a Temple and the white lanterns represent each company in the fish market with the company name on each lantern.  This is to wish the company success and prosperity. 


Wendy's Note:  WOW!  A combo Chamber of Commerce and Better Business Bureau WITHOUT the high membership dues.  We can all learn something from commerce, community, sacred and secular working together for a greater goal and good.

Inside the market is a row of Sushi restaurants, and the wait outside can be up to 2 hours - people don't mind - its the best sushi in Tokyo.  Interestingly, the bulk of the fish (especially Tuna) is imported from the Mediterranean, off Alaska or from the African Coast and....ready for's FROZEN then served thawed!!!


Wendy's Note: Learning this tidbit, I will be able to eat at my beloved Kazu's Sushi Restaurant upon return.  To be honest, as good as the sushi is in Tokyo, Kazu has NEVER let me down! 

In the streets surrounding the market there are hundreds of restaurants just like this - serving 4 people at a time - note the NO PHOTO sign - just call me sneaky!

And it's not just fish is for sale - note the regular beef on the top shelve vs. the KOBE beef on the bottom shelf (2 grades). The marbling in the beef is making me drool already!   I am in beef heaven!  If only there were a Weber nearby!!

Next it was back to the metro station and head for the Emperor's Palace - this is where the Japanese Royal family lives.  They are just as revered by the Japanese people as the British Royal family in England. Emperor Akihito , like the Queen Elizabeth of England, is only a figure head.  Japan is run by a Prime Minister (Shinzō Abe) and Parliament like the British Commonwealth countries.

Big moat to the first entrance gate

Second gate - you can't actually see their palace as they still live there and everything is protected behind a tall wall and lots of gates and guards.

View of the city from the palace.  Former law made erecting of buildings around the palace prohibited to no more than 100ft high.  This is because no one else was allowed to look down upon the Palace.  Now, apparently, they don't care and and need more "space" for their ever growing population.  Existing buildings are being retrofitted and increased to several hundred feet high. 

Time for lunch - Sushi of course!

Thank goodness for pictures on menus!!!

Next was time to head off to Yanaka - an older district in Tokyo known for its temples and street markets. No super high rise buildings here.  It's population, according to our guide, are "older and residents enjoy a slightly quieter, traditional way of life"

This is a tradition for the New Year, they are hammering rice into a sticky paste which is then put into soups as a type of dumpling or eaten on it's own.


Wendy's Note: According to Mr. Ken, about 6 elderly people per year die from getting the rice paste stuck in their throat.  Interesting as Tokyo, according to Mr. Ken, everything is about the safety and well being of the people.  Every day a new law or ordinance is made to "save the people".  Surprising, given the number of laws, they have not banned this food yet.

There's always time for street food - in this case croquets!  Mashed potato and meat rolled, crumbed and then deep fried. About $1.50 each - various flavors mine was beef - awesome taste!  Wendy had the crab.

A temple and burial ground right in the middle of the city - temples were built on the Northeast side of the town as Japanese people believe Evil came from the Northeast.

Trees are protected for the winter by a bamboo framework which holds the branches up from the weight of snow (which is somewhat rare!  Last heavy snow in Tokyo was 4 years ago). Note the traditional raked gravel which represents the waves of the sea - raked every morning.

The sticks at the cemetery hold your name for the afterlife and the longer the stick the longer and more pleasant your afterlife will be, but here's the caveat ->>> the length of the stick is determined by the amount  of donation you make to the temple! Yeah - seems like you can buy your way into Japanese afterlife after all!

Finally it was time to take the train to modern downtown Tokyo to see the Sensō-ji Temple and have a beer in the oldest bar in Tokyo.

Entrance to the Sensō-ji Temple, we didn't walk all the way to the temple itself, by now my poor flat feet and gout were taking me down pretty good. Two straight days of walking for miles took it's toll.

This temple was originally built in the 8th century.  There was this thing called WWII and WE, the Americans, blew it up. Ooops!  It was rebuilt in the 1960's exactly as it was in 794.

For a couple hundred Yen you can rent a Kimono for 2 hours to take selfies and other pictures for all Japanese tourists, both Tokyo and countrywide.  Btw....Selfie sticks have been banned in Tokyo because someone wanted to take a photo of themselves as a train arrived.  The camera hit the train and the entire rail system was delayed by 4 minutes.  Bureaucracy at its best!

The Oldest Bar in Tokyo - can't read the name they never put up an English sign!


Wendy's Note:  We REALLY are not that arrogant to believe that everyplace should and must be in English.  Just having fun and pressing 2 for Spanish! 

The gold building is the corporate head quarters for the Asahi Beer Company in Japan and is intended to represent a glass of beer with a frothy head - I wonder if Budweiser would have the balls to do the same thing?


And finally......






You would think after translating a sign to English, they would run it past someone who actually speaks English before they put it on a billboard for the whole world to see...



Nope, this "You are Here" map IS NOT HELPING ME!!!