Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Postcards from Japan: Tokyo

Before I chronicle my trip for you I want to share I just felt an earthquake, right this moment in the middle of writing this blog entry.  Our room is on the 30th floor and the entire room shook, my chair, the light fixtures everything!  They're making an announcement that the hotel has been built to handle large scale earthquakes and we're safe.  Whew! 

Now back to our regularly schedule broadcasting!  We arrived in Tokyo very late Saturday night after a 16 hour flight!  I slept most of the way so I felt pretty good.  What an amazing place, one of the most interesting places I've been to.  My first impression I can't get over how orderly and CLEAN this place is, I mean CLEAN.  The airport, the bus we took from the airport, taxis, the busy sidewalks and most of all the subway, spotless, I'm not sure how they do it, I don't see many public trash cans and I'm not seeing an army of people sweeping the streets.  I'm impressed.  

For us, as foreign visitors we're having a wonderful time and being treated very well.  Language has not yet been a problem, many signs are in English and the subway announces stops in both Japanese and English.  People have been friendly and don't mind my speaking in English.  Yes I'm one of those that only speak English... 

I'll start backwards with our dinner last night served to us in the traditional Japanese Robata Yaki style.  If you follow me on Facebook you can see an actual video of these two chefs in action, I couldn't upload it to my blog.  They chanted with the other wait staff every time a course was served and had very entertaining personalities!  

They are kneeling behind the grill and reach across or use knives or skewers to spear the food.  And they serve us with those paddles, quite a spectacle for us tourists!

Earlier on this same day, and I mean early, 3am, I got up to go to the Tsukiji Fish Market, its the worlds largest wholesale seafood market where restauranteurs come to shop.  Well worth getting up for, though I was still jet lagged so it was no problem for me, and well worth the wait.   

Early morning unloading prior to the auction.

We started our tour in the inner market where the auction took place.  And followed it up walking around the chaotic outer market where stall after stall sold fish, produce, cheese, restaurant supplies etc etc etc.  And I finished up my morning tour with an extremely fresh sushi breakfast!

 Finally made it to the inner market...

 Inspections before the auction.

Here I am looking very tired. 

Loads and loads of frozen tuna!

And loads and loads of Styrofoam packaging!  And I'm on my journey to the outer market...

A temple inside the market.

Everything is for sale, and not just fish and produce but cheese!

And some very expensive strawberries, $13 US dollars per package!

Squid in all shapes and sizes and forms, both dried and fresh.

Aisle after aisle of stalls and restaurants and zipping motorized carts!

This vendor was great, he must have been a taxidermist at one point and had quite a sense of humor.

A polar bear!

This armadillo made me feel right at home.

Along with this bald eagle!

King sized bamboo shoots...

...and snow crab.

And finally my very own sushi chef!

It was about 6:30am and I was dining on sushi!  It was delicious! 

On Sunday my DH and I took a tour of Tokyo and saw some of the famous sites.

Here we are outside of the Tokyo Tower, it looks suspiciously like the Eiffel Tower!  Had some great views...

Look closely, that suspended white cloud near the horizon is really the snow cap on Mt. Fuji.

Off in the distance is Tokyo Bay and the Rainbow Bridge, Disney Tokyo is out there some place too!

An important shrine, sorry I cannot remember the name.

Next we visited the Meiji Jingu temple.  It was built in the 1920s for the first Emperor, who won control of Japan from the Shogun rulers at the time, Emperor Meiji and his consort Empress Shoken.

Its set in a lovely forested space with shaded winding paths leading to the temple buildings.

And a popular place for Sunday weddings.  We saw at least 3 wedding processions, and first one we saw had a Japanese bride with a western groom!   If he has hopes of becoming a Japanese citizen he's out of luck, it takes 7 generations of children to finally become a naturalized Japanese citizen!

DH and in front of Sake barrels!  No samples though.

In our drive through the Ginza shopping district we saw a Gold's Gym!!!

Next we visited the gardens at the Imperial Palace, the only part of the palace grounds open to the public.  Its still surrounded by a moat.

After our tour they left us in Ginza where we were interviewed by two sets of Boy and Girl Scouts on a scavenger hunt and one of the items they had to find were foreigners to interview!  It was cute.

We're staying at the Imperial Hotel, it's steeped in history of entertaining celebrities and dignitaries and now us!   It was designed by Frank Loyd Wright in 1890.

I'll leave you with the Pea, Tokyo's answer to Chicago's Bean!


Laurel said...

Thank you so much for sharing your pictures and adventures. :) The fish market is amazing, even a temple in it?! Wow! I'm glad you are getting around OK. It's such an adventure when you can't read the signs! (remembering our adventures in Russia...) I hope you continue to have a great time! Thanks again!

Sandra Singh said...

Laurel you're my biggest fan, thank you for reading.