Tokyo Take 3 – Fish Market & Harajuku

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Oooh buddy! The last month of my life has been a whirlwind of emotions, travels, and turning my life upside down, but hopefully I can get everything up to date on here {fortunately for me, my adventures rarely stop…unfortunately for my blog, my adventures rarely stop!}

Day 3 in Tokyo I told myself I’d take it a little easier, I had been go, go, go for far too long and my body was finally screaming at me to take a break! After going to bed at a somewhat decent time the night before I woke up somewhat early in hopes of making it to Tokyo’s morning fish market. From what I have read this is the largest fish market in the world! The daily market begins around 4-5 am with the most popular tuna auctions, but they only let a limited amount of visitors in to see the auctions each morning and it is recommended to line up for tickets by 3am. I thought it would be cool to see, but at 3am, my pillow is also really awesome! So needless to say I didn’t see the tuna auction, but I was at the market by 9:30am and was able to stroll through the outdoor fish markets and other vendor stalls, which was really fun to see in its own respect as well!

If there was a type of fresh fish or seafood that you were craving, the Tsukiji fish market had it…guaranteed! Also if sushi at 9am is your thing…the various stands squeezed between the fish stalls had you taken care of in that regard as well! The options were terrific, the people watching was amazing, and the smells were quite questionable, but overall, I loved this unique market. As I was starting to head out my stomach took over and decided it needed food like 2 hours ago, I wasn’t so keen on fish at 10am, but wasn’t sure what else to try. I spotted a lady stirring a large pot and figured I’d try what was inside…that’s when she pointed behind me and I saw a line at least 15 people deep waiting to eat at her stand {she literally had 5 chairs at her stand and people were eating elbow to elbow!} I figured it had to be good and hoped in line, still having NO idea what she was selling. I watched what people ahead of me were buying and when it was my turn did my signature “1 please” and sure enough, I always get 1 of the “house specialties”! It was a braised pork over rice and tasted pretty close to what I’m assuming Heaven tastes like if God decided to give it a flavor!

After the market I walked in the direction of a famous park in Tokyo, but instantly decided to not pay to go inside when the rain sprinkles turned into a light drizzle, so onwards and upwards! One of the last place I really wanted to check out was in an area called Shibuya. Many of the sites that I read about Tokyo on recommend this area and I figured it was worth a visit! Getting out of the subway station there is a 5 way intersection immediately in front of you, and this intersection is unreal. I have NEVER seen such a busy intersection in my life! As soon as the cars get a red light there are people coming and going from literally every direction filling the entire area in the blink of an eye. I just stood through several red lights watching everyone around me before I actually crossed the street!
I walked around this area for a bit picking up a couple of souvenirs along the way and stopping at a local curry joint for a late lunch before running into a pair of traveling girls {one from Australia & the other Germany} who had only met the day before as well. We stopped for some desert & drinks and enjoyed each other’s company for the afternoon until we parted ways.

The last place on my personal Tokyo list, and about the last my poor body could handle!, was to check out the geek/anime culture in the Harajuku District. Holy moly, was this area weird! Lol I loved it! There were people dressed up quite eccentrically, shops selling clothing that I never knew existed, and just overall “creatures” that you might have to look long and hard to find in the mid-west of the USA! But, here they were, all together, and all for my personal people watching enjoyment!

After Harakuju I went back to my hostel for a short nap (7pm naps are a thing…right?!) And then per the suggestion of the girls I had met earlier in the day, found an Okonomi restaurant near where I was staying. I was told it’s a traditional Japanese food and some people call it a Japanese pancake…I had nothing else, and boy was I in for a surprise! I ordered a pork Okonomi as it looked like that was a popular option and was then quickly worried when they turned a burner on on my table and presented me with a bowl of white mush, cabbage, a raw egg, and raw meat….ummm, is this my meal?! After a minute or two I caught a waitress’s eye, pointed at the slimy, raw bowl of food in front of me and shrugged my shoulders, she quickly caught on and came over to make my food for me! She mixed everything together into a questionable looking paste and tossed it on the griddle in a thick pancake like form. Later I went to check if I should flip it and another waitress quickly slapped my hand away! Haha…they have this covered now. Eventually my food was ready and as I am eating it yet another waitress comes over and takes it from it and starts covering it with a number of sauces from the table (I had been trying a new one with each bite!) and then hands me my food back. It may not have been the most flavorful food in my life, but the experience still makes me chuckle!
I went back to the red-light district for a bit to take in some more of its craziness, and then called my last night in Tokyo a wrap.

Wednesday, before flying home I packed my bags, grabbed some pork & rice for breakfast and headed back to Harakuju only to find that the shops weren’t open yet. I took that as my clue and headed to the train station, airport bound, and ready for one last week of teaching in Taiwan.