Getting comfortable on the Shinkansen to Tokyo
The first place we went to in Tokyo, after dropping off our suitcases at the excellent Mitsui Garden hotel near Tokyo Tower, was Shibuya. Last time I was in Tokyo I’d really wanted to see the busy crossing I saw in the movie ‘Lost in Translation’, but I got confused about its location and only found out it was in Shibuya when it was too late. This time I was going to see it for sure! And the place did not disappoint! It’s the world’s busiest scramble crossing just outside of Shibuya station (I came so close without knowing it last time), and when it’s time for the pedestrians to cross vehicles in all directions are stopped. Here is a movie I made standing outside on the crossing, but the poor quality of my digital camera makes it look like it was taken from behind glass or a curtain of plastic. Still it gives a nice impression of what’s it like to cross the street in Shibuya.
Me with perhaps a Himegyaru
Yasu taking a bite of crêpe
Tokyo's orange Eiffel Tower and the moon
The view from the main observatory
For dinner we met up with one of Yasu’s friends from college, Yuppian. She now lives and works in Yokohama and had wanted to meet Yasu’s girlfriend for quite some time now. She even did some research into Dutch culture and told me that Dutch people are supposedly modest and don’t like to waste things. Always interesting to hear what foreigners think of us, not sure about it’s accuracy though. Anyway, we had dinner in a cute izakaya (which I had spotted last time I was in Tokyo), where they grilled our food right in front of us at the bar. I tried some Japanese thing I hadn’t before like grilled squid and oden (stuff stewed in a soy-flavored dashi broth eaten with mustard). The latter always scared me a bit so I never tried it before, but it’s not bad at all. It was great to meet Yuppian and the food was great.
Yuppian biting into some garlicky fried chicken
Another thing I had really wanted to see the last time was the Tsukiji fish market. I had once seen a Kyushu fish market on a Dutch travel show on TV, and it looked really interesting, with hundreds of different kinds of fish everywhere and nice sushi places where you could eat the freshest fish ever. The Tokyo Metropolitan Central Wholesale Market (which is the market’s official name) is the biggest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world, so my expectations were high. But our visit was disappointing and almost life-threatening. Maybe if we’d had a guide, the visit could have been awesome, but when we went there on Monday morning, we almost got lost in some kind of factory with boxes full of food (not fish) and hundreds of men riding around on scary vehicles in such a hurry that they didn’t seem to mind running over some lost tourists as we were probably extremely in the way. Luckily Yasu saved himself quickly enough on some occasions, and after we escaped from the scary parts of the market, we tried to stay in the area crowded by foreign tourists, where we felt safer.
Tsukiji fish-less madness
Our trip to Tokyo was certainly different from what I’d expected but I still had a great time. It was crowded and hot, but I saw a lot of the things I didn’t get to see last time, even if they were not what I had imagined them to be. I left the place very satisfied and ready for our next stop: Tokyo Disneyland.