It seems that everything is possible in Tokyo. We took the quick route to ‘dress up’ as maids in the photo above but we could have gone to a place for ‘cosplay’ (costume play) where people go to dress up as their favourite super hero and have their photo taken. Instead we’ve visited a cat cafe, had a drink in the smallest bar we’ve ever seen, taken a bonsai class, gone to the fish market, seen a wedding procession, spent several hours in Tokyu Hands department store and just wandered the city streets trying to take it all in…
We managed a sneaky photo of these two girls (although one of them was actually a boy) meeting up at Shinjuku metro station. They were busy admiring each other’s outfit.
Whenever we want a break from the city streets, we visit one of the parks. Yoyogi Park next to Harajuku is one of the most popular.
Having seen those amazing flowering Azalea bonsai in Ueno Park, we were keen to see more and visited Shunkaen Bonsai museum outside central Tokyo. Privately owned by Kabayashi-san who does bonsai demonstrations all over the world, the garden is jam-packed with bonsai trees, some 500 – 1000 years old and costing up to 1 million US dollars each!!
Nick went back a few days later for a private introductory lesson. We can only imagine what state our own garden will be in when we get home and a few extra skills might come in handy.
You really could shop until you drop here. From grand department stores to fashion to souvenirs to delicate Japanese arts and crafts…
Our favourite is Tokyu Hands where we spent a good couple of hours. Under one roof they sell DIY and craft supplies, modern Japanese design, self assembly hobby kits of ancient castles, suitcases and travel goods, small pets, tooth brushes, cosmetics and much much more. Many items are unique to Japan and last time I was in Tokyo I wanted to buy a device to affix an umbrella to a bicycle handle (yes they exist) and this was where I found it.
Tsukiji, the wholesale fish market in Tokyo is the largest in the world selling 2000 tons of seafood a day. We didn’t want to queue at 3am for access to the tuna auction but went along at 9am which is when tourists are allowed in to the wholesale area.
By that time most of the large fish have been sold and the vendors are busy handling their deliveries and are starting to pack up but we got a great sense of the sheer size and how busy it is whilst having to jump aside for electric buggies whizzing around. It’s not easy combining an intense work place with 1000s of tourists and we are really surprised that they still allow tourists to visit this area.
Outside the main market you can also buy fruit & veg, knives and other kitchen equipment and there are lots of small restaurants giving visitors a chance to eat the freshest sushi straight from Tsukiji.
We are staying in a small studio flat and we are trying to take time out to do some exercises in the morning, relax with a book or movie and cook dinner a home, just for a change… I have a couple of friends in Tokyo and it’s been great going out for lunch and dinner with people who live here.
We haven’t written much about the food but it’s GREAT and it’s EVERYWHERE. I would like to eat everything I see pretty much. I don’t even mind eating things like jellyfish, raw eggs, raw chicken or chicken tendons because I know it has all been properly prepared. Most days we eat relatively simple meals (noodles, soups, sushi) and for $8-12 you get a really tasty and satisfying meal. The sweets all look intriguing and you generally cannot guess what it is until you take a bite so we’ve been trying quite a few – all in the name of research of course!
Many upscale restaurants are much cheaper at lunch time than dinner and yesterday we had a sukiyaki meal (pronounced skiyaki) at Yoshihashi, a Michelin starred restaurant ($22 at lunch instead of $200). We will try more of these but the food at regular restaurants is so delicious that you don’t really need to.