October 10, 2008: “Day #8: Adventures in Tokyo, Part 3”

Friday, October 10, 2008: “Day #8: Adventures in Tokyo, Part 3”

Konnichiwa!

We went to the Tskigi (the “T” is silent) Fish Market this morning.  There are no pictures or words that could accurately describe this amazing experience.  We saw the fish auction where they auction fish that were caught the previous night and then flash frozen.  Some of these fish weigh hundreds of pounds and depending upon the “grade” of fish, they can go for upwards of $75,000!!!!  Pike’s Place Market will NEVER be the same experience again … it isn’t even a fish market compared to the Tskigi Fish Market.  We were there at 5:30AM JST.  It is so busy and over stimulating that it’s an overwhelming experience.  People are everywhere!  The natives detest the tourists because most of them are rude but if you say “sumi masen” (“excuse me”) they are much more polite.  We saw the large fish saws and people cutting the large fish into smaller pieces … I even got a neat picture of the biggest fish head I have ever seen!  The eels are usually sold alive so I tried to take pictures but they swim so furiously that it’s a bit hard to capture on camera.

In Japan they have fish broilers built into their cook-top but no ovens!  They have a very small microwave/oven (a 13×9 pan barely fits) and the oven feature doesn’t work very well.  In Japan they rarely bake anything.

It is socially acceptable for men to discreetly urinate in public on bushes and such, but it is not socially acceptable for women to do this.  On our way to the Tskigi Fish Market we saw a man urinating in an ally!  It was quite odd (and no, I didn’t take a picture).

I was asked if the Japanese actually pay $157 USD for a cantaloupe and the answer is … Yes!  It’s amazing but melons are considered good luck so they will buy the most expensive cantaloupe I have ever laid eyes on for special occasions or if someone is dying.  How a $157 melon is going to cure someone who is dying is beyond me but that is their custom.

We shopped again in the kitchen/restaurant district today.  I finally found two sets of matching plates.  One set is rectangular (how unique!) and one set is smaller and square.  I couldn’t believe my good fortune to find plates that matched the set I had previously purchased.

I paid to have my dishes and glassware items professionally packed – which cost less than $20!  I am packaging up the remaining items to ship back via US mail tomorrow.  By the time I am done mailing my “treasures” back to the states it will be a total of 7-8 boxes!  Fortunately I was able to buy a lot of Christmas and birthday presents for the upcoming year.

Shopping in Japan is like no other experience on earth.  It’s quite different from shopping in America (which I have very little patience for) because in Japan shopping allows you to interact with the people and learn more about their culture.  I am very glad that I have had the opportunity to learn a few Japanese words, learn their monetary system, and see how grateful everyone is in their culture.

Among my finds were three HUGE hollowed out bamboo vases.  For a total of three – all different heights – it was only $20!  Lisa and I could scarcely believe it!  Now I just have to figure out how to package them!

Keep in mind that whatever you buy in Japan you must tote along in your backpack or carry.  It does wear on your body after a while – especially with standing room only on the train at times.  But, the experiences here will be with me for a lifetime.

When Lisa and I got back from Tokyo we went to the most amazing sushi restaurant called “Shin’s.”  His small restaurant only serves 16 people but there was only room for eight at the bar.  We were able to reserve seats at the bar and we watched him make all the sushi.  Sushi in Japan is amazing.  It’s fresh, not fishy, and they take such care and pride in their preparation.  For a chef to serve sushi he/she must complete a special sushi course at a culinary art’s school.  It is truly considered an art in Japan.  I even tried their Kobe beef and it was quite delicious.

A cute note for the day: Lisa told me that when she was teaching her 10-year-old Japanese students English flash cards they came across a goose flashcard.  Instead of saying “goose” they all immediately said “Aflac!”  I thought that was too adorable for words.

I can’t remember if told you but in Ginza, the 90210 district, land is sold by the square inch!  Isn’t that insane?

Tomorrow will be a day to tie up loose ends.  I plan on sleeping in a little (I really am exhausted from walking so much) and then packing up my remaining items.  I need to go to the Post Office on base to mail my items, too.  Afterward we’ll see how much time we have left in the day.  I would love to visit Kamakura again and see some additional temples.

I hope all is going well!

Tsukiji Fish Market Auction

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