Big Tuna Day

We learned our lesson from yesterday and arrived at the fish market bright and early at 2.55 am and were about 20th in line. This meant we got to be in the first group of 60 into the auction, but we had to wait 2.5 hours until it started.  We passed the time reading our kindles and people watching in a small, very hot and humid, reception room.  When it was finally time, we were very carefully escorted through the incredibly busy and very large market to the tuna auction house.  We watched people poke and prod the tuna with sharp hooks for about 20 minutes before the auction began.

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The actual auction was honestly less exciting than seeing the giant tunas and the flurry of activity going on around the market. After it was over, we made our way back to another part of the market where we had a breakfast of delicious, very fresh sushi, sashimi, and sea urchin.

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At this point it was a very late 6.30 in the morning and Lynn and I were ready for naps.  The earlier rain had stopped so we elected to walk back and stopped at the Hie Shrine, which was very lovely but completely full of mosquitoes.

After a few hours nap (some of which was spent figuring out how to run a load of laundry in the Japanese washing machine we had free access to), we took the subway to Shibuya for tonkatsu in a department store.  Despite the fact that it was basically in a mall food court, it was incredibly delicious.

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Full on tonkatsu and rice, Lynn and I started out on a park hopping walk through Yoyogi park and the Shinjuku National Gardens.  We had only just made it to Shinjuku when a lot of thunder started echoing around us.  We quickly sought shelter under a vending machine stand and drank green tea and Dr. Pepper while it absolutely poured for about 45 minutes.

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After the rain was over we continued our walk through the park before going up the nearby Tokyo Metropolitan Government building, where they have a free observation deck on the 45th floor.  You don’t realize how absolutely massive Tokyo is until you can see it from above, it literally stretched in every direction as far as we could see.

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As a perfect cap on the day, we met one of Lynn’s friends, Yohei, at a sake restaurant for dinner.  Yohei has a reputation for taking Lynn to ridiculously unassuming and hidden restaurants that turn out to be the best food you have ever had, and this was no exception.  Located in the basement of an “escort bar,” this restaurant has no menu, no website, no phone number – it survives on word of mouth and reputation alone – and it was easy to see why they can get away with that.  The couple running the restaurant served the three of us and one additional diner with whatever they felt like preparing and it was all amazing.  Appetizers of mackarel sashimi, ginger root with miso, and sweet corn led up to seared Wagyu beef  and pork belly with each course accompanied by a round of sake.

Full up on sake, beef, soured plums, and all manner of other food we called it a night to get ready for our trip to Nagano in the morning.

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Daily Walking Mileage: 14

Impressions of Japan :

  • It’s incredibly clean, even though there are no trash cans anywhere.  Seriously, we’ve walked around for an hour holding trash, looking for somewhere to throw it away.
  • It is very easy to get around and everyone is very friendly and is eager to help even if they don’t speak English.  Yohei asked us what has been the hardest part of being in Japan so far and we really couldn’t think of anything.
  • For every Japanese restaurant, there is an almost equal number of Italian restaurants.  We think noodles are the common theme.
  • Every businessmen dresses the exact same (see picture).

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