Only Planet

One Child, One Year, One Planet. A family of three traveling around the world...

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Thursday, August 18, 2005

Tokyo Japan: There's Something Fishy Here...

Dylan has woken us up at 5:00 am for the past two mornings. You can't blame the girl. Where she comes from, her body is telling her it's 1:00 pm and since sleep has overtaken her at 7:00p.m., she is getting 10 h0urs of sleep. Prior to coming to Tokyo, I knew from a previous visit that if we were to wake up really early, the best thing for us to do is get up, hop on the train and go to the Tsukiji Central Fish Market to catch the fisherman scene and have some sushi for breakfast. You may ask why anyone would want to go a fish market on their first day in Japan. Or for that matter, why would you want to go to a fish market at all. For starters, although I dont have any hard facts on it, I'm willing to bet that the Japanese eat more fish per capita than any other citizens of the world. Given that Japan with its outlying suburbs is the largest city in the world, it can start boggling the mind to think about how much fish goes through people's hands and mouths here. So imagine a building the size of nine city blocks filled with every type of fish imaginable. Every morning around 2:00am fisherman drop off their loads and buyers from local restaurants and businesses come in and bid for the catch of the day. It's an amazing crazy scene that I've only seen on a Travel Channel special, since it is not open to the public, but just seeing the aftermath, I can imagine the chaos. Three wheeled vehicles that look like forklifts, but drive like scooters, spewing toxic fumes race around picking up deliveries. Dylan was sure that she would die at the market as a result of being run over by one of this carts. Fishmongers with cigarettes hanging out of their mouths were weilding samauri swords and chopping up fish the size of an Irish Wolfhound. Crates of octopus, eels, and crabs were stacked waist high, while squid the likes of which Jules Verne could only imagine we're splayed out on tables. Amazingly enough, this rich human and fishy drama wasn't just played out for us, but happens every day of the year. I guess that song is right, there are too many fish in the sea. By 8:00 am we were getting hungry (amazingly enough the smells of diesel, cigarette smoke and fish did not curb our appetite), and sought out some sushi from one the the hundreds of tiny restaurants that ring the market. Knowing that the fish was alive just a few minutes ago, we had high expectations for our sushi and we were not disappointed. Buttery rich tuna, salmon, and shrimp topped tiny bits of rice and we were happy.

After the sushi breakfast, we walked up to a part of town called Ginza where the rich and beautiful shop. Unfortunately they don't crawl out of bed till 11:00 am since most of the stores did not open until then. Tokyo, aside from the crowd at the fish market, is not a town for early risers. Most shops do not open before 10:00, it's tough to get a good breakfast out, and I think many folks eat at home, so the tourists are left to their hotels, until the lunch counters open at 11:30. Things stay open really late here, but I don't know if we'll get to enjoy the nightlife if we keep crashing at 7:00pm!

Both yesterday afternoon, and today we have returned to our hotel in the late afternoon to rest of up and avoid the heat. We are literally able to chill out, since the air con is blasting in our room (thank you to the hotel maid who cranks it up after she leaves) and get our second shower of the day in. I've christened our hotel, the Barton Fink (It's really called the Princess Garden Meguro) because we've seen no one around. Well, today at breakfast we saw a small handful of tourists, but until then, there was no one in the hallways, no one in the lobby, and a sad dejected pile of suitcases by the front desk that no one has claimed since we arrived. This place really gives off the same vibe as the hotel in the movie Barton Fink. In fact it's even got a creepy laundry room in the basement of the parking garage. Actually, the washing machines don't even warrant a room to themselves but are stuck along the side of the garage, where anyone can pull right up and park. Yikes!

Our adventures today we're much more pedestrian, literally. We walked many a city block looking at plastic food, stores full of chopsticks and a shrine or two. Tonight we're off to dinner with some co-workers that Andy knows who are based in the Tokyo ESI office and tomorrow plans for Dylan's second pilgrimage of the trip (the one after morning sushi, and before Disneyland), Studio Ghibli. Until then....


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