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Sunday, March 8, 2009

Japan - Tsukiji FISH Market

Before moving on to our DAY 2 exploration, here are some of the snacks that we managed to savour the night before at Ginza.....they looked famous coz the queue to buy them was sooooo long !!!
BAUM kuchen & Mount BAUM chocolate

Day 2 we were on a free & easy day with Sach being our local tour guide!! She has really lined us a very comprehensive itineraries!!

The 1st location was to Asakusa Kannon Temple !!

Is the oldest and most popular temple in Tokyo. It is located in Asakusa, in Taito-ku, one of the 23 wards that form the metropolitan area of Tokyo. Next to it is the Shinto shrine of Asakusa Jinja. The temple is dedicated to the bodhisattva Kannon, which is known in Chinese as Kuan Yin or Guan Yin, and in English as the Goddess of Mercy, and is derived from the bodhisatva Avalokitesvara that originates in India.

According to legend, the statue of the Kannon was found in the Sumida River in the year 628AD by two fishermen, brothers Hinokuma Hamanari and Hinokuma Takenari. Their village chief turn his own home into a shrine, and placed the statue there for the villagers to worship it. Soon the reputation of the Kannon spread throughout the country and devotees flocked to the temple to venerate the statue. Although the statue is kept here, it is not shown to the public. The first temple was completed in 645, giving it the earliest date of a temple in Tokyo.

Although a Buddhist temple, the Sensoji is the site for Tokyo's largest and most popular Shinto festival, the Sanja Matsuri. It takes place in late spring, spread over 3-4 days, during which the streets around the temple is closed to traffic.

At the entrance to the Sensoji is the Kaminari Mon, or "Thunder Gate". It holds a huge paper lantern painted in dramatic red and black to suggest thunderclouds and lightning. Passing it is the Nakamise, a shopping arcade of about 200m, lined with shops selling traditional (and not so traditional) souvenirs. This leads to the Hozo Mon, or second gate. Beyond it stands the main temple building while to the left is a five storey 48m high pagoda.

Next to the Sensoji is the Asakusa Jinja, a Shinto shrine built by Tokugawa Iemitsu in 1649 in honour of the three men who established the Sensoji Temple, namely the two fishermen Hinokuma Hamanari and Hinokuma Takenari, and the village headman who built the temple, Haji no Nakatomo.

Jen has brought with her a question for Sach pertaining to "why most of the shrine has 5 levels/storeys in its' built??" Being a typical city girl, she couldn't answered of course so off she went to the reception to get an answer. Any take what's the answer??? Well, something which sounded very familiar.....that each level actually represented 5 significant elements in life i.e. air, fire, water, wind & ground ..... something like that la!!!

Apart from praying & appreciating the rich & beautiful historics of the shrines, there really isn't much to do around this place. So we had moved on very quickly.

During our strolls, i noticed CYCLING was a common transport among the japanese women, most probably housewives as they were spotted carrying their young kids/babies around!! I suppose this must be a very outskirt area!! And according to my jap colleague, most of the women in their society would quit their career to be a full time housewife and to babysit their child once they have a one. In fact she said it was very rare for them to hire a stranger maid to live together like what seemed to be a common practice back in our home country!! This certainly justified when i started to notice that there were absolutely no sights of any indon, myanmar, bangla around......as compared to our homeland......yikes !!!

Sach led us to a nearby shopping street as it was meant to be a shopping day too.....where lots of souvenirs, interesting local stuffs, foods & snacks were seen!! This was the place where i purchased most of my snacks esp. those rice crackers, any flavours, any shapes, any packaging.....just about any sizes.....!! I even bought a soft luggage bag here as i knew i needed extra storage for my goodies. As Jen was in search of hand bags, we spend nearly 2 hours around here sourcing for bags & etc. It was difficult to choose as most of the bags were well designed with extremely good quality yet at affordable prices. So guess what, Jen ended up buying nearly 4-5 handbags of various shapes, colours & sizes!! Apparently, those were meant to be given as souvenir to her siblings & relatives......gosh, thk god that's not my practice !!!

By the time we realised the clock was clicking away fast, we quickly moved on to the next stop which was supposedly a street full of shops selling kitchen gadgets!! Our dearie "yap pun mui" thought it would be a place for us since we had bento, baking & cooking as interest....that she purposely customised this place into our itinerary....hahaha
But unfortunately, most of the kitchen gadgets looked too FRAGILE to be carried on the plane back...so i had given them a pass most of the time !!! Furthermore, with such an expensive currency, most of the stuffs were selling at killer price !!!

btw, japan had their trains allocated certain time of the day for women passenger only.......COOL, rite??

Anyway, below was just one of the baking tools shop, looks nice right??

Finally, my eyes were caught up at one of the shelf in front of a shop that displayed some bento related gears i.e. nori punchers & drawing pen case!! I was thrilled & didn't hesitated to pick up 1 set each for myself. The price here was much cheaper than those sold at Tokyu Hands but some bento mamas only placed order after i left this place!! So peggy & christene bought them a little exp've at the mall....hehe

By the time we were done with all of the above, it was already close to 12pm ..... die, we were terribly behind our schedule.....blame it one shopping for sure!! Our initial plan was to reach the HIGHLIGHT SPOT of the day around 10am BUT but ......

Anyway, the highlight location for our Day 2 was :

from wikipedia
Tsukiji fish market (築地市場 Tsukiji shijō) is the biggest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world and also one of the largest wholesale food markets of any kind. The market is located in Tsukiji in central Tokyo, and is a major attraction for foreign visitors.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Central Wholesale Market, commonly known as Tsukiji fish market is located near the Tsukijishijō Station on the Toei Ōedo Line and Tsukiji Station on the Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line. There are two distinct sections of the market as a whole. The "inner market" (jonai shijo) is the licensed wholesale market, where the auctions and most of the processing of the fish take place, and where licensed wholesale dealers (approximately 900 of them) operate small stalls. The "outer market" (jogai shijo) is a mixture of wholesale and retail shops that sell Japanese kitchen tools, restaurant supplies, groceries, and seafood, and many restaurants, especially sushi restaurants.

"Most of the shops in the outer market close by the early afternoon, and in the inner market even earlier"

The market opens most mornings except Sundays and holidays and some infrequent closing days within the week[2] at 3:00 a.m. with the arrival of the products by ship, truck and plane from all over the world. Particularly impressive is the unloading of tons of frozen tuna. The auction houses (wholesalers known in Japanese as oroshi gyōsha) then estimate the value and prepare the incoming products for the auctions. The buyers (licensed to participate in the auctions) also inspect the fish to estimate which fish they would like to bid for and at which price.

The auctions start around 5:20 a.m. Bidding can only be done by licensed participants. These bidders include intermediate wholesalers [nakaoroshi gyousha] who operate stalls within the marketplace, and other licensed buyers who are agents for restaurants, food processing companies, and large retailers.

The auctions usually end around 7:00 a.m. Afterwards, the purchased fish is either loaded onto trucks to be shipped to the next destination, or on small carts and moved to the many shops located inside of the market. There the shop owners cut and prepare the products for retail. In case of large fish, for example tuna and swordfish, cutting and preparation is elaborate. Frozen tuna and swordfish are often cut with large band saws, and fresh tuna is carved with extremely long knives (some well over a meter in length) called Oroshi hocho, maguro-bocho, or Hancho hocho.

The market is most busy between 5:30 and 8:00 a.m., and the activity declines significantly afterwards. Many shops start to close around 11:00 a.m., and the market closes for cleaning around 1:00 p.m. Tourists may visit the market daily between 5 a.m. and 6:15 a.m. and watch the proceedings from a designated area.[3] However, due to the increase in numbers of sightseers and the associated problems they cause, the market decided to ban all tourists from the tuna auctions during the period between 15 December 2008 and 17 January 2009.[4] The market reopened to tourists after this period with the provision of security guards and new rules prohibiting flash photography.

Inspectors from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government supervise activities in the market to enforce the Food Hygiene Law"

Well, if u read those sentences above in 'red', you could have guess it right that we were greeted by a "CLOSED" market once we arrived the place around 1p.m.......it was a big disappointment for me as i've learn (by reading) about this place way before the trip & was well-prepared to throw myself out despite the fishy stench to capture those extravaganza moments (if what i read was true) !!! Anyway, i can't be complaining.....if u know what i mean..... Besides that, i suppose Sach was just not the type that appreciates the wet market (being the typical city girl that she is) !! I'm pretty sure she hasn't stepped into this market before as she needed to refer to the location map all the way to this place, hahaha

Anyway, along our way to the market, i came across many eateries along the street which i reckon should be interesting to explore .... if only my huby was around.....sob!! Unfortunately, it wasn't really a custom for the japanese (city) woman to eat by the road side. Sach even said, in Tokyo most of the FAST-FOOD outlets are only visited by MALE patron and it was very RARE to see women eating in those places, dang.... **i can instantly smell it** LOL LOL !!! means we will only be eating at no-cheap places, ngek ngek ngek !!!

Having said that......when i was in a real life situation facing these filthy sights & fishy stench.....i nearly wana 'puke', arghhh....guess i'm no better a specie than Sach !!!

So when the market had actually closed, what were we doing there??? Apparently, the only purpose Sach brought us there was to sumptuous the MOST fresh, original, juicy, moist, tasty, delicious, appetizing, delightful, mouth-watering SASHIMI & SUSHI ........arghhh can't described more of it !!!

There are 2 rows of little sushi shops beside the market, with only 4-5 shops still operating & many has closed!! Sach went to check around the shops and she finally decided for the ONE & ONLY that has many customers queuing in front of it. Ahead of us were at least 4 more groups waiting before it was our turn. In between the conversations, we overhead some Koreans in front of us. It seemed that the guide book that recommended them to this place, so guess there must be reason why it was pack crowded !!

Only god knows how torture it was having to stand in front of the glass door with full view of people opening their mouth wide for those much awaited sushi, moreover with the stomachs growling like a thunder storms!!! the 45 mins standing was like a 'life-time' punishment that i don't seemed to see an end to it.....

Anyway, once it was finally our turn to gulp down those sashimi, i really forgot all the pain, all the torments & the dissapointment of not having to encounter the operation of the exciting fish markets !!!

See the 'hansem' sushi boy.....he was extra ordinary 'chatty' despite the language barrier!!

And see one happy customer there !!!

**** really really missed the sashimi now ****

more interesting photos below

After our delicious sashimi meal, we walked towards the PALACE city. In fact it was a rainy day that day so we had to walk with umbrella all d time. But the aftermath of the drizzles was an extremely cool breezing, so chill so nice, simply marvelous walk!! Too bad, the Palace which was surrounded by a man-made river has been closed for visitors so we only got to see it from outside......still it was no regret !!

And we proceeded with our shopping spree (window type inclusive)!
Firstly, Sach wana showed us a unique area where the most HIPPIE-HOPPIE YOUNGSTER, FUNNY FASHIONS, WEIRD DRESSING, SEXY CHICKS, SCARRY MAKE-UPS could be seen!! sounds interesting heh?? And this place was called SHIBUYA. We just randomly hopped into one mall, looked as if window shopping but with eye-brows raising all the time, occasionally exchanging cunning smiles between us & obviously with many hidden comments!! really speechless....

Thou we were impressed with what the place has to offer but it was nevertheless a very quick stop over as the day was getting late, so our final stop was at TOKYU HANDS, a creative lifestore !! It was a place which was listed under the "MUST SEE-MUST GO place in Tokyo" i googled....little that i know that it was a place where lots of bento gears were sold, what a happy discovery to end our shopping spree !!!

Our legs nearly turned soft with the amount of walks we did on this day....so we ended our day with a chilled out night at a pub which served fried food on skewer !! Another round of NICE FOOD !!
Despite the language barrier & the exhausted mind, i was pretty surprise that the 3 women could kept talking & laughing hysterically (office gossips, MEN, colleagues, works are all part of d topics)!!

Now, nothing would possibly stop women from talking if the 'click' was there !!!

I think i must have snored the hell out that night, so tired.... can die !!! **blush** !!!

to be continued with final episode ....


Ruth said...

Wow...Japan trip again!!! ...must be brought back many Bento gears la...lol

jacss said...

again??? where got so much $$$ to again....!!!!

khongfamily said...

Wahhh..I'm drooling to see soooo many bento stuffs. You must have bought a lot eh?

wen said...

japan really has lots of stuffs to buy! the bento tools must be super cheap too eh!

angeleyes said...

I'm soooo jeles! So must go to this Tokyu hands if my Japan trip gets a green light! :P

Irene said...

hmmm... why got train time for women only ah?

Anggie's Journal said...

so nice the trips .... never think of any chances to go Japan also ..haha.

Oh ... i remember the lifestore plastic bag lei, it was the same store that my Japanese lecture bought me the 2 bento lunch box...So what did u get there ??

slavemom said...

Highlight of the day was to visit FISH mkt... interesting. Well, more for the food actually. hahaha Luckily the restaurants were open, altho the mkt was edi closed. :)
And it's really great that u had a wonderful personal tour guide. Sach was vy thotful n had ur interests planned into the itineraries.

Rjoc said...

Sounds as if you enjoyed yourself at the fish market, at least you know that the fish is fresh at the restaurants there. I can imagine you outside the restaurant waiting to get in and drooling at the people inside enjoying themselves LOL

zara's mama said...

You looked the happiest at the last photo.. must be all the Bento shopping.. :P