Thursday, May 26, 2011

Japan... day two and three (aka the longest post ever)

Straight up I just want to apologise for this post.  I'm not very good at retrospective blogging.  I guess when I write I usually like to hone in on one small aspect of a day, and try to find the humanity in it, to find the humour, make it relatable or at the very least try and explain where my head is at.  When something big like a holiday or a wedding happens I feel a kind of pressure to give you a much bigger picture, tell you every little thing that happened.  I find myself becoming detached and writing some kind of fleshed out itinerary, like the kind of stories you write in primary school where every sentence begins with 'And then…'.  So I hope you'll forgive me today, as we speed through the last two days of my Japan trip.  I've got a kind of bizarre post planned for tomorrow and then we'll all hop in our time machine and zip back to the present day - hopefully with a few cute photos of the kids, some cooking and news of where our building project is at.

We started off our second day in Tokyo with a trip to the Tsukiji fish market.  The tuna auctions have been closed to the public since the tsunami, but there was still plenty to see in the main wholesale market, and frankly I don't think I would have been up for the 4:30am start even if it had been an option.  We rocked up at about 9am which is when the main wholesale market is opened to the public.  By this time most of the professional trade has already wrapped up so they don't mind tourists coming in to poke around and take pictures.  Even at this time it's a pretty hectic fast paced environment with narrow laneways, and people rushing along with trucks and carts.  It was fascinating to see the fishmongers at work.  They were basically hacking massive tuna fish apart with axes and swords!  

The Mr had sushi breakfast at one of the little restaurants that the market is famous for.  I couldn't really stomach raw fish for breakfast so opted for a prepackaged convenience store cake instead.  To be honest I was kind of freaked out by the possibility of high radiations levels in the fish… probably hyper paranoid but I kept having visions of this…

Next stop was Harajuku.  I'd have to say this was the low light of the trip.  I was thinking there was going to be fantastic people watching and more interesting shopping but it seemed to be more of the same of what we'd already seen in Ginza.  We went to Kiddyland, another multi-storey toy shop but it wasn't as good as Hakuhinkan Toy Park and we got a bit lost trying to find it.  We were planning to go to the Brown Rice Cafe for lunch but it was near impossible to find and when we finally did get there it was closed.  We ended up at a nice cafe for some delicious soba noodles so it wasn't a complete bust.

From there we made our way on the train to Shibuya, home of the busiest intersection on earth.  I think this was the only time during the trip that the Mr. slowed down.  I think if I hadn't been there he would have spent the rest of the trip taking videos of the crowds massing across the intersection.  I spent my time marvelling at the wide variety of socks and hosiery worn by the women of Tokyo and wondering whether thigh high socks and toeless stockings worn with high high heels are fashions that will ever translate here in Australia.  I finally tore the Mr away from his crosswalk obsession so we could do more shopping, and eat.

Bento boxes and washi tape (Japanese masking tape for the uninitiated) are two of my favourite things in the world so of course I stocked up.  I also bought stacks of cute stickers for the kids.  Here is some of the loot…

After a particularly terrible nights sleep at our hotel (more on this tomorrow) and a bought of food poisoning we made a very early start.  We got on the train and headed to Nippori, fabric town.  Just a word of warning if you travel to Tokyo most of the shops don't open until ten.  This meant we had about two hours to kill in Nippori.  Apparently there is a lookout to Mt Fuji here but it was a particularly smoggy day with no chance of a view.  So instead we just killed time watching the locals riding their bikes to work (hardly anyone seems to drive a car) and the Mr had breakfast at a tiny roadside noodle bar which seemed to be a favourite for locals stopping for breakfast on their way to work.  I was still reeling from my food poisoning.

After fabric town we hopped on a train to Rikugien, which was probably my favourite stop of the whole trip.  These stunning gardens are so peaceful and quiet it's hard to believe they're in the middle of a big city.  We had a bento box for our lunch from a little kiosk in the middle of the gardens.  They had set the outdoor tables with lace doilies and little vases of wild flowers.  It was really beautiful sitting there sipping green tea and watching little children picnicking and playing with a kite under the shade of some enormous trees.  Most the garden is rambling and informal, but there is a more manicured, formal section with a lake with carp and turtles swimming around.

And then we flew home…

I hope this wasn't the world's longest and most boring post ever!  Props if you read this far!


  1. I read the whole thing! YAY for me. ;)
    Very interesting, as I've never been to Japan. Bummer about the food poisoning. x

  2. I had a lovely vicarious trip to Tokyo, thanks Sus :) That house in Nippori is so intriguing (top right photo) with the extremely sloped roof and pop out window - I want to know what they have/do in that top section? Very different to the shoe box house we're building...

  3. Quite fascinating for this never-gone-overseas girl :) How beautiful were those gardens? And those bento boxes are just the cutest things. Hope you have recovered well from the unlucky food poisoning xo

  4. A bento box with Miffy on it!
    Aw, had I known your blog existed in time, I would have asked you to do some shopping for me... ;-)