“This may be your last chance to see the markets in this location”, our guide, Nori told us today. After about eighty years at Tsukiji, the Tokyo Metropolitan Central Wholesale Market is moving at the end of next year to make way for a venue for the Olympic Games, being held in Tokyo in 2020.
Although it’s often said one of the “must do” things about Tokyo is to get up early (three or four in the morning) and to line-up to witness the excitement of the seafood auction at the market, that’s not really “my kind of thing”. But I do love food, and I love learning about the culture of a country through food, and so I booked to take part in the Tsukiji Fish Market Food Tour.
Over the course of three and a half hours (starting at 8.30am), we wandered around the markets, and tasted dried bonito, Japanese tea, fresh oysters, fried fish cake, sake, and also witnessed the art involved in making Japanese omelettes. And I learned so much on this tour. I never knew, for example, fish with bigger eyes were the ones which you’re most likely to found in deeper water (though of course it makes total sense). I’d also never seen the wasabi plant before, and noted when I shared the photograph earlier today on social media, many others hadn’t either. The tour ended with sushi at a stand-up restaurant called Chiyoda Sushi
There are quite a few of them around Tokyo, and Nori described them as places where you can obtain good sushi at reasonable prices. I thought it was probably the best sushi I’ve had in my life, to be honest.
Nori was a really great guide: knowledgeable, friendly, and with a sense of humour. He told us he also worked as a part-time primary school teacher, and was a member of the Japanese defence force, and so he was also very good at keeping us on track, and stopped us from getting run over in the hustle and bustle of the market. I also think it helped our group was small: only four people, a Chinese woman, a stay at home mum who home-schools from Singapore with a real passion for Japanese food; and a young couple from the United States, with a young child, and with a passion for travel and food also. At 9,000 yen (about $90 AUD), I thought the tour was excellent value and would highly recommend it to you.
After lunch I came back to the hotel for a siesta. I’m quite partial to the siesta as a general rule, and with the continued warm conditions in Tokyo (another day above 30 degrees), it just made sense.
Later this afternoon I headed off to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building to watch the sunset. Weighing up the different options for a sunset view, I decided on this building over the Tokyo Tower and the Tokyo Sky Tree. One of the observations I’ve made over a number of years of travel, is that when it comes to views, you shouldn’t go “too high”. I think you’re always better when you’re high enough off the ground to still be able to see the ground, and the people below. And yes, it was great. An added bonus was good views of Mount Fuji, located about 100km from Tokyo.
On arriving back at the hotel tonight, I had a simple meal. For a couple of days I’ve been intrigued by the restaurant/bar below simply called “Ham and Cheese, Beer and Wine” (the four basic food groups, surely?). So I popped in there, where I had a sausage and a glass of rose which was delicious, or as I learned to say today… it was oishi.