Japan Trip Day 1 – Tsujiki Fish Market & Ginza
Finally going to continue on this blog post. It’s been a month since I came back, hopefully I can still remember some of the details that I want to write about. Well, this is the first morning of our 2-week long Japan trip, and we didn’t have much trouble getting out of bed due to jet lag. So far so good. Our train route today is:
Ginza Line: Asakusabashi Station -> Ginza Station
Above is a Tokyo train map I found online. There are many online, and this was the best one I can find.
From Ginza station, we headed to Tsukiji Fish Market in the morning to see how a real fish market operates. We left our hostile at around 6:30 and arrived at around 7:00. We thought there will be fish auctions, but it seems to be over by the time we got there. It was kinda disappointing, but we still saw lots of gigantic fishes that I don’t know the name of. I think they’re tuna, but since I lack common sense and was too lazy to find out, I’m not sure. The fish market was massive though, there were 100+ fish vendors, and it is interesting to see people from restaurants can come and buy fish at its best.
Since this is the fish market, obviously there are also plenty of sushi/sashimi restaurants around. We walked around and found that the stores either had very few customers or very long lines. I didn’t really want to wait, but my friends really wanted some good sushi, so we waited anyways. After a long debate, we decided to try out a Tuna-only store. The wait was shorter than I expected, and we were able to get in and eat in about 15 minutes. Unfortunately, this is the first day, so I haven’t gotten into picture-taking mode. So I didn’t take a picture of the storefront, only the food. My Maguro bowl cost 1000Y, but it was worth every penny (or Yen in this case), and I rate it 4/5. The only thing I remember about the location is that it’s at the end of one of the streets, and it’s right next to a Salmon-only store. Both of these had long lines outside of it.
Our plan for the afternoon is to go around Ginza and just have a look around one of Tokyo’s busiest places. There were a few locations of interest such as the Sony building, Wako store (very expensive mall), and Mitsukoshi (less expensive mall). All the cool places were conveniented located around Ginza’s train station, and it wasn’t too bad to walk everywhere. We did stop at a coffee shop, Le Cafe Doutor, at the intersection w/ Wako and Mitsukoshi to rest our tired legs. The beverages here are quite expensive… I had a “large” hot chocolate for 600Y… The store had two stories and you can have a decent view of the streets.
For lunch, we had ramen. Again, I didn’t take pictures of the storefront, but I do remember it is a chain ramen shop called “Nine Dragons”. They’re ramen is pretty good (3.5/5), and since ramen is definitely on the cheap side of things here in Japan, I can see why so many people eat it. One thing that’s consistent across most ramen stores is that you don’t order at the table. You buy tickets from a vending machine near the door, sit down, then hand the chefs the ticket, and they will bring you your food. It’s a pretty innovative way to save time so people won’t have to look at the menu after they sit down. This is also true for fast “bowl” places like Yoshinoya.
After lunch, we continued to go through the streets of Ginza. We also made our way to a Japanese arcade for the first time. The one we went to was two-stories high with plenty of variety. The first floor had mainly crane games, while the second floor had fighting games, music games, and even lots of multiplayer games. Apparently there is quite a lot of games in Japan that connect you to other players in other arcades across Japan. So you can have multiple player experience even if you go by yourself. They also played a “Romance of the Three Kingdoms” action game using cards! You actually move the cards around to maneuver units that are on screen. It was pretty cool, and I wanted to take a picture, but it wasn’t allowed. And I didn’t want to start breaking laws on my first day. Well, actually I did now that I think about it. I took a photo inside, but that was before I found out they didn’t allow it. Other locations we went to included a Nissan building, which was pretty small and boring and Bic Camera, which is like Best Buy + Sears on crack. We didn’t realize it was a chain at the time, but every Bic Camera has multiple stories, and it anything and everything from cameras to video games to appliances to computer parts. Anything electronic that you need, you will probably find it here.
Ginza’s night life wasn’t as spectacular as I expected, but maybe it’s cause we went on a weekday night. But the streets are still beautiful with lots of lit up buildings, and you can definitely feel a type of livelihood you can only find in urban cities.
Evaluation: The Tsujiki Fish Market is a rare sight, and I recommend it for any traveler. I would suggest getting there at around 6:00 AM, since we didn’t see any fish auctions when we arrived at 7:00 AM. They also have the best sashimi/sushi that Tokyo has to offer. Ginza is a must-see only if you’re into high-classed and sophisticated living. We didn’t realize it while we’re there, but the things in Ginza are more expensive than other parts of Tokyo (which is already expensive in general). Wako is perhaps the most expensive department store I’ve set foot in, so you’ll love it if you’re into buying expensive brand names. I heard Ginza’s bars and night life is also very cool, but unfortunately we didn’t have a chance to experience it.