Toooo the Ginza–And Beyond!

Some things I found out today: The Tokyo subway system can in fact be navigated if one has a PHD, Men at giant fish auctions are a bit ornery at 5:30 AM, every major clothing designer can be found in a three block area of the city, Kabuki Theater = nap time,  and I can totally pull off a vest :-p.

Moving on. The day started at roughly 4AM when a series of alarms shocked me awake just as I was getting over my jet lag. We hastily boarded the first subway of the day over at the Todaimae Station (right outside the university gates) which reminds me that I should make a quick note here that contrary to many of the universities in the U.S., Bunkyo has very few people who actually live on the campus (7AM floods of students out of the station are a daily thing). Anyway, after exchanging trains by illegally hopping the ticket taker thing we managed to make it to the Tsukijishijo Station located near Tokyo Bay. This area is home to The Tsukiji Fish Market, the world’s largest seafood market. Navigating the market was an adventure in itself, we were constantly diving out of the way of swarming forklifts and tiny motorized carts pulling everything from giant ice blocks to gutted Tunas. As we cautiously crept through the never ending warehouse packed, like sardines ironically, with tourist and fishermen alike, we furiously snapped pictures of everything in site. The “finish line,” so to speak, came when we arrived at a third warehouse garage-type  in which sat the largest amount of Tuna I have ever seen! Hordes of American and Japanese tourists huddled against the giant warehouse doors all hoping to get a better look at the live auction that was occurring inside. The auction, I should mention, only happens very early in the morning which is why we wanted to be 40 minutes from our beds at 5:30AM. It was amazing though we only got to take a brief look of it before angry salesmen and workers pushed us out of the way–apparently they don’t enjoy having tourists snap pictures of them at work, who knew? We left the market after a considerable amount of pictures and cart-dodging and made our way towards the Ginza, Tokyo’s wealthier area.

Giant Tuna at the auction

Giant Tuna at the auction

More about the Ginza later as it was all closed, not surprisingly, at 7:00AM. We made our next stop at Hibiya Park where feet were rested, kitties were photographed, and confusing Greek sculptures were seen. Our goal for the morning besides getting to Tsukiji was the Imperial Palace, seat of the Japanese Emperor. Let me just mention quickly for those reading this who are like me and know little about this place that the Emperor is much like an asocial Queen of England with less power. Lately there has been a lot of controversy on whether or not to even keep a royal family in power here because it is a waste of taxpayer money to support the needs of someone who doesn’t do anything (very basic description). We toured the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace Grounds which used to house the lords of the land back in Edo (before it was called Tokyo) times. Nowadays, however, it has been renovated to look much like a giant garden speckled with  small houses of various purposes. Check the picture link in the prior post to see what it looked like.

To save on space I’m going to jump over the whole afternoon because it was mostly us passed out in the dorm from walking what seemed like forever earlier that morning. Tonight was the night we were scheduled to head into the Ginza once again and see some of Japan’s most famous and traditional art form, Kabuki Theater. We all put on our shiny shoes and made our way to the theater which looked like someone dropped a 17th century building in the middle of a 21st century neighborhood to be honest. The show was very “different” as a Minnesotan would code for “Wow get me out of here;” there really was not a lot going on, and I soon found myself fast asleep. We watched two different plays which told the story first of a smuggler who gets busted by another man (again, basic description), and the second was a short play about a man who kidnaps and rapes a woman who as a consequence falls madly in love with him–really wholesome family fun.

We all look very nice outsidethe theater

We all look very nice outside the theater

Our night concluded with a few of our gracious hosts (some of the girls from the university) coming upwards to two hours from home to take us out to dinner. We packed ourselves into a few tiny elevators and proceeded to dumbfound the host at the restaurant when we asked for a table of 12. One more interesting difference here though is that instead of a “wait time” at restaurants, they will just shift existing tables, occupied or not, around to accommodate you. Very cool. Steve and I sipped beers and chatted with two of the students over a collection of various Japanese dishes while everyone else was mingling  on the far end of the table. Good times were had by all :-). After dinner, a subway ride home let us off with only a giant hill up to our dorm as the last challenge, and fitting end, to our immensely long day.

Until tomorrow,

~Pat

PS: Just wanted to say thanks again to everyone who has been following this thus far! You’ve made it that much more satisfying for me to be writing this 🙂

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2 Responses to “Toooo the Ginza–And Beyond!”

  1. Auntie Shell Says:

    can’t wait to get on and look at your pictures….the fish market looked very cool……And I would have to say the verdict is still out on the vest.
    love
    AS

  2. Mumf Says:

    Hi Pat,
    I love your pictures…you look and sound like you’re having a great time. Love the pic of the roller coaster in the middle if the city. (And I was impressed with the one at MOA!) Seven new foods….great, let me know if you ever see cobra on the menu..watch out! (ha, ha) You are doing a great job blogging…we’re enjoying everything with you!
    Praying for a spectacular and safe trip!!!!!
    Love, Mumf

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