Meiji Shrine and Travel to Kyoto (Day 7)

The seventh day of our trip was primarily a travel day from Tokyo to Kyoto, but we were able to squeeze in a little more sightseeing of Tokyo before we left.  The highlights of the day were checking out the free view of Tokyo from the Metropolitan Government Building, visiting the Meiji shrine and people watching and shopping in  Harajuku.
DSC00011The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, which was a short 10-minute walk from the Shibuya station, offered a free panoramic view of Tokyo from its observation deck.  We were fortunate to have nice weather that day, which gave us a very good view of the city.
DSC00012After we had our fill of the sights, we had “breakfast” at Fuunji ramen, which sold tsukemen style ramen.  Ev is a big fan of tsukemen and we had a lot of it on our trip.  I think this was the second best restaurant of the trip (second only to Kikanbo).
DSC00026After our meal, we took a short train ride from Shinjuku to Harajuku to visit the Meiji Jingu (Shrine).   The Meiji shrine is the largest Shinto shrine in Tokyo and is  located in a huge evergreen forest, which was a nice contrast to the rest of Tokyo.  DSC00029The entrance of the Meiji shrine grounds was marked by a massive wooden torii gate.  From the gate, we walked on this beautiful, tranquil path through the forest to the main shrine.  Although the walk was about half a mile, the path was stroller friendly and the forest supplied a lot of shade.
DSC00035After visiting the Meiji shrine, we spent about an hour walking down the Takeshita Dori, which is the main street in Harajuku and is lined with trendy clothing shops, boutiques, cafes.  With a little arm twisting, I was able to get Ev to take a picture with me  and Connor at a purikura arcade.  Purikura reminded me of those neo print machines that were popular in the mid-nineties but much more high tech and fancy.
PurikuraThe machine we chose had two stations.  At the first station, we  paid and took pictures like a typical photo booth.  After we took pictures, we moved onto the second both where we got to decorate and embellish our pictures with stickers and other decorations.  Unfortunately, we took too long trying to figure out what we were supposed to do that we didn’t have too much time to decorate.  The perfectionist in me wasn’t completely happy with the picture, but we didn’t have time to take another picture.  Overall, for 500 yen, it was a fun, unique souvenir.

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building ♦
North Observatory – closed 2nd and 4th Monday of each month
9:30 to 23:00
South Observatory – closed 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month
9:30 to 17:30 (or until 23:00 when North Observatory is closed)

Meiji Shrine ♦♦♦
1-1 Yoyogi-Kamizono-cho
Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 151-8857
Open Sunrise to Sunset

Fishing for Dinner at Zauo Restaurant (Day 6: Part III)

DSC09979One of the most unique dining experiences that we had in Japan was eating at Fishing Restaurant Zauo.    Zauo is a restaurant chain in Japan where you literally catch your own dinner.  Ev’s brother recommended that we take Connor to eat at the one located in the Washington Hotel in Shinjuku, Tokyo and I was able to book reservations for dinner online through Open Table before we left for Japan.DSC09970The seating area of the restaurant was designed to look like a big wooden boat in the center of the restaurant. Surrounding the boat were large fish tanks where you would fish for a variety of seafood.  The night we went, there were flounder, sea bream, horse-mackerel,  top shell, shrimp, and rock fish.  DSC09985We purchased some bait for 100 yen and went fishing.  Once we caught a fish, we got to choose how we wanted the fish cooked from a list of various preparations.  The price depended on the base price of the fish and the cooking options selected.  You could also just order the fish directly off the menu (without catching it) but the prices were slightly higher.
DSC09967The first fish we decided to catch was a Flounder (base 3,661 yen).  We were told that the trick to catching the flounder was that you basically drag the hook along the top of the flounder until the hook snags the flounder so that you can pull the fish out of the water.  Ev’s dad was able to catch the flounder in about five minutes.
DSC09989The cooking options for the flounder were sashimi, simmered in shoyu, fried, deep fried (+324 yen), sautéed in butter (+324), sushi (54 yen a piece), miso soup (+162), fried bones (+216 yen).  We chose to fry half and make sushi with the other half.
DSC09991After we had finished the sushi, we had the bones and fried it up until it was crispy for 216 yen.  I liked the fact that we basically ate every single part of the fish and nothing went to waste.
DSC09993The second fish we caught was the sea bream (2,970 yen base).  This fish was harder to catch and you definitely needed to buy bait (tiny shrimp).  Thankfully, Ev’s dad is an excellent fisherman and caught the fish in less than 10 minutes.  He said the trick to catching this one was that he loaded the hook with as many shrimp as he could fit on the hook.DSC09988The sea bream had the most cooking options, which were sashimi, grilled, simmered in shoyu, fried, chazuke (+410 yen), sushi (+54 yen a piece), kamameshi (+324 yen), miso soup (+162 yen), grilled bones (+216 yen) and bones simmered with shoyu (+324 yen).DSC09994For the sea bream, we chose to have half simmered in shoyu and half made into sashimi.    The simmered sea bream (shown above) was my favorite preparation of the night.DSC09998We also used the bones and head of the sea bream to make miso soup for everyone.  Connor was a big fan of the miso soup.  After the sea bream, we sent Ev out to catch some top shells, which were large sea snails.
DSC09997We had the top shell prepared in sashimi style and grilled.  We all preferred the grilled top shell over the top shell sashimi .  The top shell sashimi style was a little too crunchy and did not have much flavor.
DSC00004We ended the night with a grilled rock fish.  The rock fish wasn’t one of the standard fish on the menu so I don’t recall what the exact price was for this fish.  It was a good size and had a nice grilled smoky flavor.
DSC00005Overall, the Zauo Restaurant was a fun experience and great place to go with kids.  Connor really enjoyed seeing all the different types of fish and watching everyone fish.  I was really glad that I had booked reservations for 5pm when the restaurant opened because it got really crowded as the night went on.   The meal was a bit pricey, but I think it was worth the price given the novelty.

National Museum of Nature and Science (Day 6: Part II)

DSC09949After the Imperial Palace tour, we had a quick ramen lunch and then headed to the National Museum of Nature and Science, which was a 5 minute walk from the JR Ueno station.DSC09921The National Museum is Japan’s largest nature and science museum and Connor loved it.  We could have easily spent multiple days going through the Permanent and the Special Exhibitions. The Permanent Exhibition side of the museum is divided into two main parts – the Japan Gallery and the Global Gallery.DSC09923Even though we were there for over three hours, we barely got though the Global Gallery, which  was 6 floors of exhibits.  The museum was very impressive and kid-friendly.  I’m very glad that we decided to take Connor.DSC09933We spent most of our time on the first floor, which tracked the history of life on Earth from the single-celled organism to the 1.6 million species that now live on Earth today.  Ev was blown away with the Tree of Life exhibit, which was an interactive exhibit explaining Darwin’s theory of evolution.DSC09924Although there were some interactive displays that allowed you to choose the English language, most of the exhibits and the explanations on the walls were only in the Japanese.  If you can’t understand Japanese, I would recommend renting an English audio-guides for 310 yen.  We decided to rent the interactive tablet (seen on Ev below).  In addition to having audio the tablets also had interactive floor maps that helped you navigate through the museum.DSC09934This is a picture of Ev in front of a whale’s small intestine that was infected with tiny worm-like parasites.  Fun.DSC09959Connor is also really into dinosaurs right now so he also got a kick out of seeing all the different dinosaur fossils on display.
DSC09955Overall, my only regrets were that we didn’t visit the Theater 360, which was a spherical 3D movie theater, and the ComPaSS children’s exploration area.  Entry into the ComPaSS area was free but they only allowed a certain number of people per timeslot and by the time we got there they were already sold out for the day.  I would recommend  reserving ComPaSS ticket as soon as you get to the museum.DSC09936

National Museum of Nature and Science ♦
7-20 Ueno Park, Taito-ku Tokyo 110-8718
Adults 620 yen; free for seniors and children (high school and younger)
Sunday, Tuesday – Thursday: 9:00-17:00; Friday – Saturday: 9:00-20:00

Imperial Palace (Day 6: Part I)

We were blessed with having really good weather every day of our trip, except for one day. On day 6, it didn’t just rain in Tokyo, it poured. What was even more unfortunate was that day 6, of all days, was the day I had booked our guided walking tour of the Tokyo Imperial Palace grounds.  We pushed through and made the best of the rainy situation.DSC09889The Imperial Place tour was free but when we went, reservations needed to be made in advance through the Imperial Palace Household Agency’s website.  It is my understanding that same-day registration is now available.  On most days, tours are conducted twice a day, one tour in morning  at 10:00 am and another tour in the afternoon at 1:30 pm.   On the day that we went there was a private function in the afternoon so I booked the morning tour.DSC09915About 10 minutes before the tour, we gathered at the Kikyo-mon Gate and at 10:00am the tour guides led us into a large visitors center where we watched a brief video about Imperial Palace and its history.  Fortunately, us non-Japanese speakers were given audio guides which had the entire video in English.  After the video, we began our tour of the grounds.DSC09895The tour took about 75 minutes and passed a number over very picturesque Japanese buildings including the Fujimi-yagura Keep shown above.  This building was destroyed in a fire in 1657 wand was reconstructed in 1659.  This was probably the most picturesque buildings of the tour. DSC09896We also passed a very large government building which is home to the Imperial Household Agency.  DSC09898We also passed the Kyuden Totei Plaza and Chowaden Hall.  This Plaza and Hall are open to the public only two days a year – on New Year’s Day (January 2) and the Emperor’s Birthday (December 23) – when various members of the Imperial family make appearances at the Palace.  DSC09909Overall, the walking tour of the Imperial Palace was very scenic and informative, but I would not recommend bringing young children.  Connor became bored almost immediately, and we resorted to letting him watch Bubble Guppies for a good part of the tour.  At some point, the boredom became overwhelming and fell asleep.  On the bright side, the tour was free and very pretty.  I’m sure the view would have been even nicer if the weather wasn’t so bad.
Imperial Palace Grounds Walking Tour
JR Tokyo Station – 15 minute walk
Mita Line Otemachi Station – 10 minute walk

Dinner at RyuGin (Day 5: Part II)

We were fortunate to have Ev’s parents with us for the beginning portion of the trip while we were in Tokyo.  Ev and I decided to take advantage of the available babysitters and had a nice night out in Tokyo with just the two of us.DSC09883For our one night of freedom, we knew we wanted to splurge on an amazing meal.  After researching all 13 three-Michelin star  restaurants in Tokyo, we decided to eat at RyuGin, a restaurant known for its Kaiseki, a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner. We decided to eat there because in addition to earning three Michelin stars, RyuGin was named one of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants by the Diner’s Club every year since 2011.
DSC09884I should first mention that getting reservations here was a little difficult from the US.  First, they do not have an online reservation system so you have to call to make a reservation. Second, if you are not a resident of Japan, then the only way you can book the restaurant is by going through a third-party reservation company or going through your hotel’s concierge service. Fortunately, we had booked our Tokyo hotel well in advance so we were to ask our hotel to book our reservations.  Now on to the food!
IMAG0248Our meal started with two appetizers in quick succession. The first appetizer was a a Firefly Squid Dish with Butterbur and Young Pea. Ev was a big fan of the tiny, charcoal broiled firefly squid that had a nice slightly smokey taste.
IMAG0251The second appetizer was a Hokigai surf clam that was plated on an abalone shell with shiso and other small green herbs.
IMAG0252After the appetizers, we had an Owan Soup course, which comprised of Greenling fish, Lotus root dumpling, and Junsai in a light Ichiban Dashi. I had never had Junsai before and it had a very interesting texture. It was crunchy but had a crunchy jelly like coating surrounding it.
IMAG0254The next course was our sashimi course, which contained three different types of sashimi – a red clam and squid sashimi, a white flatfish sashimi, and a katsuo sashimi.  I really enjoyed the Katsuo (skip jack tuna)  which was a really nice, fatty tuna.
IMAG0255Then came the grilled course, which was a grilled sea perch with a taro potato dumpling accompanied with a mustard vinegar sauce.
IMAG0256After the grilled dish came the stewed dish, which consisted of a fried Goemon Tofu, uni, and abalone in a rich bonito consume broth with a slight hint of citrus.   We were told that the abalone had been simmering in the broth for approximately 10 hours.  This dish seemed very simple, but very satisfying.
IMAG0257Our next dish was our meat course of Sanuki Olive Beef from the Kitagawa prefecture resting on top of a beautifully carmelized onion topped with asparagus.  The beef was very good but the onion underneath made the dish.
IMAG0259Or final dish before desert was the rice dish.  The course came with a small bowl of rice flavored with cherry blossom tea with tiny Sakura shrimp, picked vegetables, and a “Chrysanthemum” Soup.  The flower in the soup was actually a piece of egg custard that was elegantly cut to look like a Chrysanthemum flower.  Unbelievable.
IMAG0260The first dessert course was a single strawberry simmered in a light brown sugar syrup with a small spoonful of sakura ice cream.
IMAG0263The second dessert dish was a hot sake souffle with a cold sake ice cream.  This was by far my favorite dish of the night.  The souffle was seriously delicious.  It was warm and custard-like in the inside and crunchy and sweet on the outside.
DSC09885As we were leaving, we bumped into Chef Seiji Yamamoto and thanked him for the meal.  He also graciously agreed to take a picture with us.

Overall, we both enjoyed the meal and the food was very pretty.  But, we thought that the service was just okay considering how difficult it was to get reservations and the cost. We honestly don’t recall exactly how much we paid for our meal (I joke that it cost so much that we’ve blocked out all memory of paying our bill), however the meal plus sake cost us approximately $300 per person.  If I were to visit Japan again, I would probably won’t revisit again and would try another of the three-star Michelin star restaurants in Tokyo.



Ramen Museum in Yokohama (Day 4: Part III)

After finding out that Yokohama had a ramen museum, we figured that no Ramen Tour through Japan would be complete without a visit.  The Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum boasts being the world’s first “food-themed amusement park.”  In reality, it was just a bunch of ramen restaurants in one place that charges admission.DSC09802
Although the first floor did have a small museum and gift shop, the highlight of the museum was the two basement floors that were modelled after the streets of Shitamachi, an old town in Tokyo in the year of 1958, the year that instant ramen was supposedly invented.  The two floors collectively showcased a total of 9 ramen restaurants that each featured ramen from a different region of Japan.
DSC09805I originally thought that the ramen museum was like a  food court, where we would each be able to buy ramen from a separate restaurant, take them out, and eat together in the tables in the courtyard.  Unfortunately, we learned that each restaurant was independent, and we weren’t able to take the ramen out of each restaurant.  It was also disappointing that each person had to buy a bowl at each restaurant, so we all had to decide on one place to eat together, or pick different places and eat alone. DSC09801Ev and I decided to eat at Shina Soba-ya, which had a chicken shoyu base ramen.  I thought that we made the right choice because I was still full from lunch and this ramen’s was not overly heavy or oily.

Overall, I was really disappointed in the ramen museum.  There are so many great ramen shops in Japan that I wouldn’t recommend going out of your way to go here unless you’re already in Yokohama.

Shinyokohama Ramen Museum ♦
2-14-21 Shinyokohama, Kohuku-ku,
Yokohama-City, 222-0033, Japan
Closest Station – Shin-Yokohama
11:00-22:00; entrance fee 310 yen

Breakfast at Yokohama Chinatown and View from the Landmark Tower (Day 4: Part I)

On the fourth day of our trip to Japan, we spent the day in Yokohama, Japan’s second largest city (behind Tokyo).  Our first stop was the Yokohama Chinatown, which is Japan’s largest Chinatown.  I’ve read that it has more than 600 shops in a 2,500 square meter area. DSC09713We left early thinking that we could eat dim sum for breakfast, but unfortunately, many of the shops and restaurants didn’t open until 11 am.  That was a bummer.  :/  On the bright side, the streets weren’t crowded and we had the streets to ourselves.  DSC09716Yokohama’s Chinatown is the most picturesque and cleanest Chinatown I’ve ever seen.  Seriously, I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the cleanest Chinatown in the world. It was spotless.  DSC09734In addition to ten colorful gates (like the one shown above) scattered around the area, a lot of the streets were decorated with strings of bright lanterns.DSC09719 Once the shops started opening, we sampled various foods from a number of food stands.  We had steamed pork buns, freshly roasted chestnuts, sausages on a stick, and various dim sum.     DSC09727Ev and I both agreed that the soup dumplings we bought at the shop pictured below were the best of the Chinese food that we had that day.  I wish we had these dumplings in Hawaii.  DSC09745After spending most of the morning in Chinatown, we took the train to the Minato Mirai, Yokohama’s urban seaport to visit the Landmark Tower Sky GardenDSC09747The entrance fee to the Sky Garden observatory on the 69th floor was 1,000 yen for adults, but I thought trip was worth the price.  The Sky Garden had a super fast elevator and a 360-degree panoramic view of Yokohama city. DSC09751W were hoping that we would be able to see Mount Fuji, but unfortunately the view was too hazy.  However, other than that, it was a very nice view and the observatory area wasn’t too crowded so we could take our time admiring the view.
Yokohama Chinatown ♦
Station – Motomachi-Chukagai Station (Minatomirai Line)

Yokohama Landmark Tower “Sky Garden”
2-2-1 Minato Mirai, Nishi-ku, Yokohama, 220-0012
10:00 – 21:00; open everyday
Adults – 1000 yen; Seniors – 800 yen; Children – 500 yen;  Children under 4 – free
Closest stations: Minatomurai (Minatomirai line)

Sanja Matsuri – Asakusa, Tokyo Japan (Day 3: Part II)

After we had our fill of the Tsukiji Fish Market, we caught the subway to Asakusa for the Sanja Matsuri festival, which is one of the three great Shinto festivals in Tokyo.   DSC09600The Sanja Matsuri is a three-day festival that is held every year on the third weekend of May.  The festival officially starts on Friday with a large parade through Asakusa.
DSC09591On Saturday, approximately 100 mikoshi, small portable shrines, from the 44 Asakusa districts pass through the Kaminarimon, outer entrance gate (shown above), and are paraded through the Nakamisedori (corridor of small Japanese shops), past the Sensoji temple and on to the Askakusa shrine, where they are blessed and carried back to their respective neighborhoods.DSC09596
On Sunday, participants from all 44 Asakusa districts, grouped by neighborhoods and wearing matching attire, gather at the Asakusa Shrine.  The groups compete  to carry three main Asakusa mikoshi, honoring the three men responsible for founding the Sensoji. DSC09601I’ve read online that it gets so crowded that spectators are not allowed beyond Sensoji’s entrance gate due to safety and space concerns. The three main mikoshi are then paraded separately through all the streets of Asakusa visiting each of the 44 districts before returning to the shrine.  DSC09656
Although we arrived before the festival’s Saturday activities officially started, there were already tons of people in and around the area. We started at the Kaminarimon and maneuvered our way through the crowds past the shops on Nakamisedori and headed in the direction of the Sensoji temple.  DSC09595

While we were browsing the shops of the Nakamisedori several mikoshi made our way past us. I particularly liked the mikoshi that were carried by children. The kids were so cute!

When we reached the entrance area in front of the Senso-ji temple, we took a small break and picked up an omikuji, a written fortune, for Connor.  According to the instructions posted at the Senso-ji temple, the omikuji here cost 100 yen, which you deposit into a small collection box.  DSC09607Then, while praying for your wish, you shake an omikuji box several times until a single wooden stick pops out of a small hole in the box. The wood stick has a number from 1-100 corresponding to a particular drawer containing fortunes.  You then find  and take a paper fortune from the respective drawer.

If you get a good fortune, then you take it home.  However, if you get a bad fortune, you were supposed to leave it at the temple by tying the bad fortune onto one of the iron wires strung between a wooden frame nearby.
DSC09605Ev and I decided to give it a shot and wished for Connor to have good health this year.  We shook the box and a stick with the number 80 came out.  We open drawer number 80 and received an “Excellent Good Fortune”!   🙂  Connor’s fortune stated:

*Your request will be granted.  *The patient will get well.  *The person you wait for will come.  *Building a new home and removal are both well. *The lost article will be found.  *It is good to start a trip. *Marriage of any kind and new employment are both well but be not too excessive.

After reading the fortune, I joked, saying that maybe we should have wished for something bigger, like winning the lottery or something.  I  suppose that would have been too greedy.  Also, I would give all the money in the world to keep Connor safe and healthy, so I guess our wish was the right call.  DSC09613Ev’s dad on the other hand wasn’t so lucky. He got a bad fortune and had to leave his fortune at the Temple. We all had a good laugh and then moved to the main hall of the Sensoji Temple.
DSC09616As we reached the main hall, two mikoshi arrived at the base of the building and we were able to get a good view of them.  I noticed that the mikoshi often came in sets (like shown in the picture below), the adults carried one, while the children would carry a smaller version.
DSC09623After watching the mikoshi for a while, we continued up the steps into main hall.  We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside, so I don’t have any.  However, even if I could have taken pictures, there were so many people in there I doubt I would have gotten a good picture anyway.  It was hard to get to the front where the big donation box was located, and people from about 15-20 feet behind the box were just throwing their money over the heads of the people in front of them. DSC09632By that time, Connor needed to take a nap.  We did not have our stroller with us, so we found a shady spot to lay Connor down while he napped.

We used that time as a nice opportunity to people watch and take turns browsing rows of food stands selling a variety of foods including  shave ice, yakisoba, and tako yaki.  We didn’t want to eat too much though because Ev promised to take us to Kikanbo, a very highly rated ramen restaurant that Ev had been talking about for weeks, after Connor woke up from his nap.  However, Ev couldn’t resist buying a charcoal grilled ayu on a stick for 500 yen.IMG_20160514_124248

When Connor woke up, we made our way back to the Asakusa station to our next adventure.

I wish I could say that when I booked our flight, I knew about the Sanja Matsuri festival and had planned everything perfectly.  In truth, I had no idea that we’d be in Tokyo during a major festival, and it was pure luck that we were there on that exact weekend.  It was a fortunate coincidence, and I am so glad that we got to see the festival.  I could have easily spent the entire afternoon walking around the shops of the Nakamisedori and eating all the delicious food available.

Overall, a visit to Asakusa should be on all first-timer’s lists of places to visit in Tokyo.  The shopping streets are lined with local specialty and souvenir shops and the Sensoji Temple is one of the most famous temples in Tokyo.  Also, I would highly recommend seeing the Sanja Matsuri if you happen by luck to be in Tokyo on the third weekend in May.

Asakusa ♦:

  • Kaminarimon – Free
    Hours: Always Open
  • Sensoji Temple – Free
    Hours: 6:00 – 17:00
  • Nakamisedori and Shin-Nakamisedori Shopping Streets
    Hours depend on individual shops; typically from 10:00 – 20:00

Tsukiji Fish Market with Breakfast at Iwasa Sushi (Day 3: Part I)

We spent the morning of our first actual day in Tokyo at the Tsukiji Fish Market.  Our initial plan was to check into our hotel room, take a quick 1-2 hour nap, and then catch a taxi to Tsukiji to see the live fish auction.   The difficulty with seeing the fish auction is that it is first come, first served and they only let the first 120 people in line see the auction, split between two shifts – one from 5:25 am- 5:50 am and the other from 5:50 am to 6:15 am.  While it was difficult to figure out exactly how early we would need to stand in line to assure a spot, several online sites suggested that people get in line an hour or more prior to the opening at 5:00 am! Thus, our original plan was to get there sometime between 3:30 am – 4:00 am to ensure that we got in.
DSC09565In the end, our plans were a little too ambitious.  We decided against the fish auction and let Connor get a few more hours of sleep.  Looking back, I think that skipping the auction was the right decision because forcing Connor to wait in line for several hours would have been a miserable experience and, since we left the hotel later, we were able to take a 15 minute metro ride on the Hibiya line instead of catching a taxi.
DSC09566We arrived at Tsukiji at around 6:30 am.  We walked through the outer market and stood in line for breakfast.  Before leaving on our trip, Ev did a lot of online research on sushi restaurants around the Tsukiji area and he decided on Iwasa Sushi.  It wasn’t one of those crazy sushi places where you wait in line for hours, but it had good quality sushi for a reasonable price.  We got to the restaurant early enough that our wait in line was only about 30 minutes.  Ev and I both ordered the omakase set, which came with about a dozen nigiri sushi and 6 pieces of tekka maki for 3,900 yen.
DSC09568The restaurant was small (14 seats) and so busy that I didn’t feel right stopping to take pictures of the sushi as it came out.  However, the picture on the menu (shown above) was a pretty good representation of what we were served.  It wasn’t the best sushi I’ve ever had, but for the 3,900 yen price point, the quality of the fish was very good.  I also learned that Connor really loves ikura.  He ate the entire ikura nigiri sushi by himself.  Overall it was a perfect first meal to start our Japan adventure.
DSC09574After breakfast, we browsed the outer market, which consists of several blocks of retail shops that cater to tourists selling fruits, produce, ready to eat street food, and other Japanese goods (knives, ceramics, souvenirs, etc).  Ev bought these super juicy strawberries, which Connor loved and promptly devoured.  While the strawberries weren’t super sweet, they were definitely the juiciest strawberries I have ever eaten.  Connor had streaks of red strawberry juice dripping down his arms, chin and neck from eating the strawberries.  Thank goodness he was wearing a red shirt because if he was wearing a light colored shirt, we probably would have had to through the shirt away.
DSC09575At 9:00 am the inner market (the wholesale portion of Tsukiji) opened up to the public and we briefly walked around.  The only other fish market that I’ve ever been to is Pike’s Market in Seattle. Let’s just say that Tsukiji is nothing like Pike’s.  As one of the biggest fish markets in the world, Tsukiji has an enormous selection of seafood, fruits, and produce for sale and is very active.  There were people zipping around the narrow lanes of the inner market on forklifts, small trucks, scooters and other small vehicles the entire time we were there. DSC09580Although we tried to say out of the way as much as we could, I really felt like we were a nuisance to the vendors. The vendors must really hate all the tourists because we just get in the way and never buy anything.  With that said, I don’t blame them because I’d be pretty pissed too if someone came into my office and started taking pictures of me while I was trying to make a living.  I’m sure the vendors will be much happier when they move to their new location in November of this year.DSC09581In the end, even though we didn’t stay that long in the inner market, I am glad that I  got to see it in the soon-to-be “old location” before it moved.  Also, Connor really enjoyed looking and pointing to all the shellfish, eels, and fish.
Iwasa Sushi ( – CASH ONLY
Open : Monday to Friday 6:00 am – 2:30 pm; Saturday 6:00 am – 3:00 pm
Closed : Sundays/Japanese holidays/2nd and 4th Wednesdays
Location: See website for map. It is the first building of the Outside market facing the inner market. Look for the bright orange curtain

Tsukiji Fish Market (
Open :     Outer market opens at 5:00 am,
Inner market opens to the public at 9:00 am
Closed:    Sunday/Japanese holidays/2nd and 4th Wednesdays
To attend auction: Meet at the Osakana Fukyu Center by the Kachidoki Gate before 5:00 am
Closest stations: Tsukiji Station (Hibiya line); Tsukiji-Shijo Station (Oedo line)