Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Japan Day 2: sushi, temple and bridge

Moving on to our 2nd day at Japan. Because our Tokyo Metro pass was still valid today, we wanted to fully utilize it at Tokyo.

Btw around 5am that morning, we experienced a minor earthquake. I was actually still asleep but I could feel the bed shaking. It only lasted for a few minutes. I still did not get up from the bed even after the earthquake was over. I know =.=''

Our first activity of the day was to eat sushi at Tsukiji Fish Market. This is definitely the place to go if you are craving for sushi as they serve the freshest sushi ever! Around 5am, there is usually the tuna auction event and it is opened to public, but in limited number of people. Because we were all so exhausted from the day before, we did not managed to wake up early. In fact, by the time we reached Tsukiji it was already around 9am.

To go here, nearest station is Tsukiji-shijo which is on Toei-Oedo line. So again, we had to pay the fare which was 260 yen. You can take the Tokyo Metro line but will take around 10mins walk (according to Google Maps, which we know measures athletes' speed of walking lol).

PCK style
Walking towards the sushi restaurants, we saw lots of things selling at the market, including these cool fisherman boots lol.

Doesn't this bring you back to your childhood? I still remember those times reading Doraemon comic books. Who doesn't love that magical cat with awesome magic pocket?

Sushi restaurants
Before coming here, we read online about recommended sushi restaurants here in Tsukiji. Two of them were Sushi Dai and Daiwa Sushi. It was hard not to miss them as a long queue were already formed by the time we arrived. And it was really really long :(

This shop belongs to a very friendly gentleman

The story was we were all busy taking photos in front of this restaurant as it had such a cute display outside. Suddenly the owner came out and we all freaked. But he was so friendly and he asked us to take photo with him instead. How nice right? He didn't even promoted his restaurant or forced us to buy anything from him.

Best of all, he even gave us this useful information sheet on speaking Japanese. We weren't even patrons at his restaurant. See, how can I not love Tokyo?

While waiting in queue, we were hungry and ate our onigiri bought from Family Mart.

Family Mart is like 7-11 to us. Because it was so near to our hotel, it is usually the first place we headed to every morning to buy our cheap breakfast (onigiri!) and mineral water. You can say we formed a special bond with Family Mart throughout our trip at Japan.

Tamago (egg)
Because it was so boring waiting in line, we took turns queuing. Whilst Suzane and BB queued, MC, Clara and me decided to walk around the market and explore a nearby shrine.

Nearby shrine
I cannot read Chinese characters, but apparently this was a place for fishermen to pray for good abundance from the sea.
The queue for Sushi Dai
I wasn't kidding when I said the queue was long. This was only half of the queue =.='''

Inside Sushi Dai
After around 3 and a half hours of waiting, it was finally our turn to enter the sushi restaurant. My first impression was that the place is really small. As you can see, our seats are only in one row! There was not even enough space to keep our bags, we had to put them on the rack above us.

While waiting in line, when it was almost our turn to enter the shop, the weather took a change and the strong winds really kept us freezing. But the lady from the restaurant came out and started serving hot tea to all of us. Such good service even before entering! Plus, after we entered, our sushi chef asked us, "Daijobu?" which was asking if we were okay and apologized for keeping us waiting so long. 

Fresh fresh
No, this was not what we ate. This was what I was looking at as the chef prepares our sushi.

This was what we ate. After waiting for so so long, looking at the sushi was like looking at the most beautiful thing in the world. It was so pretty I could not stop taking photos of them.

More lovely fresh sushi
This was, without any doubt, the BEST unagi I have ever had. It melts in your mouth, like literally. It was so soft and not too sweet like those I had in KL. So good that Clara and I had to order it again.

Otoro was the most expensive sushi in the menu. But the funny thing was we didn't know which sushi was otoro because we didn't know what otoro meant. Finally Suzane asked the patron sitting next to us who then kindly told us that otoro is actually fatty tuna lol.

Our awesome sushi chef
Eating sushi at Tsukiji can be pricey (in fact, it was our most expensive meal in Japan) but totally worth the experience!

After our brunch, we then headed to Asakusa to visit the well-renowned Senso-ji Temple. To reach here, you can either take the Tokyo Metro Ginza Line or Toei-Asakusa Line.

Nakamise Dori
The road leading towards Sensoji Temple is called Nakamise Dori, which is a street lined with lots of shops and stalls selling snacks and souvenirs. Well worth visiting as well.
Sensoji Temple
We planned to visit the temple first because like all temples in Japan, they usually close either at sunset or at 5pm. From its exterior, it really reminded me of Chinese temples back home.

Washing hands
Like all shrines and temples in Japan, they always have a small fountain or pool of water prepared for worshippers to cleanse themselves. We weren't sure what we had to do so we just followed the actions of other people. You first have to wash your right hand and then your left. Some also used the water to wash their mouths.

We went inside the temple and had our fortunes read. It was also apparently good to have the incense smoke all over your body. I forgot the reason :(

After that, we walked around the enormous temple grounds as the sun begins to set. Besides the main hall, there were many other halls and shrines within the vicinity.

Winter view
One of my favourite photos taken while walking around the grounds. After that, we went shopping at Nakamise Dori until the sky darkens.

Making ataki
We spotted a man making "ataki" or fish carp bread with red bean filling, one of Japan's specialty snacks. Didn't try it though as I was not a fan of red bean.

We tried this instead. I know, we must be crazy eating ice cream in winter. But I am a sucker when it comes to eating green tea ice-cream. I absolutely love green tea :)

Souvenirs are abundant here but so expensive. Even fridge magnets can go for around 400 yen (RM14) a piece. Lucky for us, when we transferred lines towards Asakusa line, we stumbled upon a shop selling wholesale souvenirs. All the souvenirs in that shop were roughly half the prices at Nakamise but they only sell in bundles. Since there were five of us, it was easier for us to share. 

So silly I forgot to take note the name of the shop or its location but definitely my advice to buy from wholesale shops if you want to buy souvenirs.

You will be surprised by what you see when you look up
As it was getting late, we returned to our hotel and started packing for our Mt Fuji/Hakone/Kyoto trip for the next 4 days. We also dropped our luggage at our Shibuya hotel.

Our last destination of the day was to visit Odaiba, an artifical man-made island located near Tokyo Bay. I was actually a little hesitant to visit this place. Despite reviews recommending this place, the train fares were quite expensive actually. The only lines operating here is Yurikamome and Rinkai Lines. Both were private lines that were not covered by our Tokyo Metro passes. We paid 620 yen (RM21.70) to and fro Odaiba using Yurikamome Line to Odaiba-Kaihinkoen station.

Rainbow bridge
It was because of Rainbow Bridge that I suggested the others to visit here. It kinda reminds one of New York's Brooklyn Bridge doesn't it? However, I was a little let down that it wasn't exactly illuminating in rainbow colours as I thought it would. Also, there was actually a replica of the Statue of Liberty (it is inside the photo see if you can spot it) but it was not lighted up I don't know why so sad :(

At least this illuminated Christmas tree was in rainbow colours
There are a few shopping malls at Odaiba - Decks Tokyo Beach (which was nearest to Rainbow Bridge), Diver City Tokyo and Venus Fort. There was also a huge ferris wheel at Palette Town and Odaiba is also where Fuji TV Headquarters is located. However, since we came to Odaiba quite late, most shops at the malls were closed.

Japan Day 2 OOTD (sorry for the messy hair lol):

Red cape: Times Square; Jeans; White sweater (worn inside)
 My friends nicknamed me Little Red Riding Hood when I wore this. I also wore my green felt hat with cat ears but didn't have any good shots of the ears though :(

Cat ears hat: Foruchizu

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