You know that you are crazy about sushi when you hop on a train at 5:30am for some. That is precisely what Tony, Dakota, and I did on Day 10. We headed to Tsukiji. This is the world famous fish market. The absolute freshest fish and crustaceans are bought/sold just off the boat in Tsukiji. Sushi restaurants from all over the area come here each morning to load up on items for that day’s menu.
Tony & Dakota wanted to experience the BEST sushi that Tokyo (some say in the world) had to offer. That would be Sushi Dai. This tiny place is located in the many stalls just outside the market. Even with us getting to Tsukiji just after 6am, we had to wait TWO HOURS before the guys got in for breakfast. That’s right…TWO HOURS IN LINE!
What would be on the menu for the best sushi meal EVER? How about a sea snail so fresh that it is still moving when they serve it to you? Yup, they had that. They also had: fatty tuna, sea urchin, smoked eel, shrimp, red snapper, salmon roe, squid, flounder, and more.
They said the meal was AMAZING. At $80 for two people, I hope it was.
While my guys were having breakfast, I munched on my always faithful Clif bar (You didn’t think I came unprepared, did you?) and wandered around the market. I found a very kind dish vendor that sold me several items in a swirly, blue octopus pattern. I then grabbed a hot cafe latte out of a vending machine, and looked through the many booths filled with: vegetable/fruit, dried fish, paper, handmade knives and woks, books, tea, and herbs/spices.
After sushi breakfast and dish shopping, we were allowed to walk around the fresh seafood market (tourists are allowed to after 9am). For my artist eyes, this is an AMAZING site. It isn’t exactly a pleasant place if you have a sensitive nose, or are squimish about seeing fish chopped up and blood running on the ground. If you are okay with that, this is where the average citizen of Tokyo comes to buy their fresh seafood. I loved looking at the buckets of shellfish, tanks of eels, refrigerator units packed with 100lb.+ tuna, and a gazillion other ocean creatures. The place is constantly in motion with shouting vendors, rushing electronic carts hauling cases of product from one area to another, and customers looking for the best prices. This is definitely one of my favorite spots in Tokyo.
After Tsukiji, we went back to our hotel and took a much needed 1.5hr nap. Ahh! That’s better. After nap, we headed towards Shibuya. As I mentioned before, this is where the 20+yrs. crowd comes to show off their clothing, and catch the eye of the opposite sex. I loved looking at the crazy fashions everywhere I looked. Although Japanese women do not show breasts/cleavage AT ALL, they aren’t shy about micro skirts and Daisy-Duke shorts. I found myself blushing on several occassions when I looked at some of the clothes these girls were wearing. Yowza, ladies! Your Mom actually lets you out of the house looking like that? I find it curious that a culture so rich in grace, tradition, and history could allow their young women out “showing the goods”. I guess this is where Western culture really gets in your face. Stiletto hip boots, micro skirt, a short jacket, and an expensive Coach or knock off Louis Vuitton bag seem to be the norm. Of course, smartly dressed business women are also in abundance. As for fashion, pretty much anything goes here.
We caught a quick rice bowl meal for dinner, and then tried to decide what to do next. Dakota was feeling tired, and asked if he could go back to our hotel by himself. Let me just say, I really do try not to be too restrictive with our son. I really do. I know he is a teen, and close to becoming an adult. Even with that said, when my husband suggested that our son take the train back by himself, I internally freaked. That’s my baby boy! We are in a foreign country! Breathe Shan, breathe. Tony got Dakota a train ticket, directions where to be, and sent him on his way. He then assured me that our son had money in his pocket, a great sense of direction, and the brains to get to his destination. Ok, I can do this. Time for my baby to grow up a bit, and for mom to trust in him. Breathe, Shan, breathe.
ADULT CONTENT: Tony actually wanted to show me something just a few streets away from central Shibuya. This is the Love Hotel area of Tokyo. Let me explain. 30,000,000+ people live in the greater Tokyo area. As this area is incredibly expensive, many families live with their parents, grandparents, etc. Privacy is hard to come by when you are a couple in love. Couples can come to this part of town for a 60-180min. “Rest” or an all night “Stay”. This is one of the few places in town where couples can have some uninterrupted intimate time. A basic room costs about $40-$80 for 3 hours of alone time. Tony and I were curious about these places, so we walked into a few.
As most Japanese are pretty shy (just like me with things like this), they have an ingenious way of setting up a room for clients. You walk into a motel, and look at a board showing the interior of the rooms available. You can see what the rates are for hourly or for the night. You choose the room you want and walk up to the cashier. The glass for the cashier is blacked out, so they can’t see the clientele. You pay for your room, get a key, and are done. From what I saw in the room photos, most places were suffering badly from 1980’s decorating, but they were clean and well maintained. I guess if I lived with extended family and had no privacy, Tony and I would look forward to a haven such as this. It may sound skanky to an American, but I assure you that they aren’t. They provide a much needed escape from the screaming kiddos and mother-in-law in the next room. No, we didn’t book a room. We were just curious.
After our early day, we took a leisurely train ride back to our hotel, had a vodka cranberry in the hotel lounge, and went to bed. Tomorrow is going to be another busy day.