DAYS 10-11: VISIT FROM HOME

We started the day early. At least we tried. We planned to visit the famous Tokyo Fish Market Tsukiji which starts at 5am. We realistically evaluated the chances of us getting up that early and dismissed the idea completely. So we went to Tsukiji when it was almost over (not that there were no other tourists…). Even after it was almost closed it still was an impressive place to see. The Tsukiji is located in several buildings and has the size of several small towns. Or at least it feels that big. Actually it isn’t this big but still huge. You can walk around the place for hours and see whole sellers, restaurants and a lot of frozen fish. Because we were terribly late we mostly saw a lot of frozen fish garbage, expensive restaurants and not whole sellers but tourists. Although the Tsukiji inner restaurants are highly recommended by many people, it isn’t worth the price in our opinion. The restaurant prices were hefty AND the restaurants were crowded although the Tsukiji already was closing down. The experience is probably super nice and the Sushi probably exceptionally but after we saw the price (and all the fish garbage) we decided not to eat there.

From the Tsukiji area we drove to Ryugoku. The district is famous for the Sumo-Wrestling arena and the many Sumo-Restaurants. We were curious about a Sumo dish called Chanko-Nabe. Chanko-Nabe was supposedly used to gain mass for Sumo. We went to several places (in the area are a lot of Chanko places) which were either already closing or massively expansive (3000Yen per person). We found a small shop where we were the only customers and ordered their version of Chanko. But unfortunately we were disappointed. The soup or stew was very light in taste, as if the broth wasn’t made properly. Also the meat was very chewy. All in all we didn’t like (this) Chanko-Nabe. We paid for our food and left the restaurant without finishing our dish (something we do not do lightly).
We ended our day in Ryogoku with a visit to the Edo-Tokyo Museum. Edo is the old name for Tokyo up until 1868. Inside the Museum boasts a very impressive scenery on entering: You walk over a part of bridge replica which divides the underlaying area in the Edo (on the left side) and the Tokyo (on the right side) part. By pure accident we happened to join a guided tour on which we learned a lot about Edo and Tokyo. Especially in the Edo part the museum shows many hardships of life of that time interactively: There are many installations where you can get a feeling for the weight for example of a mobile shop or a palanquin. Impressive to say at least is the life size rebuild front of a Kabuki theater. We learned a lot about Edo and Tokyo that evening.
Back in Shinjuku we were excited to see friends from Germany. They are pilots and landed that morning in Tokyo. We met them after they had slept some hours and were ready to explore the city. But as they had been in Tokyo several times work related actually they showed us around the city. We had a warm up drink in the piss alley (don’t ask…) as well as some Gyoza and Takoyaki in a place they recommended. After that it got weird. One of the guys booked a table in a bar… restaurant?… at a place. Let’s call it the frog café. We were greeted by the owner (and all other guests) by clapping and humming the Imperial March from Star Wars even before we were seated. The drink menu was a primary school notebook with the drinks written in wax crayons. Every course (and the drinks) were delivered with an almost theatrical (and very embarrassing) performance. Without going into much detail, that was the weirdest thing I ever experienced…
The event was impressive, the food… not so much. At least it didn’t fill us up. So we looked for a restaurant and found an Okonomiyaki place. We tried some variation we didn’t had so far (including one with a whole camembert baked in). After that we were at least filled to the brim. We rolled out of the restaurant and strolled again through the Golden Gai district where we found a metal bar, which we filled almost completely. The bar was stuffed with memorabilia of metal bands, zombie movies and action figurines. Next to really good music we had some good talks (and some recommendations for our trip) and some good beers.
The next day started slow. Very slow. We needed a bit of a break from the day before. So we met our friends in the late evening. As a reverence to the day before we started in the piss allay (again) and went to one of the several yakitori places. At one place four guests were leaving and we took the chance immediately. The restaurant sold a set of five skewers for 500Yen so everyone had a set and a beer. We tried almost everything they had to offer and most of it was delicious. As we didn’t want to order the same set again we strolled through Shinjuku and looked for another restaurant. We came across the famous Robot Restaurant but we were after something more substantial (and less expensive). We found a good Udon place which lived up to the expectations. As Tina and I started go get tired and our friends didn’t the two of us decided to go home. On our way we found a game hall where the four of us did a quick game of arcade (we looked for street fighter but only found some cheap knockoffs). As our friends still were not tired they went to watch a movie and we walked home. Speaking of the cinema: Something I hadn’t seen before is stating the time after midnight as increased values of 24. So a movie might start at 25:50 or 27:30. It’s confusing but logical at the same time somehow…
We were happy to see our friends and to get some kind of connection to home. Traveling is super awesome and we would not want to miss it but sometimes seeing your friends is just so much better.
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