February 14th, 2008 – by: Rubbertoe
Breakfast: tempura, sticky rice and cold coffee, gnam gnam!
Today was my turn to get up at the crack of dawn to visit the fish marketâŚ Sod that!! I got up at 7ish and thatâs the best I could do. I was on the subway by half past and reached the market at 8ish.
I love fish!! Walking around this market reminded me of when my parents used to take me to our little market in Alghero where you could see all sorts of marine monsters. This market however was quite different, there was an abundance of dried fish and squid, flaked fish, shredded fish, lots of crustaceous dead and alive, but no sign of those giant tunas I read about. I also wanted to have some sushi but it was way too early to sit for a full on meal, so I settled for a bag of tempura and an onigiri (ball of sticky rice wrapped in a sheet of algae). To drink I tried a coffee machine, just like the toilets these can be found everywhere.
I pushed the button below a Nescafe cup but instead of the steamy hot coffee I was looking forward to, came out an ice cold coffee, with bliming ice cubes!! I should have read the label :-)
Frozen tuna heads
I took loads of photos of the market, then I started walking towards the Rainbow Bridge. After I cleared the last fish stall I paused in front of a huge building complex and as I wondered what this was I read the board labelled in English âTsukiji Fish Marketâ. Balls!! I found out later I had spent the entire morning in the outdoor market and missed all the action, so if you come here to visit the market make sure you know where it is first!
Later that afternoon I walked over the famous rainbow bridge and arrived in Odaiba.
This district is very different to any other in Tokyo, it has nothing traditional about it as it was part of a project to develop Tokyo Bay on reclaimed land. It reminded me a bit of Cardiff Bay, without the scenes of nasty seagulls chasing welsh girls to pinch their chips! In Odaiba I found plenty of swanky buildings, like the Fuji TV Headquarters and the Telecom Center, an amusement park with a giant Ferris wheel, Mega Web, and lots of shopping centres. This is a great place for a date and there were loads of couples everywhere, I must remember to come back with my girlfriendâŚ when I have one!!
Rainbow Bridge on a lovely clear day
Amongst the various shops, one in particular caught my eye, an interesting business with an unusual concept, it was called âPuppy the world rentalâ. Have a look at the photo, donât you just want to hug that puppy and take him for a walk? Well for the cost of 900 yen (I think) you can have him for half an hour! I did wait in line for 10 minutes, then I realised what a stupid idea it was and I buggered off.
On my way I wondered how well this business would work in Newport, I pictured one of my mates telling his wife âhey darling, Iâm off out to walk a puppyâ and her reply âYeah rightâŚ and take him to the pub for pork scratchings and a pint I suppose!â Tidy!!
Rent a puppy?
I walked on and spent some time in the Aqua City shopping and entertainment centre. I visited a Sony exhibition, with the latest laptops on display, and an interesting interactive-science centre with some very clever vision systems; for example there was a table covered with digital images of balls from a projector which you could physically move around by brushing your hands on the table.
My last stop was at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, which was excellent.
Here you can see and interact with a selection of robots designed to make our life easier, and you car read up on lots of interesting scientific facts. Thereâs a strange machine with springs and balls which is used to explain the principles of the internet, huh, I didnât get it.
Sunset over Tokyo
This is a very useful piece of advice I had from Sam and Liz, who I will be visiting later this month. Basically if you travel abroad and you donât want to waste money on inflated exchange rates and commission fees get yourself a Nationwide card, I have both debit and credit card. You can use these anywhere you see the Visa logo and you donât pay extra fees (apparently Nationwide is the only bank in the UK offering this facility), so itâs just like using you debit card at home.
However, if you want to withdraw cash in Tokyo you can only use the ATMs at the Post Office and Citybank.
Fuji TV Headquarters