A train approaching us in the subway.
Yasu woke us up at 4 a.m. the next morning, which was hard to do, considering how much walking and exploring we had done the day before- not to mention the heavy, sleep-inducing chanko-nabe dinner we had eaten before bedtime! We caught the subway for the first time. There are several different lines running through Tokyo, and it can get very confusing. Fortunately we had picked up a subway map in English at the Narita airport, which made things easier for us throughout our trip. Yasu explained how the system works, which was also very helpful. He would be taking us to Tsukiji Fish Market before he had to go to work, then we'd be left on our own to keep exploring this enormous metropolis.
Tsukiji Market occupies several city blocks and consists of hundreds of stands with vendors selling every type of seafood imaginable.
There are several sushi restaurants and noodle bars within the market, as well, and when we went they were all packed with people. I was very surprised to see that all the locals were here at 5:30 in the morning happily enjoying udon soup, sushi and raw seafood- for breakfast!!! This was, in fact, the first time I had even seen sushi since I had arrived to Japan. From what I could see, sushi is actually not as popular in Japan as I thought it would be. I was under the impression that everyone there ate it all the time, perhaps because there are so many sushi restaurants in the United States. Another thing that I also noticed is that the sushi rolls that have become so popular in the United States, such as the California roll and Dragon roll, are completely absent from Japanese menus.
Tokyoites on their way to work, or eating a quick breakfast at 6 a.m. at Tsukiji market
Instead, you mostly see nigiri and chirashi sushi on menus- and that’s IF the restaurant you are at serves sushi! I saw absolutely nothing that even remotely resembled a typical sushi dinner in the United States. As we walked through the many aisles of the market, I kept wanting to stop and sample some of these local delicacies, but my sister is a vegetarian and my boyfriend dislikes seafood so we ended up rushing through Tsukiji. I will never forget how amazing this market is, as it is by far the most impressive and comprehensive seafood market I have ever been to in my life. Everything there was extremely clean and fresh, and the market itself was exceptionally lively and picturesque.
Tsukiji Fish Market is the largest fish market in Japan and supports most of the restaurants in Tokyo.
After our brief walk through Tsukiji we went to a diner called Jonathan’s and paid close to six dollars for a small piece of toast and a cup of coffee, which we were really hesitant about doing.
I can definitely live without toast, but I need my daily dose of caffeine. Fortunately for me, Tokyo happens to be a paradise for coffee house junkies, with every corporate American chain you can imagine, as well as Japanese coffee and tea shops. Still, six bucks is definitely a pretty hefty amount to pay for a slice of bread and coffee. I noticed that all of the more traditional Japanese items on the menu were noticeably less expensive than the western ones, which I thought was quite interesting…
Every type of seafood imaginable can be found in Tsukiji Market.