Saturday, March 29, 2014

fish and cherry blossoms in tokyo

Back in February, Ellen and I had planned to go to Nagano to see the famous snow monkeys soaking in an onsen. However due to a freak snow storm all transportation to Nagano were stopped! This was the beginning of my weather curse. So we had rescheduled to go to Nagano this weekend but we found out that so late in March that most of the snow had already melted and we really wanted to see the monkeys surrounded by snow and maybe with heaps of snow on their cute little heads. Next year! Instead we heated over to Nikko, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

I had a three day weekend so I had an extra day to kill before I met up with Ellen. Since I arrived in Tokyo before 7am I thought I would check out the Tsukiji Fish Market - to see what all the fuss was about. Boy was I disappointed. I knew that the tuna auction would be way earlier in the day but I thought I would be able to see the regular hustle and bustle of fish sellers and the like. If you're not going to come at 4am or so to get a ticket to the tuna auction then don't bother coming to Tsukiji until after 9am which is when the wholesalers areas are opened to the public. All I saw were a couple of stalls that were opened and a lot of sashimi & sushi restaurants with long lines of people. [Just realized as I was doing research for this blog post that there is an outside market that is opened earlier and has more stuff, I was in the restaurant area adjacent to the wholesalers section] Also saw a bear doing something shady to a fish...

glad they said they were joking - with the crazy expensive prices here I wouldn't be surprised if this was serious...
After that disappointment, I thought I would go check out some cherry blossoms, naively thinking that since it was so early I would get a chance to view them in private. Never underestimate the Japanese! They see cherry blossoms every year but they are still so obsessed with taking pictures of them...

The cherry blossoms on the main path were crowded with people but if you head to Shinobazu Pond there is a path of cherry blossom trees that aren't as crowded.

Totally a nice place to just sit and take in the scenery. Unfortunately the camera can't capture all the swarms of flies that were everywhere. Small little flies that you couldn't see until you walk face first into their whole nest. That is the only bad thing about water areas - so many freaking bugs!

cherry blossoms with bentendo, a temple hall, in the background

The Details
Cheap bus to Tokyo: Willer Express

Tsukiji Fish Market
Access: right above Tsukiji Shijo Station - Oedo Subway Line or a five minute walk from Tsukiji Station - Hibiya Subway Station

Tuna Auction - max 120 people per day (two groups of 60)
tour times: 5:25-5:50am, 5:50-6:15am
tour registration: Fish Information Center near the Kachidoki Gate  - starts at 5am

Wholesale Area - open to the public after 9am
Outside Market open from 5am-2pm

Ueno Park
Access: Ueno Station - serviced by both trains and the subway

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