Friday 12 June
I popped out for a moment to find a bakery I had walked past yesterday but couldn’t find it so went back to the hotel to check out and waited for the bus. It was only 7 am but it was very humid. I enjoyed the scenic bus ride again, grabbed some sponge cake slices for breakky at the airport and was on my way to Japan.
On my first flight they did offer supper, but at 2am all I wanted was sleep. This time I was well awake and hungry. The beef and rice was preferable over pasta. In fact the dish was Japanese, a tender beef marinated in garlic with a lovely sauce. Such a delicious dish. With lunch I also got a cold refreshing translucent noodle dish which had jellyfish I believe. Really yum. A nice warmed bun was enjoyed with Lurpak butter before finishing off with a macadamia cookie. Nice. I watched a couple of movies and then I was in Tokyo.
I got a Suica card (like a smartrider in Perth), got a ticket on the Kaiser skyliner and headed off. They also have prepaid SIM cards but they were too expensive. I instead headed to Yodobashi at Ueno and got a So-Net 1gb for 3000yen, better than the 6500yen at the airport.
I checked in and then went for dinner where I enjoyed an assortment of sushi. Really delicious. I walked around a bit before seeing more of Ueno when I went to Yodobashi. By the way, the sim cards are available from the building about 60m from the main store. Time to turn in.
Saturday 13 June
I’m off bright an early to go to Yokohama.
After my day trip there it was back to Tokyo to begin a tour. We went to see the Tsukiji festival and ate food from the stalls. I had some yakitori sticks and a pancake stuffed with sweet potato. Both were pretty good.
We then headed across the road to watch the floating festival. A bit hard to understand but the floats represent the transporting of the spirit of the gods to the temple. Long day, time to call it a night.
Sunday 14 June
We set off to visit the Imperial Palace East Gardens which are huge. The site was a castle as the moat still remains. There’s some nice bridges at the west end and the surrounds have lovely manicured lawn with large size bonsai trees about.
Next we were off to a soba cooking school.
We made our own soba noodles from scratch before sitting down to lunch to enjoy our creation. The noodles are dipped in a soya sauce and bonito flake broth. Excellent experience.
Then we headed to Sensoji Temple to explore the temple, Kaminarimon Gate, the surrounding markets and grab some sweet treats.
I got some pancakes stuffed with red bean and then got some green tea ice cream.
It was time to give the feet a rest before heading out to dinner to try monjayaki, a kind of runny pancake.
For dinner we decided to order different dishes and share amongst our table. After the grill is hot, add some oil and use the spatulas to spread oil. The bowl has the egg mixture down the bottom and the dry ingredients on top. Add the dry ingredients, then mix to cook, then make a well, add egg mixture, let it set, then mix. Each person has a mini spatula which they cut a piece and then hold down and flatten to crisp up the pancake before eating.
The okonimiyaki is prepared in a similar fashion but is not runny. After cutting, it doesn’t require crisping. Instead, add thick sweet soya sauce, Japanese mayo which is slightly sour, benito flakes, and seaweed sprinkles. I really enjoyed the different flavours but preferred the okonimiyaki.
We then walked through the Sensoji Temple which looks completely different at night.
Monday 15 June
Japanese breakfast of steamed rice, salmon with fresh horseradish, fried egg which I gave to someone else, salad, pickled vegetables, fantastic miso soup, and seaweed paper. I also grabbed a delicious iced green tea mocha.
After a big Japanese style breakfast we headed off to Shibuyu, the 3rd most busiest train station in the world. It has 2.3m people passing through per day. Outside is the scrambled pedestrian crossing which was quiet at the time we visited but has 3000 people crossing at most times. The place has lots of digital advertising.
We then had free time to explore the Shinjuku shopping district. After that we walked down a narrow alley filled with hole in the wall eateries. We went upstairs to a yakitori restaurant and enjoyed a variety of skewers.
Tuesday 16 June
For breakfast we set off to the outer fish markets for sushi. The inner markets are where the tuna auction is held.
I ordered a set which comes with heaps plus grean tea and miso soup. It was extremely delicious and satisfying. Awesome way to start the day!
Left to right, top to bottom
Fatty tuna, red snapper, red tuna, squid, salmon,
Sweatened Egg, sea urchin roe, salmon roe, prawn, ark shell, sea eel, gizard shad,
red tuna sushi, pickled ginger
After that we had free time to explore the bustling markets which offer all kinds of things – it’s like an outdoor supermarket.
We then went to the inner fish markets which are for wholesalers and restauranteurs. You have to watch out for the tractors and get out of the way of the staff. Really interesting experience.
After that it was off to the Ginza shopping district which is generally on the expensive side (high end shopping). I had a look at a few department stores and by accident, discovered a food hall like what we saw yesterday at Shubuyu. Since we were going to buy our lunch at the convenience store near our hotel, I took the opportunity to get something better.
I got a tempura set which was good (I had to eat it cold so it would have tasted better fresh), a dessert which was excellent, and at another store called Manneken, I got a chocolate waffle which was yum. I also had some buns stuffed with cheese and the other with red bean. I liked the buns.
Then we headed to the hotel, ate lunch, headed to the train station and after a short ride, caught the shinkansen (bullet train). It’s a very long train and is a smooth comfortable ride where I ate the rest of my lunch.
It’s time to bid farewell to Tokyo.