^^^ Hello! Do we look super excited to be up and out the door by 3:30 a.m. for a tuna auction? Good … because we were!
So as I mentioned the other day, Tuesday was a pretty busy day for us, and it started before the sun was even awake when we all got up and were out the door by 3:30 a.m. in order to catch an Uber over to the Tsukiji Fish Market in time to watch the famous tuna auction.
The fish market itself is supposed to be the world’s biggest, moving about 1800 tons of seafood every single day. And the tuna auction — where prized maguro (bluefin tuna) gets auctioned off to the highest bidder — starts at 5 a.m. The line to register for the auction starts forming way before 5, though, and we were told to get there by 4 a.m. if we wanted in. Even arriving at 4, though, we were already in the second of only two groups allowed in, and there were only a handful of people allowed in after us — so this is one hot ticket, my friends!
And after going, I can see why. It’s so exciting! I mean it doesn’t last very long — they usher you out pretty quickly — but some of the best chefs in Japan come here to purchase their tuna, and one tuna can go for up to $10,000 each, so there’s definitely no funny business happening here — they take it very seriously. I have to admit, I’d never even been to an auction of any kind before, so to watch that whole thing go down was pretty fun. The auctioneer (is that the right word?!) closest to us must have been chosen specifically to be closest to the tourists who view the show, because he was some kind of fun to watch!
^^^ Our auctioneer … so much fun!
After the auction — which probably lasts about 15-20 minutes for the viewing — we walked around the fish market for a while and took in those crazy sights. You can seriously find any and all kind of seafood here, from tasty looking to downright “Who would ever eat that?!” There was talk of potentially doing a sushi breakfast, but it was decided that, for as much adventure as we were down for, sushi breakfast after a big tempura dinner the night before just wasn’t going to be one of those adventures.
^^^ Pssst. Be aware taking photos at the market — some of the vendors did not take too kindly to it This is actually true in quite a few places around Japan. Try to pay attention to any signs that might be posted asking people to not take pics … I was burned a few times, and I hate thinking of myself as one of those kinds of tourists …
After the auction we headed back to our apartment to rest for a bit and shower and get ready (attending a tuna auction at 5 in the morning means no one was quite prepared for the rest of the day). A little before noon we were back out the door and headed towards the Meiji-jingu shrine, which happened to be in Yoyogi Koen park, which was about a five to seven minute walk from our apartment. (Score!)
The Meiji Shrine is dedicated to the deified spirits of the Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken. It was completed in 1920 and destroyed during World War II, but it was rebuilt soon after. According to my guide book, the torii (or gates) at the entrance mark the beginning of the shrine’s sacred space. It supposedly gets pretty busy here during the day, but I think we were lucky and caught it during a not-so-hectic time.
^^^ Right after you pass through the torii you’ll find this water well. (Once we saw this one, we started spotting them all over Japan). Visitors are meant to spoon cupfuls of water into their left hand, then their right hand, then cup their hands and gather water in to put in their mouth and then spit into the well. Please don’t quote me on any of that, because it’s simply what another tourist told us we were meant to do. So we did it. I hope it was right!
^^^ These decorative saki barrels were all gifts to the shrine, and really beautiful.
After the shrine we meandered into lunch at a little noodle shop we found along the way [which, thankfully, catered to tourists and had an English menu and specific vegetarian options. Sometimes it’s nice to not have to worry ;)]. After lunch we made our way over to Shibuya Crossing, which is meant to be one of the busiest intersections in the world. All of Shibuya in general, actually, is awash with vibrant colors, large ads and hustling, bustling streets. Essentially it’s the Times Square of Tokyo … something definitely not to be missed.
^^^ See us there in the middle, walkin’ across the street all normal like 😉
After Shibuya (and some fabulous sunglass finds for both myself and Chris’s mom!), it was a quick subway ride back over to Roppongi Hills (remember, we tried that area the day before, but the weather turned to crap?) for the Tokyo City View and the Mohri Art Museum. Although we started at the Tokyo City View around 4 or so and planned to check it out for a minute, then do the art museum and head back for sunset, there were so many other exhibits to see up there, and such an expansive view to take in, that we ended up staying up there the entire time right through sunset.
And the views were absolutely stunning.
^^^ That helicopter in the right-hand corner of the picture provided a lot of entertainment for us as it hovered in the sky before landing quite close to the building we were in.
^^^ Goodnight, Tokyo!
You can actually get out onto the roof for a view as well, which we didn’t know until after the sun had gone down, which meant it was frigid and our time spent up there was short and sweet. Still worth it, though!
Back inside we tried getting into the art exhibit we wanted to see, only to find out we had purchased the wrong tickets. As luck would have it, the exhibit we wanted to see was closed already, but the exhibit we had bought tickets for was still open, so we took a quick walk through that one, instead.
It was right about halfway through this art exhibit that it hit me, friends — I was exhausted. Like more exhausted than maybe I’ve ever been in my life, and my wee tired little legs were simply about to give out. Apparently this preggers lady needed to make more of a habit of taking breaks throughout the day, since that was something that up until that point I had not been paying close attention to. Anyway, the tiredness was all-consuming, and there was no point in trying to avoid it. Luckily we were all somewhat bushed — seeing as how we had started our day at 3 a.m. — so no one seemed all too annoyed to pack ourselves into a cab (one of the few we took during the whole trip, but the situation called for it!) and call it a night. I didn’t even eat dinner, folks, that’s how tired I was. Basically as soon as I got back to the apartment, the pajamas were on and I was in bed. Done. Lights out. Goodnight.
And that was Tuesday, friends! Long, exhausting, amazing, adventurous. It had it all!
The next day, Wednesday, we would be heading out on the bullet train to Kyoto, which is an experience all by itself. But more on that to come next time, friends. For now … bis bald!