Tsukiji Fish Market

Oh my goodness I think it’s been over a MONTH since I’ve last written! My job has kept me quite busy–not much travel since China but I do have a little to write about. I refuse to talk about work on here because it’s actually quite dreadful at times, but something of note did occur recently. I was selected among many applicants to begin pursuing a much more specialized pipeline. What that means for me is more opportunities and MORE TRAVEL! Because let’s face it, that’s what really motivates me at the end of the day.

Another item of note is that within the last few weeks I’ve drastically changed my diet. Unfortunately my worst vice is I am an avid Coke Zero drinker, and it doesn’t look like I’m going to be able to kick the habit just yet, but I’ve really begun to incorporate much more tea and water into my daily routine. Green tea, Oolong tea, and Peppermint tea are my favorites. Tea is one of those things you actually can drink as much as you want of; and Green Tea actually has hydrating properties. All teas have health benefits because of their anti-oxidants, including but not limited to catalysts for weight loss, cancer prevention, and anti-aging. You can read more about the health benefits of tea here.

I’ve also been incorporating much more protein, potassium, and healthy lipids into my diet, and it’s helped me lose a few of those stubborn pounds that I’ve been trying to lose for years. For me, since I am a distance runner, I often find I am plagued with painful cramps in my calves after runs. Potassium greatly alleviates this problem. With regard to weight loss, the secret is there is no secret. A healthy diet and exercise are ultimately what it comes down to. With the emphasis placed on DIET.

Anyway, on to the travel! This weekend we made our way up to Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo, which is the largest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world. The market opens up at 3 AM and products are shipped in from all over the world.

We stayed in the APA Hotel nearby, which was affordable and clean. The rooms were quite small (typical of Japanese hotels), yet convenient with comfortable beds.

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And no Japanese hotel room is complete without the attention to detail:

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We left our hotel at 3:45 AM only to find the tickets for the daily auction (starting at 5:20 AM) were already sold out by 3:15! So we took a walk by the Tsukiji Shrine, ate some fresh, early morning sushi at a nearby restaurant, and made our way back to our hotel for a few more hours of sleep before returning later that day.

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Specialized knives for cutting fish for sale in Tsukiji Market

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More adventures to follow!

Harajuku + Asakusa

Although it has been cold here, it was sunny all weekend, and so the perfect time to do a little sightseeing. To be quite honest, we’re running out of places to go in Kanagawa, so once work permits I think we’ll try and take some trips down to Western Japan.

Saturday I went up to Harajuku for a little shopping, but before that I made a stop at Meiji-Jingu. Built in 1915 to honor the Emperor Meiji and his wife, it is located in Yoyogi Park and is a pleasant break from the surrounding city.

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Just as I was about to leave the main complex a wedding procession entered:

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After leaving Meiji Jingu I headed into downtown Harajuku for some sightseeing and shopping. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Japan, Harajuku is a quite fashionable–yet highly eccentric–area in Tokyo. On Sundays (and I still have yet to go) many young men and women who are into the quirky fashions get together and hang out near the station, readily providing eager sightseers and onlookers photographs.

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Today we headed up to Asakusa to visit Kappabashi-dori, aka “Kitchen Town.” It’s an area in Tokyo where one can buy restaurant items wholesale. From the famous plastic food items found in Japanese display cases to the hanging red lanterns outside ramen shops and izakaya, if it’s for the food business, chances are you can find it on Kappabashi-dori. All over Kappabashi-dori are images and figurines of Kappa, water nymphs of Japanese folklore. Kappa are creatures which can have natures ranging from innocently mischievous to outright cruel.

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Famous plastic food found in display windows:
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All the ketchup and mustard bottles you could ever need!
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With the Tokyo Skytree and Asahi Beer Hall behind me
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Until next time!

Sensoji Temple + Asakasa

In Asakasa, Tokyo, looms an intimidating red gate; known as the “Kaminarimon,” or “Thunder Gate.”  It is the symbol for the city of Asakasa, and quite easily one of the most iconic places in Japan.

On the eastern side of the gate sits Fujin, the Shinto god of wind, and on the western side sits Raijin, the god of thunder.  Although Sensoji is a Buddhist temple, like most religious sites in Japan, it is its own unique blend of both Buddhism and Shinto  Once through the Kaminarimon, you come to the Nakamisedoori, which is a long straightaway stretch to the main hall.  The Nakamisedoori is lined with nearly 100 small shops, selling souvenirs, traditional sweets, toys, Buddhist mementos, you name it.

At the end of the Nakamisedoori, there is another gate; the Hozomon Gate, or “Treasure House Gate.”  Inside this gate are housed the temple’s most treasured sutras, including the lotus sutra.

The red chochin (collapsible lantern) above me weighs 400kg

Facing back toward the Hozomon Gate; cleansing incense visible rising.  Thousands of people flood this complex to pray for mercy from the Bodhisattva Guanyin, or in Japanese, pronounced “Kannon.”  Legend has it that in 628, two fishermen found a statue of Kannon in the Sumida River.  After returning to their village, the two fishermen brought it to their chief, and he, upon recognizing it immediately as the goddess, enshrined the statue.  The first temple was built in 645 by the Tokugawa Shogunate.

The temple is a symbol of rebirth and peace to the Japanese people; the original was destroyed in an air raid during World War II.

Kannon painted on the ceiling of the main hall

Street vendors outside the temple.

 

And just for fun from Asakasa…

The Asahi Beer headquarters, known for its iconic “golden poo.”  It is supposedly meant to represent both the ‘burning heart of Asahi beer’ and a frothy head.

Lanterns from the city.