Our last full day in Japan was going to be mostly about shopping, collecting gifts for people at home and a bunch of items we like to grab for ourselves. We had left most of our shopping for the last few days and we really needed to focus and get it done. Our first spot counts as both a tourist visit and a shopping visit, the famous Tsukiji Market.
This will very likely be the last time we visit the inner market as it’s long history is coming to an end. After several years of planning and at least one delay to give businesses a chance to prepare Tsukiji Market’s inner portion is being closed down and moved to a new location. The new market is called Toyosu Market and it out in Tokyo Bay connected to Odaiba. It’s going to be a very modern complex and looks to have thought about tourists from the onset, hopefully alleviating some of the issues at Tsukiji.
In our video I hopefully didn’t come across too down on Tsukiji Market, it is a very interesting place to visit. I think what struck me was just the number of people coming to visit the market as a tourist attraction which must make doing business in the tight quarters of the inner market difficult. We first visited Tsujiki during our introductory trip to Japan in 2007 and it was much quieter as compared to this last visit in 2016. Also it did seem like the merchants were frustrated. There was a lot of no picture signs and they are actually enforced. This must be an attempt to keep the throngs of tourists at bay. A stark contrast to 2007 when I was encouraged to pose for pictures by a merchant, even allowing me to hold his massive knives. Our last few visits to Tsujiki Market was less about wandering the market taking pictures and more about coming specifically to buy some products and then leave. Because we were trying to capture some of the market for the video we ended up noticing the changes. We are definitely looking forward to checking out Toyosu Market set to open in October 2018 on our next trip.
After wandering around the market and picking up our wares we headed out. I think we will return to the area on our next trip to see what has changed, also a large portion of the market will remain open. There is the outer market full of restaurants and shops that will remain. And to be honest we’ve never really explored the outer market too much. But on this day we had a very specific restaurant in mind that we wanted to revisit.
This restaurant is a bit of a special place for us because of the chef who started it. Back in the late 90s while I was at university I happened upon a show on the Food Network that blew our minds. It was an import from Japan, Iron Chef. It had a fun backstory, a millionaire spent his life savings to create kitchen arena where his chosen Iron Chefs would battle challengers. It was just wacky and we loved watching the show. This was even before we visited Japan, or I knew much about the country. I never imagined that I would one day fall in love with Japan and return as often as I could. This particular restaurant is owned by Iron Chef Chinese, Chef Chen Kenichi. It’s a very odd restaurant in terms of it’s location, in a nondescript low rise office building. It was difficult for us to find the first time we went, but now that we know what to look for it’s rather easy.
The food is excellent, so much so it brought us back for a second visit, and likely a third in the future. I opted for mapo tofu and Nicole chose oyster beef. Both were amazing and we devoured the dishes. We arrived just in time for their lunch service and so didn’t linger too long. We ate, took a few shots of the restaurant and then headed out, properly fuelled for our afternoon.
The rest of the day was put aside for shopping and Nicole knew exactly where she wanted to return, Tokyo Midtown. It’s a bit of a fancy shopping complex with a basement of food, a top floor devoted to home products and several floors of clothes shops in-between. I followed Nicole as she wandered the clothes floors waiting for us to reach the top floor where I could explore the kitchen shops. We did a little damage on the top floor and then headed to the basement where there is a nice grocery store along with a designer fruit store. You’ll have to watch the episode to see what the fruit store is all about.
Our last stop for the day was the massive location of Daiso, a ￥100 shop chain, in Harajuku. It is one of their largest stores and you can find almost anything there. What constantly surprises us is the quality of the goods at these ￥100 shops, which is basically the equivalent of a dollar store at home. We still use several products we’ve purchased many, many years ago.
All that shopping made us hungry. We were close by to a sushi shop we saw a few days ago but arrived too late for dinner. Luckily we made it in time for dinner this time around. It was excellent. It’s a conveyor belt sushi chain and the quality of the food they prepare in this little location was outstanding. We ate as much as we could in the time we had before they closed. They were turning off the lights as we were stumbling away.
As much as we wanted to get to bed, we had a long night of packing ahead of us. We took the subway back to our hotel and started the difficult task of getting packed up for our trip home the following day. You get a peak at the monumental task it was in the accompanying episode.
There were several locations featured in this episode
- Tsukiji Market – The famous fish market in Tokyo where with the right planning the tuna auction can be witnessed. Most of the market is being closed and moved to a new market called Toyosu Market in the Fall of 2018.
- Sui Shrine – A Shinto shrine devoted to the worship of the Shinto god of water.
- Sisen Sichuan Restaurant – Iron Chef Chinese’s restaurant serving up delectable Chinese dishes.
- Tokyo Midtown – A favourite shopping complex of Nicole which we try to visit on each trip.
- Heiroku Sushi – The Omotosando branch of a conveyor belt sushi restaurant chain.
- DAISO Harajuku – One of the largest, if not the largest, locations of the DAISO chain of ￥100 stores.
- Park Hotel Tokyo – Our home away from home for our stay in Tokyo and the hotel we’ve chosen for each of our trips to Japan.
Thanks for watching/reading!