Monday, 14 May 2012

Day 3 - Fish Heads and Rice Snot

We decided to get up early to visit the Tsukiji fish market here in Tokyo today. Well, we intended to get up early to visit the fish market, however to be honest, 0630 came around a bit too soon for my liking, and really, if the auctions of the endangered species all happen at 5am, why worry!

We finally left the Ryokan at about 0745, and reached the market at exactly quarter to nine. This is fifteen minutes before the general public are allowed into the wholesale market, so to be honest, I'm quite glad that we didn't get there earlier.

The wholesale fish market is a fully functional industrial operation. I am used to hanging about in fast moving warehouses, but I was quite scared of the volume and speed of movement all around me. I tried to capture this in a little video – but I'm not sure how to share. if I work it out, I will.

Barred from the market, we walked back to the (erm?) market, and had some breakfast. Firstly, we set ourselves up with some protein. Egg lollypops! (They're not as nice as they look!)

Then we had some carbs. I had a bundle of slightly burnt rice (yum!) and Mike had some donburi (a bowl of rice with some eel on top) Against all the odds, I think Mike made a better choice.

Luckily we found a nice quiet place to sit and eat our breakfast... Before heading back to the fish market, we had a look around. There were, unsurprisingly, lots of food stalls, some selling fish, most selling cooked food. There were some pickle stalls (which is the only acceptable way to eat vegetables in Japan I think), and a few kitchen gadget shops which seemed to specialise in anything you can possibly think of!

Inside the wholesale market, even after the 9am curfew, was a bit fraught. The trucks, and the carts, their technological predecessors, were still being thrown around at quite a rate. Also, it's a fish market, so the floor was quite nasty with the bits of fish and crabs that only their mothers would love lying around. Although, as it's a fish market, and it's a fish market every day, I would have expected it to stink. It really didn't.

I took this photo for my ex-boyfriend, Brian, (who, as far as I know is not friends with anyone here on facebook, so I'm out of touch) who loved a song that went:
Fish heads, fish heads, rolly-polly fish heads;
Fish heads, fish heads, eat them up, yum.
They're not good dancers, they don't wear make up
da-da da da da, da-da da daaaaa (can't remember any more)
Please can one of you help me identify this bloody song and the missing line – it's stuck in my head! (I asked Mike, he looked at me like I was deranged – but then that's how he normally looks at me!)

There were also samples of fish on display that were not in buckets. There was, for example, this fine example of a beheaded yellow fin tuna. Just look at the size of it compared to the men standing nearby (sorry, it's out of focus – I did call this bad photographer – that should have been a clue!). I know Japanese people are known for being, shall we say, slightly below global average height, but these guys were not short. I have no idea how old this fish was – but that's one step closer to extinction of an entire species. There was also stuff moving around in buckets. I didn't like that much, so you don't get to see photos.

Bear in mind that this writing lark is just an excuse for me to show you my (bad) photo album without having you run for the hills, this photo is truly gratuitous. Don't you think they look like they are singing in a choir??

We made our way back to the Ryokan for a skulk about, before venturing out to do some admin. I needed to drop my work stuff off at the hotel I will be staying at next week. It's 43 floors high! Unable to contain our excitement, Mike and I jumped in a great glass elevator, and headed for the sky. Urm, that was it. Forgot to take a photo. Didn't jump. No story really! I'll take photos on Saturday – promise!

The other piece of admin was to buy train tickets for the rest of the week. Holy moly, and you all think Switzerland is expensive?? Mind you, we did reserve seats for both of us on four seperate shinkansen journeys. Two of them on the nozumi train (which Mike is quite excited about – it covers 346km in 100 minutes, which is quite fast apparently, so I've been told!) Even so! I found it amusing that the ticket guy thought it would be ok to have a twelve minute “layover” in Tokyo. “It's 8 minutes between platfoms” he said “you cannot have less time”. I think he misunderstood my expression.

We went back to Akihabara (Mecca for electronics freaks – I'm just saying, not accusing anyone who may read this and think I was talking about them...) Mike needed another sim card (most people make do with one!) However, there was a stationary department in this shop. I likes stationary, I do! Mike has a photo of me with just some of my purchases - but i don't know how to share. Who'd have thought you could spend so much money on pens?? (Not as much as you can spend on trains, but it's all relative I suppose).

Back in Asakusa, we went to the restaurant straight across the street from our Ryokan. Mike ordered soba noodles and tempura (this is getting a little repetitive) and I ordered raw fish and snot. Really, the bowl of white stuff with green bits on top (not the rice, stupid) has the consistency of snot. I would not be able to judge if the taste is the same, having never tasted snot. The chef came over and told me to pour soy on it, mix it up, and pour it on my rice. Not on your nelly, I needed to eat the rice! He assured me it was good and had “no calories”. Well in that case, one might ask, why on earth would I bother? I did try some of the soy enhanced snot and rice. Yep, tasted just like I would expect salty snot and rice to taste.

For comparison, here is Mike's fare. Now, doesn't that look appetising. See? Deep fried stuff is much better than snot!

Finally, just a thought. These are my feet. I think I'm turning Japanese, I think I'm turning Japanese, I really think so...

Published in haste - apologies for errors!

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