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Saturday, September 11, 2004

Ginza, greenery and graffiti -- Tokyo Day 2 (still)

After two hours at the fish markets followed by breakfast, we'd been up for 4.5 hours and it was still only 8.30am!

With steely "anti-nap" resolve, we walked from Tsukiji to Ginza, detouring via a lantern-festooned temple and an oasis of greenery, or Hibiya-koen, along the way. Hibiya-koen was apparently Tokyo's first Western-style park and the chance to escape into a sanctuary of greenery and silence was welcomed.

Ginza is the shopping precinct of Tokyo, and was one of the first areas to modernise with Western-style brick buildings in the 1870s. Today the streets are lined with swanky designer stores, but more excitingly, home to the Sony Building. We spent about an hour here checking out the latest Sony products and mucking around on the free video games, including a number of bizarre virtual reality games which relied on physical movements (think Tom Cruise looking at computer files in Minority Report).

Wandering the streets and window-shopping afterwards, Ginza was a surprising mix of old and new...

A couple of us were keen to organise tickets to the sumo so we headed out to Ryogoku station (where the sumo stadium is located) to purchase tickets. The Grand Sumo Tournament only takes place six times a year for 15 days each in January, May and September at Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo, March in Osaka, July in Nagoya and December in Fukuoka.

We got tickets for the 3rd last day of the tournament (following the conclusion of our tour) and spotted some offensive graffiti whilst we were there...

Back at our hotel stomping grounds in Ueno, we wandered about Ueno-koen (Ueno Park) again and Ameya-yokocho Arcade (the American Market).

Who said monks weren't mobile?

These sweet buns are popular throughout Tokyo and the smell of their sugary crunchy topping is irresistable! They tasted very similar to what are called Mexico buns in Chinatown bakeries.

I would have tried sleeping in a capsule but apparently they are generally only open to male (businessmen).

In search of dinner, a group of us voted to go authentic and headed into an izakaya, the Japanese equivalent of a pub. Sitting cross-legged on tatami mats, we met an unforseen, but in retropect highly likely, hurdle when eating authentic--the place didn't have any English menus! When the hostess realised none of us spoke reliable Japanese, she remained demure but shocked, and giggled in Japanese, "This is very very bad."

Sign language and the hostess' valiant command of English prevailed though, and we feasted on fresh and tasty endame (salted fresh soy beans), yakitori and tsukune.

The yakitori (charcoal chicken skewers) were plump, tender and juicy with flavour.

The tsukune (chicken mince skewers) were also surprisingly moist and delicious.

Our dinner group

Even the table across from us wanted to join in on the camera action.

Doesn't this guy look just like the kung fu Buddha boy figurines you see in Chinatown?

Our waitress for the evening. She was so helpful, giggly and cute, you just wanted to take her home!

We couldn't finish the night without dessert! We headed to a dessert house and picked the most authentic-looking Japanese dessert bowl we could find. Clear sweet jelly cubes, red bean jelly, omochi (sticky rice cake), a sliver of mandarin and green tea ice cream. Mmm... oishii desu ne!

2 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Anonymous on 9/11/2004 11:59:00 pm


  • At 10/19/2004 5:18 pm, Blogger R said…


    This is my favourite entry to date.YUM!

    I'm saving my pennies, so that I can make the trip soon.

    Have you considered reading working for the Japanese Tourism Commission?

    Thank you, and keep up the good work.

  • At 10/20/2004 4:21 pm, Blogger pinkcocoa said…

    oiishii ga ta!!!!
    pinkcocoa mo tabetai!!!! :"P

    wow I cant wait until you post about the sumo tournament. I have always wanted to watch sumo wrestling in real life! hehe.

    Are you also very into Japanese thing? I am for sure but still have yet to start saving up for a trip. I wanna go to Kyoto and Hokkaido! :)


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