My second visit of the year to the metropolis of Tokyo, Japan. AS usual, I’ll try an incorporate some references to fish and fishing in the following picture travelogue, starting off with a visit to Sushi Zanmai in Shinbashi for a sushi dinner:
Sushi Zanmai, Shinbashi
Whilst strolling around Shimbashi in the early evening, we happened across this bar/restaurant with some interesting deep-sea fish species on the menu:
Deep sea delicacies ….
On the second day of my visit the fishy theme continued with an early afternoon stroll around Tsukiji fish market:
Tsukiji Market – Dried salmon (l)/ Grilled tuna street food (r)
Old Tsukiji market building
Tsukiji -ji (r) / Tsukiji Hongan-ji Buddhist Temple (r)
And fish were the subject yet again,later in the day, with a visit to Tokyo Sea Life Park, where the main attraction was the large bluefin tuna aquarium. Bluefin Tuna (Hon Maguro), is revered in Japan and intimately woven into it’s food and culture:
Bluefin Tuna cuddly toy (almost as expensive as the real thing at c.£200)
A display at the entrance gives the visitor a sense of the size that Bluefin Tuna can attain (although the scale is a little off unless I’ve grown over the past few months …):
Bluefin Tuna size comparison chart
Tokyo Sea Life Park
Inside there were a number of attractions, including exhibits of sea-life from shallow and deep marine environments, and a number of climatic zones:
But despite the attractions on offer, the centre-piece was the tank full of giant Bluefin Tuna, swimming majestically (if too fast to adequately photograph) around the large aquarium:
The following picture gives an idea of the scale of the aquarium and the Bluefin Tuna inside:
Bluefin Tuna with people for scale
And the video show’s them at their majestic best, swimming effortlessly with barely a flick of the tail:
Shiodome and Shimbashi
The Shiodome and Shimbashi areas where I stayed have some interesting modern architecture:
Dentsu (“Knife-edge”) Building – by day and by night
Kyodo (l) & Dentsu Buildings (r) – Shiodome
Tokyo Tower at night – view from Shiodome
Odaiba is s a large artificial island in Tokyo Bay, across the Rainbow Bridge from central Tokyo and near to my wife’s apartment in Shiodome. The island is home to shopping and entertainment complexes, and is a popular tourist attraction.
Fuji TV Building
We had dinner at a steak restaurant at Diver City where I encountered this interesting White Shark mural:
White Shark, Diver City
We finished the day with a visit to Joypolis amusement park also situated in Odaiba:
We used to bring the kids here whenever they visited Japan, usually every summer. We’re still not too old to enjoy its delights ….
Joypolis entry tickets
Although photo’s are not allowed, we did manage to get a few snaps of out computerised images:
As usual, the quality of the food was outstanding. For dinner on this day we chanced across the “Amazing Wagyu” whilst exploring Ginza:
Wagyu beef ready for the grill
I made a late evening visit to Roppongi with my son as he wanted to take some photographs of the area:
Roppongi night scene
After getting hassled by foreign touts trying to get us to go into strip bars (I’ve heard that it’s a scam and once inside you will be menaced into buying extortionately priced drinks or get robbed … or both – I’m not sure why the police and authorities tolerate this, I’ve certainly not experience it before in Japan) we decided to move on. We came to the Roppongi Hills area, which provided us with good views and photo opportunities:
Bronze Spider Sculpture at Roku Roku Plaza
Roppongi Hills views
Benkei Fishing Club – Akasaka
Surprisingly, we even manage to get in a fishing trip. My wife found this place on the web, and it was only a few subway stops away from where we were staying. We visited first to do a recce and then returned a few days later to try our hand at spinning for large mouth bass.
Benkei Fishing Club Boat House
The lake is part of the Benkei Moat which was formerly a part of second circular moat to Castle Edo ..!!
Interestingly, the road adjacent to the lake acts as an emergency road in the even of a major earthquake. The sign signalling this road bears the image of a catfish – it was once believed that a giant catfish, the Namazu, lived in the mud under Japan. The Namazu was thought to cause earthquakes when it thrashes about trying to escape its guardian, the god Kashima …!
Earthquake information sign
We spend an enjoyable few hours rowing around the lake casting soft plastics, but without success. It was very odd to be in the middle of the city but in such a pleasant natural environment:
Benkei Moat lake, Akasaka, Tokyo
Once again another later start to the day saw us taking the train from Tokyo to Kamakura around 1.30pm. We didn’t help ourselves by taking the wrong train ….! Still, we got to the picturesque city of Kamakura around 3.00pm, just in time to see a couple of it’s many wondrous ancient sites.
I’ve visited Kamakura only once before, way back in the summer of 1991. On my previous visit, I don’t recall seeing the tsunami warning signs with height above sea level information and I suspect these are new since the devastating 2011 Tōhoku earthquake. Interestingly, I remember being overawed by the main attraction of Kamakura, the bronze cast Daibutsu (the Giant Buddah) statue, and reading that it wa s once housed in a temple that was washed away by a tsunami in 1498 A.D. …… and the statue itself is situated about 16m above present day sea-level:
Tsunami warning signs & Kamakura Daibutsu
The Great Buddah – Entry tickets
The Great Buddah itself is awe inspiring and still in remarkable condition, considering it was constructed in 1252 and has survived a number of storms, tsunamis and earthquakes, including The Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 ….!
Daibutsu resides within the Kōtoku-in Buddhist temple complex, and is a regal figure at 13.35m in height:
The Great Buddah of Kamakura (Daibutsu)
An information plaque gives the key dimensions and history of the statue:
Daibutsu information plaque
The Great Buddah of Kamakura (Daibutsu)
Despite our late arrival and the dreary rain, we managed to squeeze in one more attraction, the Hasedera temple:
Hasedera Temple – entry tickets
Hasedera Temple is another of Kamakura’s Buddhist Temples, this one possible dating back as far as 729 A.D. It is famous for housing a massive wooden statue of Kannon (Goddess of Mercy). Key information is given in selected pages from the temple information pamphlet:
Hasedera Temple – information pamphlet
Hasedera Temple – entrance
I found this warning sign interesting – Red Kites are making a come-back in many places in the UK, and used to be a common sight over Elizabethan London where they fed on carrion and rubbish in the city. It’s interesting to see that they’ve adapted to the presence of man here too, stealing food from the hands of unsuspecting tourists …
Kite warning sign
Midori Sushi (16.10.17)
And what better way to finish off a pleasant visit to Japan than to enjoy the delicious fare on offer at Midori Sushi restaurant in Ginza:
Chūtoro sushi and Asahi beer
This was our son Siôn’s first visit to this restaurant (one of me and the wife’s favourites). Guess which beer was his ….
Assorted sushi – Ebi, Shake, Maguro
Chūtoro, ōtoro, sake and clam
We mostly feasted on chūtoro (medium fatty bluefin tuna) ōtoro (fatty tuna), ebi (butterfly style cooked shrimp) and sake (salmon), but we also enjoyed ika (squid) and hotate (scallop).
And that was the end of my holiday. One last delightful memory of Japan – I had an excellent meal in JAL economy washed down with an ample supply of red wine and Asahi beer whilst I enjoyed a string of unexpectedly good films. One of the most pleasant flights that I can remember …
I had the menu by Yukino Katrura. Delicious!