Mike and I woke to another sunny day in Tokyo, and since this would be our last morning together, we decided to revel over our free, luxurious breakfast. It was a buffet style, but it was an elegant affair with white tablecloths, croissants, French-press coffee, and fresh fruits piled on silver platters. There was also a menu with eggs and meats to choose from.
Finished with breakfast, we checked out of our room, and checked our bags with the front desk so we could do a bit more sight seeing before my husband left on the Narita Express at 2:00 pm.
We headed for Ginza and took a left toward the Tsukiji district, home of the Jiro Dreams of Sushi fish market and auction, where they auction off the giant blue fins and every other kind of seafood known to man. We found a myriad of shops and a tangle of alleys that connected them all, and thus began our stroll. We saw so many things to eat, to drink, and to give as gifts.
Two older men at different stalls really liked Mike, so we stopped to chat. I suspect they wanted to show off their English, which was quite good. One sold a rice topping made from spices, dried fish, kelp, and sesame seeds. It was delicious. He asked Mike were he was from. When he said Seattle, the man replied, “Oh Seattle, too bad Ichiro is now in New York!” Mike tried to engage in conversation, but the guy had exhausted his English and bid us ado!
Another man further down the alley, handed Mike a cup of green tea. Mike loves green tea as much as he loves bamboo forests, so we both stood near the tea stall and drank some very delicious green tea made from the traditional powder used in tea ceremonies. Mike had to buy some, and this gentleman, who didn’t have as much English as the first gentleman, made it clear that he was so proud we were buying his tea, and he and his staff of five wished us good health and a long and happy marriage, as we left with our purchase.
We passed many stalls in this open air market where we passed many things I couldn’t identify, which added to the exotic allure. We were too late for the fish market proper though because we’d dallied over breakfast. The market auctions begin at 6 am and go until 8 am or so. The public is not allowed in at that time, but at 9 am the public can wander the stalls until they close. Mike and I made it around 10:30 or so, and most of the stalls were closed. The little street shops were so much fun, though, that we didn’t mind.
After our adventure there, we walked out to the Sumida Gawa and took some photos. Mike kept complaining that my camera was not working, but as I edited the batch, I realized what he was doing. He wasn’t focusing on me. He was focusing on the buildings behind me! I don’t mind too much because I don’t have a wrinkle or an age spot.
We headed back to the hotel, after another stroll through Ginza. They close Ginza Dori to traffic and make it a “pedestrian only” street, so when we’d gotten at the north end, closest to Tokyo station, they announced that cars were to exit to other streets, put up barriers, and workers appeared from every shop and doorway with chairs and tables to set up in the street. I was hoping Mike would get to see this phenomenon, and he did. We went to our hotel very satisfied with our morning.
We picked up our bags at the Marunouchi Hotel, and headed back to the station, where we began the search for a lunch spot big enough for our luggage as well as us, the hungry ones. Oh, oh, yes. Mike was hungry. We did find a huge place in an out of the way corner with lots of seating and space. We both ordered coffees and ate a light lunch before I walked Mike to the Narita Express gate. Sigh.
We had a perfect week, and it was hard to say goodbye, but we managed. He went east, and I boarded the Yamanote line and headed west. But even as I post this, we only have a couple more days in Japan, so I’ll be home with all the memories of a wonderful “break week” in Japan!