The Trip That Never Was…

The sign outside our door says, “Open.”

As in “Come on over, airfare is cheap, the radiation is fine- don’t I look younger? That gentle shaking in the night? Why that just rocks you slowly to sleep. Below 7 is nothing to worry about- really.”

The current week envisioned through my tactical planning lens in February was shattered by recent events, all visitors cancelled, so now instead of adjusting the glitches in the itinerary readying for the next wave of company, I’ll run it by all of you. Why mope over plans cancelled when we can enjoy a virtual tour of the 7 day itinerary originally planned for 4 adults with limited attention spans and 4 teenagers with no attention spans.

Day 1: Tskiji Fish Market, Imperial Palace

Arrival from the states predicts awakening somewhere between 1-3:00 AM local time. The ideal time to visit Tskiji Fish Market. The largest fish market in the world. Yes- mentioned on this blog too many times to count – read the full post here and feel free to wonder as to the flavor of each savory morsel as you study each picture trying to decipher its genus and species. In order to see all the action- get there by 4:00 AM. Yes- 4:00 AM- no later than 6:00.

Tuna auctions take place well before first light. Recently re-opened to the public after a foreigner engaged in a good morning smooch with a tuna. His photo-op resulted in all visitors banishment from the kingdom until just recently leaving the auctioneers wary of a repeat performance, therefore a local guide familiar to the fish market staff is the best bet for actually observing this very serious ritual.

By 10:00 everyone is either hungry or sick. No revelation that fresh sushi is available at a very good price. Especially cheap for those not eating.

Then comes the jet lag crash. Spouse has a strongly held theory that sun exposure helps gets the body used to the new time zone, so the next stop is a stroll around the Imperial Palace- home to the current Emperor and Empress of Japan. Although the palace only opens twice a year, the gardens are meticulously maintained and beautiful. I hear.

His Imperial Majesty, Emperor Akihito Her Imperial Majesty Empress Michiko (and close personal friend of Spouse)

Imperial Palace Tokyo

If our guests have constitutions similar to ours, at the conclusion of the walk, we expect to pour their jellied bodies in a vehicle toward food and home.

Day 2: Omotesando, Harajuku, Meiji Shrine:

Andretti- san, cultural guide to the Clampitt family and infamous for descriptors which leave no room for interpretation, proclaimed the Omotesando shopping area as “The place for younger shoppers. Ginza is for older shoppers and foreigners.” We are non-discriminatory on our tour and cover both areas. Starting with Omotesando.

“Harajuku girls” are famous the fashion world over. These girls, of whom apparently few but the fashion elite are familiar, are the secret trend setters for the rest of the world.

The action happens along this seemingly innocuous street directly across from Harajuku station.

TakIshita-dori Harajuku

Top fashion designers “plant” test designs without labels and watch what the trendy Japanese will snap up. This street is for the teenagers in the group.

Along Omotesando, the major designers have flag-ship stores including an interesting architectural building housing Prada:

Weaving in and along Omotesando are hundreds of small shops, boutiques, and restaurants. Grab a seat, set your camera for rapid fire, and people watch- there is no place better in the city. Maybe you’ll see a “Lolita.”

Across from the start of TakeshIta-dori is one of the most famous and important shrines in Japan- Meiji Shrine. Read the post here.  Emperor Meiji changed the face of Japan. Nuff said- and that’s about all your kids will hear.

Weddings occur on weekends:

Shinto Wedding

Tori Gate

Day 3 Asakusa, Kappabashi, Edo Tokyo Museum:

The oldest shrine in Tokyo and in my humble opinion the biggest bang for your tourist buck. It’s all happening right here. An old shrine with everything one could want-

Scary gods guarding the entry:

A pagoda:

Healing incense:

LOTS of traditional Japanese gifts and food.

Traditional gifts range from obi (belts around kimono) to hand carved wooden combs and paper goods. All price ranges are represented.

Asahi Brewery is across the street- the building alone is worth a look. Designed to look like a frothy mug of beer. Your thoughts?

Around the corner is Kappabashi- the Kitchen district. Many people think this is a MUST SEE. Others, me for instance, wilt at the sight of kitchen ware. I can boil it down to two highlights:

The chef marking the entrance:

This- is it real or is it Memorex?

Completely fake- all made for restaurant displays somewhere in Kappabashi- THAT- I gotta see. Wax food can be a saviour- no language skill necessary if one can point to the item to be ordered.

An alternative to Kappabashi is the Edo Tokyo Museum, which houses life-size displays on the history of Japan. While I’m sure many teenagers would find this form of entertainment worthwhile, mine crossed the threshold in chains. I found it fascinating. The museum and the Offspring struggling to free themselves of the chains and the museum.

OK- time to get out of town for a few days.

Day 4 and 5 will be just outside of Tokyo- but that’s for the next post.

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34 Responses to The Trip That Never Was…

  1. Paul says:

    G’day, Nice picture and I do like your comentary. Please keep it up.



  2. 2summers says:

    Looks like it would’ve been a fun trip. Love the beer mug building.


    • amblerangel says:

      The architecture here is amazing- I always get such a kick out of the beer building… One day I want to go around and just look at all of the interesting buildings… So different from the US


  3. Fidel says:

    Wow, I can’t believe someone did that at the fish market. How long did they close it to foreigners? I find that going to most places in Tokyo is better with a Japanese friend anyway. I was surprised at how inclusive the country is when I first moved here. Having a close Japanese friend opens up the entire country to you.

    I like your virtual tour and I hope that you can experience it in person. Sounds like you have a good itinerary planned. I would also add day trips to Kamakura and Yokohama if at all possible.


    • amblerangel says:

      Fidel- I just found you in my Spam folder? Anyway- they originally closed the tuna auctions to everyone, not just the foreigners- but I don’t know for how long. A thought it was a year or so. I’ve not been to Yokohama- what’s fun there?


  4. Lisa says:

    Thank you for the virtual tour. I have to ask, what does your husband do that he is personal friends with the empress?


    • amblerangel says:

      Well- actually they only met once- in a reception line- surrounded by security guards- and weeping Japanese women- but they really hit it off in the 15 second interlude and I believe, had they had more time, would have certainly arranged a follow up get together with the families….


  5. joeandharryabroad says:

    Aw I’m sorry to hear that your visitors cancelled, and your plans look amazing… I really hope to visit Tokyo one day!

    Hopefully peoples fear will calm down soon and you can get your plan into action xx


  6. Fio says:

    I’ve been reading your blog post-earthquake, when I was looking for info about weather to postpone my April 18th trip or not. In the end I did, purely because family pressure. I’ve rescheduled for June, so I will keep your guide handy. Will you print a guide to Kyoto too? Pleaaazze?
    Love your blog, one of my favorites ever!


  7. My oldest child is an architecture major. He would have a field day over there. The frosty mug of beer building….? I didn’t quite see it. What was the chili pepper looking thing next to it?


    • amblerangel says:

      Well- that has the been the subject of much talk- none of which is covered by the rating system on this blog. Suffice it to say it is part of the Asahi brewery family….


  8. I love the tour..your friends in high places and the memorex! Oh and the food and pagoda and the ….well everything!


    • amblerangel says:

      I should adjust that- we only have friends in low places… Spouse only shook her hand in a receiving line and exchanged the four words he knows in Japanese….I was so proud I labelled them BFFs.


  9. Tori Nelson says:

    Cool, cool, cool photos. Thanks for sharing!


  10. jacquelincangro says:

    Looks like a grand virtual tour! Can’t wait for part 2.
    What is a Lolita?


    • amblerangel says:

      The Lolita’s are the girls – and guys- that dress like the dolls. The outfits are very expensive, the wigs are hand done and they are extremely camera shy which is why those pictures aren’t mine. Of course there are different types of Lolitas- once I get enough pictures, I’ll do a post. Apparently their “movement” has spread to London. Here they are very popular….


  11. Thanks for the tour, amblerangel! Looking forward to Part 2!

    I have to ask a technical question…are you having any difficulty placing your photos? All the photos I’ve tried to upload in the last week have wanted to be at the top of my post, so I’ve had to switch to HTML view and copy and paste them where I want them to be…AARGH!



  12. Sorry your guests decided not to come, but at least we all now get to enjoy the tour! Horray for us——————–


  13. Michi says:

    I love your photos of Japan. By the way, I occasionally think about the photo of the cute snow monkey that bit your friend when you two went hiking to the (was it a temple?) and giggle to myself. My dad is coming to visit in May, and we’re set to go to Gibraltar, where there are monkeys galore. Can’t wait.


  14. Dana says:

    Ah, vicarious travel! LOVE IT! I particularly enjoyed the Harajuku girl sightings and the frothy beer mug building. I would also love the Kitchen District… gives me the cramps just thinking about it.


    • amblerangel says:

      Dana- I’m LAUGHING at your cramps comment- my sisters and I call that the “GI distress” which invariably ensues at the onset of a great shopping adventure or Ebay find.


  15. kasuross says:

    Can you believe it? It is a first time when I found this kind of ‘trip’ interesting enough to read it ;).
    Good job!


  16. Working Girl says:

    It all looks so amazing! The asahi building looks fabulous; I drink asahi so that alone makes it worth a visit. If only I could afford it – waa! So many things to see in Japan, you’re so lucky!


  17. Piper Bayard says:

    Thanks for the tour. I’ve always wanted to visit Japan. I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog and adding you to my blogroll. All the best.


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