Sunday, August 12, 2007

24 hour Sushi!

At 8:30 am, we made our way through passport control and customs. Then, we followed Love to the bus terminal to the Roppongi station. Here we had to take an hour bus ride and then a 5 minute taxi-ride. We engaged in conversation with Love and during this time we exchanged telephone numbers in hopes that we meet up again. Finally, we arrive at our apartment complex. Greeted with perfect English and welcoming hearts, we were escorted to our 34 square meter apartment. Small, uh? Even though it was small in size, it had an extremely modern look with brand new amenities. We immediately put down our bags and headed out for sushi. Did you know that you could get sushi 24 hours, seven days a week? Later, we defintely took advantage of this luxury. After eating, we lounged around the apartment for a few hours, before time to see fireworks. Miharu, our friend that we met in Latvia, put us into contact with some of her friends that currently live in Tokyo. Before our arrival, we contacted her friend, Kensuke, who invited us to join his friends and him to celebrate the Sumida River Hanabi. In summer time, Japan is synonymous with exhibitions of fireworks. The ones on the Sumida River are among the most spectacular. We weren't prepared for this grandness event, which went on marvellously for hours. Not only did the city greets us with beautiful fireworks, we also met some wonderful people, Ryu, Hiroyuki, and Misa. After the fireworks, we made our way through the people to the train station. What a wonderful way to end our first day in Japan.
Jay prepared mentally for his interviews over the next few days. However, we did find time to visit the Tokyo Stock Exchange. The floor no long echoes with the flurry of busy activity. In 1999, the trading floor closed and now all trading is by computer. But, it was amazing to contemplate the sheer amount of capital that passes through there daily. The interviews went well and met wonderful people in the industry. Two guys in particular, Trevor and Phil. Both of these guys worked for Citi group and offered much advice to Jay. Trevor was kind enough to invite us to hangout with him at the pool at the prestigious American Club. The cafe there had wonderful grilled cheese and chocolate cake. As we all know, chocolate cake is a must for Jay and me.
The following week, I got sick with some sort of 24 hour flu. Therefore, we had to take it easy on Sunday and Monday. However when Tuesday came round, I was ready for sight seeing. First, we made our way to the Imperial Palace. Called the kokyo in Japanese, this is the home of Japan's emperor and imperial family. The palace itself is a contemporary reconstruction of the Mejii Imperial Palace, destroyed in WWII. On these grounds once stood, the Edo (now, Tokyo) Castle, in its time the largest castle in the world. At the end of the shogunal rule, due to Commander Perry and the black ships, the castle had been destroyed in the upheavels leading to the transfer of power. Much of the castle that remained was torn down to make way for the Imperial Palace. The palace it self is closed to the public except for two days a year, New Years and the Emperor's birthday. However, it is possible to roam around the outskirts to visit the gardens and the palace's most famous landmark, the Niju-bashi bridge. The Higashi-Gyoen, Imperial Palace East Garden, is the only corner of the Imperial Palace that is open regularly to the public. This makes for an excellent retreat as you are able to get up-close and personal views of the massive stones used to build the castle walls and climb the ruins. After spending three hours in the furious sun, we continued on our way to the Nihombashi bridge(Japan Bridge). Even with the bronze lions guarding it, we walked right pass this granite bridge more than two times. However, it is most important for its historic significance. This bridge was the point from which all distances were measured during the Edo period. Therefore, this bridge use to be the center of Tokyo.
The following day, we decided to make our way to Ginza St. Here, the streets were lined with designer shops, such as Coach, Louis Vuitton, and Prada. We roamed around these streets and found ourselves at the Sony building. This building attracts many hounds in search of gizmos that have not been released yet. We played with every electronic device in amazement at the technology that went to each product. After roaming each floor, we decided to return to our apartment for lunch. With the blazing sun and rising humidity, we stayed inside for the remainder of the day until dinner time. Before dinner, we decided to go to the Tokyo Tower. Here you are able to see a panaromic view of the city. We were not blown away with this view, but we were set into reality on how large the city actually was. In 1958, this 333 meter high, orange and white Eiffel Tower wannabe was built as a broadcast tower. At this time, it was the tallest structure in the city, it's actually 13 meters taller than the one in Paris. Now, it's observatory is considered more as a relic than a cause for breath-taken amazement. Soon we would discover, that places elsewhere offer better views of the city.
The next day, we woke early to make our way to the Tsukiji Central Fish Market. If it lives in the sea, then it is probably for sale here. Here, there are acres and acres of fish and fish products pass hands in a lively, almost chaotic atmosphere. But, make sure you watch out for motorised hand trucks. Everything is allotted its own area, you can see mountains of octopus, rows of giant tuna, endless varieties of shellfish, and tanks of unnameable fish. It's not unheard of for a single tuna to fetch an incredible 20 million yen. Tradition has it that you must finish your visit here with a sushi breakfast. However, we did not partake in this tradition. On the outskirts of the fish market, there is another market, called the Tsukiji Outer Market. Here you can browse produce, noodle shops, tiny cafes and cooking shops, in addition to boots, baskets, plates, really anything. It is quite an experience to see how these foods we love are actually made or two wonder what those tiny bowls are used for. In short, it's a one stop shopping for anything you need to prepare a Japanese meal. The rest of the day we lounged around the apartment due to the intensity of the heat and being an early riser.
Sleeping in definitely gets you a late start to your day. However, it is not as hot and humid. Luckily, we found this amazing discovery at the end of the week. This day we partook only in indoor activities. Roppongi Hills houses the Mori Art Museum, the Sky Aquarium, and Tokyo City View. All of these are on the 52nd and 53rd floors of the Mori Tower in the Roppongi Hills complex. At the Mori Art Museum, the feature artist for the month was Le Corbuster, an architectural giant, the founder of modernism. The exhibitions examined over 250 paintings, furniture, and architectural artifacts. The Sky Aquarium had numerous exhibitions of fresh and salt water aquariums in various different art forms. In the future, we hope to have a salt water aquarium. What can we say, this exhibition inspired us. From the Tokyo City View, you are able to see a spectacular panoramic view of the city. The numerous, huge skyscrapers appeared to be protruding out of the ground lining the bright blue sky. It is said that this is the best, central location for a view of the city. And, that is was.
As it was extremely hot and humid, the pool was calling our name. We attempted, but failed. It would cost $170 plus $10 per hour for a deck chair. We are talking about over $200 to hang out by the pool. Therefore, we stayed indoors and contemplated on what to do next. By the time, we came up with a solution, everything was closed. We resorted to having dinner at a lovely pizza joint. Returned home and updated the blog for you.


Anonymous said...

Everything is just beautiful. You and Jay are making wonderful memories. Love and miss you.

Anonymous said...

I am sooooooooooo jealous you guys went to those markets especially the fish market .... i jhave seen it on numerous programs and the tuna, ugh, the tuna mustve been incredible to see!!!!