Featured writer: John Rieber
Welcome To Tokyo – Time To Shop!
The picture above was the view of Tokyo from the 35th floor of my hotel in Shinjuku – I stayed there four times, and each time I saw a vast city stretched out before me – and I had every intention of getting to know ALL OF IT:
More on this unique treat soon. And yes, I will share my electronic cockroaches as well! On each trip to Tokyo, I managed to explore another fascinating area of Tokyo – walking through neighborhoods like this one near Harajuku:
Harajuku, Here I Come!
The neighborhood of Harajuku is also a fashion capital, renowned for its unique street fashion. It is always packed with young people, with an upbeat, fun “street fair” vibe…
Harajuku is great for window shopping, as the fashion stuff wasn’t for me, obviously…but I did come across the official outlet for the “Tokyo Rescue Squad” – their fire department/911 services – and I could proudly wear their uniform….
I bought several shirts with that great Japanese lettering on them, along with the name of the store….and I also came across this unique diner as well…
Tokyo streets are fun to wander, partially because NOTHING is read-able, and it’s a myriad of colorful signs and streets…I wandered with NO idea of where I was going…
Have A Ball!
No matter what shopping area you go to, you will come across rows and rows of “ball dispensers”…you put in some money, and out pops a ball…
In America we’d get a gumball or jawbreaker, but these are trinkets, as everyone in Tokyo hangs these fun trinkets from their phones…
This charm was some sort of logo – I also bought one that had a Ninja inside, and another that had plasticized food…you can spend a fortune collecting these cool balls…
Electronic Heaven – Yodobashi!
The Akihabara district is known for electronics, which can be found in street stalls and alleyways, as well as in this ten story electronics store – Yodobashi!
The entrance is like any other, although the signs with sale items and daily specials quickly fill up the aisles…
Inside, they constantly call out the specials of the day – each department is packed and loud – and since you can’t read any of the signs – or understand what they are saying – it is a very unique situation….
Like many stores, they do NOT like you taking pictures, and signs are everywhere telling you that…
Inside this store, there is an entire wall of iphone/ipad/ipod accessories – this is where I found my cherished bacon and egg iphone cover…
Meet My New Pet!
I also managed to find a special treat: my own pet cockroach, which is sold in this long tube…
It’s an electronic cockroach, and when you turn it on, the bug scatters around the floor – bouncing off walls and running around exactly as a cockroach would….
I also bought several metal butterflies – there were electronic and metallic version of them – in fact, there were creatures of all shapes and sizes for sale…
Then I went back outside and was handled a bundle of Kleenex – I have NO idea of what they were advertising, but it was a nice gesture!
And if you didn’t see it before, check out my post below – some of the craziest street food available in Tokyo – like this:
But after shopping I got hungry, and I need some sushi….
TIME TO HEAD TO “SKI-GEE!”
I have posted about going to the Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo, one of the most unique places I have ever visited:
I’ve been told that “SKI-GEE” is how you pronounce “Tsukiji”, which is the world’s largest fish market – when you arrive, the bustling crowds are ready to head into the market to bid on some fish:
Located only blocks from Tokyo’s glittering Ginza shopping district, Tsukiji is a prominent landmark, a supplier for countless fishmongers and sushi chefs, and a popular destination for foreign tourists like me.
Take A Walk Through Tsukiji With Me!
I decided to walk through the public shopping area of the market, away from the fish auction space – here is what it’s like to wander among the stalls that sell fresh fish – and of course, a conveyor belt sushi bar!
Early every morning, tens of thousands of tons of seafood from every ocean of the world quickly change hands in Tsukiji’s auctions and in the marketplace’s hundreds of tiny stalls. You can wander for hours through row after row of stalls, some clearly “Mom and Pop” type shops like this:
I’ve eaten in several of these tiny stalls – especially the mini-sushi bars that line the outside of the fish market…here is one of the plates I had for breakfast at 8am:
The stalls serve sushi, as well as steaming bowls of noodles, rice topped with any sort of seafood imaginable, and of course I went into the stall you see here to get some of that deliciousness for myself:
I quickly discovered they speak absolutely NO english, which made my attempt to order a bowl of fresh sea urchin and yellowtail over rice quite comic: the two elderly japanese women behind the counter didn’t think I knew what I was ordering, so the two women just kept speaking VERY FAST JAPANESE to me – getting louder and louder as I grimaced and shrugged and pointed at the urchin.
They just couldn’t believe that I would want to eat that – as it was also one of the more expensive items…finally they pulled out some for me to taste, and when I smiled and nodded, they made me my breakfast, and it was delicious! Oh, and they just LAUGHED AND LAUGHED…..
You can also just walk through the stall and buy all sorts of food from street vendors, like these hot fish cakes – the world’s original “fish sticks”:
I ended up eating sushi four mornings in a row for breakfast…how can you NOT, when the sushi bars ring the fish market and offer the freshest fish you can eat?
The sushi bars get the fish that is cut off of the massive slabs that are sold inside all morning…it’s a very efficient process for them, and a delicious one for us!
Behold The City Of Tokyo!
Daytime Tokyo is much different than night – somewhat colorless without the nightlife and neon – as I showed you before, here is the view from my room, looking down at the Shinjuku train station, looking north toward Kabuki-Cho and beyond – and the direction I would be walking one day:
It is this Tokyo that I like to explore, and always do it during the day, when I can take pictures and stroll the neighborhoods, which are much less hectic than the nightlife…one day I walked in the direction of the picture above – through a sleepy Kabucki-Cho and north…coming across fun businesses like this curry shop – you know, for “curry in hurry”:
I also came across a small shop that sold me fried beef cakes:
VENDING MACHINE MANIA!
I’ve written about this many times – there are vending machines EVERYWHERE in Tokyo – I mean on every single block, many times in packs like this:
They are filled with water, juices, soft drinks, iced coffee and other, more unique drinks – like this COFFEE JELLY:
It’s like coffee jello…fun and refreshing in a “Coffee jelly” sort of way: also, there are virtually NO garbage cans in Tokyo except where the vending machines are located – nobody walks and drinks in Tokyo, you buy your beverage at the vending machine and you consume it there…you won’t find anyone eating or drinking on the subways or streets either…that is one reason it is so clean in the city…
And the more you walk, the more you come across colorful streets full of unique signs you can’t read…
But if you are lucky, there is SOMETHING on a sign that let’s you know that – yes, this place is serving Sushi…
And on my last trip, I finally got to see Mt. Fuji from my hotel room…
It was a great way to end a day of shopping in Tokyo!