Can’t believe this 16 day trip is coming to an end! I was flying out around 5 p.m. so we only had a few hours before we had to head to the airport. After checking out and stowing our luggage at the hotel, we were headed to our first destination, Tsukiji Fish Market. Tsukiji Fish Market is one of the world’s largest fish markets and is well known for its tuna auction. My friend who attended the auction said it was a good experience to try once but we decided to skip as we just did not have the time for it and plus we did not want to get up so early in the morning! You have to be there around 4 a.m. in the morning and sit in a waiting area for an hour before you are let in to see the auction. As tourists, you are only allowed to be at the auction for approximately 30 minutes. The market was originally scheduled to move to a new location in Toyosu in November 2016 but it is now estimated to be delayed until winter of 2017/2018.
The Tsukuji Fish Market is only a 5 minute walk from the Tsukiji Shijo Station and took us only 20 minutes to get there from Shinjuku. The market occupies only about 2 blocks but is comprised of multiple rows of vendor stalls and restaurants. Other than fish, you can also find other seafood and local produce. As we were strolling, we tried some of the seafood such as scallops that were freshly cooked which were very big and juicy. We also bought some dried scallops and kelp to take home.
We picked a restaurant and sat down for breakfast. There are many different restaurants to choose from but we picked the one that had pictures of the seafood that we wanted to try. The restaurant was very big with 2 floors and a large sushi bar. It was definitely the priciest breakfast we had on the trip but it was well worth it! We ordered clam miso soup, two assorted sushi sets, deep fried prawns and some scallops nigiri sushi. I honestly felt like the seafood here was probably the best I’ve had by far! The seafood was so fresh and sweet even without any seasoning. The blue fin tuna really does melt in your mouth! Although it is fatter compared to regular tuna, you do not find it too filling.
After having a very satisfied meal, we went on to our next destination, the Ameyoko Shopping Street. There are actually two adjacent shopping streets in this area so be sure to check out both. There are a good variety of shops here but compared to the Takeshita Dori, I found this one to be less crowded and less to see. We really did not have the quota to buy anything more so we only spent about 30 minutes here before we headed to the Tokyo Sky Tree.
We were really running behind on time so we decided not to go up the Tokyo Sky Tree. We took some pictures of it from far away and just spent some time checking out the stores in the area. From there, we headed back to our hotel to pick up our luggage.
We had some difficulty getting a taxi so we ended up missing our scheduled Skyliner ride! We had booked a set time for it in case the Skyliner was full if we had purchased it the day of. However, looking back now, that really seemed like a bad idea as the train was really not as busy as we had anticipated and it really limits the flexibility of your schedule! Not to mention, we had to pay for the ticket again and we lost our reserved seats! We only had to pay a portion of the ticket (not the ticket reservation portion but the general ticket) but that was still approximately $30 CAD per person! We got on the next one and luckily made it to the airport on time for my flight. The ride took approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes but it was a very smooth and comfortable ride.
From there, it was a 10 hour long flight back to Vancouver. To make matters worse, there was a huge delay with my flight as they had found an issue with the air conditioning. We were trapped on the plane for almost 2 hours! A horrible ending to the trip but at least we made it home safely!
Reflecting back on the trip now 9 months later, it was a really busy and jam-packed itinerary! However, it was really a lot of fun and filled with memorable experiences! I spent a significant amount of time planning this trip because of the long duration, the commute between multiple cities and language barrier. Many of the websites were not in English or in poorly written English and some information was just not available (i.e. operating hours of some smaller temples). Despite all the planning, there have been times where it was very frustrating such as the time where we spent so long commuting to a place only to find out that it was closed or when we got lost and we found ourselves just circling aimlessly. Communication was challenging at times and as a result led to some unnecessary spending! However, if you talk to anyone who has been to Japan, they have likely gone through the same thing. It is part of the experience of traveling in Japan and although it was dreadful at that moment, looking back, it isn’t such a big deal after all! Japan is a country with such a unique and rich culture. Each city has its special attributes which makes it very different from the next, such as its food or people. I love the serenity, simplicity and friendliness of the small towns we visited but I also enjoyed the bustling, modern and fast pace of the metropolitan cities. Japan is a country that you will fall in love with and want to visit again and again. I really look forward to my next trip here but that would likely have to wait another year or two as it is also an expensive place to visit!