Month: March 2014

Trash cans in Japan

Trash cans in Japan

I’m living in the largest city in the world and surprisingly trash is not an issue. The streets are very clean and if there’s an empty bottle on a train, someone probably left it by accident. However, the amount of public trash cans is staggeringly low. In […]

Rant on deodorant and central air/heating in Japan

Rant on deodorant and central air/heating in Japan

So I learned the hard way that Japan does not have western-style deodorant readily available. This is not something I anticipated when I moved here and isn’t something you really think about.  It should be like finding toothpaste or face wash, right? Turns out that’s […]

Tsukiji Fish Market

Tsukiji Fish Market

This past Saturday I decided to go to Tsukiji Fish Market.

The most popular thing to do is see the tuna auction, but that didn’t happen for me and I doubt I will see it. For one, even though it starts at 5:15 am, you have to get in line at 4:00 am since there are a limited number of people allowed every morning. On top of this, the trains and subway don’t run that early so you have to spend the night within walking distance of the market. For some, this means a hotel. For others, a magna cafe. For me, it means sleeping in.

The rest of the market opens to the public at 9:00 am, so that’s when I arrived. Before you enter the actual market, there are small signs detailing the rules.

IMG_0189

IMG_0187

IMG_0184

Continuing past the entrance, most of the market has narrow aisles that run in a radial pattern.

IMG_0162

The first thing that one realizes about Tsukiji is the smell. The second is the three wheeled death machines.

IMG_0126

They will speed through the narrow aisles and you get out of their way. I’m surprised I didn’t see anyone’s foot get run over.

There’s water and puddles all over the floor coming from the ice that the fish are placed in. If you go, do not wear flip flops. My shoes didn’t have much of a sole on them and I could feel the fish water start to soak through my socks. A lovely experience.

I would absolutely recommend pants too.
I would absolutely recommend pants too.

There’s a wide range of seafood available, including all kinds fish, squid, eel, octopus, and even whale.

IMG_0111

IMG_0140

IMG_0136

IMG_0115

IMG_0128
Whatever these are, they’re terrifying. I took a quick picture, got the chills, then quickly walked away.
IMG_0145
This crab was rubbing its legs on the outside of the styrofoam container making a horrible and eerie screeching sound. Almost like asking for help.
Whale meat
Whale meat

Tsukiji doesn’t cater to tourists and as such if you visit, you’re a guest not a customer. But many people get a little picture happy and it’s easy to see the workers getting annoyed with foreigners who disrupt their jobs on a daily basis. I tried to stay out of the way as best I could, but I’m sure I was guilty of it as well.

IMG_0116

IMG_0154
When one camera isn’t enough
IMG_0133
No matter how hard you try, you will never stand out as much as a blonde in Japan

Outside of the main market area, there’s also small vendors and restaurants. I didn’t realize this at the time, but Tsukiji (and Japan in general) is famous for their knife making. They are made by hand and are incredibly sharp. I don’t think I could appreciate them for how much they cost (about $600 for 3 knives), but I’ll give it some thought. I normally don’t buy souvenirs, but I really enjoy cooking so it could be a nice useful memento. For a fantastic writeup on the process, see this post on Tiny Urban Kitchen.

IMG_0182

There’s also incredibly fresh sushi nearby, but I didn’t get any this trip. It costs about $35 for a breakfast/lunch plate, but many say it’s the best sushi they’ve had in their lives. Maybe next time.

Trip to Mt. Fuji and Kawaguchiko

Trip to Mt. Fuji and Kawaguchiko

After checking the weather forecast, I decided to spend Saturday night near Mt. Fuji and return on Sunday. One night in a hostel costs 2700 yen, whereas a one-way train ticket costs 3000 yen, so I might as well spend a night there and make […]

What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate

What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate

Coming to Japan there were many things that I was prepared for ahead of time: the relatively low-carb diet, riding a bike to work, and even the compactness of my 230 sq. ft. apartment. But something I underestimated was the difficulty in talking to people. […]

Update on Japan

Update on Japan

I wanted to post an update on my trip to Japan. It’s been about two months since I moved to Japan and I have about three more months to go, so almost half way there.

As expected, it’s been an interesting experience. One thing I said before I left was, ‘…if anything, it’s going to be something different’, and it certainly has been. Japan is very different from the other 17 foreign countries I’ve been to, mainly due to the language barrier. Not only that, but traveling in a country for two weeks is completely different from living there for an extended period of time. I won’t dwell on the negatives here, but there are some other things that I’m not thrilled about. Like moving anywhere though, it takes time to adjust.

Other than a one-day work trip to Nara, I haven’t done much long distance traveling since my ski trip. The weather on the weekends hasn’t been the best so I’d rather wait until the weather improves. Being here for over five months it doesn’t make much sense to take a day trip when it’s cold and raining if I can go any weekend I want.

Things are improving though. The days are getting slightly longer and warmer. By the end of March, the cherry blossoms will be in bloom. There’s a few places that I know I want to see while in full bloom, so I’m planning that now. There’s also Golden Week at the end of April and I’m looking forward to that as well.

One of my better experiences (outside of traveling) in Japan so far has been finding a gym. Without being able to lift weights, I’m not quite sure how I would pass the time after work. The Gold’s Gym I joined is expensive but very much worth it. Two of my goals for 2014 are 20 dead-hang pull-ups and a back lever. I’m currently at 13 so I’m getting there and I’ll work on the back lever outdoors when the weather gets a little bit warmer.

Back_lever
Back lever on a bar. Also possible on rings.

Looking at the forecast for this weekend, the weather looks good so I will probably take a day trip to Mt. Fuji. Right now, the neighboring town of Kawaguchiko is expected to get 1-3″ of snow on Friday night and Saturday should be clear with a high of 47 °F and low of 27 °F, so hopefully it will be a nice scene Saturday morning. My plans are to take the cable car to an observation deck, then walk the shore of a nearby lake to scout some views of Mt. Fuji for the cherry blossoms.

City of Kawaguchiko and the adjacent Lake Kawaguchiko
Another view of Kawaguchiko with the adjacent Lake Kawaguchiko. Source: japan-guide.com

Aokigahara is also nearby but I will explore that on another trip. Probably once the weather gets warmer and there are leaves on the trees. I’m still thinking on how best to do that.

Featured picture is of Kawaguchiko and Mt. Fuji in summer. Source: clarkece on flickr.com

Land of the poorly-timed sun

Land of the poorly-timed sun

I’m convinced there is something wrong with Japan’s timezone. Right now in early March, the sun sets at 5:30 pm. Not too bad, it’s winter right? Tokyo has roughly the same latitude as Raleigh, North Carolina so you would expect them to get the same […]