Up and at em' at 4:30AM!!! Day 5 and and I still was not adjusted yet to the time difference. It was actually great to be up so early, however, because that meant it would be the perfect time to head to the Tsukiji Fish Market. The Tsukiji Fish Market is one of the "must see" places in Tokyo. The market is enormous (52,000 or so people work here- if you can imagine that)!!! If you do get to go, you should plan to get there very early so that you can hopefully catch a glimpse of the fish auction.!!!)I did not know it ahead of time, but if you want to see the fish auction, you must get there at 4:30am and get in line because they only allow 140 people in to see it. I got there at 5:30am, just as the fish auction was ending, but fortunately got the see the last 3-4 minutes of it and snap pictures. At the auction, there are more than 100 varieties of fish in all, mostly whole frozen tuna (look at these things...they're HUGE)!!!
It's fun to wander around to all of the different stations and watch the pros cut up the fish...Watch the restaurant owners and retailers buy the fish...And watch all of the tourists snap pictures like crazy (or pose for crazy pictures like I did)! The place seems chaotic, but don't be fooled, everyone knows exactly what they are doing...it's like a well-oiled machine!After snapping pictures and walking around and seeing all of this fresh fish, you are sure to want some. Lucky for you (and for me) there are tons of tiny sushi restaurants right outside of the market. Bring cash though, Japan is not a credit card country friendly country by any means!!! You should know that there will be some very long lines outside of some of the sushi restaurants, but I am here to tell you not to get suckered into this and to wait...ALL of the places have good sushi and sashimi. The lines really just form because of "the herd mentality" and nothing else.I found a spot with no line and went right in.This was my first sashimi experience EVER IN MY LIFE!!! I was nervous, but I have to say, I loved it! What have I been missing out on for so long and why??? I had the Nigiri sushi. I tried shrimp, tuna, eel, scallop, clam, and tons of other things. Afterwards, I wandered around the shops surrounding Tsukiji MarketHere you can try every kind of Japanese street food there is from yakitori (grilled innards like liver, chicken neck and heart...To scallion pancake and beef on a stick, and ramen noodle and pork soup...Next, I headed over to the Imperial Palace East Gardens- an oasis in the middle of the city! This place is so pretty, and if you head to the wooded paths around the garden's edge, you will find shade, peace and quiet, and benches to rest your weary feet. Plus, admission is FREE, so why not?Now it was time to head back to Asakusa to see the Sanja Festival...And the Senso-ji Complex which is dedicated to the goddess Kannon and is the heart and soul of Asakusa.There were street vendors selling all different types of food.That night, I headed to the Shibuya area. Shibuya crossing is one of the busiest crossings in the world and at one light change, hundreds rush to reach the other side- it's so cool!!!Make sure to take some pictures on the ground and then head up to Starbucks (2nd floor) and look down at the crowd crossing- it's a great place to take more pictures and absorb the craziness of it all. To me...this is what I had envisioned when I thought about what Tokyo would be like.Stay tuned for the next stop on the Japan trip...Kyoto!!!