Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Tsukiji Fish Market and Ginza

Tsukiji Fish Market. What a wonderful thing that would be to see, right? Right? Sure – if it didn't mean getting out of bed at four in the morning.

I mean who does that? Who says, sure, let us wake up at four in the morning, and try to figure out how to take the metro down to a fish market so we can watch tuna sales? And what type of fish market uses itself as a tourist attraction catering to their desires to see this sort of thing?

Not Tsukiji, that's for sure.

Oh yeah – we made it there. And it wasn't that hard. And sure, you could walk around and try to check out the auction – but that's only if you don't really value your life. Everything about this place is a death trap. The workers would like nothing more than the crush you under their tiny little skid moving machines, leaving you as a red smear on the ground, a waring to all those foolish enough to follow in your blood splattered footprints.

Look out for anything that moves. This is not North America – they do not love you. They do not care about you. They will not face a lawsuit when they make you dead. You're on their ground, and they know it. The Russian tour group didn't seem to know it, looking around all proud as proud could be taking pictures. I swear, they must have lost three members this day.

Well maybe not, but I'm not kidding about taking your life into your hands.

There are two basic rules, 1. Never stop moving, and 2. Hug the walls.

The second you stop moving, a new vehicle is behind you getting more and more pissed off about the fact that you're in their way. They have a job to do. They were here at three in the morning setting up, and getting things underway. They don't have time to deal with your Gaijin crap! And you better always hug the walls, because even if they aim at you, trying to run you down, hugging the walls makes that nearly impossible.

Then you reach the auction and it's a new game. Sure you can try to take pictures, I suggest hiding with the Russian tourists, and when you see an official looking person come over, bail fast, and let the Europeans take the heat. If there is no large, more obnoxious, group – just stay away. Take one or two snaps, and bail. Because you do not want to be blocking the path for angry Japanese moving tunas, which are bigger than some of my little cousins, with giant hooks of doom. If there were a horror movie set here, you better believe these hooks would do in a pinch to kill, and then drag the corpse. Come to think of it, this is Japan and as such there have probably been a number of horror films set here.

Walking the market is no easy task either. You think you're safe in the narrow alleys, but you're not. Nope. Skid trucks are back, and they still mean to kill you. Best option? Same as before – but this time there are no walls, so you'll need to attempt to find an alcove to duck into. Problem: some of these alcoves are parking spots for the machines, and they'll yell at you, while not backing up to let you out. Sure they want you out, but they're not going to make it easy. The threat of death looms large in the air.

So how much do you really want to see those fish? Ask yourself that question.

Also – if you're in a large group, I suggest making sure there is an agreed upon meeting spot. Because you will get lost. And then others will say, “I'll go get him, I'll be right back.” which really means, “I'm going to go get lost. when the first guy gets back on his own, send someone out to find me, so they can get lost and repeat the cycle.”

On the plus side – sushi is good here.

Just don't order the soup if you're the least bit squeamish. What five prawn heads were doing hiding down there I do not want to know. Apparently some people think they're the bees knees, and as such they didn't go to waste – but seriously now, seriously... gross.

From the fish market we made our way to Ginza. Strange that the streets were empty, and no one was moving and shaking in this happening part of town. I mean it was already... right... nine o'clock. It was still only nine. Sure we'd all been up for hours, but other people? Fine. Forget Ginza. Time to go to the Imperial Palace and take the one picture that everyone who heads there takes. You've seen it before, no doubt. The bridge, the temple. That's all you can see. That's what everyone takes. If you go you'll take it too.

You may think you want an original photo that no one has thought of before. But you won't. You'll take it. Just be happy with that thought and enjoy your snap.

On the plus side, the park was full of Cherry Blossoms. They were everywhere. Sakura, as the Japanese call them. Why we call them Cherry Blossoms, I don't know – they have nothing to do with Cherries. And it just makes foreigners look stupid when they ask where all the fruit is. So please, can we change the name. Look I didn't fall prey to that trap, but it's not an unreasonable thing to think. We're not dumb – just uninformed.

Walking under the canopies of pink and white was a beautiful experience, and while the photos weren't as sharp as those I took in San Francisco, the experience was so much more. They were everywhere, covering everything. You couldn't believe the sights there were to see. Everywhere the petals fell from above, and rained upon the children playing, the picnickers festivating, and the limos leaving the palace under guard – wait what?!

Someone important was on the move, and people had gathered to see. Who it was? M'eh what do I know?

After a great amount of time looking at the gardens, and laying back on the grass enjoying the warm sun above (until it decided that we'd had enough, and it was time to bring out chilly cloud) we headed back to Ginza. This time there would be people. This time shops would be open. This time – things would be different. And they were. But we passed all the shops that would appeal to the enlightened around the world, and headed straight for Bic Camera. There I saw a Professor Layton action figure I thought about getting the day before – but 2000 yen seemed like a lot then. Now it was 2400. Again, I'd need to pass it up, not for that higher price... A flame ignited inside me. I must have that toy! But for cheap!

I did pick up a Schmoo Schmoo figure. Err – a Piplup figure. If you don't know what that is either? Good. It's for the best. It has something to do with those Poko-Mons that the kids rage about.

Also in Bic we used their free wifi on the iPhone display to try and track down the Godzilla statue. We found it. It was small, sad, and tragic. Just like last time I was here. I love that bloody statue. It has been disappointing tourists for years upon years! And there are few things I like more than a disappointed tourist.

Final Ginza stop? The Sony Store. That was the location I found my first space toilet years past. The buttons – so many buttons. Less said the better on this one.

Now it was home to 3D entertainment. There was a 3D TV is Bic, but it sucked. That's the only word to describe it. You needed to look at just the right height, angle, etc. Even then, no good. In Sony they had a 3D tv you could walk around and see from all angles. While this space aged holo tank might be useful for planning our Rebellion against the Galactic order, it has no real applications yet. But upstairs? Upstairs was their show room of 3D tvs, and after being set against them, I was finally sold.

It was – it was beautiful. Such resolution, such smooth frames, such wonder and beauty. And they demoed it with the most fantastic wild life footage, and video games like Little Big Planet, and Wipeout. I always thought Wipeout would make a great 3D game since I watched Avatar in Thailand. Now I am sold. Sign me up. When they come out, I'll back this new tech. Amazing.

In an adjoining room Mike was watching a video of 70 places to visit in the world. That was a shopping list for me. I'd seen maybe a dozen or so, but with so many left unvisited by myself, I tried to remember, make a list, and look them up later.

[Authors note: They have all been forgotten now.]

And then, as they day began to slow, we headed for some food – tickets purchased from a vending machine... which is how all food should be. I don't want to deal with waiters, tip them, or have them pretend to care when they don't. I want to pay before I eat, give them a ticket, and when I wanna leave I can, no strings. Come on rest of the world, pick up on this wonderful idea. Please. Please!

That was that. Day two in the books.

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