Follow us on our Tokyo Trippin’ adventure starting here! 🙂
Tsukiji Market (築地市場), Tokyo
So this was the day we made plans to head over to Tsukiji Market (築地市場). Weekends are a no-no to us, we don’t want to be squishing with other tourists. Sundays, Public Holidays and certain Wednesdays are off days for them. Tuesday, it is then!
The market is located along the Hibiya Line (Tokyo Metro) – Tsukiji Station or the Toei Ōedo Line (Toei) – Tsukijishijō Station. Getting to Tsukiji Market is actually pretty straight forward.
The market opens as early as 0300 hours with the arrival of seafood from all over the world. Tuna auction starts at 0530 hours, be there early to queue for a number as only 120 visitors are allowed to view the tuna auction daily.
You may read more on the Tuna Auction here.
We have decided to skip on the auction to get more rest, but nevertheless, we arrived at Tsukiji Market at 0900 hours for one thing : FRESH SUSHI! Heard plenty of raves about Sushi Daiwa and Sushi Dai, so we have also decided to skip both and take the road less traveled.
This shop, if we may, was recommended to us by a local. What’s not to trust the recommendations from a local? 🙂
Located in a narrow alley sits Kinoju. No signage whatsoever. The best landmark : Be on a lookout for Tsukiji Sushiko (築地すし好). The alley is just located right opposite it. Noticed that make shift entrance on the right? That’s the entrance to Kinoju.
Ta-da! Kinoju begins operation at 1000 hours daily, and the place is only sits up to 10 per session. Each session lasts between 1.5 hours to 2 hours. What we loved about Kinoju? Albeit being a rather small establishment, there were no tourists there – besides us. The rest were locals, yes Japanese themselves! Hipster much? Checked! 😀
Done ala Omakase style (meal selection determined by the chef), there are only 3 sets for patrons to choose from. All sets are served with Miso Soup, 10 pieces of Sushi, Tamago and Hand Roll with Tuna and Salmon Roe.
- Set 1 : ¥ 2,700 [RM 96.30] : Seasonal High Quality Fish
- Set 2 : ¥ 4,000 [RM 142.60] : Seasonal High Quality Fish + Selection of Higher Grade Sushi
- Set 3 : ¥ 6,000 [RM 213.90] : Seasonal High Quality Fish + Selection of Higher Grade Sushi + Seared Ozaki Beef
Having had our fair share of beef the previous day, Set 1 and Set 2 it is then! Remember, if you are in the mood to splurge a little, consider pairing your sushi with beer 😉
Clockwise from Top Left : Red Snapper, Sanma (サンマ), Hokkaido Scallops, Bluefin Tuna, Squid, Yellowfin Tuna, Bonito, Sardine, Medium Fatty Tuna, Conger Eel.
A legit Japanese chef once told us, the secret to outstanding sushi lies not in the fish (fresh fish can be easily obtained), but in the make of the rice. This visit confirmed the veracity of his comments. Paying absolute attention to the temperature and texture of his sushi rice, which was brown rice seasoned with his vinegar, each sushi was served individually to each patron, one at a time. The addition of sea salt also helped open up the flavors within the various sushi.
gNOMes’ picks: Red snapper, Hokkaido Scallops, Conger Eel (not to be confused with unagi)
Clockwise from Top Left : Red Snapper, Sanma (サンマ), Hokkaido Scallops, Bluefin Tuna, Sea Urchin, Yellowfin Tuna, Sweet Small Shrimp, Fish Liver, Torched Fatty Tuna, Conger Eel.
As mentioned earlier, this set has several higher grade sushi, like sea urchin, sweet small shrimp, fish liver, and torched fatty tuna. The hike from ¥2,700 to ¥4,000 is a no-brainer and highly recommended. While it is an acquired taste, the Sea Urchin was probably the best thing that gNOMe 1 has put in his mouth. Creamy and fragrant, this one slides down the palate very well.
gNOMe picks: Sea Urchin, Fish Liver, Torched Fatty Tuna
Kabuki-za (歌舞伎座), Ginza, Tokyo
AFFORDABLE KABUKI SHOWS!!
After feeling extremely satisfied with our brunch, it’s time for some entertainment – Japanese style. The well known art of singing and dancing, Kabuki (歌舞伎), is a classical dance-drama. Performers wear thick make up, elaborated clothing and are made up of *male actors. Yes, even the elegantly dancing “female” characters are actually men!
*Kabuki used to be a female-only stage art until women were banned from performing by the Tokugawa shogunate. Though the ban has since been lifted, Kabuki is now a male-dominated art
Located at Ginza (銀座), the Kabuki Theater is just a 10 minutes walk away from Tsukiji Market. Alternatively, using the subway, Ginza Kabukiza is accessible via Hibiya/Marunouchi/Ginza Line (Tokyo Metro) – Ginza Station. Exit A6 with a 5 minute walk will get you there in no time.
Single act tickets are available, price ranges from ¥ 1,200 [RM 42.80] – ¥ 2,200 [RM 78.40] depending on the shows. A single act show typically lasts 1 hour, be sure to enter the theater 20 minutes before show time.
Pictures and videos are absolutely prohibited in the theater, but for your viewing pleasure, a pair of binoculars would do no harm. Since kabuki is an ancient art, the Japanese used in the shows are typically archaic. Japanese natives even struggle to fully comprehend the dialogue unless they are proficient in classical Japanese.
Being absolutely ignorant in classical Japanese, the gNOMes could hardly understand the story, bar a few familiar words that were being thrown about. The beautiful costumes and painstakingly crafted stage props are indeed a sight to behold. A feast for the eyes is accompanied by an equally satisfying audio feast as the scenes are being played out to the sounds of the shamisen (3-stringed lute) and a highly-versatile (able to sing in ‘male’ and ‘female’ voices) classical singer.
A typical phenomenon that happens during the play is what appears to be random shouts from the audience, which occur in unsettling regularity (for the uninitiated, at least). Not to be mistaken for a sign of disrespect, these are generally calls of support directed at certain well-known stage actors, who are often identified by their troupe or their stage name.
Note : Translation audio devices are available for rental at ¥ 500 [RM 17.80].
How to get here :
Address : Ginza 4-12-15, Chuo-ku, Tokyo, Japan
Opening Hours : DAILY. 1000 hours till 1800 hours.
Tokyo Metropolitan Building (東京都庁舎), Shinjuku, Tokyo
Being the cheapskates we are, We decided to skip the paying observation deck at Tokyo Tower for this one. With free entrance to both North and South Observatory Decks, views from Tokyo Met Building is equally rewarding.
Tokyo Met Building is located in Shinjuku, the nearest station is just below the building. Toei Ōedo Line (Toei) – Tochōmae (都庁前駅) Station or a good 10 minute walk from the West Exit of JR Shinjuku (新宿駅) Station will get you there.
If possible, try to get to Tokyo Met Building as early as you can. Usually the views in the morning are the best, or nightime, if you are keen on seeing the city lit up. Afternoon visits pose the biggest risk – it might get too hot and too glaring. On good days, you will be able to view Mount Fuji (富士山), Tokyo Skytree (東京スカイツリー), Tokyo Dome, Meiji Shrine (明治神宮) and Tokyo Tower (東京タワー).
Note : To try your luck to get a glimpse of Mount Fuji (富士山), head over to South Observatory Deck.
If you want to save money but have a good view of the entire Tokyo skyline, this is a wonderful spot to get to. There are also souvenir shops here but we would advise you to leave that for Don Quijote!
How to get there :
Address : 2 Chome-8-1 Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku, Tokyo 163-8001, Japan
Opening Hours : North Observatory 0930 hours till 2300 hours; South Observatory 0930 hours till 1730 hours
Ochanomizu (お茶の水), Tokyo
Ochanomizu is a rather quiet neighbourhood in Tokyo which initially wasn’t in our itinerary. But we caught wind that this place is packed with Guitar shops, so gNOMe 1 had to pay a visit! Guitar Street, as it has come to be known, is the Mecca for guitarists visiting Tokyo.
Apologies for the lack of pictures, but gNOMe 1 was too enthralled by the sight of TWO FULL ROWS OF GUITAR SHOPS!! Secondhand guitars and pedals of the highest quality are sold on this street as well. So if one is looking to purchase a guitar, this is the place to visit.
After spending hours here, it would make sense to have a good dinner. Fortunately for us, a place frequented by starving and struggling musicians also houses food of the more affordable range. Among them a ramen shop!
Tonkotsu Ramen – ¥ 450 [RM 16.00]
Although cheaper than the usual, this place didn’t lack any punch at all. Simple, yet oh, so tasty ramen was exactly what the doctor ordered. Although the egg could have had more runny yolk, but the gNOMes aren’t complaining, as the tonkotsu broth and chashu more than made up for it!
Ikebukuro Station (池袋駅), Tokyo
With tired legs and aching backs *ahem, we made our way back to Ikebukuro Station. Passed by Soup Stock Tokyo daily (nearest to our exit heading back), we decided to have a quick supper.
A bowl of warm soup to be paired with rice or soft bread. Soup Stock Tokyo has a number of selections, and the Lobster Bisque was the most appealing to us.
Atlantic Lobster, Tomato and Potherb Bisque ¥ 780 [RM 27.80]
Creamy, thick, fragrant and aromatic. YUMS! Was perfect together with the bread, it made a very comforting supper after a long day. Made our way back to Oyama and a good night’s rest. Till then! 😀