My hotel greeted me bright and early with a typical Japanese breakfast: that is to say, what we would consider a large lunch. Then I ploughed into the business of traveling: opening hours, ticket prices, and endless mapping and remapping metro routes.
Satisfied that my week in Japan was taking tentative shape, I dedicated my first afternoon to visiting the two items at the top of my bucket list: Tokyo’s sushi central and waterfront Odaiba.
My enthusiasm for visiting Tokyo’s sushi distirct won’t make much of a mystery if you’ve known me for long: sushi has claimed the honors of my favorite food since I sampled it for the first time in (of all places) Jacksonville, Michigan. Encounters in the more likely locales of Orange County, California, and now Japan itself, have only improved upon the acquaintance.
Until recently, Tsukiji housed Tokyo’s famous fish market. Now it boasts blocks of sushi restaurants, some not much more than a stall with a few tables set beside it. I broke the bank on a bowl of sashimi you won’t find on my little island: otoro (the tenderest cut of tuna) and sea urchin! Squeezed onto a stool with a foot of counter space, gifted a steaming bowl of miso soup and cool green tea to accompany the marine delicacies, I savoured every bite.
The second place nestles even nearer to home. My sister, brother and I adored watching a Japanese cartoon set in Odaiba — if you’re familiar, you’ll guess the one I mean. I was anxious to confirm reports that the show’s artists had rendered its setting in faithful detail.
To while away the twilight hours, I skipped over to Palette Town for Niku Fes, a meat festival! Placards of graphic animal slaughter lined the walkway leading to the entrance gates, initially puzzling me until I realized they were protesting the carnivorism. I confess the incongruous invasion made me giggle — though maybe it accounts for the sparse crowd?
My entrance tickets for Tokyo Disneyland have yet to materialize, so I consoled myself with a quick visit to Joypolis: an indoor amusement park. The strobe lights and edgy decor initially overwhelmed me, but once an attendant kindly explained the ticket system, I relaxed.
The space capitalizes on VR technology to offer one room versions of full-size rides: splash slides repackaged as jungle adventures, a single circuit roller coaster that stretched its runtime with guitar-hero style competitions amongst the riders.
I couldn’t leave without splurging on Dip ‘n Dots – a freeze dried dessert that I remember from our stint in Korea.
For my final stop, I stubbornly waited out a rain delay to ride the ferris wheel. It paid off: I snagged the first space in line for one of the wheel’s four transparent carriages, where you can admire the view even under your feet. At the circuit’s pinnacle, I glimpsed Tokyo Tower in all its late-night radiance.
I boarded the metro home, wreathed in smiles. Tsukiji and Odaiba more than answered my fondest wishes — I wouldn’t hesitate to visit again!