Day 8: Tsukiji and Odaiba
Today would herald the first full day in Tokyo for this trip. Armed with familiarity from the past 2 visits, we were much more comfortable navigating the complicated public transport system, and without the constraining time limit set by the JR Rail Pass, the rest of our time in Japan was much more relaxed. First on the agenda is Tsukiji Fish Market, with a certain sushi bar named Daiwa our main objective since the market’s other interesting areas have been closed off from tourists. We got up relatively early in the morning and took the Tokyo Metro subway to Tsukiji.
It was around 9am when we found the place and joined the massive queue which only got bigger as time went by. Seats in the sushi bar were in high demand so in the interest of our hungry stomachs, we split up into pairs so as to fill vacant seats quickly. Once seated, I promptly forgot what I had planned to order and so I asked for a set as recommended by the jovial sushi chef in front of me. Thus ensued crazy sushi mayhem.
The chef worked furiously and popped sushi in front of us as he made them, somehow remembering exactly which ones he had already given me in the set. I was quite impressed by the taste of the uni (sea urchin roe) which was a good balance of sweet and richness so I ordered an extra before leaving. For some reason, the cashier did not make any move to stop me as I walked right past her, wondering where I should go to pay up. It was only a few minutes later when I realized I was out on the road and probably branded as a criminal on their high tech security cameras. No doubt there was some angry sushi chef printing out my picture to put on his hitlist. Hopefully my sincere and honest apologies while paying what I owed would allow me to enter the establishment again in the future.
Tsukiji’s a pretty crazy place full of people pushing and shoving to get to their favourite stores so we exited the area as soon as we could, which was not very quickly. Once we had some breathing space, we searched for the train station and headed to Odaiba, a popular tourist destination that we have not visited before. We took the slightly more expensive but scenic train route which had the train travelling through the loop and under the Rainbow Bridge before arriving at a building called “Tokyo Teleport”.
It was still quite early and nothing was open yet so we took some time to admire the Rainbow Bridge before making our way to queue up and wait for Madam Toussauds to open. By the time we arrived there, it was only a few minutes away from opening and we were on our way to buy a ticket and enter pretty quickly. The variety of wax figures on display were standard fare but with one addition which made it special: AKB48’s Oshima Yuko. We did spend quite a bit of time taking photos of and with every single other wax figurine, rounding up a fun experience at Madam Toussauds.
Next up was to explore the rest of Odaiba while awaiting sunset. Tokyo Decks was full of clothing and other random stores which we did not find particularly interesting so we went back and through Tokyo Teleport towards Venus Fort, spotting Fuji Television along the way.
Venus Fort is a large building with 3 floors, each with a different name and catered towards different budgets – Venus Outlet, Venus Grand, and Venus Family. The interior design of the shopping complex is based on Venice and was slightly shocking as it is quite different from the usual Japanese architecture and decorations that we had grown used to. It was at this time of the year that they were having regular shows using the lights set up on the ceiling throughout the entire building. Unfortunately, most of the stores here were too expensive for our budgets so we had to amuse ourselves with window shopping and watching a light show when it occured. Somewhere along the way, we also perused the Toyota Mega Web which was nearby.
As we walked around Venus Fort, we saw quite a number of people carrying anime-themed shopping bags, and so grew curious as to whether or not there was some special event going on here in Odaiba. A quick search on google revealed that Comiket was happening on the same day and that would explain the number of classic loot-carrying otaku around. However, we also found out that a small shop had been set up in Odaiba to showcase and sell merchandise from recently aired anime series. We kept this at the back of our minds and went back towards Tokyo Decks to have a 2nd scour of the area.
The anime shop was a temporary setup celebrating Guilty Crown, AnoHana, UnGo, and Black Rock Shooter taking up a space that would normally be a quiet bar and pub. A very limited selection of merchandise was stacked in a small corner while figurines of various quality stood proudly on display throughout the seating area. Most notably, a section of the venue was devoted to recreation of a location from AnoHana; their “secret base”. A collection of trailers from the aforementioned anime series were looping on a large projector display too. Being quite tired from all the walking and early start of the day, we decided that we’d take advantage of the relaxed atmosphere in this bar-turned-anime shop and take a rest till sunset.
The reason for waiting till sunset was so that we could see the Rainbow Bridge illuminated against the night sky and we were all looking forward to the sight. I was very surprised at the low numbers of couples lining the coast as this seemed like a more romantic thing to look at than whatever was going on at the aquarium. It was thus extremely easy to find a nice place to survey the bridge.
There was also a cone of LED fixtures set up as a “tree” as part of Odaiba’s winter and Christmas festivities but it paled in comparison to the all-year round view of Rainbow Bridge. We left Odaiba after having satiated our desire for phototaking and freezing cold winds, had dinner at a vending machine fast food place, then back to the hotel for the rest of the night.
Things learnt today:
- Tsukiji Fish Market’s sushi bars are very expensive. However, you still get top notch sushi that you’d be hard pressed to find elsewhere.
- It’s better to head to Odaiba with much larger wallets and a better idea of what u want to buy and where to find it.
- The Rainbow Bridge is definitely a structure worth seeing both in daytime and night.
- Our feet really hurt by this time. 7 days of crazy walking.