Saturday, November 23, 2013

Cycling Japan 2013 Day 3 - To Tsukiji Fish Market & Odaiba Coast

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                          AhPek Biker - Riding Adventures                       
Cycling Japan Day 3 : To Tsukiji Fishmarket & Odaiba Coast
Tokyo, Japan : 9th November 2013
Small Group Ride - Kuramae>Tsukiji Fish Market>Odaiba Coast>Tokyo Bombing Memorial>Kuramae
Distance : 29.52 km.
Time : 3:00am to 7:00pm
Duration : 16 hours (including time for a long stops at Tsukiji & Odaiba, breakfast, lunch, dinner, sites visits, etc.)

Route map of our Tokyo Day 3 Ride (click here for map link)

Today we are going to see the Tuna Auction at Tsukiji Fish Market. The auction starts at five in the morning, but Siew Yung, having done her research advised that we should reach there earlier by 4:00am in order to get the Visitor Passes.
At two in the morning most of us have woke up and by 3:00am we started riding in the shivering cold morning heading for the market.

Just past 4:00 am we reached Tsukiji and approached the guard house to apply for the visitors pass. Only 120 passes are issued per day and each group is limited to a maximum of five persons.

This sign tells it all.
To our disappointment all passes were already issued out and more than an hour ago!
There must be even more people like us who are interested in fishy business.

This is the plan of the Tsukiji Fish Market, we will not only be missing the Tuna Auction but also the wholesale section of the market. We will just have to be contented with seeing what they call the Outer Market (i.e. the retail market).
That's me all scrunch up like a dried prawn... Brrrrr.... Shivering Catfish! It's really cold!

The main activity at the retail market only starts at around 9:00am, might as well have an early breakfast. We popped into this sashimi place, where a welcoming worker looking like a fine Japanese peasant welcomed us. Come to think of it, perhaps he was not a worker but the boss himself!

Doesn't this salmon and fish roe sashimi looks good?
The fish coming from next to the fish market was very fresh and the roe were like pearls bearing the flavour of the sea. Pickles and egg rolls balanced off the whole meal.

The Outer Market is not housed in a single building but is rather a conglomerate of shops occupying a few streets next to the wholesale market. Some of the shops were opened now and we walked through, experiencing market life in Japan.

Products are delivered by these guys driving what looks like a reversed fork-lift, i.e. with the pallet lifter at the back. This guys seems so nonchalant, whizzing through the crowd, can even do texting while driving! Everyone just had to make way for them.

 The first thing we noticed is that although this being a fish market there was now strong fishy odour, and the shops were surprisingly dry and wet. All the food were prepared and  properly packaged behind the scene.

Fish with their belly almost totally occupied by eggs, a sign on the left indicate the extent to which the eggs are. This is a delicacy that I like, hardly any meat and mostly eggs. YummY!

Alien-looking Alaskan Crabs.

After about an hour of walking around and with still many shops not opened, feeling cold we dropped into this coffee bar called Yonemoto Coffee Shop. They served excellent coffee from all over the world.

Coffee time over and now suitably warmed up we continued our market exploration.
Winsin is a spartan fellow, going for the simple things like Japanese rice balls, etc. Here, he is with a couple of Japanese corn. With soft red kernels, these can be eaten raw.
We thought he was going to eat them, but a few weeks later he surprised us by posting photos of seedlings growing from these seeds!

Some fun posing here. Do I look like a fish-monger?

Other than fish, the retail market sells a whole range of products, like these vegetable pickles...

... egg rolls

... and mushrooms. I once mistook these large mushrooms for buns during a buffet lunch, but had no regrets as there were crunchy and delicious.

Having well experienced the market culture, by 8:30 am we started our journey to our next destination - the Odaiba coastal region.

Slightly ahead we stopped for a memorable group photo at bridge along Harumi Dori. This is one of the rare metal arch bridges that we saw.

From the mid-span of this bridge, there is a very good view of the downstream area with tall high-rise buildings.

Soon we were into the residential suburbs of Toyko. Riding here was more pleasant as the building blocks were longer so there were less stops at red-lighted pedestrian crossings.

Here the the pathways were lined with trees, making our ride scenery all the nicer.

At another bridge in Harumi District, the view was impressive too. This is one of the many sea inlets leading into Tokyo Bay, we are getting nearer the sea now and the inlets are getting wider. To the right can be seen the Tokyo Skytree. At the far end, on the left of the inlet is Kuramae, where we started.

We stopped to snap photos and I managed to get a zoomed in picture of the Tokyo Skytree. Looks very impressive, perhaps we will be going there another day.

Oops! A small hiccup...
The GPS seems to be taking us round in circles. This area looks like it is a newly reclaimed area, perhaps this was confusing the GPS. A quick check with a fellow Japanese cyclist sorted and we got our directions right again.

Suitably redirected, within ten minutes we reached the sea at Odaiba! Here, the blowing sea wind made it even more colder, but it was worth bearing the cold to sea a different aspect of Tokyo.

Our destination at Odaiba was Mega Web City (also known as Palette Town), it is a shopping mall with a difference. To one side is a giant Ferris wheel and on another side is a very large showroom called the Toyota City Showcase displaying the latest in Toyota cars.

The mall is three storeys high and the top floor has been designed with a Roman theme with the ceiling painted to look like the sky. There are even beautiful Roman fountains here. At the food court here we had our lunch.

Heading back, we met these Cosplay fans dressed up as Japanese Anime characters. There is a large following of these Manga cartoons not only here in Japan but all over the world and fans will regularly hold gatherings all suitably dressed up.

We are taking a different route back to the city, a route that took us pass areas of falling autumn leaves...

... and trees in autumn red reflected onto a stream.

Other than the nice scenerey, the return route took us pass the Tokyo University Of Marine Science where the Meiji-Maru, on of Japan's earliest steam ship has been well preserved.

We also stopped at the Tokyo Bombing Memorial. It was not our itinerary, but is a worthwhile site to visit as it commemorates the victims of the Tokyo bombing air raids during World War Two.

At on side is the Peace Monument in remembrance of the victims of the Tokyo air raid bombings where more than a hundred thousand civilians perished during the air raids conducted to try to end World War Two. A similar flowery memorial in Hiroshima commemorates the victims of the atomic bombing.
This place reminds me of another museum, the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh that also shows the atrocities of war (... see blog).

In the grounds of the Memorial are beautiful Japanese gardens, here in the serenity one really appreciates the beauty of peace of the ugliness of war.

Back nearer K's House, this delicious bowl of Ramen brought our day to an end. It had been a very long day; one of a fish market, a cold coastal area, beautiful sceneries and a war memorial.

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