Japan Trip 2010 – Day 4

We had heard that in order to really see the action at the Tsukiji Fish Market you have to get there really early. Only problem was that the train system doesn’t start until around 5:00 AM which meant a very early alarm clock. We ended up catching something around 5:30 AM and after some other navigational difficulties we met Anna’s college friend at Tsukiji.

The sushi you eat probably comes from here.

Anna’s brother had given us a printout of tips for the fish market. In a nutshell, be careful and stay out of the way. They really weren’t kidding, this place is so busy with activity it’s the only place in Japan where I felt unsafe. Not in terms of getting mugged or anything, but just from all the fast moving vehicles and people moving around everywhere. These guys are seriously busy and I’m sure they’re not thrilled having tourists gumming up their walk ways taking photos.

That’s not a knife, that’s a short sword!

I didn’t take that many photos but it was very cool to see all the strange types of seafood and the giant tunas, some that were still frozen as a rock from being transported probably halfway around the world. I did my best to keep an eye on my back so I wasn’t in anyone’s way, but sometimes it was hard to avoid. I even took a photo of a case of tuna that said “No pictures!!” before realizing my mistake, oops. No one was supervising it though 😛

No, pictures!

We managed to avoid any collisions, and find our way back to where we came in. Then we headed for Sushi Dai which is a famous sushi bar in the area. There was a line that didn’t look too long but the place only seats about 12 people so we waited two hours! But it was sooooooooo worth it. My only previous experience with really fresh sushi was when I got to eat at Iron Chef Morimoto’s restaurant in Philadelphia. I had a little bit at Blue Ribbon in Brooklyn one time, but it was super duper expensive.

Dude at Sushi Dai.

At Sushi Dai they suggest one of the set menus which were 2300¥ and 3900¥. For 3900¥ you get 11 pieces of sushi and a 4 piece maki roll. After that you get one last piece of whatever you want. We came all this way and waited so long so we all ordered the 3900¥ meal (at current exchange rates about $50), a bit anxious about whether we’d be able to finish.

Sushi chefs hard at work.

This was hands down our best meal we had during our entire trip! The sushi bar is very small, and instead of plates they have a serving counter above the regular counter. As the chefs make the sushi they give them to you piece by piece. The very first piece was O-toro tuna! Everyone knows that this fattiest tuna is the most expensive and luxurious kind, and it was definitely delicious! But the funny thing is that, I actually enjoyed many of the other fish even more than the O-toro.

This thing is seriously art… in ma belly!

Really amazing sushi positively melts in your mouth, and this sushi melted in my mouth like none I’ve ever had before. We were careful to veeeeeery slowly eat it and savor the taste. Also the chefs were super nice, talking to Anna and her friend the entire time. Also, they noticed after a few pieces that Anna’s friend was left handed, profusely apologized and promptly moved her ginger to her left and served her sushi to her left from then on. Amazing service!

It was still moving.

The fourth piece they gave us was some kind of shellfish and as he put it down he said “Here, still alive!” Sure enough, once he placed it you could see the sides of it curling upward O_O They were all positively splendid, but another highlight was the other piece of tuna they gave us. It was without a doubt the reddest, shiniest most delicious glistening piece of tuna I had ever seen. I don’t think you’ll be surprised to find out how amazing this was.

I may never see a more gorgeous piece of tuna.

My last piece came up and I had been eyeing the salmon inside their work area. The chef told me that the salmon they had wasn’t very fatty, but I said that I’d still have a piece. Salmon is usually my litmus test for sushi places because it’s my favorite fish to eat. Yup, this salmon was the meltiest most nummy salmon I’ve had. I’m fearful of the horrifying faces of ecstasy I must’ve been making while eating all this wonderful sushi.

Salmon sushi, supposedly not very fatty but man was it good.

Believe the hype, Sushi Dai is amazing! Extremely nice chefs and some of the best sushi you’re likely to have in your entire life. We’re so going back there next time we go to Japan. We had such an early start that despite the two hour wait it still wasn’t even noon so we were headed off for Day 2 at the Ghibli Museum!

I know the way, but show me it anyway!

This time we walked to the museum instead of taking the bus, because we noticed the day before that they had cute signs directing people towards the museum and we had to take photos. There were also electric meters on apartment buildings along the way that were kind of shaped like chibi Totoros. We went by the “fake” entrance to take some more photos of Totoro and the signs. Then we went to the Saturn theater again for our second and last screening of “Mei and the Kittenbus.” Nothing can beat the first time, but we were happy to see it for the second time.

After that we headed back to the giant zoetrope and watched it for several cycles before heading back to the Laputa robot. The sunlight was different that day so I thought it was worth it to take more photos. Then we headed back to the Straw Hat Cafe.

Straw Hat Cafe parfait. I could eat three of these.

The wait was a lot shorter this time which was good because we were only there for dessert. I ordered the parfait topped with konpeito and Anna got the cappuccino with Straw Hat melted chocolate design. The girl who paints the cappuccinos must’ve seen us because she brought the coffee over herself even though she’s not a waitress. She was so happy to see that we came back. She painted an extra heart on Anna’s cappuccino as thanks.

Straw Hat Cafe cappuccino. A work of art!

The parfait was delicious with its ice cream, kiwi, banana and chocolate sauce, but again, not too sweet. Anna felt bad ruining her elaborate chocolate painted cappuccino, but begrudgingly put sugar and drank it up. While I was there I took some more photos of the cafe and also the bathroom 😛 After this we went back to the studio room and the kittenbus room. Lastly we went back to the zoetrope room again! I seriously could watch that thing all day long. I don’t know how long we watched it for before we finally decided to go.

We decided to take the bus back this time. I can’t wait until the next time we go to the Ghibli Museum! Next time we’ll have to schedule our vacation so that we can watch “Mei and the Kittenbus” again and also whatever short film shows before or after it 😛

The Japanese know how to wear a uniform.

From here we headed off to Nakano Broadway which is a mall with various different stores and a ton of otaku stuff. This place was a lot less crazy and claustrophobic than Mandarake, but still I was mostly looking just for the sake of looking. I just wanted to look at more Ghibli stuff. We got some bread at a bakery before heading off to Asakusa.

Nakano Broadway.

I think Asakusa is one of the only places we went to that I had been to before when I went to Japan about 15 years ago with my mother and sister. It was still fun to go and take photos of the giant lanterns and temples. There was also a guy with some adorable white dogs. One of them was lying on the ground looking sad and pitiful, he was cute and fuzzy. I’m not sure if he was actually sad, he probably just knows it gets attention.

Awwww, who’s a sad wittle puppy? You’re a sad wittle puppy!

We both donated and got our fortunes. Somehow I ended up getting the worst fortune and Anna ended up getting the best fortune. Oh well, I guess it cancels it out. We tied our fortunes together. I know, we’re so cute it just makes you sick, right? We had one last thing to do before the day was over and that was call the Shiro-Hige bakery to reserve our Totoro cream puffs! These cream puffs are the ones that inspired Anna’s that she posted a how-to for. Finally they were going to be ours to consume, BWAHAHAHAHA. She called them and reserved one of each flavor.

Giant lantern grants great and horrible fortune.

At this point we were super dead tired (at least I was) so we headed home. Too tired to go to a restaurant we ordered takeout from “Coco Ichiban Curry.” But when the food arrived I had I totally crashed on the bed with our cat train plush. Somehow I woke up later and was able to eat some of my curry before crashing again on the bed.

New sleeping companion.

The next day was going to be relatively light in terms of plans, but it was still going to be a very full day. We were going to go to the bakery to pick up our adorable Totoro cream puffs, go to the Toei museum, bring the cream puffs back home and photograph them then head to Yokohama for the Ramen Museum! Okay, maybe it wasn’t so light a day 😛

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