TOKYO: Slowing down & Speeding up

Delicious sushi from the night before got me craving for more- and hopefully without having to break the bank. Where else could you find the freshest, most delectable raw fish than at the market. Tsukiji market. The world’s largest fish market where chefs and restauranteers come in the wee hours of the morning to participate in an auction for bluefin tuna. Known as the king of sushi, this species is gradually depleting due to the increasing global demand of sushi.

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In recent news, the market would soon be relocated somewhere further, in order to make way for new roads to the 2020 olympics in Tokyo. That said, the streets were fully occupied with tourists feasting on all sorts of food: from fresh octopus flamed on the spot to tamagos for a mere Y100 and newly ripened strawberries on a stick. Took delight in shopping for snacks to take home- wasabi nuts, caramelized gunnel, rice crackers, seaweed- anything and everything to satisfy the frequent snacker.

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Overwhelmed with so many choices on where to eat, we did the touristy thing and settled at a restaurant with a Tripadvisor sticker plastered on its door. Plates of sushi spun like mad around the room– on a conveyor belt that is! We sat surrounding the sushi masters as if we were spectators in an arena. Their swift hands sliced gracefully through the raw fish, gathered a neat batch of soft rice, and basted wasabi onto it, serving as the glue between the tuna (or salmon/shrimp/squid) and rice. The plates were color coded according to price, and truth be told, the golden plates/fancier looking ones were the best tasting.

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After stuffing ourselves with as many plates of sushi as possible, we took a long walk to Hamarikyu Gardens. Suddenly, the fact that we were a week too early for cherry blossom season didn’t matter at all, because we encountered a whole field of bright and beautiful yellow flowers. _MG_0581.jpg

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Troll in the garden

We laid on the grass for a while, then walked to the other side to watch the boats dock, the seagulls come and go, and the time pass us by. It was such a breath of fresh air, considering we were in one of the busiest metropoleis in the world.

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only a handful of cherry blossoms

It still astounds us how a place like Tokyo exists; how it’s very much alive and technologically advanced like in the movies, but within the city, you’d find pockets of peace and spaces for meditation. It’s a marvelous conjunction of traditional and modern.

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Barrels of sake donated to Meiji Shrine

 

One minute we were observing traditions in the Meiji period, and the next, we were watching teen tribes strut their kawaii costumes at Takeshita Dori, or more famously known as Harajuku. Schoolgirls strolled the streets with their  shopping bags, and clouds of cotton candy coloured the scene while we went crazy over crepes. They came in every flavor you could think of — strawberry with nutella and whipped cream, hot caramel and cheese with nuts, or as stuffed as a crepe could be: a “Mega Marion” with vanilla & chocolate ice cream, brownie, a slice of cheesecake, custard cream, bananas, almonds… sounds more summoning of toncilitis to me, rather than a treat, so if you’re not so into sweets, they’ve got savory ones too.

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Took the rush hour train to the iconic Shibuya, turning towards the Hachiko exit, but strangely couldnt’ find him, probably because there were way too many people and it was too dark anyway. Instead, we were distracted by a grown man in a school girl outfit and bunny ears. He was dancing around, lifting his skirt and giving away glow in the dark bracelets. Oh Japan, just as eccentric as how I imagined.

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Just off that road lies the busiest intersection where businessmen and tourists, who were whipping out their selfie sticks while crossing, scrambled from point to point. And yes, it took a handful of walking back and forth to get these shots. A Japanese guy even trolled us by doing jumping jacks behind me.

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emulating Simon from Misfits

We walked around aimlessly, just taking in the cool city vibe, and realized that what made it so unique was the theme music playing in the background. Usually when you’re walking in a foreign place, you’d have a song playing in your head, but this time, there was an actual epic soundtrack to push the mood further. Originally, we wanted to head to Shimokitazawa to catch any gig that would allow us a peek into their music scene, but our days in Tokyo were numbered. As if by fate, we didn’t actually need to look any further than where we were.

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