Thursday 27th November – Sunday 30th November
Tokyo, Japan to Gateshead, UK
Tsukiji Fish Market, Ginza
Thursday was our last day in Tokyo and, fortunately, the weather was much better.
We got up early to go and explore the Tsukiji Market, where huge amounts of fish are bought and sold every day. Although it’s in all the guidebooks as somewhere to visit, its main purpose is definitely not as a tourist attraction. It’s still very much a working fish market, used by everyone from wholesalers to Tokyo’s chefs, to the general public.
The walk from the subway station took us past a few food stalls and cafes. The cafes were tiny, most consisting of a kitchen that could barely contain one person, and a counter facing onto the street for their customers to sit at.
Once you get past this you reach the market proper, with more traffic and people than the space can comfortably contain.
All in all, it was a fascinating place to visit, and a unique Tokyo experience, though not one we’d necessarily recommend to vegetarians!
Tokyo Sky Tree and Senso-ji, Asakusa
After visiting the fish market, we headed over to the Asakusa area to see the Tokyo Sky Tree, which, on its completion in 2012, became the tallest broadcasting tower in the world (and the second tallest structure in the world) at 634m (2,080 feet). It may not look that much taller than the surrounding buildings in this shot, but that is just a matter of perspective – it is *much* taller than the other buildings!
Senso-ji, Tokyo’s oldest temple, was also nearby – a juxtaposition of new and old that is very typical of Japan.
Last night in Tokyo
We celebrated our final night in Tokyo (and the final overseas night of our trip) with a drink in the bar on the 36th floor of our hotel, where the napkins did double-duty as a guide to the view! (The square building in the centre of the picture below is the National Diet Building, the home of Japan’s national legislature).
The journey home
We flew from Tokyo to London Heathrow the following day, enabling us to spend Friday evening and Saturday morning with our lovely friends, Ed and Dave, who kindly let us sleep off our jet lag in their spare bedroom before our train back up to Newcastle on Saturday afternoon.
Back in Gateshead
Once home, we took advantage on Sunday of the admittedly-short daylight hours to pay a visit to our beloved local icon, the Angel of the North. It’s one of our favourite spots in the North East – we even visited it for a photo shoot on our wedding day.
It’s good to be home, and incredible to think that we’ve actually been all the way around the world in the last three months.
Sounds of the day
One of our biggest memories of Japan will definitely be the background music and other sounds you hear everywhere you go.
Overall, Japanese people seem keen not to disturb each other with too much noise – putting their mobile phones on silent (or off completely) on the subway and train for example.
But there’s still plenty of noise. Almost all restaurants and cafes we visited had background music, with a preference for classical string music or light saxophone jazz (imagine Kenny G playing wherever you go!). In the main shopping streets in Kyoto it was even being piped into the streets.
Subway stations in Tokyo seemed to each have a jingle that played as the train doors opened. Bus stops in Kyoto had a little tune for when buses arrived (or that seemed to be what was going on!). Some subway stations even had birdsong sounds – we never quite worked out what this was about, but it seemed to be something to do with helping blind people navigate their way around the stations!