Central Tokyo: fish market, modernity and old world beauty

Although Toyko is a modern metropolis, Japanese traditions and culture are still evident throughout the city. Some of the sites in Central Tokyo where this is apparent are the famous Tsukiji Fish Market and the Tokyo Imperial Palace. To see the high of Japanese modernity you can also find that not far away in the Ginza,  Chiyoda City and Akihabara.

Central Tokyo was one of the few places I felt like I had plenty of room to move. While the population is hard at work you can wonder between skyscrapers or beautiful gardens and experience the contrast between old and new in this amazing city.

We did not visit Central Tokyo in this order, but this section of the city could be done in one day. With the except of Ginza, these are all must do stops when visiting this city.

 

The Tsukiji Fish Market is the largest wholesale market for seafood and fresh produce in this city. It is also one of the biggest seafood markets in the world. There is just such a big selection of fresh seafood and other Japanese traditional foods. It’s great to see the inner workings of the market and also to wonder through narrow lanes of the outer market.

If seafood doesn’t make you squeamish, you can eat fresh sushi breakfast or lunch in the local restaurants in the outer area of the market. Unfortunately, there was no way Marco was going to eat seafood for breakfast. Instead, we had vegetarian soba noodles from small ramen vendor in the outer market.

 


Ginza is the place for upmarket shopping and dining and is home to the most expensive real estate in Japan. Just about every leading brand is representing here. It is also infamously known for the $10 cup of coffee. Although I don’t think it’s a must-do stop if you have the time it’s still a lovely part of the city to visit. We weren’t interested in the shopping here, but we did stop into the Sony store. 

 

Chiyoda is the ward surrounding the Tokyo Imperial Palace. Is the centre of Tokyo and is the least populated ward in the city. It houses many political and office buildings. When we walked through I was amazed that there was practically no other people. The glistening buildings are quite stunning. I got a coffee on my way through, but I did have an issue disposing of it. There were just no bins anyway.

From the outside of the Tokyo Imperial Palace we were about to get a good view of the Fujimi-yagura (Mt. Fuji-view Keep), Seimon-tetsubashi Bridge (Main Gate Bridge) and Nijubashi Bridge (double bridge).

 


Tokyo Imperial Palace is the country’s capital and Imperial Residence of the Royal family. It was built on the former site of Edo Castle and had to be rebuilt after WW2 in its original style. The palace grounds are not generally open to the public, although you can take a guided to see parts of the grounds.

The Imperial Palace East Gardens are open to the palace and is free to visit. The gardens make up the former inner circles of defence of the Edo Castle. Honmaru meaning main circle and Ninomaru meaning secondary circle. All that remains from the original built is the moats, walls, entrance gates and some guardhouses. The gardens are a really relaxing place to walk around and wind down. The Niromaru garden was particularly beautiful.


Akihabara is a famous for the many electronic shops and for being the centre of Japan’s otaku (diehard fan) culture. Many shops are dedicated to anime, manga,  retro video games, figurines, card games and other collectables. You can also find maid cafes and manga cafes, with waitresses who are dressed and act like maids or anime characters, and customers can read comics, watch DVDs and use the internet. Electronic stores that line the streets sell the latest technology for computers, cameras, televisions, mobile phones, electronics parts and home appliances and also to second-hand goods and electronic junk. This area is great to visit at night, as its so lite up and perhaps less crowded.

 

Below the Tokyo station is the Yurakucho district, where there is Gado-shita dining under the train tracks.  Gado-shita means from “below the girder” and many of the eateries specialise in authentic izakaya and yakitori. There are also many restaurants that are more upscale and serve Japanese, French, Italian and German food.

We choice the restaurant Tsurutontan Bis Tokyo for dinner. The dishes presented much more upscale than what we had experienced so far. We shared Warm vegetables, Crab Salad Rice paper Rolls with Dipping Sauce, Fried Taro and Karē udon (Curry udon) with Beef, Chicken and Prawn. Everything was cooked perfectly and it was a pleasant experience.

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