Day 4 – Tokyo

We began Day 4 with breakfast at Tsukiji market.  Both Ann and I tried the Japanese omelet, which was quite good.

Japanese omelet for only 100 Yen
Japanese omelet for only 100 Yen

I also tried a bowl of Soba noodles, which were excellent. We walked around the outer market for about 45 minutes, just taking in the hustle and bustle of the working market, as well as the crowds of tourists.  We did not go into the inner market, as it didn’t open to tourists until 9:30 or so.  Also, on the advice of our guide from Day 2, we didn’t get up at 2 am in the morning to stand in line for the few places available for the tuna auction.

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Motorized like a fork lift, these vehicles deliver goods throughout the market
Crowds of tourists even before 8 am in the morning
Crowds of tourists even before 8 am in the morning

The remainder of our day was planned as a walking tour of Japanese architecture, starting in Ginza. Both Ann and I love architecture, and Tokyo has many great examples.  Many of the major brands have constructed major, architect designed buildings in Tokyo, and they take a much more creative approach than the boxy skyscrapers of Manhattan, for example.  Here are a few examples:

 

Dior building
Dior building

 

Maison Hermes
Maison Hermes
Detail of the Maison Hermes building
Detail of the Maison Hermes building
Mikimoto building
Mikimoto building
DeBeers building
DeBeers building

But our favorite building of the day was located in Raponji: the National Art Center designed by Kisho Kurokawa.  There were some interesting exhibits of art by high school students from around Europe and Asia, as well as an excellent exhibit of ceramics, but the star was the building itself.  It was beautiful from the outside and inside, and worked very well as exhibition space.

National Art Center Tokyo
National Art Center Tokyo
Interior of the National Art Center Tokyo
Interior of the National Art Center Tokyo
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Another interior shot of the National Art Center
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The lobby from above

From there, we walked over to the 21 21 building, which was much less impressive in my opinion, and then over to Tokyo Midtown Galleria for lunch.

After a brief rest in the room and some coffee to fortify us, we headed out to the Mieji shrine.  Ann had been there on a previous trip and remembered a beautiful Iris garden.  Unfortunately, we took a wrong turn, and by the time we found the garden, it had closed.  However, we did see a Shinto wedding ceremony and found the walk through the grounds of the shrine very peaceful.

Shinto wedding procession
Shinto wedding procession
Great Tori at the Meiji Shrine
Great Tori at the Meiji Shrine
Boy playing on steps of Meiji Shrine
Boy playing on steps of Meiji Shrine

It was getting towards dinner time, and we headed towards Harajuku.  We had hoped to eat at a crepe place we had heard about.  Unfortunately, when we finally found it, they only served dessert crepes.  No galletes or savory crepes.  Harajuku was crazy.  So many people.  If you are at all uncomfortable in crowds, just don’t go there.  We wandered around for over an hour trying to find a restaurant that had some availability.  At one point, we just collapsed on a bench outside a cafe.  We were trying to determine whether to eat there when one of the employees brought us two iced coffees.  He didn’t speak any English, and we thought he was just being super-nice, giving us something for free.  It turned out they were meant for someone else.  Everyone was very polite about the mixup and we went ahead and paid them for the drinks.

We finally ate at a french salad bar called Citron, which turned out to serve excellent food with a limited menu. Everyone spoke fluent french, and everything was very authentic.  I had one of the creamiest mushroom risottos I’ve had anywhere.  Highly recommended.

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