I’ve figured out that it might take me another two weeks to finish this post. I have this dilemma of whether to write a piece that is funny, short and easy-to-read against an informative and detailed narration of what has transpired in my trip. The first one is faster to compose while the latter has more value to travellers. I’ve decided to go with the former, not that I don’t want to share the valuable info, but I’ll allot a special article for it.
So, the third day started with a warm and sunny weather. And memories start fading away, luckily I still have my photos around. I initially wanted to go to the Tuna Auction at Tsukiji fish market, but that means I have to wake up really early (3AM!) and will need to take a taxi, which is not cheap. The other option is to spend my night at a cafe nearby. I was too tired from the flight so I decided to skip this and have a longer rest.
The night before that, I met a Taiwanese backpacker, Cheng (謝小証), in the guesthouse. It was really funny the way we met. We were the early guests in the room and because I couldn’t catch my sleep, I initiated a conversation with him. My first question was, “How was your day? Where did you go today?” He answered back with a smile.
Then I asked him again, “Where are you from?”
He replied, “Taiwan”—again with a smile. Then he approached me and showed me Google Translate. That’s when I realized that there’s a big language barrier between us. I can speak very little Chinese and he can speak very little English. The wifi connection in the room was poor—almost nothing, so we decided to go outside, near the elevator where the signal is stronger. You probably can imagine by now how our conversation went through. We were both looking at our smartphones, typing the words in Google translate and showing the results to one another.
The power of technology helped us agree to wake up at 7AM in the morning, go to Tsukiji market, eat some nice sushi and that we’ll use his motorbike to go around Tokyo. I was worried how we are going to communicate once there’s no Internet.
We woke up at 7AM, geared ourselves with cameras, bottled water and some snacks. Off we we went to Tsukiji, but before that, he told me his phone has an unlimited internet data connection—I was relieved! What’s even better is that Cheng also likes to do jumpshots! His poses are way much crazier than mine.
The wet market in Tsukiji opens only from 9AM. We arrived early so we decided to get some breakfast. We were looking for the famous sushi stores and were taken aback with the long queue! I thought I was back to Singapore. We didn’t have a lot of time to spare (and the patience to wait) so we opted to the nearby shop.
Now I understand why tourists are restricted to go around the market within specific times. The market is a busy place and sometimes tourists disrupt the business. I heard from Sebastien (my couchsurfing host in Osaka) that the reason why tourists are no longer allowed to go near the Tuna Auction is because there were Americans who touches the tip of the expensive tuna for no reason.
If you have time, I suggest that you walk to the rear of the market, near the river. It’s the perfect place to sit, relax, watch the birds and the ships, stare at the skyscrapers while eating your snacks.
Our next stop was the Tokyo Tower. Cheng told me that he knows how to go there. He’s using Google map all the way. I realized how we’ve been so reliant to Google’s applications. We crossed bridges, passed by beautiful buildings and was running side by side with trucks. It was when I saw factories and plants that I felt something was wrong. I googled Tokyo Tower in my phone and found out that we’re heading to the opposite direction. So I asked Cheng if he’s sure where we are going. He insisted he does. I asked him again and told him that my phone is pointing us to a different path. I also showed him a photo of the Tokyo Tower and asked him, “Are we talking about the same Tokyo Tower?” That is when he realized that he clicked the wrong place on his map. We agreed that I’ll be the navigator while he’ll just drive. 🙂
The Tokyo Tower is best photographed during daytime especially when you’re aiming for a close-up shot. The red and white colors of the structure are more distinct during daytime. We didn’t go up but if you want to, you just need to budget 900 Yen (~$9) for the entrance fee.
We were so engrossed in taking jumpshots and going around the tower that we didn’t realize it was nearly 11AM. I had to check out from the guesthouse at 11AM and we were 30 mins away (assuming that we follow the correct direction). Fortunately, my Japanese friend, Yoshiro, helped me call the hostel to inform them that I was coming a little bit late. I reached the guesthouse around 12PM and quickly grabbed my stuff from the room.
I was set to go to Lake Kawaguchiko in the afternoon. I was having hesitations on the plan because I felt that it was too late to go there. The travelling time was 3 hours by train. My main goal was to meet and greet the famous Mt. Fuji. So, I turned to Yoshiro and asked his advise. The problem was, though he had been backpacking around Asia, he does not visit the tourist spots in Japan. I remember him exclaiming, “I’m feeling the pressure with all your tourist questions!” In the end, I decided to go to the place he suggested, Kamakura, and I didn’t regret it.
It took 1.5 hours to travel from Asakusa to Kamakura by train. When Yoshi told me that it is a coastal town, I didn’t think twice of going. I love the beach and the sound of the waves. The best part was that you can see Mt. Fuji while enjoying the sunset! The place has temples too and the second biggest bronze Buddha statue in Japan, Kamakura Daibutsu, can be found there. There were a lot of stores selling delicious snacks so make sure that you arrive with an empty stomach.
Another thing I like about the place are the old trains and the stations. They are a startling contrast to the modern trains in Tokyo. It is almost like a province where there are no high-rise buildings. The road is quiet and people are always walking along with their dogs. It is really a good place to unwind and wait for the time to pass by. If you are looking for a good spot to photograph Mt. Fuji, you should alight at Inamuragasaki station and walk 10-15 minutes to the shore. I would have stayed there till night if not for the meetup that I’ve set with a fellow backpacker who works in Tokyo.
The only discomfort I would have complained (though I don’t really mind) is the 1.5 hours travelling time. By the time I reached Tokyo to meet another Japanese friend, Yoshie, I was terribly hungry. Sometimes, after a long trip, you no longer have the energy to wander around looking for cheaper place to eat. Luckily, Yoshie has been around Tokyo for a few years that she knows where the inexpensive Izakaya’s are. We had raw tuna, fermented cucumber, silk tofu and fresh scallops. I don’t know exact name of the place, but it’s near Shibuya. You can save the photo below and ask the people around. 🙂
If you’d like to read my other adventures in Japan, go to this page: Japan Adventure