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1. February 2019. It was my first full day in Tokyo and I’d just polished off a large breakfast at Denny’s, my first meal at the American diner chain since I was a vacationing sixteen year old with the family in Orlando, Florida. With a stomach full of eggs, bacon, coffee and pancakes, along with a heightened sense of anticipation, I Apple-mapped the short walking route over to Tsukiji Outer Market, Tokyo’s epicenter for fresh seafood and top-notch handmade knives. Even with no intention whatsoever to gorge on fish and seafood, I’d been told that this was still a must-see neighbourhood for a window into authentic Tokyo life.
2. February 2019. If you want to sample a range of traditional Japanese snacks, Tsukiji Outer Market is the place to come. In the first video the guy is busy serving Sazae, a species of sea snail known as The Horned Turban. You can find him near the entrance to Namiyoke Dori Street, the market’s main road, though he seemed to be catering much more to Asian taste buds. Much more popular with foreign tourists are the guys in the second video, as the long queue of expectant customers shows! Dashi Maki Tamago is a Japanese egg roll doused in sugar, fish stock, soy sauce and mirin, so the taste is quite sweet! Some are served plain; others are complimented with bacon or tuna.
3. February 2019. Knives are big business in Tsukiji Outer Market and these are top quality handmade pieces capable of slicing a sizeable hole in your wallet. One of the major players is Sugimoto Cutlery, a metal smith family business that have been going since the 1830s. There are loads of knife stores scattered around the market and some of them have their own workshops in the back. Just pick your knife, go and watch as it gets one last run through the sharpener and, if you’re feeling really flush, pay a little extra for a personalized engraved signature. A brief enquiry at one place told me I’d be looking at about 9000JPY (£63/€72/$81) for a Lignon/Lay-tun-tun engraved vegetable knife.
4. February 2019. The dining options at Tsukiji Outer Market are varied. Sit down at some plush looking restaurants, grab a bite at a street stall, drop down at some plastic tables and chairs in a poky little shed where you’re elbow to elbow with the other customers. The vibe is pretty relaxed, for the most part people stay out of your face and, in line with Japanese etiquette, if you are approached it’s nearly always with a softly-spoken, polite invitation. I love this aspect of Japanese culture and it’s so far removed from what I have to deal with in China every day that my first few days in the city felt like paradise!
5. February 2019. Tsukiji Outer Market’s famous sushi restaurants get going as early as 05:00 in the morning and serve hungry customers right into mid afternoon. If you’re coming by Subway head for either Tsukiji Shijo Station (Toei Oedo Line – E – pink) or Tsukiji Station (Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line – H- grey). Alternatively the closest JR station is Shimbashi, but be prepared for a twenty minute walk from there!
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