Too Late, the story of the day (Day 194)
Sometimes we just don’t get our timing right and today was one of those days. Just too late, the story of the day. C’est la vie!
One of our party was up early, the other wasn’t so we didn’t get out until later than expected. We just missed the bus, however the transport in Tokyo is great, so we walked round the corner to get a different one. We eventually arrived…too late. We’d come to Tsukiji Fish Market (another Lonely Planet Top 500), the biggest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world. It opens most mornings at 3am and the Auction starts around 5:20am to 10am. We did see thousands of white polystyrene boxes, some guts and heads of large fish and the occasional stall still selling fish, crabs and other sea creatures. Oh and great blocks of ice being crushed, ready for packing. The cleaning had started and a few times I was nearly splashed with a bucket of water, so precariously jumping puddles. I am sure that during the peak times it is a sensory overload with the hive of activity, smells and colours of the variety of sea life. Hey ho!
We had actually researched what to do in this area – surprise, surprise – so next on the agenda was to see the Nakagin Capsule Tower which was completed in just 30 days in 1972. This was the world’s first example of capsule architecture built for permanent use. Sadly it is falling into disrepair and only a small percentage of the capsules are being used as apartments. We would have loved to have looked inside, however there was a notice to say that trespasses would be prosecuted and if you want to have a look inside a Capsule, there’s one at The Modern Art Museum – a bit far for our schedule.
We walked over the flyover and wandered around the Shiodome district, redeveloped in 2002 with spectacular skyscrapers, many reflecting in other glass fronted buildings. One of which is Nippon Television Tower with its crazy giant “NI-Tele Really BIG Clock”, three stories high, 60 foot wide. It is quite magical, as if it’s come out of an Alice in Wonderland movie. Sadly we were 20 minutes too late to hear it chime. Oh dear.
Next on our schedule was Hamarikyu Gardens. Before we got there we popped into a 7/11 store to buy our lunch, salad with some Onigiri which are stuffed triangular rice balls covered with Nori seaweed; chicken for Tim, salmon for me and we shared a tuna mayo. They were delicious. As we walked to the Gardens we went over the fort and noticed that the water was moving. I joked that we could hire a rubber ring, like the Lazy River at the Disney Waterpark in Florida. The water was a bit murky and green here though. The park was delightful, built as the family garden of Tokugawa Shogun in the mid 1600s with its teahouses, a 300 year old Pine tree, Duck Hunting sites and memorial plaque for the ducks killed! Plus we saw an artist painting the foreground of the park and background of the commercial area; our 2nd artist as we also saw one at the Tsukiji Fish Market.
We were excited to see that it had a Peony and flower garden. Oh dear, too late for the Peonies. It looked like they had all flowered and had just been snipped off and the flower garden had only just been planted….with seeds! Interestingly, this is the second garden we have been charged a minimal fee and that closes at 5pm. The gardens are immaculate, no rubbish or graffiti, and I wonder that because people have to pay, they tend to look after it better and it does keep out people who have been enjoying themselves a bit too much in the evenings. Something for us to learn?
We did manage to get on the Waterbus though. Too late for the round trip, so we took the 45 minutes ride to Asakusa, passing by some of the man-made islands of Tokyo Bay, many high rise apartments, skyscraper offices and under many bridges along the Sumida River. It was nice to rest my weary feet.
Just as the water boat was docking we saw some young ladies in colourful kimonos. They waved to us and when we landed very kindly had they photo taken with me. Such beautiful outfits and a bit easier to wear than the saris in India, even though these look so graceful.
Our journey back was not the easiest. Our train was supposed to stop at Kanda, not sure what happened there. We got off at different stop, roamed around at this random station for ages before we found the correct train line. When we reached our destination, a bus was outside which, we thought, took us nearer to home and saving my tired legs the 2km walk. We hopped on. Yes, it was going the right way. Hang on, it’s turned left…Argh….and now taking us further away….it’s turned right….phew…We ended up walking nearly as far as if we hadn’t got the bus. It seemed as if it was one of those days….we did somehow laugh through the clenched teeth though!