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Published: April 1st 2010
I’m noticing a trend in my sleeping pattern…it doesn’t exist. I went to bed at midnight; by 3 I was awake, largely due to the power boat tester in the bed above me. I have never heard such snoring. I got ready and sat in the lobby using the internet connection while I waited on the others. We made our way to the station and 2 subway trains later we were there. . The tuna auctions are The only auction tourists are permitted to see. I was expecting electricity and bidding but the auction itself was actually really not much to see, you see more bartering and auctioneer energy on bargain hunt. What is interesting is the way they go about it. There are people walking around that use fishhooks to open the gills and poke the fish to test for quality, this is serious business and these fish can sell for Y1000000 if it’s good enough. After hanging around for 10minutes we decided to wander through the rows of sellers and look at their catch. There were tuna 6 ft long, barrels of eels, squid, octopus, urchin, you name it they had it, some of it still moving. I asked one of the sellers a question about 1 box he was selling, he was the only one that acknowledged our interest and after asking where I was from etc he gave me a freebie to try. It was a baby squid-raw of course! No matter how you view it he was taking a loss so I was grateful for the experience and to be honest It wasn’t that bad but it easy the first time id ever experienced anything like that. After this we found ourselves sitting in a Sashimi bar at 7a.m. and having been awake so long and nothing to eat other than said baby squid since 6 the previous night I was peckish. I tried the salmon, tuna and a minced tuna in a seaweed wrap along with some fresh ginger and wasabi sauce, of course there was green tea to wash it all down as well, and the fish was so fresh it just melted in my mouth. Soon after I took the next train to Ueno to see the national museum and spent the next hour watching people go about their daily routine. I thought I was only a couple of hundred yards from the museum. It was but it was at the wrong building, I was waiting outside the science museum instead so when I went there for opening time I was directed round the corner to see a line, a big line. I didn’t know this at the time but later found out it was a long holiday weekend for Japanese and it seemed that a hell of a lot of them wanted to see all the same things as me. When I found out there was an hour wait and having waited over an hour already coupled with the fact the pain and feeling of blood pulsing through my burning, aching feet made me feel awful sick I called it quits. I realized id walked and walked and walked some more, 10 hours a day for 3 solid days, I didn’t even stop for meals either, I grabbed food from vendors and ate while I walked. I decided heading back to the hostel to get ready to move on the next day and have some down time in between was a good call. It was on the way back to the station I was in so much pain it took me 7minuites to cover 500m. I got back to the hostel, stopping in at the nearby supermarket for salt. I hobbled up the 3 flights of stairs to my floor where I had a hot shower and used salt liberally on my feet then taped them up with a load of tape to keep the pressure on them, it was like heaven, this keeps constant pressure on them which took the pressure pain away from each step I took. At 7 after resting for a few hours I said to a few guys I wanted to see Shibuya before moving on (Shibuya is Tokyo’s answer Times Square New York). They decided to join me so our merry band consisting of 1 Scot, 3 Englishmen and a Tunisian wandered around to find somewhere to eat. We ended up in a stand up sushi bar (before you say it, there wasn’t a comedian). We were gradually allowed in one or two at a time and managed to stand together. After having raw fish for breakfast and now again for dinner I was still curious but less enthusiastic, you can only take so much raw fish one day. While we ate two of us got chatting to three Japanese businessmen of significantly different ages. One of them bought each of us two different types of sushi as a gift which would have cost him around £40, I was grateful but stunned by his act, he also offered to buy me a piece of the Salmon roe sushi as I was from Scotland and we’d talked about whisky. To be honest id tried a tiny bit of this already which was in part of one of the pieces id tried earlier. I’m not a fan, the way they burst in your mouth is quite…well…it’s off-putting! I politely declined but as I was ordering my next piece I saw that this piece alone was £10. Just before we left I asked their permission for a photo which they gave gladly. Before seeing the rest of the district I wanted to see the statue of Hachiko, a Japanese dog famous In the city (Japans answer to Grey Friars Bobby), he followed his master to the station everyday and greeted him when his train home arrived. One day his master, a professor never came but Hachiko came back to the station and waited every day until his death. A bronze statue of him stands outside the station exit. The original statue was melted to make munitions during the war but was replaced shortly after. The group split after a photo at the station and 2 of us wandered round looking for the ideal vantage point for a photo of the people on the ground. After half an hour we decided to cut our losses and head knack, it was only by chance in the train station I found what I’d been looking for, a view of the ground and all the people crossing the road in four different directions, it looked like some mass exodus.
Just a random offshoot but a few observations: Things are very different in Japan. People will not cross a road until the sign gives them permission, it doesn’t matter if its downtown Tokyo or a backwater town they just won’t do it. Japan is opposite land to Europe. There are no bins on the streets but there is NO litter, I travelled up and down the country from the major cities to small towns, the streets are so clean. Transport here is also completely different, not only do the trains arrive but they do so on time with frightening accuracy, unlike the U.K. where you can never be sure if your train will even arrive let alone be on time. If a train is late you get an apology and a damn good reason. Despite being a nation of shy people I was expecting teenagers to chat to me and enjoy the change of company and the chance to practice English…WRONG! As a matter of fact lot of 18-30’s are shits! I thought older people would avoid me as a Gaijin (Foreign pig dog son of a silly person). Every time I was getting lost and staring at a map an older person would come to my aid, one old man actually walked five minutes in the opposite direction he was heading so he could give accurate directions.
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