Fish and flowers

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March 28th 2016
Published: March 28th 2016
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Japan has an art tradition flowers and a culinary tradition of fish - appropriate for an island nation. We are embracing both with enthusiasm.

Last night we are at a hole-in-the-wall noodle bar famous for anchovy ramen - a deep, rich broth that was delicious and warming in this cold weather. This morning we visited Tsukiji Market, the central fish market. The inner market is a working market buzzing with hundreds of motorized trolleys that are in a hurry and regard tourists as an unnecessary encumbrance best run over. The skill of the fishmongers is astonishing, as they wield impressive knives -some as long as swords - with grace and beauty. There are three levels of market a primary auction market where huge fish are sold to the secondary dealers who specialise in certain fish and carve huge slabs into suitable quantities for restaurants and food sellers. In the outer market you can buy fish to eat as well as many other foods (sweet roasted beans we were offered to try are surprisingly tasty - we bought some as a snack for later). We ate delicious sashimi breakfast - sampling the three grades of tuna - divided by their fat levels and consequent umami (fullness of flavor) a Japanese word adopted internationally as a culinary descriptor.

Sated we headed to Shinjuku Gyoen, the national garden where we spent most of the day just wandering around beautiful garden paths, enjoy masses of pink and white cherry blossom, lakes, stones and little shrines. The Japanese really worship the cherry blossoms and it's fun watching them celebrate and take umpteen photos with the blossoms - brides, babies and old people in wheelchairs are all posed in front of the blossoms and teen couples seem to take a photo in front of every tree in the garden (there are more than 1000 at Shinjuku Gyoen though they don't all flowers simultaneously). Of course we joined in - I've already taken a ridiculous number of photos. The gardens also have a lovely greenhouse with different sections at different levels of humidity and some extraordinary exotic plants.

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28th March 2016

Day two sounds amazing but I needed my epipen at my side to read about all that fish! Are you getting lots of landscaping ideas? Will there be cherry blossom trees on your new garden? Much love Zoe

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