Tokyo: Tsukiji Market, Sensoji Temple and Tokyo Skytree

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Tsukiji Market is one of the most famous markets in the world, particularly for its wide selection of seafood. Fish and other sea products that are sold here end up on plates around the world. We had planned to go very early (around 5 a.m.) to observe the live auction, but we got a tip from some employees at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo (we met them while touring the DMZ in Korea) to skip the auction and hit the market once all the shops were open. That’s what we did. As the picture below suggests, there are dozens upon dozens of food and cookware stalls packed into a tight maze of alleyways.

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But as interesting as this part of the market is, there’s a flurry of activity behind the shops and stalls. Fishmongers frenetically zoom back and forth on motorized carts. They pile huge mounds of Styrofoam boxes to be sanitized and recycled. They cut up more fish. They clean their equipment.

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There’s a reason why Tsukiji Market is on all of the tourist maps. It is more than simply a place to visit; it is an experience, a basic element of life in the city.

From there, we made a brief stop in Ginza before visiting our next major destination point: Sensoji Temple. This is home to the famous five story pagoda. As you enter the temple grounds, you walk through a phalanx of souvenir shops. Once you reach the main hall, you’ll find yourself mingling with worshipers, shoppers and tourists.

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Despite being a major tourist destination, the temple grounds are quite beautiful.

There was one other item on my personal agenda that day, and I was planning on dragging along anyone who wanted to go with me. I was determined to get inside Tokyo Skytree. It’s the world’s tallest free-standing broadcasting tower, and it could be seen easily from the temple grounds.

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After a coffee and snack break, we boarded a local bus and made our way to one of the city’s newest attractions. Tokyo Skytree had only been open a year by the time we got there. As my students learned, I do not appreciate high places. They terrify me. But if I have the opportunity to get into the world’s tallest/highest whatever, I’m going to do it. We had to purchase tickets for a specific time, then we had to wait in a long line, but we finally made it to the observation deck, which is 350 meters high.

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As nighttime descended upon us, we exited Tokyo Skytree and enjoyed a late evening meal underneath the tower. The view skyward, as you can see, was a sight to behold.

IMG_1274 Next post: visiting Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden.

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