Monday, 15 December 2008

Teenage fashion, fishmongers and snow monkeys

So, no post for a few days and now loads to catch you up on. We spent Friday in Tokyo exploring Harajuku (teenage fashion stores rubbing shoulders with haut couture and temples). We loved the vibe of this area and will be spending our last couple of days based here before flying home. We headed up to Shinjuku as the sun set and I spent a few happy minutes taking in the view from the top of the Metropolitan Government Building (see right) before we headed off to find ourselves a basement yakatori restaurant (dont ask which, we'll never find it again!).

Saturday saw us getting up at 04:30 (!!!) to go to Tokyo's premier fish market. We got lost in the dark outside the hotel and descended into chaos as we reached the market itself. The market doesnt encourage visitors - it views them as a nuisance and possibly misses an opportunity in the process. This means no signage, which for us meant wandering lost through a major industrial facility dodging mini fork lifts and hand-drawn carts until we finally happened upon the huge sheds full of row upon row of seafood stalls. These were in the process of setting up as we arrived, getting ready for the influx of restauranters buying their day's worth of produce. The whole place was incredible, all the more so when we finally found (stumbled on) the tuna auctions. These are the center-piece so far as spectacle is concerned, highly animated auctioneers crackign through lines of torpedo-sized frozen tuna at lightning speed.

That was only the beginning of our day. After a swift breakfast we caught our first shinkansen up into the mountains to the small town of Obuse. After dropping our bags we moved straight on again to search out the snow monkeys (well done to Iz for this recommendation - they dont really feature in the guide books). These little guys are awesome, totally habituated to humans and happy as you like as they paddle around in their own hot spring. We spent a couple of hours here photographing the little fellows and just watching them play around and interact with one another, so close we could reach out and touch them. A definite high point of the trip so far.

After that we deserved a rest, so we spent Sunday chilling in Obuse and sampling sake (we're experts now). My achievement of the day was eating an oyster (!?!).

Today has been another travel day - back through Tokyo to Kyoto. We're settled in our hostel now with the next few days travel booked up and enjoying connected life once again (the bar in the hostel has free fast wifi - does life get better?). Expect an update tomorrow evening after our day-trip to Hiroshima.

807 photos taken so far - be afraid...


Anonymous said...

Glad all is going well. Keep up the blog. M&D

Anonymous said...

807 photos, lol! Thats going to be one long slideshow. Hope everything keeps getting better and better.


Steve said...

We found proof that you were at the fish market!
Check out a familiar face at 0.45

Steve said...

This time with link: