From the depths of the fish market to complex issues such as the discrimination of women in comics books, the great Adventurer Ioan will blow… Your… Minds.
Today was a lazy day (which, again, compared to my normal non-lazy days in Australia it was rather early), because when I got up at 8 with the intention of doing some training (cant neglect my quest towards a greek god body) i Woke up rather under the weather. A battle ensued within whether I should soldier on or take it easy: getting a cold would probably not be conducive to me having a happy time. yet i am Compulsive power adventurer. So i just decided to sleep in. Yet i did plan to have lunch with Val at 12 so I had to get my butt up and go.
It was high time for some fish in my life – besides the carp and the tempura. When Val said we should meet for a rolling sushi, it was the perfect time to prepare my taste buds for whats coming on on Thursday. So off towards Tsukiji Station I go, slightly (but fashionably late) as usual. Long story short: Val and I have been following each others blogs for a while, and this was a perfect excuse for me to meet some Tokyoites.
Look at all them fishies strolling around! Also, I must say that as soon as I got out of the station a strong smell of fish welcomed me. The only problem is that, as far as i know, fresh fish doesn’t smell. Whoops.
Back to the running sushi. I would have been much more into eating lots and staring at every marvelous piece of fish on rice that strolled in front of me had it not been my breakfast, so my eyes kept being glued to the (organic) orange juice on a plate, and to the pudding (which I eventually had).
The smoked fish was quite good, as well as one of the chargrilled ones (I think). Everything was fresh – had some Ikura (roe) ones as well which were literally bursting with taste. You also had powdered tea at your table, and hot water taps. Ingenious!
This is the best representation of my trip (kudos to Hannah for the pic):
I am so glad my little carp friends from Shinjuku do not have internet (as much as I like having followers and views), all these fish heads would have terrified the little critters (for some, it seems, it really is a trap).
I want to make a few observations about the Japanese: for once, for such a reserved people they are awfully loud in markets, with people yelling for you to come to their stalls. Now, any jungle has rules, be it made of concrete or mud. And Tokyo certainly has a lot of them: no eating in public or in the metro (unless you can blame it on being white), walking on a certain part of the street (which generally has signs on the floor anyway) etc. and rules are needed for efficiency. Yet it’s quite a paradox of a city, both because sometimes there seems to be no rules, with bikes riding on the sidewalk and there being no sidewalks on some streets. But also because some of the rules actually hamper efficiency.
Like crossing the street on a red light but when the entire street is empty. Jailwalking is a perfectly acceptable norm in cities like London because, hey, it’s efficient! So obviously I do not wait. And what do I see? Once i start crossing, the japs do so too! I am a Liberator of People from the chains of society!
Then some random buddhist temple near the station.
As I said earlier, I had been feeling a bit fluish. So thanks to Ioana’s suggestion, I gulp down some lemony liquid vitamin C (overdose) to preempt any nasty things that wanna ruin my adventure.
Up until now, I had been visiting parts that represent rather traditional Japan: parks, the tempura place, Hanazono Temple. So it was high time I balance it with some modern Japan; so I thought what better place than famed Akihabara?
Please notice all the sexy costumes designed for girls. I will be making a point further on about this.
So, what is Akihabara (for the non japan obsessed readers)? It’s a hub for technology and anime/manga (which are actually referred to as “comics” in Japan), with countless stores selling comics, gadgets, anime, games for PC/PS/other consoles.
It is certainly the Mecca of Anime fans and many foreign otaku dream of coming to Akihabara. The actual Akihabara is not really near the station, you have to go a bit west from it before you find it. Certainly, mostly all of the comics are in Japanese, and they generally dont seem to cater for a foreign audience. But it’s still great to peruse all of the things they sell around.
Like manga. Floors and floors of manga. Stores dedicated to manga only, and they have 7 floors.
There’s some yaoi.
And lots of hentai. Not one floor. Three. Three full floors of hentai. With japanese men casually walking and reading comics with huge boobs. Or some child porn here and there. Oh, and theres only men. Why? Because every single comic book (and I mean the whole 3 floors) is with a front page of boobs.
So let me make another point. I will disregard the fact that there is no gay hentai section. But what about the women? Why are all three floors dedicated only for men and nothing for the other gender? It’s simple: because the Japanese society is, in my opinion, still not quite gender equal. Sure, I think the next point is valid for many western societies, but it is much more obvious in Japan. Women are not seen as sexual beings. I mean they are seen as sexually pleasing men, but thats where it stops. They supposedly have no sexual needs of their own, or, if they do, they are irrelevant. That is why there is only 3 floors of boobs, and all sexy costumes are women only.
And I think such thinking only perpetuates this image which then affects how women see themselves; if you ask me, a lot of Japanese women are much too submissive (I remember some pop idol shaving her head to apologise to the boyfriend or smth.) end of rant.
Talking of women being submissive: I just saw a woman tying her boyfriends shoes in the middle of the street. And he was just watching her do it whilst he sipped from his soda. Like… What… Even….
Ikebukuro (getting back to the fact that this is supposed to be a travel blog not a womens rights blog) continued the whole modern Japan theme quite well, and it being night, there were pretty lights everywhere! Like a night bug I just flew towards them.
The station itself is a maze of shops and outlets, and it’s very, very big.
I walked around aimlessly trying to find a good place to eat. I admit, I was a bit wary about going in and trying to use my troll-Japanese. Or maybe… just maybe… fate was leading me to this place:
Where I had the best.ramen.in.my.life. Really. And only for 980 円. I pay more than that for a sloppy bowl of pasta pretending to be ramen back in my homeland. Sure, everyone in the shop was speaking Japanese only (not even a hint of english), and after ordering my Chashū Ramen I was pointed towards a piece of paper telling me about topping in kanji. To which I replied 分からない (I dont understand) and explained to the chef that I just want Chashū Ramen (it’s with pork).
Initially I wasnt going to be a tourist. But it was sooo good I felt the need to take pictures. The place was quite small, not seating more than about 8-10 people. Next to me was initially a drunk slobbering his food. Actually, here in Japan if you like the noodles you are actually supposed to slurp them. Easier said than done – it seems slurping is quite an art. And it’s tiresome.
The pork was so amazing. And the broth too. I had to stop at one point because I was soo full but I just wanted to eat more and more. There were also these little jars with chilli and crushed garlic. Heaven.
This post is part of a (fantastic, amazing, life-changing) series:
- Land of the Rising Sun (Japan #1)
- What the carp? (Japan #2)
- Of Fish and Men (Japan #3)
- Ioan dreams Sushi (Japan #4)
- Just my Luck (Japan #5)
- The Forest of Tennis (Japan #6)
- Let the drums beat! (Japan #7)
- Big fat men (Japan #8)
- Titanium (Japan #9)
- Snow Shenanigans (Japan #10)
- Sea Critters (Japan #11)
- An end to Japan (Japan #12)