Day 1 (1/2).
Our flight landed in Tokyo Haneda at around 6am. Before our next flight to Hokkaido’s Memanbetsu Airport at noontime, we had a few hours to spare in the Japanese capital. Tsuyu (梅雨), the rainy season in Japan, was in full force in mid June. Given the proximity to the city centre, we wouldn’t want to miss the chance of revisiting Tokyo. We took the monorail and then transferred to the metro heading for Tsukiji Market. 40 minutes was all it took to reach Tsukiji. It was pouring when we came out the metro at the Kabuki-za Theatre (歌舞伎座) exit. We followed Google Map to make our way into the quiet lanes near the outer market.
Opened in 1935, the 83-year-old market has officially moved to the new Toyosu Market (豊洲市場) in October 2018. With no intention to watched a tuna auction behind glass or checked out seafood and produce stores in a brand new shopping centre like setting, we preferred to revisit the old market at Tsukiji, where the Outer Market remained open for business. At the market, generations of social interactions have developed a strong sense of community. The chaotic turret traffic at the inner market, desperate tourists cramped in long lines for an early sashimi breakfast, cafes serving simple coffee on dark wood counters, street food stalls along busy lanes and covered alleyways, the spirit and ambience of the old market have drawn us back to Tsukiji again and again. This time around, our Tsukiji experience took us to a craft coffee shop, a back lane sushi eatery and a historical Shinto shrine.
Miraitowa (future and eternity) and Someity (calm and powerful), the two official mascot of 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, greeted all visitors at the arrival lobby of Haneda Airport.
Turret COFFEE, a popular hub for everyone in Tsukiji who love coffee, offered us a decent dose of caffeine to start the day.
We came just in time to be the first few customers at Turret.
The cafe decor was simple and the coffee was aromatic and good.
Named after the 3-wheel cart that once roamed in the lanes of Tsukiji Market, a real “turret” was placed in the centre of the coffee shop as display and also seating.
Kitsuneya Beef Rice, one of the most popular eateries in the entire outer market, offers visitors a decent alternative to seafood.
For many, leaving Tsukiji Market without picking up several pieces of tuna toro sashimi would be a big regret.
We ended up sitting down at a small sushi eatery in a covered alleyway.
Despite relocation of the inner market, the sushi at Tsukiji Outer Market was equally fresh as before.
Today’s uni (sea urchin): Hamanaka (浜中), Uchiura Bay (噴火湾), Akkeshi (厚岸), Nemuro (根室), Rebun (礼文), and Nemuro (根室). Even looking at the names of the five fishing villages in Hokkaido would wet our appetite.
Before returning to the airport, we made a stop at Namiyoke Inari Jinja (波除稲荷神社), the unofficial guardian shrine of Tsukiji Market.
Built in 1659, the Shinto shrine dedicates to Inari (稲荷大神), the god of fertility, rice, tea, sake, agriculture. The Namiyoke Inari Jinja (波除稲荷神社) was specifically aimed to ward off disasters and diminish incoming waves.
The 1-ton Yakuyoke Tenjo Dai-Shishi male lion is one of the main features of the shrine. During Tsukiji Lion Festival on June 10th, the lion head would parade across the Tsukiji along with the red female lion head.
The 0.7 ton female lion head is slightly lighter than the male, but equally impressive. After coffee, sushi, and Shinto shrine, we took our time to return to Haneda Airport for the flight to Memanbetsu in Hokkaido.