I am a regular watcher of NHK World and really enjoy Tokyo Eye 2020. Earlier in the year I caught an episode about Tokyo Free Guide, a service of volunteers who show travellers around Tokyo. I thought it might be a good way to see Tokyo with a local and handy to have someone who speaks the language.
Our first guide was Akiko and we had requested to go to Tsukiji fish market, Asakusa and to see some crafts people. We had wanted to go to Ryogoku to see sumo, but the Tokyo season had finished and the Tournaments were elsewhere in Japan.
Akiko met us at our hotel and we walked over to Tsukiji, a short walk of around 10 minutes. We first looked through the Outer Market which has restaurants and shops selling everything from matsutake mushrooms to nori to knives.
The restaurants are always busy and there are queues of people waiting to get in. These photos were taken around 915am.
Before we entered the fish market proper, we headed over to Namiyoke Inari Shrine (which means “protection from waves”). This is the unofficial guardian shrine of Tsukiji Market. The shrine is home to two giant Lion Heads that are over 150 years. These get paraded about at the annual Namiyoke Shishi Matsuri in June. There are also monuments erected by the merchants, wholesalers and other businesses involved at the fish market. These monuments give thanks for the bounty of the sea and land and include monuments to eggs, chickens, shrimp, shrimp used for tempura, fish used for sushi and sashimi, shrimp used for sushi and more. It is an interesting little shrine.
Then it was time to head into the inner market. Always amazing to see what they have at the markets….
After the seafood area a quick look in to the fruit and vegetable market.
Then it was time to walk over to Hamarikyu Onshi Teien to catch our boat up the Sumida Gawa(Sumida RIver) to Asakusa. This was my first time on the Sumida Gawa and gave a new perspective to this amazing city.
After alighting the boat we took a short walk to our lunch destination Hanabou in Asakusa. Located beside the river, Hanabou is a small space that seats around 20 and is cosy and intimate. Service was wonderful as was the food.
There were several options of set course available and we went with the ¥1000 one. I can remember some of what we ate, tamago, gingko nuts, baby fish, yam, konyakku, cucumber, eggplant, pumpkin, baby corn, turnip, capsicum, tomato, tofu, mackerel, seaweed.
This was accompanied by mushroom rice and miso.
A delicious dessert of black sesame pudding with dumplings
After lunch we headed back to the main area of Asakusa around Senso Ji. Sadly the rain had set in so we didn’t get a good look around Nakamise Dori and Senso Ji. We headed to a lantern maker to see them working and then to the Edo Shitamachi Traditional Crafts Museum. A great little museum that showcase the traditional crafts of the area. An amazing array of crafts with only a couple of female “masters”.
One traditional craft that caught my eye was the very fine and petite bamboo fishing rods. They were so thin and broke down in to such a small bundle that it is hard to imagine actually being able to catch anything with them.
Back in to the cold and a quick search for some scarves for Mum and I, then a stroll through the covered arcades of Asakusa, where we saw many interesting shops, including one that sold brushes of all sorts from makeup brushes to household brushes and everything in between. Cute shoe brushes in the shape of animals were on display outside.
We also passed an Owl Cafe where there was a lovely owl out the front very tame, but very wrong too.
Then it was time to say good bye to our wonderful guide Akiko and head our own way back to Shidome.
We would like to thank Tokyo Free Guide service for providing us with our great guide.