Day 7 was an early start as we had decided to head towards the Tsukiji Fish Market...we had decided that we didn't need to get up for the 520am tuna auction but that we would just visit the wholesale market which opens to the public at 9am, after most of the business has been concluded for the day.
It is certainly a sight worth seeing, but go soon. The market will move to a newly built site out of the city centre in time for the Olympics. The new market will open in 2016 and only a small retail market will remain at Tsukiji. Today the market is bustling and chaotic...with electric carts speeding up and down the alleyways of the market carrying boxes of fish. Around the edge of the market are many shops and restaurants which cater to the restaurant trade, locals and visitors. Some of the freshest sushi is to be had in the small restaurants around the market.
Warning - pictures of fish and fillets follow ;-)
A tuna block
In the market - traditional transportation.
Yellow fin tuna
After we had finished touring the market we visited a small temple nearby...and were delighted to see the offerings on display....as it was going to be year of the sheep in 2015 there were lots of little sheep .
Temple bells near Tsukiji.
After our morning wander around the market we headed over to Roppongi Hills an area of the city that was completed in 2003 and houses galleries, offices, shops and lots of nightlife. We bought bento for lunch and ate outside in the sunshine.
There are plenty of museums and galleries in the area. This is the National Art Centre which was designed by Kisho Kurokawa and opened in 2007. It houses many exhibitions each year.
Also in Roppongi is the Mori Art Museum, hosting a range of contemporary art exhibitions, located at the top of the Roppongi Hills Mori Tower. Entrance to the museum includes entrance to the Tokyo City View which provides 360 degree views of the city - and is open at night for a stunning night-time view.
Outside the museum is one of Louise Bourgeois, Maman, sculptures.
After Roppongi we headed to the centre of Tokyo for a little shopping and a walk around the park next to the Imperial Palace Gardens.
The ginkgo trees were beginning to turn yellow along the water next to the Imperial Palace Park.
That evening we went to a festival in a neighbourhood close to our hotel, the Asakusa Tori-no-ichi Fair. The tori-no-ichi festival is held at shrines and temples all over Japan on "rooster' days in November. The festival celebrates business prosperity and good luck, with offerings taking the form of rakes (decorated with lots of mini good luck symbols) - for raking in the money. Many companies visit the festival as a social event, to buy a rake that they display in their office, to ensure good business in the following year. Rumour goes that you need to buy a bigger rake each year....and believe me we saw some big rakes (kumade).
We went to the festival at the Otori-jinja Shrine in Asakusa, the most famous venue for the festival. Alongside the stalls selling rakes were plenty of food stalls. It was very busy and with narrow streets full of people and stalls it was easy to get disoriented. We did finally find the temple where people take their rakes to get blessed.
A rake so large it took 2 men to lift it.
The Otori-jinja Shrine where many people were queueing to ring the temple bell and to get their kumade blessed.
There was a small display of some old/traditional kumade in the midst of all the stalls selling the modern versions.
There are many festivals throughout the year across Japan and it is definitely worth trying to visit at least one.