Jared Ning


The Fellowship of the Ring of Fire, Part 14: Tokyo


Back in Tokyo, the difference between the 2 cities became even more obvious. Tokyo is a metropolis in every sense of the word. It is divided into 23 wards. It seemed that every one that we visited had its own "Times Square". The subway hubs are as busy as any in the world.

My favorite place was Roppongi Hills. It is the art center of Tokyo. We went to Roppongi's Mori Tower, easily the tallest building in the area. At the top is one of the best art museums I have ever been to. It's not huge, but big enough, and excellently curated. The building also provides a grand view of Tokyo from the top.

Nearby is an area called Akihabara. It's known for electronics. The centerpiece is the main store. It's about twice the size of a Best Buy, and then multiplied by 9 floors. It's hectic, but lots of fun if you're into anything that requires a battery.

The best food we had on our trip was in Japan. We went to a couple Ramen restaurants. Delicious. We had udon I don't know how many times. My favorite was the chilled udon. Back above the equator, we were clearly in summer again. And being on an island, the humidity was draining. So while the ramen was good, it was better at night when we weren't melting in the sun. We also had deep fried pork cutlets, very popular here. But of course, nothing was as good as the sushi.

Ever since we left home for this trip, we've seen sushi just about everywhere. But we were disciplined enough to stay away from it until we got to Japan. I would say that about 1/3 of our meals in Japan were sushi. Even the "bad" sushi that came on conveyor belts was still pretty good. In Kyoto, our first sushi was eye-rollingly delicious. Good thick cuts at room temperature, melt in your mouth, yum. However, my attention was pulled away for a moment when a waitress brought something to a nearby table. 2 giant oysters. They were the size of a small pineapple. Regrettably, it was the end of our meal, and I thought we could find them somewhere else. I was wrong, so I didn't get to try it.

The best sushi we had was probably the sushi we ate after visiting the Tokyo fish market. It's mind boggling how much fish passes through here almost every day. And the kinds of seafood, not just fish, is equally impressive. It spans several buildings, and I'm sure there's places we didn't see. It's an entire complex. It's really nice that they let tourists in. I wouldn't say it's tourist-friendly because it's clearly a 100% working environment, and they're just nice enough to let us see what goes on from the inside. As long as you stay out of the way as best you can, you'll survive. Even still, you're bound to get in somebody's way because you're right in the thick of things. But I've found that Japanese people are extremely gracious. We slowed down several workers by clogging walkways, but I can't think of a single one who didn't give us a smile and go about their business.