Japan in 10 days

Hey Everyone! Sorry it's been a little over a week since my last post. I had a couple of my family come over to visit; so we've been touring all around. We did so many crazy cool things I think I'll be dividing the experiences into a couple different posts. And several of you may recognize a couple of faces!

Poor Carrie couldn't come with us to supper the first night since she already had her c-section scheduled. But we were blessed to have Kazuyo, Akihiro's mother, along with us.
There is a museum right next to the old traditional style restaurant
And this restaurant is amazing by the photos you'll see below. Every group of people has their own house basically where they eat. And they all have huge walls of windows to see these beautiful gardens.
All the workers were dressed in yukatas for men and kimonos for women
Here we are being shown to our table :)
An example of our room from the outside
Taye, Taryn, and Ash
Tomokun heard we were going to see fireflies so he kept trying to look for them around our little house.
Later on after it got dark, all the buildings turned off the lights and the staff let fireflies loose. I've never seen such a display of fireflies. Just a little tidbit: Japanese fireflies are a little different than ones in Indiana. The ones I'm used to more or less "blink". Japanese fireflies smoothly "glow" brighter and softer.
Most of the food was really good but this fish just looked a little too much like a fish. It tasted ok but I'm definitely aware I'm not Japanese. They would eat the entire thing. I stopped at the spinal cord, eyes, and teeth.
Here's where most of our meal was. Yakiniku, is a type of meal where everyone cooks their own portions over the two hot stoves in the middle of the table. So tasty!
Good job with the fish stick (literally), Ash. Great game face!
Our yakiniku: chicken and all sorts of veggie skewers. Then right before they're done cooking, you can dip them in a special sauce and yuzu pepper before you put them back on the grill for a tad longer.
That night we took the trains into downtown tokyo and stayed at a capsule hotel. Here's a video of that experience:

The next morning we got up really early (some of us never fell asleep even) and took a taxi to the tsukiji fish market, the biggest fish market in the world. And they only let in 60 people to see the tuna auction at the beginning which is why it's important to get there so early.

They give the first 60 people bright yellow vests and we waited in a side room for about 1 hour and 30minutes before we could go see the auction.

 

Several non-vested people tried to sneak in through the line, but the guards were quick and wouldn't let anyone get through. This wouldn't be a good place to "wing it" because they definitely won't let you in without a vest.

 

And the tuna auctions (which is the best part) were right inside. They go for crazy amounts of money, especially certain kinds of tuna from up in Hokkaido. Since it was crazy and I'm only still learning Japanese I couldn't follow along with the details but it was still super interesting.

 

Like if you see the far guy in this picture, he's testing the tuna meat with some kind of axe and then most of the men rubbed it between their fingers.

 

 

 

 

Here's a video of one of the auctions:

 

And breakfast time is perfect for sushi when its the world's finest, or so the locals say. The name of this fantastic place, sushi dai.

 

 

We started waiting at 6:15am and sat down at 8:30am to have our first breakfast of sushi. Was it worth it? Well, take a look...

 

The chef was the most personable man always smiling, asking tourists questions in their native tongue, and making steady conversation with the locals.

 

It was a small shop, only allowing in 13 people at a time. And to keep the experience personal, uniquely this sushi restaurant gives one piece of sushi at a time, helping you savor every bite.

 

 

Here were several of the sashimi we tried. The ones I can remember were flounder, lean tuna, semi fatty tuna, horse mackerel, octopus, baby shrimp... But as you see below, there were many options.

 

 

So Yes! It was definitely worth it. After the delightful breakfast, we wandered out of the fish market through this sign for Tsukiji.

 

Here's the riverside of the tsukiji fish market

 

Then we went to Asakusa to fulfill our Tokyo temples and traditional goodie stores, which there were plenty of. Throughout most of our times exploring the "touristy" places, however, 80% of the people partaking of the revelry were native Japanese. It's neat they're so interested and proud of the history in their country.

 

 

A far view of Sky Tree tower, currently the world's tallest tower

 

 

A river view of the Sky Tree tower. Sadly, the tickets had been auctioned off a month ago to get in. But don't worry, after July 11 anyone can buy a ticket at the door. For now, I'll just have to wait.
A train brought us to Shibuya to see the famous Hachiko statue, the busiest intersection in the world, as well as the biggest and busiest starbucks in the world. However, the ordering space is crazy small for how big this cafe is. There is an outside ordering stand as well as inside on the first floor, then an escalator takes you up to a floor for lounging. We people watched the intersection I just mentioned. It really was the perfect place. So many people coming and going everywhere.
We stopped at Harajuku for some shopping and walked through Yoyogi park on our way to our next adventure.
 Then we took a train to Shinjuku where there is the world's biggest and busiest train station. Yes, we did take the train. We had to get the full experience of 3.64 million people per day (in 2007). After getting lost a few times, I was humbled and we took a taxi to the Park Hyatt. On the top floor there are amazing views of the city as well as a fun place to relax, especially after our long day.

 

 

 

The day was far from over as we traveled to Akito and Marie's for supper. However, again I was humbled. By that, Yes, I do mean we got lost...again. Being two hours late for supper really makes you thankful for the food. And of course, Marie was a true angel about it all.
There will be more to come of the rest of our trip...