Tsukiji, the Edo-Tokyo Museum, and Eel

Today Jim left and we hadn't been to the Tsukiji Fish Market, so we got up reasonably early and headed over there.  I hadn't been there before, and neither had Jen so we were excited, since it's the largest wholesale fish & seafood market in the world.  And is it!  It's huge and very easy to get lost.   We had hoped to eat some sushi while we were there, but it was super hot and all the places had lines so we ended up skipping that part.  Jen has some good pix on her Flickr but here's a few of my own, just to give an idea.

After this Jen & I went to the Edo-Tokyo Museum, which is just the history of Tokyo, or as it was previously called, Edo (pronounced ed-o).  It's very modern and neat. Here's the entrance which we thought was entrancing. 

This is the old top of the Senso-ji Kannon buddhist temple in Asakusa, or a replica. I wasn't positive.

Inside we hooked up for a guided tour in English, which was given by a woman who moved from New York to Japan more than 30 years ago.  She knew plenty, and we got a lot more out of the tour thanks to her.  Below a group did an hourly performance based on traditional dances.  We saw it twice.  Here's a sample (5 MB).

There were quite a few large displays based on the original layout of portions of Edo, and each person figurine is unique, and based on period paintings and screens such as are shown behind this display.

Usually they played a video which showed close-ups of the display so you could get a better feel for the detail they put into it.  There were binoculars there as well, which were not chained to the tables as they would have been in the US.

The museum was based on walking through history, from early years, through the Tokugawa Shogun period, to the Meiji restoration, and on through WW II and beyond.  Here they displayed a machine gun from a B29 that was shot down.

This was something I hadn't heard about.  Late in the war, they were so low on materiel that they built very large balloons out of paper, loaded them with explosives, and released them into the jet stream, hoping they would strike America.  Some of these fire balloons did make it across the Pacific and landed in Canada and in several states, with only one causing fatalities.

This was a display showing the results of the firebombing of Tokyo. While we saw plenty of displays about what happened to Tokyo and Japan in general during the war, I didn't see a lot of material about the lead-up to the war.  Maybe we just skipped those sections. 

They showed a copy of the surrender document signed in September 1945.

Afterwards we wandered around some more and headed home since our feet were killing us.  Walked by one of the many fire departments in town, which we had just learned were set up hundreds of years ago because of the frequent fire disasters that plagued the wooden construction in Tokyo.

Yesterday I featured a train schedule that showed the times trains arrive in a particular station.  Today I noted this, which shows which cars are nearest stairs, escalators, and elevators, and which side the doors open at various stations.  If you want to pay attention, you can optimize your trip.

Walking back I noticed this building which I've walked past dozens of times, but had never noticed the images of birds drawn onto the windows.  Neat!

We also walked past a neighborhood Shinto shrine which sounded like it was having a party.  I'd never seen anything going on here before, so we climbed up and saw the festivities. They were having an excellent time.

After cooling off the dogs we decided to stay nearby for dinner, and discovered that the closest restaurant to us, Nodaiwa, is featured in all the tour guides as having the best unagi (freshwater eel) in Tokyo, and only those caught in the wild.  I hadn't been there before since it wasn't on a map in my original book.  It's been there for 160 years, and is in a small house transported to the site, which intrigued us further.  So we headed across the street and got our point across.  They then asked us to follow them and they took us out of the restaurant and walked us a couple of blocks away.  We thought maybe we were being asked to leave, but in fact they have an annex building with more seating.  They had a menu that was English-based and got the point across, so I ordered the shirayaki which is just grilled with no sauce or marinade, while Jen got the eel with the usual marinade over rice.  It was superb.  Although we don't eat eel a lot, it seemed to be more flavorful than I've otherwise had.  And the price wasn't too bad either.  They have a second restaurant in Paris, so you can go there for a nearer Nodaiwa experience.  Recommended.