Japan is beautiful in January … and every other month!
築地市場 (Tsukiji Fish Market) in Tsukiji, Tokyo is the world’s busiest fish market.
Early in the morning, the workers in the market are quickly running around busy getting the fresh catch from the fishing vessels to the auction in the back of the market.
The seafood needs to get from the ocean to the restaurants and stores quickly while it’s fresh. So, the market is full of staff moving around quickly on foot and carts.
It’s a place of business, not a tourist attraction.
The people there are workers doing their job…not putting on a show.
But, the Tsukiji Fish Market has become a popular destination for foreign visitors to Tokyo.
Especially the early morning fish auction.
Even many of the famous celebrities who have visited Tokyo visited Tsukiji Market.
Foreign tourists didn’t used to pose a problem…before the internet when many people didn’t know about this market. Back then there were relatively few people checking out the market and the auction…so the workers didn’t mind them coming to look, taking a photo or two and going for “sushi breakfast” after the auction at one of the nearby 24-hour sushi restaurants that serve extremely fresh sashimi.
I have visited the market and auction a couple times as a “tour guide” to visitors to Tokyo.
But now, the internet has made this market very well-known outside of Japan and many visitors to Tokyo make plans to see it.
The problem is, though, the embarrassing behavior of a growing number of tourists at the market.
Twice so far, the market has set temporary bans to foreign visitors due to rude behavior such as arriving in a dangerous condition (ie: intoxicated, wearing high heels, bringing babies).
As I mentioned above, Tsukiji Market isn’t a tourist attraction…it’s a busy work site. No place for drunk people, high heels or babies.
Also, a number of tourists smoke cigarettes near the seafood…and some have even taking liberties such handling the fish.
The market was most recently closed to visitors just last month. Many of the workers would like it to stay that way…but the Japanese government wants more tourists from overseas to visit Japan, so they can’t keep the market off-limits to visitors indefinitely since it’s so popular.
So the ban to visitors was lifted yesterday…but with a few new regulations.
Now, anyone who wants to see the fish auction must check in with the information desk and be given a special green vest.
Only two groups of 70 people each will be permitted to enter the auction area each day. And they must stay with a roped-off area.
Also, there are many signs up in different languages that says things such as “No Flash Photography“, “No Smoking” and “No Touching The Fish Or Seafood“.
Yesterday was the first day that visitors were re-allowed into the market with the new rules…but already every rule was broken at least once!
Someone went into the auction without a green vest, some people walked past the ropes, many people took photos with flash, some people touched the fish and some people were caught smoking.
I know that most people behave appropriately when they visit another country…but the ones that don’t embarrass the rest of us!
「ようこそジャパン」 (Yokoso Japan!) means “Welcome to Japan!“, and is the Japan National Tourism Organization‘s official slogan of their campaign to attract foreign visitors to Japan.
Here are some of their Yokoso Japan! campaign ads.
Most of the scenes in this first one are of Tokyo (there are a few shots of Osaka, etc…but most of it is Tokyo):
These show many parts of Japan:
Do they make you want to visit this beautiful country?
We went to two festivals. One was on Sunday (at this post) and the other one was yesterday.
The event that we went to yesterday wasn’t really a festival but more of a ceremony.
It was the 草鹿式 (Archery Ceremony) at 靖国神社 (Yasukuni Shrine).
The literal translation of 草鹿式 would be “Grass deer ceremony“. This is because the archers, wearing traditional outfits and speaking in traditional 日本語 (Japanese), shoot arrows at a stuffed deer. Not a real deer…a fake one.
The arrows don’t have arrowheads so that they can use the target deer every year.
Like 相撲 (Sumo), this event has alot of ritual and tradition that is done before each shooting.
Here are a few photos I took:
Here are some videos:
Because 靖国神社 (Yasukuni Shrine) is where all who have died fighting for Japan are enshrined, it attracts Japan’s right-wing extremists.
But they are a minority. Most visitors to 靖国神社 (Yasukuni Shrine) are just like visitors to war memorials in other countries…only there to honor the sacrifice and the memories of soldiers who died in battle. (See an earlier post I wrote about 靖国神社 (Yasukuni Shrine) here).
After we left there, we went to the nearby 昭和館 (Showa-kan).
The 昭和時代 (Showa Period) in Japan was when the current Emperor’s father was alive and was Emperor. The 昭和館 (Showa-kan) is a museum that focuses on how life in Japan was during and just after World War 2.
I couldn’t take any pictures inside but it was very interesting. Japan has changed alot since then and there were many hardships back then. But some things, like the food that Japanese people eat, is still quite the same.
The museum’s website is here (日本語 (Japanese) only).
Over the years I have seen many American celebrites do television commercials in Japan. (Kinda like in that overrated movie “Lost In Translation“. (I thought that was a painfully boring movie…but some people, it seems, liked it alot. C’est La Vie. Did you like it?)).
Tommy Lee Jones has been making humorous commercials for Boss Coffee for awhile now.
Most of the American celebrities just say a few lines in English or they may say a couple words of Japanese…but they usually slaughter the language if they do. Tommy Lee Jones speaks Japanese pretty good in his commercials though.
From there, we walked past the 日本武道館 (Nippon Budokan Arena). Along the walk, I took these pictures:
On the way home, we stopped for a break at the Lotteria Fast Food Restaurant. We ate dinner at home, but just took a “coffee break”. They sell Japanese style snacks…Green Tea Shake, and An-bean and mochi pastries. So we had one each.