Thursday was a big day for us! We woke up early and went to the Tsujiki fish market. The earlier you get there, the better. It was around 11 by the time we arrived via metro, so it wasn’t as lively as I hoped. It was also pouring rain, so I spent most of the time trying to dodge other people with umbrellas!
We wandered through the alleys and looked at all of the fresh fish. There weren’t too many street vendors, so we popped into a cafe for a latte while we decided where to get breakfast. I had wanted to try “fish bread” the entire trip, so Joe tried to find a place. I had read about this on the internet and posted about it before I came – basically it is a pastry in the shape of a fish! We walked down the street to a local shop, but realized it was closed. We planned to go across town to another shop that was open… but I wanted to see the nearby wealthy shopping area of Ginza before we left that neighborhood. While we were walking there, we stumbled upon the traditional Kabuki theater!
Kabuki is a style of theater known for intense drama and crazy makeup! I had read about it online and its one of the top tourist attractions in Tokyo. Tickets for an entire show are pretty expensive and each performance lasts 3-4 hours. Luckily, I had read that you can buy single act tickets for $20 that only last around 1 hour. I mentioned this to Joe and we walked over to check out the performance times. It turned out a performance was just getting ready to start in 45 minutes! We purchased tickets and set off to wander around Ginza to kill time. By now it was 2pm and I still hadn’t eaten breakfast, so I popped into a little cafe. I was on a time crunch, so I picked two items from the bakery that looked intriguing. The first was a shrimp and egg croissant. I thought the second item was a meatball wrapped in spaghetti…. but it turned out to be a ball of fudgey icing wrapped in more icing!
We quickly went to the show where we were given a run down of the rules – no photos, no talking, no standing! The show was pretty interesting. It was entirely in Japanese, so I have no clue what happened. All I could gather was that a powerful man killed a woman, her dog, and a servant and was then banned from the city. It was pretty slow… most of the action in the plot happened in the last 15 minutes. I’ll admit, I almost fell asleep quite a few times!
After the show, we had to get back to Shinjuku to go to the Robot Restaurant! This was featured on Anthony Bourdain’s TV show so we HAD to go. It is a 2 hour long show of pure insanity! We had no idea what to expect, other than a fantastic light show and lots of robots!
We entered the lobby and were blown away. It was so gaudy and there was a man in a robot costume playing some great jazz music. We ordered a couple beers and hung out while we waited for the show to begin.
I was surprised the show had a plot! A planet of animals and humans had to defend their peaceful nature against invading robots. Each act featured epic battle scenes between giant robots and animatronic dinosaurs. There were a couple musical acts, too! It was pure entertainment and constant sensory overload. I definitely recommend it!
I was disappointed the show had to end – it was a lot of fun! We only had drinks during the show, so we headed to Harajuku for some Japanese BBQ. This was ANOTHER 30 minute metro ride, so we were starving. We decided to stop off at a fish bread shop so I could finally try it – and it was amazing! I had expected a fluffy bread with barely any filling, but this was the opposite. The bread was crispy and the sweet black bean filling was overflowing. It was delicious. I wanted to go back another day, too, but we never made it!
We continued on our way to Seiko-En where we splurged and ordered a giant prix fixe dinner! I was seriously amazed at how many amazing courses there were. However, the meal got off on a rough start. Once we told the waiter that we wanted the prix fixe dinner, he said “Okay okay, go to bar.” And kept motioning for us to get up. So we figured we were being relocated. We picked up our stuff and walked over to the lobby where he was motioning. Then, he looked visibly frustrated and called over someone who spoke better English. This man said “It is time for salad bar. You do not have to move seats. Do you want to move??” We said no and went back to the table to put our jackets down. So confusing!
We had full access to an amazing salad bar that was stocked with so many vegetables I have never seen! I loved my delicious salad. Soon, additional veggies were brought out for us to nibble on… including kimchi, seaweed, and other side items. The next course was raw beef sushi. It was very interesting and surprisingly delicious! Not at all what I thought raw beef would taste like… but it was cut very thin so it was easy to chew.
The next course also presented problems for us. It was a plate of shrimp, chicken, and pork. Since the last course was eaten raw, we began to eat this one without any thought. We were chewing on raw pork when I looked around and realized everyone else was grilling their meat on the giant grill in the center of the table. It became clear that’s what we were supposed to do! I didn’t want to be rude and spit it out, so I chewed and chewed and chewed. Raw meat is surprisingly difficult to eat!
The next courses were soup, rice, and green tea ice cream. All was delicious! We left the restaurant with full bellies and went back to Shinjuku to go to an elusive whisky bar. When we showed up, the bartender said “We are full but wait 2 minutes, someone is leaving!” and slammed the door in our faces. It was a small space with only 10 seats and 1 bartender. He has a reputation for being gruff. While we were waiting, several other people tried to walk in and were turned away and told they couldn’t wait. A bar with no waiting room – what a concept! You show up and if there aren’t any seats, you must leave! We saw a man attempt 3 separate times 45 minutes apart to enter and he was turned away each time. We got lucky!
Joe ordered a flight of Hibiki, a Japanese whisky. We ended up talking to an American who was an engineer for Apple! He had been in China for work and popped over to Japan for a quick visit. We hit it off and he invited us to his Japanese friend’s bar. It was a lot of fun and we ended up all getting ramen at 3am – another late night abroad!