Japan Day 2: Sashimi, Skytree & Sakura

Our second day in Tokyo is all about discovering what made Japan famous. Out of the three days I spent in Tokyo, this is my most memorable due to the breadth and depth of experience that the metropolis has to offer.

We started the day like how every other good Japanese tourists would, by hitting the smelly fish market of Tsukiji. It’s bizarre when such an everyday-life place becomes an iconic attraction, but this is Japan we’re talking about!

It’s one of the world’s biggest fish market, and walking along the market reveals the busy atmosphere of trucks hurrying around, buyers and sellers negotiating over the fresh catch of the day. Some people would even drop by at 3 am (or 1 am at peak season) just to watch the now-iconic tuna auction, but we’re not quite THAT crazy yet.

Instead, we had some beauty sleep and only hit the market at around 7.30 am, just in time for breakfast. Even then, the queues were ridiculously long, especially in top sushi restaurants like Sushi Dai (寿司大) and Daiwa Sushi (大和寿司). But shhhh… here’s a little secret. It doesn’t quite matter where you eat, any eatery in Tsukiji offers fresh and tasty fishes all the same!

Tsukiji Fish Market, Tokyo, Japan

So we went inside one of the “relatively” quiet restaurant—though by “relatively” I meant at least a 20-minute wait but that still beats the hours and hours some are willing to invest standing in line on the other eateries—and guess what… it’s still one of the most delicate piece of raw fish I have ever had the pleasure to put inside my mouth.

Tsukiji Fish Market, Tokyo, Japan

Some other delicacies are just equally impeccable. Like, who would have guessed fried salmon can have such a detailed taste? And the oysters… oh my, the oysters… just look at that.

Tsukiji Fish Market, Tokyo, Japan

It goes without saying that no visit to Japan is is complete without tasting the authentic sashimi and sushi—it’s where they are originally born, after all. Book a visit to Tsukiji Fish Market and Sushi Workshop here.

From there, we brisk-walked through the high-end district of Ginza (iconic too if you’re a shopaholic, which I’m not) to Tokyo Skytree.

Tokyo Skytree, Tokyo, Japan

Now, Tokyo Skytree is a beast. Just the second tallest structure ever built on Earth, next to Dubai‘s Burj Khalifa. It literally stretches to the sky.

Having visited both Tokyo Skytree and Burj Khalifa, I’d personally say that Tokyo Skytree impresses me more. As you went up to the top and look back down, the view is nothing short of spectacular. If there was ever a concrete jungle anywhere in the world, Tokyo definitely qualifies. We’re talking about the world’s largest metropolitan area, after all.

Tokyo as seen from Tokyo Skytree, Tokyo, Japan

Make sure you don’t miss out on this sight. Book a Tokyo Skytree & Asakusa Tour here.

We then continue to Asakusa where street foods are a-plenty. The street gradually leads us to Sensoji Temple.

Sensoji Temple, Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan

Japan love their red very much, don’t they?

Sensoji Temple, Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan

Sensoji is easily one of Tokyo’s most popular temples. In between locals going there for prayers and tourists snapping their requisite shots, and lots of good eats in between, there’s no wonder why it’s such a star. Of course, having a gorgeous red pagoda on top of it doesn’t hurt.

Sensoji Temple, Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan

Next is my personal favorite.

Shinjuku Gyoen, Tokyo, Japan

Shinjuku Gyoen bursts in colors during springtime, and is without a doubt the best place in Tokyo for hanami (cherry blossom watching). Read The Ultimate Guide to Japanese Cherry Blossom: When & Where for more details.

Shinjuku Gyoen, Tokyo, Japan

This park is home to thousands of over a dozen varieties of cherry trees, including early and late blooming types, which makes it a nearly-guaranteed sakura viewing spot!

Shinjuku Gyoen, Tokyo, Japan

I’m not usually a fan of flowers, but still I fell under its spell! I’ve simply never seen so much flowers in my life before!

Shinjuku Gyoen, Tokyo, Japan

Shortly, we moved to Tokyo Imperial Palace, located on the former site of Edo Castle which ruled Japan between 1603-1867. It sits nicely and surrounded by bodies of water. If you have a little time, it’s good to walk around the palace’s garden.

Tokyo Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Japan

Late afternoon, we crossed by the Zojoji Temple area. It’s not originally planned for a visit, but the juxtaposition of the temple with Tokyo Tower creates a very interesting image that is unmistakably Japan.

Tokyo Tower as seen from Zojoji Temple, Tokyo, Japan

Zojoji Temple is my personal favorite temple in Tokyo. Often overlooked and generally quieter, it’s a beautiful spot with plenty to offer. It’s also bursting with cherry blossom when we visited.

Zojoji Temple, Tokyo, Japan

And the sight of Tokyo Tower as it hits the sunset is breathtaking!

Tokyo Tower, Tokyo, Japan

And the view when it finally lights up is divine. Don’t. Miss. It.

Tokyo Tower as seen from Zojoji Temple, Tokyo, Japan

Nighttime, we headed to Odaiba. There are many interesting architectures worth a look at this area, such as Fuji Terebi. This futuristic-looking building is the headquarter of Fuji Television, one of Japan’s private, nationwide TV stations.

Fuji Terebi, Odaiba, Tokyo, Japan

And the Rainbow Bridge, though unfortunately it was a simple white color. We soon learned it’s rainbow-lit only at certain times of the year.

Rainbow Bridge, Odaiba, Tokyo, Japan

Odaiba is quite an entertainment and shopping district, so it is definitely best visited during the night. The area around Diver City Tokyo with its huge Gundam structure is the highlight.

Gundam, Diver City, Odaiba, Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo is so colorful with plenty to offer. More of a nature lover, I do not usually sing my praises around modern cities, but Tokyo defied my expectations and I was pleasantly charmed. Well played, Tokyo… well played.

What are your favorite attractions in Tokyo?

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