Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Tsukiji Market Atmospheric Photos

Tsukiji Market specializes in fish and other seafoods, but it also has a lot of character that comes from being an old establishment.  When it moves to its new location, you can bet that much of the character of the market will be lost.  From the inner fish market to the outer market with shops and restaurants, here are a few interesting photos I took of small things.
Photographing tuna cutting.
Octopus up close.
One of their little carts that hauls around boxes of fish.
A boiling kettle and pots.
Old biycyles
Bonito shavings.
Tamago shrine.
Parked bikes.
Old weigh scales.
Back of a building.

I've only been to Tsukiji twice and there is always something interesting to see if you keep your eyes open.  Interesting views abound and there are also all the different types of snacks and foods you can eat in the outer market.  There is tamago omlettes on a stick, tempura, sushi, even the original Yoshinoya beef bowl restaurant.  All this is probably going to change in the future so enjoy it now.

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Sunday, May 27, 2018

Tokyo Dome and Ultraman

We were up early one morning to see Koishikawa Korakuen Garden.  Afterwards we went over to the Tokyo Dome where the Yomiuri Giants baseball team plays.  There were no crowds around when we were there, but we did have a look at the Tokyo Dome City Theme Park from the outside and an Ultraman statue.  A nifty little area to walk around in for a bit, but not much to do unless you want to visit the theme park or see a baseball game.  We just happened to be heading to the nearby train station to head back towards central Tokyo.
Tokyo Dome from Koishikawa Korakuen Garden
The stadium is huge.
Tokyo Dome does look pretty cool from the outside with the big glass roofed promenade around part of it.
Ultraman promotional event, ULTRA HEROES EXPO 2018.  Of course I had my picture taken with him.
The ferris wheel at the theme park.
This is a big roller coaster.
That's pretty much all I had for the Tokyo Dome area.  I was mainly passing through, but I believe there is also a larger Shonen Jump Store at the shopping area by the stadium.

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Saturday, May 26, 2018

Sensoji Temple and Nakamise Dori

Sensoji Temple is Tokyo's oldest temple and the major attraction in the Asakusa area.  This large Buddhist temple dates back to 645 AD and is dedicated to the bodhisattva Kannon. There are also Shinto Shrines adjacent to the temple and the very popular Nakamise shopping street for traditional goods and souvenirs.  This shrine has over 30 million visitors every year and hosts Tokyo's most popular festival, the Sanja Matsuri in late spring.
Cherry blossoms with the five-story pagoda at Sensoji.
Visiting the temple is an experience that is different by night and day.  People are praying and burning incense from morning until evening.  During the day (after 11 AM) the area is bustling with shopping activity and tourists.  At night, when the shops close, it is very atmospheric and you can get a more intimate experience around the temple grounds.

Giant paper lantern or chochin at the Kaminarimon Gate.
Most people enter the temple areas from the south through the impressive Kaminarimon or Thunder Gate.  This gate has a massive paper lantern which everyone has their picture taken with.  This iconic symbol of Askakusa has the words for Kaminarimon written on it.  The lantern is huge with a height of  four metres, a width of over three metres, and a weight of almost 700 kilograms.  This lantern is replaced every ten years or so as it is made of paper and is even collapsible.  Do look for the dragon on the underside of the lantern too!

On either side of the lantern are two Shinto gods; Raijin, the god of thunder, is on the west side; Fujin, the god of wind is on the east side.  I have a real soft spot for these two gods as they are both imposing, impressive, and some of the first god statues I saw in Japan.  After passing through the gate you are on Nakamise-dori and run a block long gauntlet of shops and food stalls.  Even further along to the north, you then pass through Hozomon Gate to the main temple grounds.
TOP: Kaminarimon Gate with giant paper lantern.  Bottom: the Hozomon Gate or Treasure House Gate with three lanterns.
Raijin, God of Thunder with his drums.  This is a figure I bought in Akihabara - part of the Figma Lineup
Fujin, God of Wind with his big bag of wind.  This is a figure I bought in Akihabara - part of the Figma Lineup
Hozomon detail.
TOP: Hozomon  BOTTOM: Main temple building.
Main temple grounds and the main temple building.

Wandering around the grounds of the temple at night is very atmospheric and you can get some great photos of the lit up buildings.  It is usually quite quiet and peaceful here.  You can get your fortune here by drawing sticks or omikuji.  I've drawn bad luck a lot here so I've tied off the bad luck and pretty much stopped drawing here after a couple of different visits.
Skytree from the temple grounds.  Hozomon on the right.
Main temple building.
Paper lanterns and vending machines.
Five-story pagoda on the temple grounds.

The temple is well worth a visit, and Nakamise-dori is an amazing shopping street that gets piles of Japanese tourists as well as foreign tourists.  You'll find everything from traditional crafts, food souvenirs, and even anime goods for sale here.  There are many food stalls here too and you can get grilled rice crackers, takoyaki, etc.  Nearby the temple, the area is surrounded by shopping streets.  You can get first class curry pan (curry bread), taiyaki (fish shaped pastries filled with red bean, chocolate, etc.).  This is a fun place to wander and shop.
TOP:Nakamise-dori shopping street.  BOTTOM:A shopping street just off the temple grounds going west.
Wind chimes for sale.
Taiyaki pastries.
Souvenirs for sale.
Grilled sembei crackers.
Buddhas and the Skytree
Covered shopping arcade in the area.
A vending machine for drinks if everything is closed at night!

Asakusa Visitors Center right across the street from the Kaminarimon Gate.  Do visit here for information or to enjoy the view from their top floor viewing deck (it is free).
View from the visitors center viewing deck of Sensoji and Nakamise-dori.
View of Tokyo Skytree from viewing deck.

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Monday, May 21, 2018

100 Hours Curry Shop, European Curry Cup Noodle

This is a limited edition curry cup noodle made by Sapporo Ichiban under the supervision of the 100 Hours Curry Shop.  The rich, curry soup stock is made in a European style with a dark roux using their spices, pork, beef, and vegetables.  European style means the roux is made of Indian style spices combined with a European type stew base.  100 Hours won the Kanda Curry Grand Prix curry festival competition in 2014 and again in 2016 so the restaurant has some bragging rights.  This V2 winner cup was released in January of 2018.
Front of the cup.
Going to a festival of curry restaurants actually sounds pretty appealing to me as there would be so much delicious curry to sample.  Without going to Tokyo for this festival, or visiting the restaurant, tasting this cup noodle is the next best thing. Link to Kanda Curry Festival.
A spice packet was glued to the lid of the cup.
The lid of the cup.  The big red letters proclaim this to be the V2 Winner for 100 Hours.  Note the victory laurel wreath around the rim of the cup.
Closeup of the front of the cup.
The colors used in the packaging of this cup is kind of interesting.  There is plenty of gold or yellow to indicate something deluxe or a winner.  The base colour is a conservative brown to indicate earthy or solidness and the darkness of the curry roux.  The mix of fonts and text made this a pretty busy looking package.  Even with the information overload, the photo of the curry noodles and the carrots and green onions in the dark roux does stand out, so you know what you are getting. 
Another view of the front.
Happy winners of the Kanda Grand Prix.
Information about 100 Hours restaurant.
Ingredients and nutritional information.
Inside the cup.
There was a good bit of curry roux mix, that was broken up into smaller bits so they would dissolve easier.  Mixed in were bits of green onion and dehydrated carrot.  You can see that the noodles are a nice golden colour and are quite wide.
Closeup of the dried ingredients.
Added the extra spice to jazz up the broth.
I added the boiling water to the fill line for the cup and let the ingredients and noodles rehydrate.  With curry noodles you have to really stir the noodles and soup to make sure all the curry powder is dissolved properly.  There was a good curry smell that came from the soup, but it wasn't as strong as I expected.
The rehydrated noodles.
The curry broth in this noodle cup was quite tasty.  I was surprised that the broth was thinner than I expected, but it went very well with the noodles.  I'd say that this curry had a more savory flavour profile with a light heat to it.  The noodles were nice and chewy, but I did wish there were some more green onions and carrot present.  Overall, this was a pretty good cup of noodle and I got to experience a little about what a winning curry could taste like.
Closeup of the noodles.

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