18 May 2014
During day 3 in Japan Val and I (Ash) tried to visit Tsukiji fish market, successfully visited the Gundam on Odaiba, had a vantage of Shibuya crosswalk, and moved on to Yokohama.
Waking up extremely early we tried to visit the famous Tsukiji fish market, but it was closed on this Sunday…. so much for waking up at 4 am. We had read that Tsukiji fish market is easily accessible and you can view the trading of large Tuna fish, eat great sushi, and much else. We were very disappointed when we saw the closed sign, but made the determination to move on and try to visit it again before leaving Japan.
As we didn’t have much inclination to go back to sleep and nothing opened until 7 or 8 am we moved on to another attraction, once again it was driven by the anime I grew up watching. The famous Gundam was located on the man made island Odaiba (also known as Daiba). The artificial island was built for defensive purposes in the 1850’s but was further developed in late 1890’s as a commercial seaport and again in the 1990’s as a leisure area with commerce and residences. Our main reason for visiting the island wasn’t the fort or cannons that the island gets its name from, but for the Gundam robot, which 77,000 pounds and stands 60 feet tall outside the Odaiba shopping center. The Odaiba Mall also contains the Gundam theme park, which contains video games, large viewing area, original artwork and more from the 1980’s Mobile Suit Gundam anime. I had never seen the anime, but was fascinated that a Japanese cartoon had become so popular that a giant statue had been erected near downtown Tokyo.
We ventured on to see the famous Fuji TV Station also located on Odaiba. The TV station had been featured in such anime shows as Digimon, which is how I first come to know the interestingly designed building. After a quick pose next to the building, on we went to the mall and hopefully some yummy food.
Located on the 4th floor of the mall you can find a really nice buffet style restaurant. Instead of the meats being pre-cooked for you are provided an oil fryer in the center of your booth. You purchase per plate and then are allowed as many drinks and plates of food as you would like. It was a nice change of pace on our third day in this foreign land, as before this, we had no idea what we were eating. The only thing we could previously determine was if we liked it or not. Besides the skewers of food, you could also choose from a variety of “normal” buffet items, such as golden chicken curry and rice.
Walking back to the train station with our tummies full was very nice. I believe we had spent around 2 hours in that restaurant and at least 5-7 hours on Odaiba, but it was time to return to central Tokyo and then move on. We were getting exhausted by the fast pace of the city and our acclamation to the culture was also fatiguing, we needed a little bit of relief. But first we needed to see one last place, just in case we didn’t get another chance; we needed to see the famous Shibuya crosswalk. Shibuya crosswalk is located near Shinjuku and is known as the busiest crosswalk in the world. Arriving in Shibuya train station required a couple different transfers on our way back from Odaiba, but it was well worth it. Seeing the crosswalk from the station was breathe taking. I had originally thought that movies like “Resident Evil” had mis-represented the pedestrian crossing. All vehicle traffic is stopped, and every crossing light turns green allowing all pedestrians to cross the intersection. The crossing lasts about a minute and in that time hundreds of people have used it to continue their shopping, go back to hotels, reach work, or like me, be apart of the chaos.
As the sun started to set, we began our plans for our next urban camping experience. We wanted to leave crowded Tokyo for somewhere a little slower paced. I had heard that you could take a trip around Hakone in the Mt. Fuji area, so we began to head in that direction. Yokohama was close, easily accessible, and a great location to hopefully camp. Leaving the station we went to an area map, which luckily detailed a park that also contained a bathroom. Jackpot! Heading in that direction we located at 35°28’00.9″N 139°37’48.0″E in Yokohama Portside Park. We greatly enjoyed our time at the park as we had easy accessibility to the bathroom, had a balcony to ourselves and were able to look across the water to see Yokohama and it’s Ferris wheel all lit up. We definitely put it on our list to return to if we had a chance.