Let’s hop on a subway and head to Tsukiji Fish Market, the kitchen of Tokyo, which provides various kinds of goods from fresh fish to groceries. It’s great experience to have fresh sushi at a sushi restaurant but at lunch time, you will see a long line of people waiting to enter their favorite sushi restaurants. There are more than 350 sushi shops in this market place. If you do not have a shop list, there is no worry about it; the length of the line will be the measure how the shop is popular.
Once you enter a sushi restaurant, you will be welcomed by the energetic greeting “Irasshai (thank you for your coming)!!” of ITAMAE chef. The taste of fresh fish is absolutely the main attraction, but another thing is their authentic cooking technique the chef shows just in front of you. When you have a seat at the counter, they will put a leaf of bamboo and a pinch of ginger, called gari. Ginger had a role to kill bacteria when raw fish were apt to be rotten easily in an Edo era, 350 years ago.
After enjoying meal, I recommend to walk around the market for haragonashi (work off your meal). You will find a small shrine named Namiyoke Inari, just close to the gate of fish market.
Namiyoke Inari Shrine was built in 1659 (Edo era). About 350 years ago, the surroundings of Tsukiji Market was still a sea, and Tokugawa shogunate was struggling to reclaim land from the sea, and make it into a flat ground.
They tried to construct an embankment many times, however, they failed to complete this construction due to the strong waive attacking this water area. One day, people noticed something bright floating on the surface of sea, and found this was an object of “Inari” the god of the harvest. They constructed one shrine displaying this god, and made a big festivity.
Surprisingly, heavy waive and wind stopped and people succeeded in completing a construction of the embankment. Ever since this event happened until now, this shrine has been worshipped by many people as the god that prevents difficulty and overcomes troubles. Nowadays, tourists and local people visit here to pray for prosperity, the safety of construction, and protection from evil etc.
After giving a pray for Inari, walk around the outer fish market. You will notice that they sell not only food but also groceries, dishes and ceramics. You will encounter unique designed sake cup suitable for Japanese liquor. Each piece is available in or less than YEN1, 000, and this will be a good souvenir for your friend.
Tsukiji Fish Market is located in the bay area of Shiodome, very close to Ginza and Shimbashi area, the center of Tokyo. If you have an occasion to visit Tokyo during your trip to Japan, it is highly recommendable to add this to your visit list. You will find your own attraction once you stop by there.