By Patrick G. Jordan, viola
Yesterday was our day free of performing obligations, and people headed off to do all manner of things. Some people went swan-boating at Ueno Park. Several people ended up at the Senso-ji Temple in Asakusa. There was an impromptu trip to the Toho Conservatory, which was about 3km from our hotel in Chofu. There were several separate excursions to the Tsukiji Fish Market. Judging by the purchases of my colleagues, Tafelmusik has single-handedly kept the knife-makers of Japan in business for another day.
Not for reed making! Photo by Marco Cera
Every morning in Chofu, I had breakfast at the Chat Noire, part of a chain of cafes/breakfast/snack restaurants. It is kind of nice to have one routine thing when on the road, and each morning I stopped by the front desk of the hotel to take advantage of the free wi-fi, download mail and load the NY Times news, and then off to the café. Yesterday I skipped the pre-breakfast walk since I thought I might do some walking during the day; this proved to be a good move. At 10:00, John Abberger and I set off for the fish market.
Once, years ago, I got up very early and saw a part of the morning fish auction at Tsukiji. It starts at 5:00, and is usually done by 8:30-9:00. The outdoor market around the Wholesale Market building is teeming with shops selling everything imaginable to do with the preparation of fish and running businesses associated with that, ranging from knives to pickles to rubber boots. Markets are a fascinating slice of daily life in any city, and given my personal preoccupation with food, this one is a must-visit every time I’m here. And surprise of surprises, it was lunch-time after a bit. We looked for a particular place we had been before, but either couldn’t locate it, or it was no longer there. We did find a place, deep in the insides of one of the market buildings, which looked good, and didn’t have too much of a line-up. It was amazing. We both had the chef’s selection for the day, about 10 pieces, and after a couple of bites, John and I both had the reaction that we wanted to eat the next piece, but also didn’t want to because then it would be gone…. Fortunately, we both chose to eat it rather than have it. Yum. I kept their business card this time.
Our next stop was Asakusa, with a stop at the Senso-ji Temple, where we ran into Glenn Davidson, the lighting director for the Galileo show. John and I were looking up the laneway to the temple and heard a voice saying, “How many million people in Tokyo, and I have to run into you two?” We then had an amusing and productive stroll up and down the Kappabashi-dori, Tokyo’s restaurant supply street, a kilometer of pots, pans, knives, ceramics, teapots, plastic models of food, plastic cases in which to present your plastic models of food, cutting boards, uniforms, laquerware, etc. Did I mention my preoccupation with food?
Bobblehead Bach loves his food. Photo by Patrick Jordan
At this point John and I split up, because I wanted to go to the Tokyo Dome to check out the baseball fan shop for the Yomiuri Giants, and John headed off to another part of town. It was getting close to rush hour, the moment when one avoids the subway if at all possible. I had scoped out the walk to Tokyo Dome and set off, seeing four more of my colleagues, Cristina Zacharias, Aisslinn Nosky, Julia Wedman and Dominic Teresi walking the opposite direction on the other side of Asakusa-dori. The Tokyo Dome was host last night to Paul McCartney’s current world tour, which I only figured out once I got there and braved the swarms of fans. I decided after my business was done there to walk some of the distance to Shinjuku, the point of return to our hotel. I ended up walking the whole way, through various neighbourhoods, some crazily busy, others fairly calm. In all, I reckon I clocked nearly 20 km on my day exploring the extraordinary ordinary of Tokyo. Next stop, Niigata!
Off to Niigata! Photo by Julia Wedman