Thursday, October 1, 2009

I'm off again ~ to Tokyo and Hong Kong...Images from Nikko and Tsukiji

Well, I'm off again... This time to Tokyo, Nikko and Hong Kong.
I'm making this trip for fun to visit friends, sit in natural hot
springs, eat and shop till I drop. Did I mention that I need to
buy a box of trouser socks in Hong Kong?

My trip is for 13 days with the majority of it spent in Tokyo and
two day one night trip to Nikko where I'm taking a friend. I only
get two full days in Hong Kong -- in hindsight, I should have
scheduled and additional day, oh well. My friends an family are
making fun of me that I'm stopping by Hong Kong just to buy
my blasted socks. Doesn't that sound ridiculous? But it's probably
partly true... About 3 years ago, I moved from Hong Kong back to
California with no less than 7-8 dozen pairs of socks. I now have
only one dozen left. I have no idea where they go. Paul seems to
think I eat socks but I'm convinced there is a black hole in the
dryer...Anyhow, I am bent on buying a LOT of socks in Hong
Kong. How can I help it when socks here are about $3 a pair
and I can get a dozen good trouser socks for $2. It's the Chinese
cheapskate in me - always looking for a bargain :P

These are some photos I took in Nikko Japan in 2006. We
were really lucky in that it was a festival night as they usually
do not light up the shrines at night. Nor do they have beautiful
ladies in full kimono garb out on a rainy night all gathered

Alas, I've seen the weather forecast for the next 10 days in
Tokyo and it's supposed to rain almost every day :( I was
planning to take some beautiful photos with my new camera
too. I suppose they will just need to be rainy photos.

I lived for almost 2 years in Japan. It really is a fascinating
country. If you've ever had the chance to visit, I must
insist that you put Japan on your list of places to experience.

And I say experience -- not just see.

The world's largest fish market is in Tokyo, Japan and it
is called Tsukiji. The market is busiest between 5AM and
6AM. To get there at 5Am, you have to arrange alternative
transportation as the trains in Tokyo do not start until 5AM.
We got up at 3:30AM to get ready and drive there to arrive
at 5AM.

The most fascinating event is the fish auction that occurs
during this time. I'd seen photos of Tsukiji before but
nothing really prepares you for the sight or size of the
tuna that are auctioned every morning. They have tuna
from all over the world. The yellow tags denote where
the fish are from.

Many of the buyers would cut into the tail of the fish to
look at the meat. I suppose it's like knocking a watermelon
at the supermarket to see if it's any good.

The auctioner stood on a crate and started waving
his arms and belting out fish lots and prices. A crowd
of buyers stood in front of him with little signs and flags
to signal whether they were bidding or not. I'd never
seen such incredible hand movement in my life -- the
auctioner literally looked like he was a chicken in the
way he was crouching and flapping his elbows up and
down at his sides. I really wish I had taken a video.

Now once you buy the fish (which are literally thousands
of dollars which might explain the not so cheap cost of sushi),
you are definitely on your own in getting the fish from the
market to where you need it. Look at this man wrestling
to get this giant tuna he won onto a wheel barrow.

This photo might give some perspective to the size of
these tuna. Makes me wonder how they fish and catch
these fish!

The fish can be cut up into smaller chunks. I saw one
seller in a stall take out a sword to cut the fish. Using
a power tool as you see here is not a bad idea...

Other than fish, you'll find seafood of all kinds for
sale. Octopus is another common item in Japanese

I hope I haven't put any of you off with my "fishy"
topic but I will certainly endeavor to bring fun
photos back from my trip.

I'll be back in 2 weeks. In the meantime, I pose
this question to you. Have of you been to Japan or
Hong Kong? Is it a place that you would want to go
or not? What about these places fascinate or repel

Photos from Alkemie (Karen Olivia)


maryjayne said...

I have been 'lurking' around you blog for a while and thought it was due time I left a comment! Hope you have a great trip! I have always wanted to travel to Japan and hope to someday get the chance to. . . I am looking forward to seeing your photos when you return!

Sharon said...

I've been to Hong Kong once, although I must say I was too little back then to really enjoy the shopping-Ocean Park had more appeal you see:) How I wish to go back now!!! One thing that striked me, the yummy food. hmmmmm
Have a nice trip and come back with TONS of eye candy

Mary said...

Hi there,
I live in Japan and often check out your blog. Just in case you or anybody else wants to go to Tsukiji. Recently some restrictions were put in place, I believe because tourists were causing a disruption to the running of business(drunk Brits licking the tunas etc.) So before you wake up at 3am you better check out whether you can still enter or not. Hope you have a great trip.


I have always dreamed of taking a long trip through the Orient. I wish you lots of fun and interesting experiences while you're there. If you go to Kyoto and see Geishas, please take pictures, as I am fascinated by them. Bon voyage!

Séptimo Sentido said...

I'm an architect and I often work on interior design so I visit your blog regularly.

But this time I got surprised with your post. I've never been to Japan but I'd love it!

And I really like the way you portrait some of the urban common life over there... great post!

Ann said...

Me too loves shopping in Hong Kong, such as small country yet so much goodies at very cheap prices... And I just love those Chinese Foods.

Your rain pics of Japan looks amazing.

sassy said...

I grew up in Hong Kong and I didn't like living there then...I moved to Canada when I was 13 but I came back to Hong Kong to live three years ago...I enjoy living here much more now but I find the pollution and rudeness really hard to deal with!

Francine Gardner said...

Great post. i have not been to Japan in so long....My friends go often and told me how fantastic the fish auction is! I am so thrilled to see the images...Thank you
Have a fabulous trip

Mélanie said...

You are once again a lucky girl !!! fantastic shots

Mélanie said...

You are once again a lucky girl !!! fantastic shots

MAD K said...

I love your blog, and i'm the same whenever i go back home (HK) i buy tons of socks for me and my husband.

XUE said...

Konnichiwa from Tokyo! Yes, it has been raining a lot these days! Stay dry & welcome back to Japan!

Happy zhōng qiū jié (中秋節). Today, take time to admire the moon as it's mid-autumn & our Mooncake/Lantern Fest! Time to eat a mooncake & carry a lantern!
- xue

Down Pillow said...

I've never been - only been to Europe. I don't think it's a trip I'd seek out to go on my own, but I'd definitely be open to going.

Hopeless Chest said...

Oh my goodness!!! I will have nightmares about that fish market tonight.
One of my best friends from college lives and works in China now and he wants me to visit, but I've been too intimidated.

rima said...

Hi, I am happy that I stumbled on to your blog, You have done an awesome work. I love to visit your blog once again.

Yoli said...

Karen you are now visiting two places where my heart is always at. Gorgeous images. Your eye as always impeccable.

amber renee said...

eee! it makes me miss japan so much -- sooo happy to have found your asian inspired interior blog!! perfection!!!

would love to swap links. i'll keep reading -- i'm new to the blog community and looking for blogs that catch my attention.. see you :3

Keri said...

Hi, I'm loving your blog site, great photos and venues. Like taking a mini-trip while sitting at my desk. Hope you have a safe and sucessful trip. I lived in Akasaka for about 6 monts .... way back in the the 80's .. Have some fabulous food for me will you? LOL, take care,


Little Lovables said...

great post! my dad lived in Hong Kong for 2 years when he was a young man, and even though he is Caucasian, he was little with dark hair and squinty eyes and he spoke the language so fluently, that many people though he was Chinese!

I have never been,. but have always wanted to go.

Blog Author(s) said...

I have been many places & Hong Kong is the one that changed me as a visitor. It is by far (for me) the most ragged in terms of vibe I have ever been. I could not wrap my brain around Hong Kong at first, its vibe was so discordant and chaotic to me. I took a nap & realized that for me to embrace Hong Kong I had to become a rabid buyer. Once I became an insane consumer (I would not call myself a shopper) it was fine . I bought GI Joe's on top of the Victoria Harbor lookout for $1.25 & luggage for 33 cents on the dollar. I know where all the shopping districts are now. I would go back in a instant.