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  • Writer's picturekc dyer

A Taste of Tokyo


As promised, I’m reporting in from [what is for me, at least] the world’s longest road trip, as I seek to add a bit of sensory reality to my upcoming novel EIGHTY DAYS IN APRIL.

Denizen of the Tsukiji Fish Market

Destination number one, which you may have guessed if you follow me on twitter [#80DaysofResearch]– is Tokyo. This is my first time in Japan, and it’s been an amazing start to my research trip. I have been to Seoul before, so I have at least had a wee sample of Asia, but of course, the cultures and cities are very different. [Apart from their respective attitudes toward vegetarians. Both countries are like: “Are you crazy???”]

I still haven’t quite mastered the time situation — though my internal clock at home doesn’t really fit conventional norms, either. Arriving here from Vancouver meant time-travelling a day into the future, which has been wonderful and surreal, but if this post hops around a bit, let’s blame it on the jetlag, shall we?

Sea Urchins prepared with a dash of wasabe

Sea Urchins prepared with a dash of wasabe…

There is, of course, way too much to see in this vast and cosmopolitan city for the time I have, so this is the merest taste of all Tokyo has to offer. This is a city filled with people who love to shop, and most of the stores are enclosed in enormous malls, many in the skyscrapers that dominate the horizon.

Still, I managed to get a decent glimpse of old Tokyo. From Sensō-ji, Tokyo’s oldest buddhist temple to the Tsukiji fish market, I’ve spent my time here walking a million miles and hopping on and off countless trains and subways to take in as much as I possibly can.

I think my favourite thing so far was this little rack, inside the incense-filled temple of Sensō-ji. This Buddhist temple was first sited here in 645 AD, and though it’s been flattened many times since, the rebuilding is always a sign of rebirth and peace. Inside, visitors can select specially-numbered O-mikuji fortunes, which can offer any possibility from a blessing to a curse. This particular rack is designated for those who receive an ill fortune and want to be rid of it. I love the idea of discarding bad fortune!

Nakamise-Dori crowds

Crowds at Nakamese-Dori market.

New foods tried include tamagoyaki, a kind of sweet egg omelette cake [comes in many variations!], along with dried blood oranges, craisins and nuts from a street stall and iced green tea. New skills learned include mostly mastering the train and metro systems. Biggest fail has come from my general lack of success finding vegetarian choices. The Japanese love their meat and fish, and as a result, my mealtimes are more eclectic than usual!

I’ll leave you with my fave pic of a dribbling dragon, busy helping visitors cleanse themselves [with water, and then smoke] before entering the temple.

Any guesses as to where I’m heading next?

More soon!


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