Final Hours in Tokyo

My last night in Tokyo, I stayed at the Conrad Hotel, a contemporary building set in the heart of Tokyo. This skyscraper, with its panoramic skyline views, more than lived up to its press. I enjoyed and confidently recommend afternoon tea in the stylish TwentyEight on the 28th floor of the Conrad. In addition to serving up breathtaking views they offer a tempting selection of scones, sandwiches and desserts.

 

Although the hotel’s features and amenities are outstanding, for me, the Conrad’s proximity to the Tsukiji Fish Market was the real seal-the-deal. Lodging within walking distance of this famous tuna auction was a ‘must’ for me.

The Tsukiji Market was one of my ‘must-sees’ for my trip to Japan. The best sushi chefs from around the city come to the world’s largest fish market to pick out their cuts for the day.

Call me crazy, but I planned to join other spectators and queue up at 2:30 in the morning for a chance to watch the best sushi chefs in the city choose their cuts of the day. Competition for admittance is robust as the market is open to visitors for a mere hour and a half each day—5:00 am to 6:15 am.

Before bidding begins, visitors are given a neon-yellow vest to wear and are directed to a small observation area; it’s from there I would spend my allotment of 25 minutes viewing this lively auction. The camaraderie, the competition, the smells—this is the Japan I came to see! It was all wonderfully engaging and I’d bet my tuna sandwich, the buyers and sellers found us as entertaining as we found them.

    

At the end of my 25 minutes, I was escorted from the auction and cautioned to watch for workers zipping around the market on carts. These guys don’t stop for anyone!

There’s no better way to cap the market experience than to indulge in, you guessed it, delicious, fresh sushi. Sushi Dai is by far the most popular place in the market, but Daiwa-Zushi is a great second option. Expect to pay upwards of 700 yen—roughly, $7 (US) per piece of fish, but trust me when I say, it’s worth every last yen.

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