Despite my 108 Km walked, and all the train and subway ride that I managed to do this week. To know this city and turn it all, it would take a year. However, it does not seem a city of almost 14 million inhabitants. When you walk the streets, you notice a lot of passersby and cars, the roads are almost always 4 lanes, the traffic is never congested even during peak hours. There is a kind of natural order in Japan and in the Japanese. Everything works and is efficient, clean, precise, in time. The thing that amazes me the most is the noise. Despite the traffic and the impressive amount of people who travel on foot, to be such a big metropolis the background noise is very low.
You can notice the richness of this city at every step, from the traffic light that tells you when it turns green to the gentleman with fluo garments and red “laser” torch which regulates pedestrian traffic, to who collects the few residues of garbage with long tweezers on the sidewalks. On the street it is not polite to smoke, then there are dedicated areas, both along the paths and on the public premises. One thing that I do not explain is the cleaning of the sidewalks, despite the ashtray and waste bin are almost impossible to find. You can not see a chew or stump on the way.
I do not like cities, I have already written, but Tokyo is different from all the metropolises I’ve been shooting so far. Once the ice is broken with Bus, tube, and trains, you can move around the city without problems and with very short times.
What I love about Tokyo, are the constant contrasts between the modern and the traditional.
Between nature and skyscrapers
Everywhere around the city there are hundreds of parks, small and large. The Japanese like to walk in the middle of nature of which they have a lot of respect.
There are also many animals in the parks, which are left quiet to their lives.
But also many temples and museums, which tell about this particular people. Like other museums that explained complicated technologies to everyone.
They are food lovers, and they cook it with fantasy and passion. I love their kitchen.
then in the evening everything becomes colored by the numerous luminous signs.
Some parks still open in the evening, and people gather here to party and picnic, enjoying the spectacle of nature.
Although being a big city you can live well here, it is costly but as in all the towns, if you go to the right places, you can have dinner with less than 10 €.
They built a 10-meter high statue of liberty on the artificial islands of Koto, I was very impressed when I saw it. I asked myself if I would put something so representative of a nation in my house that used the atomic bomb against me. But maybe that’s why they put it …
Trying to capture the particular…
It is a very fascinating country. I will be back again, as unusual for me.
Now I move to Kyoto a city ten times less inhabited and see a little ‘how it is over there.
Since I had to go to New Zealand, I thought I’d break the long journey by stopping to find My Tokyo Friends Taku and Ari.
I left Italy at the beginning of November, hoping to hit the right time to enjoy the beautiful colors of the plants in Japan during the autumn.
Taku very kind as always he even came to pick me up at the airport, then accompanying me to lunch, in one of his favorite places to taste the eel (unagi), knowing that I love it. I must say that it was delicious, I enjoyed it until the last grain of rice. In the picture at the top right there is a specialty which they bring as an aperitif and are fried Sardinians spine. They too ended up in the black hole in my stomach after I had been around for 18 hours. I must say that they are not bad.
Above all, the restaurant was just the traditional ones, with a tatami without chairs and low tables. Amazing…
As a start it was great, plus the weather was also quite warm. Lucky me! Then I spent the afternoon wandering around the city to settle back to this country. In the evening I would go to dinner at Ari’s restaurant, “Le Ginglet.”
You must know that in my opinion, Ari is a kitchen genius. He knows how to mix the Japanese food with that of other cultures, like the French and Italian ones, using cheeses, mushrooms, and truffles in a way I had never tried before. Just to write about it, my mouth is watering.
In fact, I call him Ari tensai san, and he laughs at us, tensai means genius. Not to mention that you can taste fantastic cheeses and wines from Europe. In fact, when I was in abstinence of dairy product, I knew where to go. Well! After this nice advertisement, I will have a dinner offered … 😋😋😋
I miss dinner with them, they were always enjoyable, and I meet new people every night. Okay … you never know that when I get back from New Zealand, I’ll be there to say hello.
Returning to the trip; the day after we all went accompanied by Tomoko, a very kind girl who like me has a great passion for finding unique restaurants.
To take a ride in a company that produces beer and sake craft, the KUMAZAWA Shuzo At the same time you can see as they produce both drinks, take a walk into a particular souvenir shop and of course stop at the restaurant to taste excellent dishes, but above all excellent sake.
But first Tomoko took us to the temple, Samukawa Shrine that besides being very beautiful, just that day people celebrated a recurrence:
Shichi Go San (literally Seven Five Three) is the name of the holiday born during the Edo era and still very much felt today. At the time, the infant mortality rate was very high due to poor sanitary conditions and diseases. For this reason, reach 3, 5 and 7 years represented a fundamental goal for a child and his whole family. Since then, the custom of celebrating the healthy growth of children has spread among the Japanese population and has assumed a ritual that is handed down over time. Children of those ages are dressed in traditional clothes and taken to temples for a blessing ceremony, where family members take the opportunity to give them many photographs to be distributed to relatives.
Seeing young children dressed in hakama and haori and girls with their kimonos were tender. They were beautiful kimono.
Too bad it rained heavily, I could not take many pictures, the
Too bad it rained heavily, I could not take many pictures, they would have come out very beautiful.
Too bad it rained heavily, I could not take many pictures, they would have come out very beautiful.
The next day I got up early to go see the KoishikawaKōrakuen Garden in hopes of seeing maples and other plants with colored leaves.
But unfortunately, despite the garden was beautiful, the plants were not colored as I hoped.
But I caught a couple of newlyweds who were posing for the photographer.
The day continued around the city to discover the area of Suidobashi where there is the Tokyo Dome, an enormous indoor baseball stadium.
All around there is a playground, and roller coasters go up and cross the roof of a shopping center. The stadium has a capacity of 55,000 people. In addition to baseball games, it is played for football, K1 fights (mixed martial arts), Japanese wrestling and kickboxing.
Then I joined with Taku to whom I had asked to participate in a Kabuki theater show, after being amazed by my request he organized the evening, taking me to a small theater attended only by Japanese. I love these privileges.
Unfortunately, I was not allowed to take pictures during the show so as not to disturb the actors. It was interesting, the sounds were made by some musicians who with traditional drums and guttural sounds accompanied the percussion. The speeches of the actors were slow and very precise, fortunately over time I had the opportunity to read the story. Otherwise, I did not understand nothing. Taku was visibly bored even though it never saw before, and one time it was enough for me.
The next day I was determined to find a place to take beautiful autumn pictures. So I decided to go to Arakurayama Sengen Park Place where one of the most famous photos of Japan was collected, which includes Mount Fuji, the Arakurayama temple and the cherry trees in bloom. I wanted to capture the same elements but with the autumn colors.
In part, I succeeded. Too bad that Mount Fuji was missing as a backdrop. Hidden behind the clouds, makes this photo much less impressive, Ugh! However, despite the gray day some good images I managed to do it.
Mid-November is still early to fully see the colors that this country can offer, but anyway, some satisfaction has been taken away from me. So I was able to go back to Tokyo for dinner that Tomoko organized for us in a restaurant where we cooked our dishes on our table called, “teppanyaki.”
It was a lot of fun to cook all together, Tomoko taught me how to make takoyaki (balls) using the mold and okonomiyaki, a kind of omelet. I did everything very well, it seems to me. I have a future as a cook…maybe …
The days passed quickly. Also this time I enjoyed every moment I spent in Tokyo with my new friends. Having decided to stay here only a few days, however, we were running out and so Ari and Taku thought well of making me a surprise and take me to the new fish market in the city Toyosu Fish Market, was opened only on October 11th so I was one of the first Italians who had the privilege of entering it. But not as a regular customer, but as a special guest chef at Ari’s restaurant. So we had the opportunity to also shoot in the area where tourists can not enter. You know that I adore these privileges, so I was excited as a child at Christmas.
Ari came to get us near the station with the car.
So he took us all the way around the market.
An impressive thing, if already the old Tsukiji Market was the largest fish market in the world, this is even more, super modern, super clean and with many stores on the upper floors for ordinary buyers or tourists.
Once the tour is over, we park and start shopping right away.
There are huge areas that are chilled, others with tanks where you can select live fish. The plant is mammoth, is a continuous flow of carts, which move pallets from the refrigerated warehouses to trucks that transport fish throughout the country.
Then we went to the area where there are hundreds of stands, where you can take anything from the whole fish of every size and size to the various parts that compose it, perfectly clean and tidy on the tables. An impressive amount of choice and prices.
In the upper floors there are various shops and restaurants.
Here you can come shopping, have lunch and take home, fresh products. To finish the tour we returned to the area in charge of work, to get the fish that in the meantime had packed in thermal containers, then loaded on the classic electric cart, the symbol of this market, where we then climbed too. This makes me also feel the thrill of traveling on this strange kind of transport, which the man drove so fast.
After this long effort to turn this vast place. We thought well to refuel with an aperitif made at the old fish market, which still retains a charm of its own. We made ourselves a sake, crabs and giant oysters …
I had never tried a giant oyster, it’s a mystical experience …
The day could not end before to go to Ari’s restaurant, where we enjoyed the fish bought in the morning. Think about it, Ari goes to the market every day, chooses and buys only what he needs for the evening, nothing more. Also for this, I respect him very much as Chef, his passion is great.
As a dessert, raisin bread, sultanas, and blue cheese…brilliant is not it?…
But now it’s time to go my friends….
To greet me, as well as organize dinner, they went to buy a Santoku kitchen knife that I had long been aiming for. Very beautiful!! 45 layers of damask steel. As I took it in my hand, he presented himself with a little cut. This is love! This gesture has really moved me, beyond the value of the object, there is also the sensitivity and kindness of these guys. I will take it with me on the road, and I will use it every time I cook. Thanks a lot, Friends!!!