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December 12, 2019 / Jim Fenton

Japan/Singapore Day 7: Tokyo Commerce and Government

November 14, 2019

Today is our last full day in Tokyo. We had heard so much about the Toyosu wholesale fish market in Tokyo that we started the day there. We didn’t make it for the morning tuna auction (6:30 AM) but just took a self-guided tour of the facilities. There are three main areas that have observation galleries open to the public.

We first went to the “wholesale intermediate fish market” where smaller fish customers (restaurants, perhaps) do business. There wasn’t a great deal to see there, but there was a considerable market with food products, utensils, and some souvenirs. I found a great T-shirt there. Lots of tourists of course, but I was surprised to see a relatively small proportion of westerners.

The second section was the wholesale market, where the daily tuna auction takes place. From the observation galleries, we saw large open areas, freshly hosed-down, where apparently the fish auction had taken place earlier in the day.

A small portion of the produce market

The third section, the produce market, was also enormous. One of the fascinations there was an automated refrigerated storage facility where palettes of boxed produce were stored and retrieved entirely by a robotic conveyor system.

Next we took the subway downtown to the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Unlike the New York Stock Exchange, which (since 9/11) you can’t even get close to, JPX (as it’s referred to) has all sorts of things for visitors to see: an exhibit on the history of the exchange (including during the World War 2 period), a computerized “trading game” to teach people what the exchange does, and visitor galleries that surround the trading floor. The trading floor, of course, now consists of a few desks surrounded by multiple displays; the actual trading is done by computer now (probably actually in a secure data center some place).

Tokyo Stock Exchange (JPX)

After a light (and late) lunch at a nearby cafe, we took the subway to Shinjuku. Shinjuku is the seat of the Tokyo city government, and the city hall has observation platforms at the 45th floor for visitors. Best of all, they’re free! After a short wait, we took the elevator to the “observatory” and had a wonderful panoramic view of Tokyo at sunset. As the sun set next to Mount Fuji, we had a wonderful silhouette view of it. It was a very fitting end to our visit to Tokyo.

Mt. Fuji sunset

After sunset, we walked into the commercial district of Shinjuku. It was a very vibrant business district, with many people moving in all directions. We visited a department store looking for a yukata (cotton robe) for Kenna, but unfortunately they’re considered summer wear and not available in November.

Through a friend, we heard of a notable hole-in-the-wall udon noodle restaurant, Udon Shin, in Shinjuku, so we found it (down a narrow side street) largely by the line waiting to get in. We waited through the line while reviewing the menu and ordering, and were eventually invited in. It was indeed small — it seated 12 people or so — and it had what was easily the most delicious, flavorful udon I have ever had. Mine also came with a tempura soft-boiled egg, which was perfectly done. On top of all that, it was a relatively inexpensive dinner.

We then returned to the hotel to repack for tomorrow’s departure for Singapore. Today was a fine conclusion to our visit to Tokyo.

Total walking today: 9.2 miles, 28 floors climbed

This article is part of a series about our recent travels to Japan and Singapore. To see the introductory article in the series, click here.

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