Reub's journey

20 July 2012


Wednesday night in Shinjukyu. I did not go to the Shoe Plaza.
Tokyo is the capital of Japan and the largest metropolitan area in the entire world.

3.5 million people pass through Shinjukyo station every day. That's about the same as the population of the state of Oregon.
It is a mind-boggling urban landscape.

A few years back, when "Lost in Translation" came out, a film about "existential ennui," I said I never wanted to go there.

John joked about buying me one of these adult-sized school girl outfits. "That would be hilarious" is what I said, and I meant it.
Because, seriously, there's some pretty weird shit going on there.

Just the sheer size of it, and the assault to the senses! I took this video, amazed, on a Wednesday evening in the Shibuyu  area of Tokyo, where some of the scenes from "Lost in Translation" were shot.

Those of you who know John will understand why this picture is included.

I completely enjoyed Tokyo, although I was exhausted by it.

Of course it's not all neon lights. There are parks and museums, neighborhoods and interesting things to see and do, just like any big city. Take the Tsukiji fish market for example: a complex of enormous warehouses that open at 4:00AM to sell seafood.

Better watch out, or you'll get run over by one of these.
It's the largest wholesale fish market on the planet.

This is salmon roe. It probably came from an Alaskan boat.

Buyers come from all over Japan every morning, but they also come from other countries. Some buyers come from the US, buy fish here in Tokyo that was caught in Alaska, and resell it in the US to sushi restaurants.

Pretty crazy.

And probably not sustainable.

The vast array of sea life sold here was rather sobering.

I'm not sure how you eat these, but obviously you can.

The market has hundreds of accountants and merchants.
It did make me wonder what it would be like if we had a similar market in the US. How vast a quantity do we reap from the sea on a daily basis? What would that actually look like?

A worker, pausing for lunch. The market is closed by noon. (John's photo)
Meanwhile the Tsukiji market goes on day after day, as it has for many many years in this island nation.

Tokyo is a combination of many things and it would take a lifetime to understand it.


  1. the 'assault on the senses' would do me in. i wouldn't be able to take it. the buying of alaskan seafood in tokyo to be resold to US is amazing.

  2. Good lord. Watching the video, I thought "Blade Runner."

    Thank you for going to Tokyo so I don't have to. I would need to be on anti anxiety medicine to even approach the city.


  3. I can see how it would be exhausting. How do the residents cope day after day? and I doubt the seafood market will go on for many more years since we are fishing the oceans empty. soon there won't be anything left in it.

  4. It would be fascinating to visit Tokyo and I'm pretty sure I never will, so I thank you for sharing your glimpses of the metropolis.

  5. Laoch: In those towering lit-up buildings there are clubs, hundreds of them. You could probably find a tiny club which only admits people wishing to discuss Spinoza's Theologico-Poitical Treatise. Seriously. And undoubtedly there would be poker, at least I imagine so. Lots to keep you busy!

    twg: Yeah I'm a country girl myself. Which makes the assault even more impressive.

    Reya: Oh hey, I think we have the dvd of Blade Runner somewhere: must watch it soon! That's definitely the model here. Not something I can take in big doses.

    Ellen: It's true what you say about over-fishing. Really this is not sustainable at all.

    Hilary: I never thought I'd go to Tokyo either, but you just never know; it could happen. I would love to see the photos you would take there.

  6. Oh, Lordy! I could almost smell the fish and felt claustrophobic just looking at the photos. What an amazing trip. The photo of the red fish with the huge eyes is incredible. Thanks for the insight into such a busy and colorful culture!

  7. Gail: The fish market was a really fun place to take pictures. I wonder what that red fish is? Rock fish?


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