Tokyo Shopping (Includes Asakusa Temple)

(See also main Tokyo page and More Tokyo Views.)

Bic Camera Electronics Store

This store has uh something like 7+ levels of electronics and photo equipment and appliances and books. It's near Tokyo Station, I think. Similar stores can be found in the electronics haven of Akihabara (also in Tokyo), but Bic is rumored to have better prices.

Bic Camera's computer book section.

A display for some of the latest
high-tech gadgetery.

Some VERY cute washing machines(?)
in a variety of colors (Bic Camera).
Or are they dryers? Can't tell.

Someone checking out the
variety of refrigerators at Bic.

Here's one of the famous
Japanese hi-tech toilet seats.
Note side control panel.

Even electrical outlet plugs
are cute and colorful in Japan....

Huge camera display at Bic Camera
(the film section is much, much bigger)

Japanese Department Store Sample: Takashimaya

(See also More Tokyo Views: Mitsukoshi.)

Japanese department stores are multi-storied buildings with the general trend of having a vast food selection in the basement along with a subway station, jewelry or other high-priced items on the first floor, fancy and fashionable clothes in the lower floors, and everything from expensive earthenware to fancy Japanese gifts on some of the higher floors, along with such things as religious incense (for honoring ancestors), plants and seeds (often on the roof), and sometimes pet care services. Whew.

Since most people know what clothing racks look like, this romp through a department store focuses on ... well ... FOOD.

By the way, the clerks are very polite and courteous, always. They also are trained to say out loud how much money you have handed them, and say out loud the change you get. Ah, the good old days.

As mentioned in my main text, there are tons of clerks available in Japanese department stores. This is because warehouses and/or suppliers pay for most of them, rather than the department store itself. This is especially visible in the food area, where each "brand" of food has its own little area.

Quick shot of the main entry
as seen from the 2nd floor (I think).

A basement food section clerk
looking kinda suspiciously at the camera.

Shoppers checking out a vendor.

Mmm, fruit-veggie healthy smoothie.
Was actually very good, but
I wasn't really allowed to walk around
with it.

Expensive, HUGE, veggies.
Actually, the daikon is tiny by Japanese standards,
but the shiitake mushrooms are ginormous.

Expensive, HUGE fruit.

More expensive, HUGE, fruit.
Too bad it wasn't peach season.
Japanese peaches are the best!
Here is someone else who agrees:
Japanese peaches are nearly impossible to match!

Dried fish display

I'm told this stuff is
that famous poisonous puffer fish
(fugu) on display as sashimi.
The price seems about right (eep)...

The camera can't capture the
truly fresh-fish color and sheen,
but I had to try!

Tsukiji Marketplace

This is apparently one of the best places in the core of Tokyo to get fresh fish, the department store basements notwithstanding. Veggies and fruit are sold here too, but apparently you're better off going to other markets for those. This marketplace is right by a massive central depot where fish are brought in daily.

Some shops here sell cuts of meat, some sell dried seaweed and dried fish, others sell earthenware, some sell blocks of Japanese-style cooked egg, and some sell household goods, some are restaurants ... basically, a typical open-air market with lots of variety.

Bustling marketplace view.

Road by the marketplace

Temple next to marketplace
(There is actually a larger Shinto shrine
a few blocks away, dedicated to
the safety of fishermen.
Reminds me of churches devoted to fishermen
out along the Massachusetts coast.)

Very fresh-looking fish
inadvertently artistically displayed.

Mountains of styrofoam boxes
that contained fish.

Little odds and ends
sold along the street.
The bamboo monkeys have
to do with Chinese astrology.

A cat hangs out by a storefront.
Later said cat was seen
sliding into a ridiculously narrow opening
along the building wall.

Earthenware for sale.
Contrast prices (roughly $1-2/per) with this
Kyoto earthenware set (bottom of this page).

Another view of the marketplace.

Check out the tuna head
in this photo. The photo doesn't do it
justice, but it's BIG.

A "fast" food restaurant

I didn't often eat out, but here's an udon (noodles) "fast food" restaurant near the Tsukiji market, inside a small shopping mall. Good, fast, tasty. You go up to the counter, specify size of bowl and heated/cold, and then pick out whatever you want to add (such as tempura-fried fish and vegetables, or even side dishes of croquettes). Then you pay for whatever you've picked and sit down and eat.

Exterior of udon shop,
advertising "topping self-service."

Shop interior,
featuring a late lunch crowd.

Yum, udon... containing
fried (tempura) "kisu" fish,
tempura scallop (hotate),
and half-eaten croquette on the side
(with some inappropriate pickled ginger).

Festive Tori no Ichi

Apparently, Tori no Ichi is a festive time that comes every Rooster day (err, based on the Chinese Zodiac), which is fairly often (like, uh, once a month roughly?). Or I could be confused. Anyway, we went past some Tori no Ichi stuff (at/near a Shinto Shrine, I think?) on the way to the big Asakusa Buddhist temple.

There's lots of food stands and trinket stands set up for the milling crowds, featuring all sorts of traditional Japanese festive fair food, like (say) grilled squid. Think your average county fair, but with an Eastern flair.

Entrance to the bedlam,
centered at a Shinto shrine.

A young vendor hawking
fortune-bringing religious (Shinto) decorations.

Crowds heading for the
shrine entrance
to ring the bells to seek divine favor.
Note the bleached hair color
still in fashion in Nov. 2003.

Note the uniformed officer(?)
in the lower left corner.

A spice merchant
(Japanese pepper)
Note the gourd-shaped wooden containers.

Tons of food vendors
line the crowded streets,
selling all sorts of food.

Mmm grilled squid!

Octopus vendor.
I just noticed they're selling beer and sake
in addition to octopus, chicken, etc.

Asakusa Temple

Inner courtyard of the temple complex.

Pray-ers and tourists approach
the inner sanctum of the main temple.

View of the symbolic temple gate
as seen from inside.

The scenic five-floor temple tower
(which I explain somewhere is based
on an Indian structure symbolizing
the Buddha's grave or something like that).

Souvenir shops line the entryway
to the temple....

Some of the souvenirs, close-up.

A toy store
hawks its wares near the temple.

Small kids pose for a photo opp
with this food vendor styled in
traditional garb.
Note they are flashing the V sign.

(See also main Tokyo page and More Tokyo Views.)

Back to Rei's Japan 2003 Photo Index

Photos, text copyright 2003 Eri Izawa