I'm in my second full day in Tokyo. So far it's been great, but is has also, as I feared, been quite isolating. I'm in that no man's land where the Japanese recognize that I'm not Japanese and don't talk to me, and the (very few) American tourists don't think that I can speak English. As a result, I've been spending my days having very abbreviated conversations with shopkeepers and hotel staff. Whenever I hear someone speaking English I have the urge to join in the conversation. I've been carrying my TimeOut Tokyo guide conspicuously in the hope that someone will strike up a conversation with me.
I went to the Tsukiji fish market this morning, which has got to be one of the weirdest experiences I've ever had. I didn't get there early enough to see the wholesale tuna auction (that starts around 5am), but I did get to see the retailers and restauranteurs come to buy. The fish market is huge and overwhelming. The aisles are narrow and I had to get out of the way of the minitrucks carrying fish and other sea creatures. I walked in fear that I would be splashed with fish guts. Aside from fish (dead and alive), there were shrimp, squid, wormy-looking things and a whole array or unrecognizable stuff. The whole place smelled of the sea and cigarettes. It was slightly nauseating. There were very few women and even fewer tourists. I was fascinated and mesmerized by the entire place.
I'm off to the Asakusa Kannon Temple now, which is the city's oldest temple. There are a bunch of other yummy sites in the area, including a shop that sells all that fake looking food.