Tokyo right now: Arigato for the fun, food and flowers
Cherry blossom season is upon us, literally, as the light petals float down onto Tokyo sightseers during this popular time of the year to visit the Japanese capital. Trees in bloom, beautiful though they may be in the atmospheric aura they create, are not the only reason to visit Tokyo right now. As would be expected in one of the world’s most exciting cities, there is a lot to see and do, but, even in a place with centuries of history, some of the attractions are ephemeral in nature.
One of them is a phenomenon known as Fuerza Bruta Wa. In a show like no other, the amazing Fuerza Bruta Wa performance group entertains spectators in an avant garde presentation of Japanese traditions set to mesmerising music accompanied by drummers who command the stage with their enthusiastic performance. The VIP seats in the balcony area allow for a splendid overview of the action in the intimate venue located within the Shinagawa Prince Hotel, but the real fun comes on the main floor where the audience are enveloped by the action in what can only be described as a masterful display of artistic creativity. Without giving too much away, the show is simply spectacular, full of surprises that up the already high stakes of excitement and guarantee smiles on every face. Better hurry, though. Barring an unforeseen extension of its run, Fuerza Bruta Wa will close on 6 May. Have a look for yourself at the teaser video on the Fuerza Bruta Wa website.
Lasting a little longer is Tokyo’s famous Tsukiji Fish Market. Operating at its current location since 1935, the popular tourist attraction is scheduled to move to more spacious premises in October this year. The new location may be good for the fish business, but the interesting symbiotic relationship between the actual fish market (known as the inner market) and the surrounding businesses catering to the employees and visitors (the outer market) will be severed, leaving the myriad small restaurants, utensil vendors, and others to their own devices. Best see the market now in its conveniently central location close to Ginza before it shifts to an outer suburb. Across the street from the current location of Tskuiji Fish Market is the beautiful Hongan-ji Buddhist temple, the only building in Tokyo with an Indian architectural influence.
Though the workings of Tsukiji Fish Market are obvious to the casual visitor, understanding the goings-on of the market is best achieved with a guide to give background into the work and history of the market. The dynamic guides of Arigato Food Tours are in equal parts fun and informative as they lead their small groups on a Tsukiji tour as well as a variety of other tours (in Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto) that incorporate sampling local cuisine in various locations around the city. The morning Tsukiji tour begins not at the crack of dawn for the fish auction (when entrance in any case is strictly controlled) but at the rather more civilised 9AM. Arigato Food Tours has afternoon and evening tours as well; the Allstar tour is among the most popular, providing an array of ample taste experiences in the Ginza area and a full stomach by the time its finished. Private groups can be accommodated; this is a popular option for corporate groups wanting an evening out after a busy day of meetings. At this time of year, Arigato Food Tours offers daytime and evening cherry blossom tours, combining two of Tokyo’s impressive culinary scene and its famous blossoms into a single experience.
A bonanza of useful information about Tokyo can be found on the helpful pages of the Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau’s official website, aptly named GoTokyo.org.