Discovery of Minato-ku

Tokyo, entre culture, tradition et modernité

Practical information about the discovery of Minato-ku

Our walk starts at the Tsukiji subway station SHIJO (Tsoukidji Shijo). It is located on the line Toei OEDO (Toèille Oedo) and is indicated by E18 on the new plans of the metropolitan. You are advised to arrive early (6:30 would be ideal!). Because the market-one of the highlights of this visit- is open from 5 hours to 13 hours. But beware, it remains closed on Sundays, public holidays and irregularly one day a month for cleaning and maintenance of facilities.

Discover Minato-ku: Introduction

So what are we to discover in this area of ​​Minato-Ku? Well, we tend to forget, but Tokyo is a city on the water. Not just the water that flows from the river SUMIDA (Soumida) but that of the sea which still appears in places in the middle of the bay. Sure, the site does not really look like a bay so it was covered by artificially earned territories of the sea and the mouth of the SUMIDA has more the appearance of an estuary, but rather a maze between artificial islands. And it is precisely this port district of the Japanese capital ( "MINATO" actually means "port" in Japanese) that the walk proposes to you to discover. You will be able to visit Tsukiji SHIJO (Tsoukidji Shidjo), the largest fish market in the world, Hamarikyu Gardens (Hamarikyou) located on the water, the business district SHIMBASHI, near the sea, and finally SHIBA park overlooked by the big orange Tokyo tower. But first, go on the dock at the Tsukiji subway station SHIJO on the line Toei - OEDO.

About the fish market

You are on the platform of the station TSUKUJI SHIJO? Well, then take the stairs above which says: "Exit to Tsukiji Fish Market." Having reached the top, go straight ahead in the hallway which has a fresco on the right wall. At this point you should be able to follow some Westerners and Japanese shod in rubber boots. You are down the hall? Good. A staircase takes you outdoors. Once in the open, turn left and walk along the avenue and then turn left and go into a kind of large shed. You will find stalls with some vegetables, oilskins and boots, knives and spears fish. Take the opportunity to admire the finesse of the blades, as this Japanese cutlery is recognized worldwide. The best cutting instruments to prepare food spread before your eyes. Besides, some small fish restaurants are taking place between the shops. Do not trust them "greasy spoon" aspect: you can hardly find fresher and better prepared fish. And if the heart tells you, or rather if the stomach gurgles too after visiting the market, you will eventually push a door and sit at the counter. That said, the best SUSHI to enjoy at breakfast are in the street Uogashi yokocho (OUOGASHI YOKOTCHO) one minute walk from the Great Market Hall. We will notify you earlier. But back to the visit of the market. Continue to move forward to the end of the alley to lead to a parking lot filled with refrigerated trucks lined up waiting to be loaded. You only have to cross the rows of vehicles. This can sometimes take time because a gas scooters swarm invades the aisles in a sometimes deafening hum. Therefore, we recommend extreme caution. Traffic remains difficult in narrow aisles and it is better to avoid disturbing workers active on the site. Taking pictures is not a problem, but do not touch or manipulate the displayed products unless you are invited to taste.

Tsukiji: The Fish Market

So that's it? You have to fight your way through the trucks? Well, now go straight to enter in the main hall of the Tsukiji market. Impressive right? We are obviously not going to comment every stall. So we offer to walk the aisles as you wish, at your own pace, listening to our comments. Open your eyes wide ! Ahead of you have tuna, swordfish, calamari, octopus, giant mussels, and even Kujira (Koudjira), these whale songs that bristle environmentalists as only Japan and Norway continue hunting. To better understand the importance of fish in Japan, some numbers. The Japanese account for just 2% of the world population, yet they consume 16.5% of fish stocks in the world. All edible species that live, swim or float in the oceans are found in the halls of the Tsukiji market. It is estimated that between 450 and 500 kinds of different products pass daily on the stalls of fishmongers. Every day and throughout the year, more than 50,000 people that move and process 2,300 tons of fresh or frozen fish. Imagine that a fifth of all fish sold in the country going on here. Real "Tokyo belly" is an extraordinary place and bubbling in which wholesalers sell to restaurants and retailers. You can not attend the auction taking place from 4:30 because access is not allowed. Enjoy the charm offered by the current site because it is the question of relocating to 2 km further by 2012 or 2015.

Market operation

Let's talk about the life of this market. How does this

work? You're up early, yes, but not enough to see the ballet refrigerated trucks that transport the goods from the holds of boats moored to the docks and even distant from NARITA Airport. For a growing share comes by air freight from Spain, Chile and the United States. Needless to say, these are the horns of trucks wake up the neighborhood, from 3 am! Hordes of workers boots and aprons, armed with large hooks come unload the frozen tuna, while some use a paintbrush to mark them with an identification number in red paint. Wholesalers who buy the fishermen are active in the aisles to quickly mark the most beautiful pieces. At 4:30 arrive intermediate resellers who examine the offer in the morning, they inspect the flesh to touch, look at the color with a flashlight, scrape with a knife, taste the texture, size up the level of fat in the flesh, eyeing the white bright eyes, note the uniform appearance of the mouth, fumble the thickness of the skin. Star bars and restaurants Sushi, bluefin tuna called "MAGURO" (Magoulo) account for 45% of all fish traded in the market. You will then understand as you stroll among the stalls why there is literally dissected. Nothing is lost on the animal, each main edge is scraped up to extract the flesh that will be sold in the form of strips on trays. Look around you, you can not fail to spot the fishmongers in the process of engaging in this cut with impressive dexterity! Then around 5:30, wholesalers, resellers attract intermediaries on their wooden platforms, the choices are already made for most, but this is the price at the auction that everything will be decided. The ringing of a small bell indicates the beginning of the auction. Unfazed, buyers raise the index to confirm their intention to purchase at a price that just screamed. In just over an hour, all the fish will be sold. At daybreak, a cohort of restaurateurs and retailers happens to choose the best pieces on the shelves intermediate sellers. Packed in polystyrene boxes the time of transport, you will find them in your plates or SASHIMI SUSHI. While the former are very attached to this place and are reluctant to consider moving, younger generations are more complain of the conditions, the lack of space to move and the dark, they desire a modern and bright hall. The new project will double the size, access by three highways and a new metro station. The situation further out in the bay, allow factory ships deep draft to dock directly to unload their catch.

The history of this market

In the late 16th century, Tsukiji was an area specially requested to the great shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu (Tokugawa Iyeyasou) by fishermen Edo is the old name for Tokyo. The current area by the sea lent itself well to the installation of a new hall at fish but it was not accepted immediately, because that harbor district pâtissait a bad reputation. After the restoration of the Meiji era (1868-1912), the area became the anchor of foreigners in Tokyo and also a paradise for brothels. Foreigners were closely monitored and confined to certain neighborhoods. Then the area was taken over by the Japanese Navy. In 1923, the great earthquake was an opportunity to make a clean sweep of the old fish market near Nihombashi-where is the big bridge currently top of the Ginza- Avenue. It was then decided to rebuild Tsukiji: The new open market in 1935. The 50's and 60's brought new life to the market with catches and volumes increasingly important that followed the strong economic development. Many employees were so frequently rewarded by fish in donations. But this practice became a source of disputes and brawls. The police have to intervene more often found himself installed in premises within the market and alcoholic beverages were prohibited. The 70, 80 and 90 were marked by great prosperity, but at the turn of the 21st century, fishing companies agree that bluefin tuna stocks are declining in the maritime waters Nipponese. The atmosphere also has changed: a few years ago, veterans behind their stalls inviting tourists to come cut the nets along serrated knife in hand, the Westerner was forced to taste a barely tuna strip dipped in soy sauce SHOYU (Choyou). Some stands proudly displayed photos of the presidents and princes of this world came to diplomatic trip, for which the visit to Tsukiji was unavoidable. The younger generation pays more interest in folklore.

Hamarikyu Gardens

So you saw all that interested you? Well, now come out of the great hall from where we entered it. On leaving, turn immediately left and follow the road curved to the bridge under which passes the highway. At the corner of the bridge in question, turn left then move straight ahead to the little bridge over the water leading to the entrance of the garden Hamarikyu (Hamarikyou). A fee for admission 300 yen, you can enter this garden 9:00 to 5:00 p.m. except between December 29 and January 1. It is really worth to check it out, it's one of the finest gardens in Tokyo This public park on the seafront is famous in Tokyo due to its location at the mouth of the river and SOUMIDA for its typical style of the Edo era. What do we mean by that? Well, as you know, in Japan, there is an art of gardens, whose foundations come mostly cult Shinto, the oldest religion of Japan. This religion is based on concepts of harmony between man and nature, and this is what the garden should reflect. The Art of Japanese Gardens has written throughout the centuries, enriched with each new era in the history of the country, from the precepts of the great religions and Eastern philosophies. From the History of Japan born five different styles of gardens. This garden was laid out in the Edo period, from the beginning of the 17th century to the mid 19th. And we see it appear the shape of the garden walk. What does it consist of? Well, you will see independent pavilions that are arranged around a large lake, trails that connect them, creating a walking track. The dry gardens, tea gardens, islands gardens, strolling gardens found there simultaneously. The art of the garden is then mainly based on aesthetic considerations, although it still emanates a spirituality inspired by Buddhism to which you may be sensitive. Here, the garden is designed on the model of a home that belonged to a family Tokugawa SHOGUN of the 17th century. Recall that the Shogun (literally "general") has the military power and leadership of the country is, while the emperor is rather the guardian of tradition. Part of the garden is made up of water bodies directly supplied with water from the bay, which makes it unique. The surface water areas varies depending on the tides, perfumes also change with the currents. The main pond is named SHIO ILI whose central island is a tea lounge to drink a good green MATCHA and taste treats. The other two KOSHINDO SHINSENZA and ponds are called zones KAMOBA as dedicated to hunting wild ducks. Almost daily it held demonstrations of traditional hunting with hawks and raptors tame. The tranquil atmosphere of the massive flowers and wild birds allows to escape a moment of buildings of Shiodome business district. Enjoy a bit of its tranquility before returning to the hectic life of modern Tokyo.

The World Trade Center

Now, retrace our steps to the Tsukiji subway station SHIDJO. There, the resume line to the TOEI OEIDO DAIMON station marked E20 on subway maps. So are you good at the subway exit DAIMON? The metro station is located right on the corner of the building which is named "World Trade Center". This building of 37 floors has a viewing platform, where you can ride, with 620 yen per adult. You are free to go, the look on the artificial island of Odaiba is interesting. The lifts are located right in the hallway that leads to the position of the tower. (The position is symbolized by a red T).

The Tokyo Tower

And now moving towards Tokyo Tower. When you are in front of the World Trade Center, orient yourself in the upstream of the avenue and look up to get in the line of fire "TOKYO TOWER". How to recognize it Really not difficult, it rises to 333 meters above the ground, and its orange and white painted metal structure is similar to that of the Eiffel Tower. Tokyo Tower is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary in 2008. That's it, you've identified? Now that the tower is in your field of vision, stay on the left pavement and start up the avenue towards the Shiba Park following signs: "Mayor of Minato", in English: "MINATO WARD OFFICE ". This step should last 10 minutes at most, and we suggest you take the opportunity to listen to some technical data for this great tower. So it is an emblem of the Japanese capital since its inauguration in 1958. She claims being still our highest days in the world completely made of metal. It serves as a relay for the TV channels. It also offers access to two viewing platforms: the main, high 150 meters, and the special perched 250 meters. The observation posts are open from 9h to 22h, the adult ticket for the first level costs 820 yen, the second to be displayed at 1420 yen. In both cases the 360 ​​degree panorama allows us to understand the vastness of Tokyo but the outline of Mount Fuji is not guaranteed since the highest observatory, depending on weather conditions. Outwardly, it looks more frail than the Eiffel Tower because its base is less important. It is also lighter, 4000 tons against 7000 for the Parisian ancestor.

The Zojoji Temple

This is what we could tell as summarized in this tower. Always operate towards the Shiba Park? So, you probably just go under DAIMON (DAILLE MO N) is the large wooden door covered with a small roof. All right, then continue straight ahead until the big intersection. Go through this great artery while still on the road left and continue to the top. You will fall while on an avenue which delimits the Shiba Park. At this level, the main gate of the N SANGéDATSOUMO Zojoji temple must stand before you. Now you need to be at the edge of Shiba Park and have in front of its main entrance. And since in general, the traffic stops you a few moments to pass, enjoy it to enlighten you on this majestic entrance: this wooden structure was built in 1622 and is one of the oldest elements of the Zojoji temple since time EDO. 21 meters high, 28.7 meters wide and a depth greater than 17 meters, it leaves assume the scale of other buildings built at that time. Look up to see the floor of this entry: you see sculptures of Shakyamuni Buddha, two Bodhisattva Manjushri and SAMANTABDHRA and 16 other Buddhist disciples who were sanctuarisées in the 16th century. Now pass under this door to enter the Shiba Park.

History Zojoji Temple and Shiba Park

We'll give you some details on the history of Shiba Park and Zojoji Temple. This is one of the oldest parks in Japan since it was opened to the public in 1873 at the same time as the Ueno park (OUéNO) ASAKOUSA, FOUKOUGAWA and Asukayama. Its area has continued to be trimmed by the religious buildings of Zojoji and construction of hotel establishments in 1964 and 2004. Thus, there remains a greenbelt around the temple and the term 'Park "does not match the picture you expected probably, is not it? Zojoji remains the main temple of the Buddhist movement JODO SHOU says "pure land." Fine, but what does it mean? Well, back to the 12th and 13th centuries. And more specifically in 1185: we are at the end of the period HEIAN, and Japan is plagued by a succession of natural disasters, famines, epidemics. And even in a crisis of conscience linked to the outbreak of warlike monks and warriors to lead the country. In short, it is the religious disorder in a disorganized society. Religious then feel the need to reform the discredited Buddhism. A slew of movements appear under the influence of preachers who claim that -to save humanity-we must make them more accessible to all doctrines walks. One -called HONEN- says that to be saved Buddhist underworld and attain enlightenment, do not study the texts, but just have faith in invoking the glory to Amida Buddha. "NAMU Amida Butsu", becomes the expression goes. This idea, poorly received by the hierarchy of the movement Tendai Honen which belonged since adolescence, Tendai divided into clans. Honen then founded the Jodo SHOU, the "cult" of Pure Land Buddhism, which advocates a new simple but revolutionary. As the great Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu established his government in 1590 in Edo, now Tokyo, and was a strong supporter of the movement JODO SHOU, he decided to settle in 1598 Zojoji in Shiba Park area. This site attached to the military family Tokugawa became an administrative center that controlled the religious and grammatical studies of thousands of students. The site lay at the time about 826,000 square meters including 46 appendices temples. More than 3,000 priests and students permanently residing there. The end of the reign of the Tokugawa family and the opening of the Meiji era in 1868 reinforced the anti-Buddhist movement, Zojoji was abandoned and burned by the air raids of World War II. The buildings you see, then, to this day are of relatively recent construction. This place, however, remains the main active center of the worshipers of the movement of the Pure Land.

The architecture of Zojoji Temple

And now let us return to the tour! In front of you at the back of the courtyard stands the DAIDEN (DAILLE DEN). This is the main building, which was rebuilt in 1974. The combination of a traditional Buddhist architecture with modern materials is remarkable. And the view of the Temple with the behind Tokyo Tower gives a striking picture of the mixture of tradition and modernity in Japan. Look carefully the temple. We will try to see what is special about this architecture. As the Greek temple, Japanese temple is built to be seen from the outside: the faithful remnant at the entrance to his devotions. This is also a bit why the roof even extends to the front of the main door into a sort of canopy supported by columns. As it is home to the faithful who calls the god of a gong, the salutes, claps his hands to the fire and goes. Inside, everything is drowned in semi-darkness. The huge roof, overflowing outside the monument, crushes and hides the details. It is supported now by square posts, as sometimes herein as round columns, provided at their foot with a single metal torus and trimmed free of capital at the top. Is a detail surprises you on the roof? Yes, indeed the two horns. You may be wondering what these two "horns" on each side? Well they are to cast out demons. For a Westerner, such a religious building is amazing. No vertical momentum and in our churches, in contrast, there is a sense that the temple crashed through its roof. Whereas in the West, religious architecture has evolved in the direction of elevation growing gradually as the techniques were perfected, Buddhist temples are stocky, anchored in the ground. And this for one simple reason: the churches rise to the sky to guide the faithful to God; but for Buddhists, "God" does not live in a specific place, it is no more in heaven than elsewhere. It is the whole nature which contains the spiritual and the temple should be an image of harmony between its different elements. Good. And then there are also more practical reasons: because we are in the land of earthquakes: there prefer buildings that have a solid foundation, although broad and stable !

The interior of Temple Zojoji

The wide stairs leading to the main hall will allow you to climb to the temple. You can go sit inside, facing the big picture Honzon Amida Buddha. You are facing the statue of Buddha? It was conducted under the MOUROMATCHI period stretching from 1338 to 1600. To the left of Buddha stands a representation of Honen, the founder of the movement of the Pure Land and to the right stands a SHAN TAO image the monk who perfected the doctrine of Buddhism Jodo HUS in China. If you have the chance to attend the preparations of a religious service, linger a bit in this place of prayer. Now if you like, out of the hall to get around the building remaining on the covered terrace for a view of the base of the TOKYO TOWER. Once reached behind the main hall, by leaning on the railing, you should see a cemetery for adults whose special feature is the wooden slats on which included prayers for the repose of the souls. Now do the full tour of the building, down the steps and once down, turn left.

The Jizo

knitted hats in red wool capes and bibs. What a strange procession of little people, is not it? Each statue is a Jizo, that is to say, it represents the soul of a stillborn, aborted or died in infancy. In front of the Jizo is a small vase to offer her flowers and a cylindrical support to develop a colorful windmill that turns the slightest wind. The passage of the god of the wind in the mills means that the breath of life goes to these little souls. Sometimes other more materialistic offerings take place at the feet of statues: it can be toys, candies, fruit juice or small change. The repentant mothers attach to these figures and their carers on the occasion. Note that in the history of Japan, abortions, adoptions and child abandonment were common practices and probably not taboo. The reasons, though many and varied, allowed mainly clans to grow and to some families to perpetuate the name and coat of arms. Another reason given for the presence of these graves for the souls of the fetus would be the lack of oral contraceptives on Japanese territory until 2007. In fact, the health authorities recently lifted the ban on pill recently in the country. Abortion was so widespread and practical input in manners.

Daibonsho, the building of the large bell

Now head for the exit and cross the courtyard to the main door. You should see in front a small pavilion whose roof rests on red pillars sealed in a stone dais. And you see a small staircase in the middle that is closed by a wooden fence. This is the DAÏBONSHO! What is it about ? This is "the great bell of the building." Completed in 1673 after 7 attempts to realize, this lodge is known for the size of its bell 333 cm high, 176 cm diameter, 15 tons short, one of the three largest bells of the Edo period. It produces a very serious and rang six times each morning and late afternoon. The traditional view is that it serves to purify the 108 earthly passions that distract the minds of men. Well, this is where our tour stops. Exiting the Zojoji Temple through the front door SANGEDATSUMON, you can either return a subway or decide to extend the discovery of the area by winning the Tokyo Tower.