Our trip around the world started off with a bang!
Amazing sushi at Sushi Dai restaurant followed by watching the Grand Sumo tournament in Tokyo.
Not bad for day 1…
Our original plan was to fly into Tokyo late at night, take the early morning train to Kyoto and spend three days exploring the Kyoto area but when we were waiting to board our flights to Japan, we noticed that there was a Grand Sumo tournament going on in Tokyo. What are the odds?
The tournament is only held 6 times a year and in different parts of Japan, so for it to coincide with our trip to Tokyo was perfect. Not to mention there were still tickets available for the next day.
We hadn’t budgeted for this but opportunities like this come once in a life and since watching a sumo tournament is on our bucket lists, we switched around the plans so that we could spend the first day in Tokyo and then take the evening train to Kyoto instead.
After getting our sumo tickets at 8am, we had a few hours to kill before heading back to the Ryogoku Kokugikan sumo stadium to watch the matches. So we decided to head to the world’s largest fish market instead. We knew all the action at the Tsukiji fish market would be over by the time we go there but we decided to try our luck at getting some sushi brunch at the Sushi Dai restaurant instead.
Sushi Dai is known to be one of the best sushi restaurants in the world. Despite the large number of sushi restaurants around the market, people routinely stand in line for 2-3 hours just to eat there. Thankfully, our wait was only around 1 hour.
We decided to go with the “Trust the Chef” special. At 3900 Japanese Yen (~$50 USD) each, it consisted of 10 pieces of sushi based on the day’s catch that the chef serves up and an additional piece that you select from the first 10. I couldn’t wait to try all the amazing sushi. Staci, on the other hand, hates sushi but she decided to suck it up and try it out anyway. Proud of her!
Hands down, this had to be the best sushi I have ever had.
I think the fatty tuna and the sea eel had to be my favorites.
The highlight of the lunch though was the chef trying to explain dish #4: the “cram” (photo #6 in image above). It took us a while to figure out that “cram” meant clam which then led to Staci almost gagging on it. And seeing how the restaurant was only big enough to seat 12 people around the bar, I was praying that there was not going to be any projectile vomiting involved. Thankfully though, the episode passed and while Staci didn’t try much more sushi, I went back to eating for both of us. No problems there
After some delicious sushi, we wandered around the Tsukiji Fish market briefly. Although most of the day’s action was over by the time we got done with lunch, it was still fun walking around and seeing all the vehicles buzz around with the catch.
Then it was time to head back over to the Ryogoku Kokugikan hall for some sumo action.
We had got the Japanese style seating Box B seats for 10300 yen (~125 USD) each. We werent sure how that would work out and if the view would be good but they ended up being great seats. Plus, since we got there before the crowds got in, I managed to get in closer to the ring and take some photos up close.
As impressive as the sumo wrestlers look on TV, watching them up close and personal is an insane experience. The true strength and athleticism of these wrestlers is crazy.
Finally, it was time for the top ranked sumo wrestlers, the Makuuchi, to come out and start their bouts.
Watching the sumo wrestlers live in action was an amazing experience and although it was on the very first day of our Asia trip, I think it will definitely be one of the highlights.