December 23, 2011


One of my favorite Tokyo discoveries is Kingyozaka, literally "goldfish hill". It is a goldfish supplier/cafe in Hongo with a very long history. The business was established over 350 years ago, and the current okami (proprietress) is the seventh-generation manager.

The last time I was here, a group of kids were fishing for goldfish.

There are easily over a dozen types of goldfish, from your standard matsuri (festival) Japanese goldfish, to the fancy ones with puffy faces.

I'm sure it's cheaper to win fish at a festival, but it's said that such goldfish are more susceptible to diseases, and generally exhausted, having been dragged around from festival to festival. That said, I once got five goldfish (one red wakin, two salmon pink fish, and two bulgy-eyed demekin), and they lived over five years.

Visitors are always welcome at Kingyozaka. (I think the logic is that if you've gone out of your way to find the place, and you express a delight in the fish, they do not want to discourage you.) You're even allowed to walk on the planks to get a better view of the fish.

When it's warmer, it's nearly impossible to get a photo of the fish without it being horribly blurred, but the winter cold has calmed them down to the point of absolute stillness.

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