Having aborted the second dinner the day before, the Tsukiji Fish market for the tuna auctions became the plan the next morning. Getting up at 2:30am, at Sam's hotel by 3:15am, at the fish market just after 3:30am. Turns out the crowd doesn't hit til 4:00am, so we could've been 20 minutes later... but better safe than sorry!
(showing up by 3:55am is ok, by 4:00am you probably won't be in the first group, by 4:15am you're out of luck!)
The tuna auctions didn't even start til 5am; definitely not worth it given you're just herded into a huge room and only allowed to stand in the middle for 25 minutes, if you witness an auction or two then cool, if not or it was on the far side of the viewing area, you're out of luck. However, it was one of the truly unique things here, and by 6:30am it's on to the best part of the day-- the very fresh sushi right on the fish market grounds!
Sushi Dai had a 90+ minute line even then, we went to Sushi Daiwa which was still extremely delicious. The set was about $35 (JPY3500?), plus regular mackerel, anchovy, and Japanese mackerel since they were all in season. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!
Went back and napped for a bit, then rushed to catch Sam and Parveen at the aborted second dinner location from last night- Honmura An. A second meal of excellent soba and tempura; the agedashi tofu was very good as well. As much rushing as was needed, it was well worth the trek. Then beelined back to the hotel to pack, mail postcards, check-out, and just barely made the airport limo bus back to Narita.
Did a quick stop for a shower (airport shower = brilliant), McDonalds (Japan-only chicken teriyaki burger, verdict = meh), couldn't find the Kit Kat bars I wanted (sad face), then went through and witnessed the only time I've seen a United employee walking through the gate area explaining the concept of boarding groups at an airport. I guess Japanese customer service does rub off around here!
Flight was pretty boring, thanks to the 2:30am wake-up, sleeping on the plane, through the mediocre food, and everything else was easy! Even the food wasn't too bad. Still horrible airplane food, but throw in a little extra fatigue and everything tastes better. Arrived back in the USA at 11:00am, or some 6 hours before I left! Hooray for time travel!!! ... errrr time zone changes. (that's not nearly as cool sounding...)