Archive for the 'Tokyo' Category

Sensoji Temple


Well, this is basically a continuation of the previous entry. After brunch, I decided to go to Sensoji Temple (Asakusa Kannon Temple). I started by going into the front of Kaminarimon Gate. Since this was on Sunday, the place was packed full of tourists. There are also these rickshaw drivers trying to offer people a ride on their carriage. I’ve seen this on Japanese Drama but I never thought that there really are rickshaw drivers in Japan. Anyway, Kaminarimon Gate is basically an entrance to the Nakamise shopping arcade and of course, the Sensoji temple itself.

Kaminarimon GateRicksawKibidango

Once you past the gate, you basically will see rows of traditional shops lining up from the start of the gate to the front of the temple. These shops sell many things including Foods, Kimono, Sweets, Biscuits, and other types of souvenirs to take home. Like I said on my previous entry, I had to restraint myself from buying anything because I’d travel to Central Japan and possibly elsewhere so it wasn’t a good idea to buy too much things at this point in time. In the end, all that I bought was a pack of Kibidango. After 5-10 minutes of continuous shops, I ended up in front of Sensoji-temple.

Nakamise shoutengaiYakisobaTemple

The first thing that I did was washing both of my hands in a fountain underneath the general statue. To be honest, I wasn’t sure if this was a requirement of entering the temple. But everyone else did it and I didn’t want to be the only one who breaks the rule and offends someone. Anyway, a bit of history here, Asakusa Kannon Temple is basically named after the Kannon/the Goddess of Mercy. The inside of the temple is heavily decorated. Unfortunately, there is some kind of bar that separates the visitors from the altar, so I couldn’t take a good picture of the altar.


There’s also this place where you can throw coins and wish for something. I can’t remember what I wished for but I sure hope it will come true :D. Anyway, the top of the ceiling contains these two paintings that alternate with each other. One of the painting is that of a Goddess, and the other is a dragon. Both are equally impressive and I kept wondering what kind of back pain the painter must endured during the creation of these work of art. Anyway, apart from the temple, there is also a shrine built based on the order of the 3rd Tokugawa Shogun to commemorate the 3 fishermen and a very zen-like park.

Goddess paintingBird housePark

Some of the highlight of the park includes: a statue of Buddha, a tranquil pond complete with Koi fish, Sakura petals flying all over as one passes the park, a cute bird house, and a Spring festival around the park. I have to say that I’ve been enjoying this particular temple. I know that some part of it sounds really commercial (the store stalls, etc). Having said that, it’s such a minor part that I don’t think it’ll ruin the entire experience of visiting the temple itself.



Old House

Started the day by visiting a local food vendor. This place is frequented by the local neighbourhood Oyaji (old guys) who come daily for their noodle fix. I have to admit that I never experienced this kind of ordering method beforehand. Basically you put your order on a vending machine by placing coins into it.

Once you’ve made your selection, the machine will print a ticket which you will then give to the waitress before you sit down and wait for your meal. I thought it was a rather nifty thing and the food is not bad either. I ended up ordering Chicken Katsu Curry (650 Yen) because the time was close to lunch and I haven’t had any breakfast.

Back alleyVending Machine

Once that was over, I decided to walk around the neighborhood. Asakusa is quite an interesting place. It’s a mixture of the old and new culture of Japan. So while you can see places such as Starbucks and KFC, if you want you can always go to one of the food vendors to buy a bento/takoyaki.

Anyway, Asakusa is definitely a good place if you’re looking after some traditional Japanese foods as well as presents to bring back home. And I am not even talking about Nakamise shopping arcade just yet. I’m talking about the surrounding shops around the neighborhood. It was definitely hard for me to not succumb to the buying mentality.

Chicken Katsu CurryUdon maker

In the end, I had no choice but to force myself to remember that I’m still going to be here for another 2.5 months and at the end of that month, I’ll be going back to Tokyo anyway. Somehow I managed to made it through without buying anything much. The only thing that I bought was this really nice traditional cake called Kibidango.

This is some kind of glutinous rice cake mixed together with peanuts and coated with brown sugar. You can get this at the Nakamise shopping arcade and I’ll talk about this and Sensoji-temple next after I get some sleep and sort the pictures that I took while I went there. I think I went a little bit overboard when I took the pictures.



「花見」 – Hanami (Cherry Blossom viewing)

Sumida Park

Well, the first day was kind of rough. I arrived at Narita Airport around 7.15am and immediately decided to exchange the JR Exchange Order with the actual JR Rail Pass. For those of you who didn’t know, JR Rail Pass allows you to travel using any kind of JR train system, including Shinkansen (as long as it’s not the special Nozomi train).

This pass has definitely saved me a lot of money since it’s practically impossible to go on your own in Japan without using the train most of the time. Of course, later on I found out that I still need to buy the Passnet ticket to use the subways since that area is not covered by JR.

Anyway, if you intend to go to Japan on your own (as in without tour guide or anyone to guide you), then I’d recommend that you convert some of your money into Japanese Yen. I can’t emphasize this enough for first-time visitors to Japan. Don’t believe anyone who said that you can find an ATM to withdraw money easily from your bank account.

The only ATM that most overseas visitors can use is Post office’s ATMs which are quite difficult to find. If you’ve been here before, you might be able to find the location of the ATM that accepts foreign card easily. But for a first timer, it’s a nightmare to find. This is especially bad on the weekend because the Post Office, which will normally allow you to withdraw money from your foreign account, is closed.

LanternSakuraSakura House

Because I couldn’t find an ATM that accepts my bank card, I ended up running from one area to another while carrying 3 luggage. Yes, it was very painful. Somehow, however, I managed to find the energy to walk over to a local park near the hostel where I am staying. The park, which is called Sumida Park just happens to have a Hanami celebration.

Everyone and their mother can be seen having picnic underneath the Sakura trees. I have to say that I had never seen anything like a Cherry Blossom. To say that it’s beautiful is an understatement. I still can’t believe that I get to see something like this.

I always thought that CLAMP exaggerates those sakura petals in their manga/anime so I was really surprised when I found myself being enveloped by these petals. When these petals fall, they do fall by bucketloads. The sensation of being covered by petals as you walk has to be seen yourself to be believed.

The petals are not the only thing to enjoy around this place. There are various stalls around the area selling the usual festival kind of foods such as Takoyaki, Okonomiyaki, Chocolate-covered Banana, and Matcha (Green Tea) Ice cream.

Sakura Petals and LeafTakoyaki sellerToire

After wondering around the park taking photographs for 2+ hours, I decided to go back to the hostel because my body still hasn’t recovered from the jetlag and the ‘fun’ adventure where I got to find that elusive ATM. The room in the hostel is quite comfy. There is a cable TV in the place but the only anime I managed to see are the kiddy kind such as Zoids, Pretty Cure so I didn’t pay that much interest in them.


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