Japan Diaries Day 4 – Asakusa

Standard

Week 4 since my return equals Day 4 in my diary of my 1-month Japan trip! Day 4 means Asakusa and Tokyo Sky Tree! If you missed Day 3, be sure to check it out!

☆*✲゚*。☆*✲゚*。☆*✲゚*。☆*✲゚*。☆*✲゚*。☆。*゚✲*☆。*゚✲*☆。*゚✲*☆。*゚✲*☆。*゚✲*☆

2014年12月8日

My fiancé wanted to do the tourist-type things on weekdays not weekends because he hates crowds and wanted to avoid them as much as possible. So Monday we headed to the first place on my list of places to go: Asakusa 浅草!

Asakusa is an old temple town that became popular for wealthy merchants during the Edo period. Edo was the old name for the capital city of Tokyo. This was when the Tokugawa shogunate was ruling, so it’s also called the Tokugawa period.

Sensou-ji 浅草寺 is a famous Buddhist temple in Asakusa. It’s dedicated to Kannon, a bodhisattva representing mercy. The temple was even designated by Tokugawa Ieyasu as the patron temple for the Tokugawa clan. It’s also known as the Asakusa Kannon Temple, but I’ve never heard it called that.

Sensou-ji Kaminarimon

Sensou-ji Kaminarimon

Outside the temple, there are many jinrikisha 人力車 (literally, person-powered vehicle) drivers who want to sell you a ride around Asakusa. A jinrikisha is a cart pulled by a person. I think the best offer we had was ¥4000 for two people, but we didn’t take it. I think it’s a fun touristy thing to do, but it just wasn’t for me. Some of the drivers speak decent English, some speak pretty lousy English, but they will give you a tour of the area, including a famous brothel that is a little far to walk from the gates of the temple.

An interesting note, the drivers can’t enter a certain radius around the gate. Apparently, they got too pushy and were banned from coming to close because they crowded the entry gate. Someone asked a driver to take a photo for them, but the driver couldn’t because they couldn’t enter close enough to take the photo.

The first gate you come to is the Kaminarimon 雷門, or “Thunder Gate.” There is a huge red paper lantern that marks the entrance and has the kanji for Kaminarimon in black. On either side of the lantern are the guardians of the temple, the god of wind (right) and god of thunder (left), which protect the deity inside the temple.

Kaminarimon

Kaminarimon

Once you pass through Kaminarimon, you come to rows of shops called Nakamise-dori. You can buy gifts and souvenirs that are representative of historic Japan: fans, mirrors, versatile towels called tenugui , welcoming cats (manekineko), and dishware. I could literally spend hours just looking at everything.

Nakamise-dori

Nakamise-dori

The next gate before you get to the temple proper is Hozomon , or “Treasure House Gate.” The main hall is straight through, and to the left is a five-story pagoda.

Hozomon

Hozomon and the five-story pagoda

If you go to the right just before Hozomon, there is a famous melon pan メロンパン store called Kagetsudo 花月堂. Melon pan is a sweet bread. I don’t really like sweet bread, but this store’s melon pan was amazing. There are many pictures of famous people eating melon pan, and when you order they will ask if you want to eat it right away or take it home. There are different preparation methods depending on when you want to eat it, because if you take home the fresh one it will not taste as good.

Kagetsudo melon pan

Kagetsudo melon pan

I also ate agemanju あげまんじゅう, which is battered deep-fried soft cake filled with anko あんこ (sweet red bean paste), and imo yokan soft 芋ようかんソフト (sweet potato soft-serve ice cream). No lunch, just sweets. That’s the way to roll when you’re eating temple food!

I wanted to get a good view of the Asakusa area, so we went to the Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center 浅草文化観光センター. It’s literally across the street from the entrance to Sensou-ji, and it has a very unique architecture, so it’s hard to miss! It also has an awesome observation deck and some kind of café on the roof. You can see the Sensou-ji complex and the Tokyo Sky Tree from the roof, as well as the Asahi flying golden poo… Asahi Beer has its headquarters in Asakusa, and it has some kind of gold symbol with an interesting shape that has given it’s nickname.

Tokyo Sky Tree

Tokyo Sky Tree and Asahi’s icon

Then it was time for a trip to Tokyo Sky Tree 東京スカイツリー! It’s easy to get to from Asakusa via the Tobu Sky Tree Line…but I’m going to save that for my next blog, because this one is already pretty long, and I have some things I must attend to!

Have you been to Asakusa? Did you try the amazing food?

Until next time, Japan travel fans!

Next Up: Japan Diaries Day 5 – Tokyo Skytree & Sumida Aquarium

Japan Diaries 2014

Advertisements

15 thoughts on “Japan Diaries Day 4 – Asakusa

  1. Asakusa is a fun trip, we really enjoyed it and took my friend who came to visit us there because she is very interested in Kannon. We took the rickshaw to the temple area, it was fun and a nice way to go. Makes it easier, we didn’t have to worry about walking through crowds or finding our way. Love the golden poo too. Haha! Skytree is great, looking forward to reading your experience of it.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s