I am soooooo tired. I only slept about 2 hours last night (and that was interrupted from a nightmare that woke me up ~ Um, excuse me, subconscious. I’m on vacation!) and we were walking pretty much non-stop from 8am to around 6pm. ATM, I can barely move my legs. I have to get to sleep pretty much right away because tomorrow is another long day and I have to be up at 5. So, for now, I’m just going to post the pictures and I’ll come back and add anecdotes and edit later. (I have notes!) (Back to add more info now! – April 17)
much better view from our hotel room – This will be our home for the next 8 days.
Gudetama display in some business building we popped into on the way to the train station because they had a Starbucks (which we didn’t buy anything from).
morning rush hour
JR Yamanote line train – This line makes a loop around central Tokyo. It’s basically the only one we use.
For those that don’t know~ No, those aren’t SARS masks. Japanese people (and many other Asian countries) wear masks when they are sick so they don’t spread their germs, if they are suffering from allergies, or if they are susceptible to becoming ill. It’s a politeness thing. There are so many people densely packed into a small area. No one wants to be sneezed on.
First stop ~ Ueno Station. From here, we had to transfer to the Ginza line (not a JR line – the ONLY train we had to pay for) to go to Asakusa.
trying out melon flavoured Calpis – not bad, but I didn’t drink it all
not too busy
Our JR passes will cover almost every single ride for our entire trip except this one. There are many different companies operating train/subways lines in Tokyo. JR (Japan Rail) is owned by the government, I believe, and the largest. The Ginza Line is part of the Tokyo Metro Subway company… I think.
There is helpful signage to know which exit to take out of the station.
station art mural
Many restaurants display plastic replicas – sanpuru (sample) – of their menu to tempt passersby and make ordering easier.
Another koban. My collection is underway. (See? Giving directions. Haha)
Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center
Kaminari Gate – the entrance to the temple & shrine complex
There are a LOT of rickshaw in the area. The drivers give tours with information and anecdotes about the sites.
How they can keep up with traffic… pretty amazing.
Tokyo Skytree in the distance – It was on our Plan B for the day, if we had had more time, but didn’t make it.
Skytree and the Asahi Breweries (It took me years to realize that the building is supposed to look like a glass of beer.)
rickshaw guy waiting for customers or taking a break
one of the guardians
famous Kaminari (thunder) lantern – one of the symbols of Asakusa
the other guardian
No, not a Nazi symbol. (Hilter ruins everything!) Read this FMI.
The beginning of Nakamise-dori – the shopping street leading up to the temple, where you can find all kinds of Japanese-y souvenirs and street food.
statues (here and below) on the back of Kaminari-mon
When we got there, some of the shops weren’t open yet.
Shops are small, cramped, and somewhat overwhelming.
LIARS! (not that we could find anyway)
About halfway up, there is an intersection leading to a covered shopping street called Shin-Nakamise. We didn’t go that way because we had too much to fit in today and we had been there before anyway.
many different confections to be found on Nakamise
This little old lady was adorable – and so friendly and smiley.
I didn’t even see that ninja until right now. There is so much to see, you are bound to miss stuff.
The mask on the top right is coming home with me.
My attention was caught by the kamidana shelf above the cash register. It’s a personal shrine found in Shinto homes and businesses.
sembei (rice crackers) – a speciality in this area
No idea what this guy was selling since I couldn’t get close enough. There was a big line though.
These masks are common at summer festivals stalls too. They are featuring Noh theatre caricatures.
Another intersecting street at the top of Nakamise. (We’ve never explored this street.) Asakusa is known for keeping the old feel of Tokyo
This was our first good look at cherry blossoms in the daylight.
I noticed these 2 buildings had lifesize (bigger?) figures sitting on the roofs when I was looking at Google Maps streetview. I had to get some real life pictures.
The sakura were gorgeous…
…but there were literally thousands of people.
You can frequently find food stalls leading up to temple and shrines.
Hubby got a chocolate banana on a stick.
The second gate to the temple – Hozo-mon – is bigger and has 3 lanterns.
nikuman (meat buns)
Another famous treat to get in Asakusa is soft-serve ice cream in various unusual flavours – such as cherry blossoms, pudding, sesame, chestnut, etc.
Gotta make use of that selfie-stick.
Behind this couple is another koban (in disguise – note the policeman)
He bowed every time he passed the entrance.
the famous pagoda
Waft the smoke over your head and body to ensure good health and freedom from pains.
Get your fortune for 100 yen – on the honour system.
I accidentally ripped it when I was tying it on. Oops!
It took forever and trying to understand several different people, but we finally located where to get shuin – in this building.
Pretty good camera for an iPhone! Take your pick.
even more food stalls
We ended up seeing this tour group in yellow jackets EVERYWHERE
Hubby and I like make fun of people and their staged poses.
I saw videos and read blogs about this great taiyaki place on Shin-Nakamise dori.
I can now attest personally that they are great!
I got custard and Hubby got chocolate.
Another ‘must-have’ treat in Asakusa is ningyo-yaki – a small pancake-like shell filled with red bean paste.
They come in shapes symbolic of the area: the famous Asakusa Kaminari lantern, a turtle, the Asakusa Temple pagoda, and a bird.
another ice cream place – I couldn’t pass it up this time
Okay, I understand taro and orange… but buckwheat and bean powder?
Each serving is pre-packaheg in a cup and put through some sort of extruder.
I got white peach.
I’ve decided to split this into two. ‘Cause… Damn! I take a lot of pictures. (And this is with my battery dying halfway through the day so I missed a big chunk.) Click here for part 2 ~ Ueno.
(originally posted to Japan – Here I Come!)