Sensoji Buddhist temple crowds Tokyo

Japan: Nakamise street, Senso-ji temple, and Ueno Park sakura at half-bloom

Date: 26th March 2015

After spending days outside Tokyo — mostly Kyoto and Himeji — I was back in Japan’s impressive capital city. I was staying in the Asakusa area, popular for being close to many of Tokyo’s attraction — namely Nakamise Street, Sensoji shrine, Asakusa shrine and Sumida River. It’s why I chose to stay in Asakusa and booked myself at the Khaosan Tokyo Laboratory hostel for a few days.

Toshiba Japanese toilet buttons
Toshiba toilets, who would have thought πŸ™‚ It was nice to sit on these on a chilly morning — because the toilet seat would warm up!
Khaosan Tokyo hostel kitchen terrace
I went upstairs to the kitchen to have my breakfast
Khaosan Tokyo hostel kitchen utilities
The kitchen isn’t very big but I didn’t find it very crowded either. It has all the essential appliances.
Khaosan Tokyo Laboratory hostel Japan
I got ready and went downstairs to check out the information the hostel had put up about attractions in Tokyo and how to get to each one.
Asakusa district Tokyo Japan
First attraction on today’s sightseeing list was Senso-ji temple, so I headed out in that direction
Mos Burger Asakusa outlet Tokyo Japan
Good thing there was a Mos Burger outlet nearby πŸ™‚

I walked towards the end of the road Senso-ji was situated on just to explore the surroundings. There are quite a few banks around, so I got some US dollars exchanged.

Asahi beer building skytree Asakusa Tokyo
Past the bridge over Sumida river is the Asahi Beer Hall (the building with the ‘golden turd’ on top of it)
Senso-ji shrine entrance Tokyo
This is the entrance to Senso-ji Temple, one of the most popular Buddhist shrines in Japan — because it’s the oldest in Tokyo. Therefore, it’s also one of the most popular attractions in the city.
Kaminarimon giant lantern Sensoji-japan
This large lantern is called a Kaminarimon
Nakamise dori shop street Tokyo Japan
Leading up to Senso-ji temple is Nakamise Street, choc full of small shops

Nakamise Dori, as its known in Japanese, has seen many shops come and go since it first came up in the 18th century.

Shops Sensoji Tokyo Japan
Now in the 21st century, much of the shops cater mostly to tourists. So plenty of souvenirs and traditional gifts on sale.
Fried snacks Nakamise street Tokyo
Besides souvenirs and merchandise mostly targeted at tourists, there were plenty of snacks on sale. This was a shop selling all things deep fried.
Cream filled cake machine Japan
This machine made sweet biscuits fresh and yes, you can buy them right away. I tried one, it was alright.
Stuffed toys shop Sensoji Japan
This store sold many stuffed toys, both licensed brands and others
Kabuki masks for sale Tokyo Japan
Kabuki masks, they were quite expensive
Rice crackers Nakamise stall Tokyo
This is a spicy char-grilled rice cracker called Osenbei. I tried one, it was… alright.
Restaurants Nakamise street Tokyo-japan
There are plenty of shops and restaurants behind Nakamise street as well
Nakamise Dori Sensoji Tokyo Japan
At the end of the 200 metre long Nakamise Street is Senso-ji Temple, also known as Asakusa Kannon Temple
Sensoji temple panorama Japan
To the left is Asakusa Shrine and the five storey pagoda, and to the right in the distance is the Tokyo Skytree
Sensoji temple Tokyo Japan
I walked up to the main temple hall
Sensoji Buddhist temple Tokyo
Sensoji Temple has seen many renovations over time
Sensoji Buddhist worship Japan
I didn’t enter the worship area, mostly because photography isn’t permitted inside
Buddhist shrine Sensoji Japan
Plus it’s a Buddhist temple, it’s not like I know the rituals
Sensoji Buddhist temple crowds Tokyo
A view from the steps of Senso-ji main hall
Sensoji buddhist temple burning paper
I’ve always wondered why they burned incense sticks at Buddhist temples. Turns out it’s a belief that if you direct the flow of the smoke in your direction, it bring goodness and true virtue. (Correct me if I’m wrong)
Kaminarimon sensoji Tokyo Japan
Another massive lantern
Carving under lantern kaminarimon Japan
And this is what everyone was trying to photograph under the lantern
Pagoda Sensoji Asakusa Tokyo
Can people enter the pagoda?
Senso-ji tourists panorama Japan
It was time to leave as I had seen enough. I walked to the left side for a bit.
Dancing monkey street performer Japan
Away from the crowds was a spot where this performer was making her monkey dance
Tokyo skytree from Asakusa Japan
Tokyo Sky Tree, the tallest building in Japan. I hoped to go there one of these days. (Shot on my mobile)
Shopping arcade Asakusa Tokyo
I then walked to the left side and found myself in a shopping arcade
Japanese food display Tokyo
I walked past a restaurant. I loved seeing the mock food on display.

Like a lot of things, Japan takes the art of making mock food to perfection! Check out this video of an expert showcasing the craft of making fake food/dishes look absolutely life like!

Taj Mahal Indian restaurant Asakusa Tokyo
As I walked around the shopping arcade, I stumbled upon an Indian restaurant
Indian restaurant buffet Tokyo Japan
They had a buffet for Β₯980 (β‚Ή560/$8/€7) — 2 types of non-vegetarian gravies, two vegetarian gravies, naan, “saffron” rice (quite bland and coloured using either turmeric or artificial colouring) and a dessert

I wasn’t super keen on eating Indian food again but the thought of freshly-made, hot naan was too good to resist and I sat down for an early lunch. The curries, rice and dessert (lassi with fruit bit in them) was below average at best, so I just had the naans with the chicken curry. At Β₯980, I couldn’t complain because it really filled me up and I felt good after some spice entered my body in this chilly weather.

Asakusa subway station platform Tokyo
Post lunch, I decided to leave Asakusa and go to Ueno
Ueno park JR line sign station
I was in Ueno primarily to visit Ueno Park
Ueno park Kesei train station Tokyo
Ueno Park is where you will find the Kesei train station. From here, you can board the high-speed train to Narita Airport
Sakura Ueno park entrance Tokyo
I came to see if the cherry blossoms had fully bloomed. From the outside, it looked promising
Ueno park Tokyo Japan
But as I entered the park, I was a tad disappointed
Ueno park sakura tree yet to blossom
Looks like I have to wait a few more days
Bird nectar cherry blossom flower Japan
But the birds were making the most of the flowers that had blossomed
Kiyomizu Kannon do shrine
I walked up to see the Kiyomizu Kannon Do shrine (taken on my GoPro camera)
Ring tree Ueno park Tokyo
A ring-shaped tree?
Ueno park high view Tokyo
Shot this from the top of the steps
Ueno park sakura half bloom panoram
Still, Ueno Park attracts a lot of tourists
Schoolgirl photographing sakura Japan
People were already in ‘picnic mood’
Segregate waste bins Ueno park Japan
The authorities had put up segregated waste bins all over the park
Ueno park white sakura Tokyo
The white sakura really stood out amidst the pink all around
Mithun sakura Ueno park Japan
I posed for one
White cherry blossom Ueno park
Took this photo using the Canon 70-200mm f2.8 lens
Prince Komatsu Akihito statue Ueno park
A statue of Prince Komatsu Akihito
Ueno park half bloom sakura season
I was a bit worried that the sakura wouldn’t fully bloom by the time I left Japan

But I would visit Ueno Park again a few days later, and this was the scene:

White sakura Ueno Park

So look forward to that. Next up, I would spend some time at Ueno Zoo, mainly to see the pandas there, before heading to Shibuya in the evening.

Next post in this series:

Japan 2015: Ueno Zoo – pandas, a lonely polar bear, and more

Japan 2015: Shibuya – the busiest crossing in the world, and home to a loyal dog

Japan 2015: Shibuya – the busiest crossing in the world, and home to a loyal dog

Japan 2015: Nishi-Shinjuku β€” views from Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building sky deck

Japan 2015: Shopping in Shinjuku, and Kabukicho

Japan 2015: Denboin garden, near Sensoji Temple

Japan 2015: Cherry blossom celebrations by Sumida River

Japan 2015: Boat ride to Odaiba; giant Gundam statue at DiverCity Mall

Japan 2015: Cherry blossoms at Tokyo Imperial Palace east garden

Japan 2015: Cherry blossom sightings at Shinjuku Gyoen

Japan 2015: Harajuku on a Sunday – Meiji shrine and Yoyogi Park

Japan 2015: Harajuku at night — Takeshita Street

Japan 2015 – Visiting Akihabara a second time, because why not?

Japan 2015: Cherry blossoms in full bloom at Ueno Park

Japan 2015: Rikugien garden’s weeping cherry blossom tree

Japan 2015: Getting to Hakone; Lake Ashi sightseeing cruise

Japan 2015: Hakone ropeway; onsen at Hotel Green Plaza

Japan 2015: Ōwakudani sulphur springs, views of Mt. Fuji β€” and last night in Tokyo

Japan 2015: Getting to Narita Airport β€” and flying an Airbus A380 for the first time

Previous posts in this series:

Japan 2015: Himeji Castle, and the unexpected air show

Japan 2015: Kyoto Station, and arriving at Himeji by shinkansen

Japan 2015: Kyoto – Monkey Park in Arashiyama

Japan 2015: Kyoto – Bamboo Forest in Arashiyama

Japan 2015: Kyoto – Gion Corner Cultural Show

Japan 2015: Kyoto – Kinkaku-ji and Kiyomizu Dera temple

Japan 2015: Kyoto – Fushimi Inari-taisha, and climbing to the mountain top

Japan 2015: Kyoto – Nishiki market and Teramachi

Japan 2015: Kyoto – Nishi & Higashi Honganji, Shijo street, and Gion

Japan 2015: Riding a bullet train for the first time, Tokyo to Kyoto

Japan 2015: Walking around Akihabara and Ginza

Japan 2015: Going to Akihabara, and spending way too much time in Yodobashi Akiba

Japan 2015: Landing in Tokyo… and using a communal bath for the first time

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