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 toilets, who would have thought It was nice to sit on these on a chilly morning — because the toilet seat would warm up!
I went upstairs to the kitchen to have my breakfast
The kitchen isn’t very big but I didn’t find it very crowded either. It has all the essential appliances.
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.
First attraction on today’s sightseeing list was Senso-ji temple, so I headed out in that direction
Good thing there was a Mos Burger outlet nearby :)
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.
Past the bridge over Sumida river is the Asahi Beer Hall (the building with the ‘golden turd’ on top of it)
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.
This large lantern is called a Kaminarimon
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.
Now in the 21st century, much of the shops cater mostly to tourists. So plenty of souvenirs and traditional gifts on sale.
Besides souvenirs and merchandise mostly targeted at tourists, there were plenty of snacks on sale. This was a shop selling all things deep fried.
This machine made sweet biscuits fresh and yes, you can buy them right away. I tried one, it was alright.
This store sold many stuffed toys, both licensed brands and others
Kabuki masks, they were quite expensive
This is a spicy char-grilled rice cracker called Osenbei. I tried one, it was… alright.
There are plenty of shops and restaurants behind Nakamise street as well
At the end of the 200 metre long Nakamise Street is Senso-ji Temple, also known as Asakusa Kannon Temple
To the left is Asakusa Shrine and the five storey pagoda, and to the right in the distance is the Tokyo Skytree
I walked up to the main temple hall
Sensoji Temple has seen many renovations over time
I didn’t enter the worship area, most because photography isn’t permitted inside
Plus it’s a Buddhist temple, it’s not like I know the rituals
A view from the steps of Senso-ji main hall
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)
Another massive lantern
And this is what everyone was trying to photograph under the lantern
Can people enter the pagoda?
It was time to leave as I had seen enough. I walked to the left side for a bit.
Away from the crowds was a spot where this performer was making her monkey dance
Tokyo Sky Tree, the tallest building in Japan. I hoped to go there one of these days. (Shot on my mobile)
I then walked to the left side and found myself in a shopping arcade
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!
As I walked around the shopping arcade, I stumbled upon an Indian restaurant
They had a buffet for ¥980 (₹560/$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 ¥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.
Post lunch, I decided to leave Asakusa and go to Ueno
I was in Ueno primarily to visit Ueno Park
Ueno Park is where you will find the Kesei train station. From here, you can board the high-speed train to Narita Airport
I came to see if the cherry blossoms had fully bloomed. From the outside, it looked promising
But as I entered the park, I was a tad disappointed
Looks like I have to wait a few more days
But the birds were making the most of the flowers that had blossomed
Shot this from a higher vantage point
Still, Ueno Park attracts a lot of tourists
People were already in ‘picnic mood’
A statue of Prince Komatsu Akihito
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:
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.
After the morning disappointment of visiting Himeji Castle, I decided to explore Himeji city a bit more before leaving for Tokyo. I considered visiting one more attraction, and chose the Nadagiku Shuzo Sake Brewery (sake is a Japanese rice wine). Looking at a map of Himeji city, it didn’t seem that far from the JR station.
Loved seeing well designed sidewalks
And seeing the traditional with the new
I walked past the other side of the JR station, which has some hotels like Tokyo-Inn.com and a Japan Airlines building
I kept admiring the pavements because all this good planning is a rarity back in India
I tried to locate Nadagiku Shuzo Sake Brewery on Google Maps but I still ended up a bit lost after I followed the route the app showed me.
I arrived in Himeji city yesterday and I woke up today freezing just as much as I was yesterday night before going to bed. It was bloody cold! I got out of my capsule bed, brushed my teeth in ice cold water and had my breakfast.
I wanted to finish seeing Himeji Castle as early as possible and leave Himeji city by noon
There were a lot of people heading towards the castle. Himeji Castle is the biggest attraction of this city.
Himeji Castle is also the biggest castle in Japan
They had set up chairs on the ground and I saw banners for some sort of event by the Japan Airforce
I walked to the ticket counter
After paying the 400 yen entrance fee, I entered the castle grounds
Himeji Castle is over 400 years old
But I was devastated to learn at the ticket counter that the main tower has been under restoration for quite some time and is off limits to visitors!