Day 2 of our Japan 2012 trip continued on to Asakusa. It’s an older part of Tokyo and still retains a bit of decade’s past charm. The attraction that everyone comes to see here is Senso-ji Temple, originally built in and the Nakamise shopping street that leads up to it.
When we got there, it was still 7:30am, and most of the merchants were shockingly still closed. They’ll sell you all the trinkets, collectibles and snacks you want when they’re open.
Walking through the quiet corridor, we made our way to the Kaminarimon, or Thunder Gate. If you look really closely, you can see the two Shinto Gods, Fujin, god of wind, and Raijin, god of thunder. And the giant red lantern, or chochin, which is a symbol of the temple.
Moving past that you get to an open courtyard and the main buildings of Senso-ji. It’s a pretty big area, but during festivals and holidays, and especially, New Year’s, this place can get packed solid.
Here, T is demonstrating one of the more unique things at Senso-ji. A large bronze urn containing burning incense that people cover their heads in as an act of purification. To ward off illnesses. To get smarter. Or something.
This is a very big offering box. You can lob your coin from 50 ft and you will likely hit your target.
Another interesting feature at the temple is the ceiling art.
T and the Buddha meet.
And, now, it’s cherry blossom time. This was the only tree blooming in the whole area at the time (because it was unseasonably cold that year).
We moved on to Hanayashiki Amusement Park, which is very near Senso-ji.
Hanayashiki does things old school. It’s been in operation since 1853. They probably last updated their rides in 1950. The whole park is like 100 yards square, and they’ve just built rides on top of rides here. The place has a very Castle Park vibe, for those of you in Hawaii old enough to remember Castle Park.
This coaster ride is so old (circa 1950) that it’s just called Rooraa Koosutaa, or Roller Coaster. It’s like the original one.
Roller Coaster, going up. Total ride time: maybe 20 seconds.
An antiquated Japanese arcade. These games were around in 1999 when Ryan was last around.
Pay 300 yen to catch as many crayfish as you can in 10 minutes with a small fishing pole. Then take one home for an additional 400 yen (in a nice little pet box). Many, many crayfish were lost in service of this game. Let’s remember them now.
Not a game you’d likely see at E.K. Fernandez. This was actually outside Senso-ji temple. Archery contest!
Then it was time for lunch. It took some time, but we finally found Imahan Bekkan (Tabelog Top 5000), one of the many restaurants in Asakusa that have appropriated the name Imahan, serving sukiyaki and shabu shabu.
This place is legit, if but a little worn. They lead you past this little inner garden as they seat you in your own private tatami room.
Our private tatami room, view from the cook top.
Lunch: once cows get past the awkward years of rebellion, this is what they want to be when they grow up: thin, marbled slices of beefy goodness wrapped in deliciousness.
Then dipped in egg yolk. Incidentally, this restaurant is listed as a Top 5000 restaurant on Tabelog. That may not sound like much, but there are almost 475,000 restaurants in Japan, so Top 5000 is fairly impressive.
After lunch, a quick jaunt to Kappabashi, or Kitchen Town. Here you can find any kitchen supply you can think of.
Incidentally, this is a kappa. A mythical turtle-like water creature that enjoys luring people to drown and drinking their blood. They often wear plates on their head to protect a soft spot there that holds water. I am not kidding about any of this.
On an entire district devoted to kitchen supplies, stores can get very specific; this one focused on unusual and display coffee pots.
One of the many knife stores on the street. Good to know during the zombie apocalypse.
Kappabashi is also known for its several fake plastic display food stores. Unfortunately, we got there late and many of the stores were closed. Still, when you’re in Tokyo, now you know where to get that fake ramen bowl with the chopsticks hanging in the air by suspended noodles.
Okay, so that ends Day 2. We actually went off and had dinner and drinks with friends at Baird Nakameguro Taproom. It was a super fun night, but we were running late, and busy with our peeps, so we just plain forgot to take pictures of the evening. Anyway, the Taproom features Baird Beer, one of the best craft beers in Japan (featured on occasion at Tamura’s or Fujioka’s). Definitely check out Baird and other craft beer makers when you’re in Japan.
- Japan 2012 – Introduction, Day 1
- Japan 2012 – Day 2, Part 1 – Tsukiji and 3 Breakfasts
- Japan 2012 – Day 3 – Tokyo Disney Sea and a Journey to Nostalgia
- Japan 2012 – Day 4 – Odaiba and Hometown Tonkatsu
- Japan 2012 – Day 5 – Ueno, Meiji Jingu, Yoyogi, Omotesando, Shibuya
- Japan 2012 – Day 6 – Travel Day by Shinkansen, Kyoto
- Japan 2012 – Day 7 – Kyoto and Nara Day Tour
- Japan 2012 – Day 8 – Bicycling through Kyoto, Turtle Dinner
- Japan 2012 – Day 9 – Kyoto Imperial Palace, Ginkakuji, Travel Day to Hakone
- Japan 2012 – Day 10 – Hakone Circuit and Onsen-ing
- Japan 2012 – Day 11 – Travel Day Return to Tokyo and Sushi at Kyubey
- Japan 2012 – Days 12-13 – Akihabara Craft Beer Festival and Our Goodbyes to Japan