Monday, November 5, 2012

Tokyo Trip - Asakusa 浅草

This is a series of the places I have visited in Tokyo when Kless and I were there in October.

Asakusa 浅草, is the center of Tokyo’s shitamachi (literally “low city”), where an atmosphere of the Tokyo of past decades survives. The main attraction is Sensoji, a very popular Buddhist temple built in the 7th century. The temple is approached via the Nakamise, a shopping street that has been providing temple visitors with a variety of traditional, local snacks and tourist souvenirs for centuries.

How to get there
Asakusa is served by the Ginza Subway Line, Asakusa Subway Line, Tsukuba Express and Tobu Railways. It can also be accessed by the Tokyo Water Bus.

From Tokyo Station, take the JR Yamanote Line to Kanda Station (abt 2mins, ¥130) and transfer to the Ginza Subway Line for Asakusa (abt 10mins, ¥160).

From Shinjuku Station, take the orange JR Chou Line to Kanda Station (abt 10mins, ¥160) and transfer to the Ginza Subway Line for Asakusa (abt 10mins, ¥160).

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Walking out from Asakusa Station, the scene that greets us is that of a serene town.

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However, only a few steps away, the scene changed dramatically as you see hundreds of people walking around and the scene suddenly changed into one from the manga.

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We have reached the famous Kaminarimon (Kaminari Gate), the first of two large entrance gates leading to Sensoji Temple. First built more than 1000 years ago, it is the symbol of Asakusa.

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Walking past the gate, is the Nakamise shopping street that stretches over approximately 250m from Kaminarimon to the main grounds of Sensoji Temple. There are about 50 shops which offers all sorts of local snacks and souvenirs,

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Just look at how crowded the street is on a normal weekday morning.

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Although it was a short street, we still spent a few hours walking through it and the Shin-Nakamise (“New Nakamise”) which runs perpendicular to the Nakamise Shopping Street. Basically, there were just too many interesting things and people to see.

I would love to own one set of these amazing looking knives. Reminds me of a certain show whereby the main cast has to earn his respect to own a master Sushi knife which looks quite similar to this.

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Masks

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Wind-chimes

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I’m sure my mother would love to have this in her kitchen. You can trust the Japanese to make even a washing scrub so kawaii.

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Any idea who is this 60’s idol? A shop definitely for the older folks.

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Food is not far from all these shopping. A chef preparing hand-made noodles for his customers.

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An Ojisan cooking some sort of rice crackers.

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One of the few things I secretly wish to achieve on this trip was to find a Kimono lady. So you can imagine how excited I was when these two ladies passed by us on the streets.

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An old man quietly doing his work.

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It’s not just the people or food, but also the architecture/shops that really fascinates me.

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If you have enough time to spare, try out the caricature. They are quite good, in fact we saw a few couples inside the shop waiting for their turns.

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Asakusa can easily be explored on foot. Alternatively, you can consider a guided tour on a rickshaw (jinrikisha, literally “man powered vehicle”). A 30mins tour for two persons cost around ¥8,000.

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So far it’s just all about the Nakamise Shopping Street, we have not visit any of the temples yet. A good idea would be to find a seat somewhere and do some people-watching. Probably find some inspirations on Japanese fashion.

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Once rested, it was time to visit the magnificent Sensoji Temple.

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Before you reach Sensoji Temple, you will pass by the Dempoin Temple. It is a temple just next to Sensoji, known for its beautiful garden. Unfortunately, the temple and garden are not open to the public.

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Sensoji Temple is Tokyo’s most famous and popular temple. Built in the 7th century, it is also one of its oldest, although the current buildings are postwar reconstructions.

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The second large gate similar to Kaminarimon but slightly smaller in size is found just before you enter the temple.

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Another view from below the lantern.

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The interior of the temple is yet another super huge space. Many people are either praying for blessings or seeking for a lucky charm.

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While other visitors are just taking the chance to sit down and rest their tired legs.

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The pagoda temple and the main temple hall.

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Before we leave Asakusa, it seems befitting to have a meal first. We decided to choose this ramen shop that is hidden at a corner. On a personal note, I feel every meal I had in Tokyo was good. Maybe it was just a psychological thing, or maybe food tastes nicer when you are in a good mood.

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It was a small shop that can only sit about 6-7 customers on the counter. We totally love the ambience and idea of sitting so close to the chef and watch him prepare the ramen and gyoza.

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The set costs about ¥1,200. Which is about S$19.20. Verdict: super nice!

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A kawaii lady in kimono and a group of kawaii students to end a very happy trip to Asakusa.

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1 comment:

  1. Nice article and these are great shots especially for just having one lens! You have a great eye. 50mm is definitely my favorite lens.

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