I decided to write about my experience in certain parts of Japan. Hopefully they will inspire you to come explore Japan, or give you an idea of what you can do in certain districts.
First is one day in Asakusa, the ancient district in Tokyo, where tradition can be found. Whenever I’m tried of the hustle and bustle of this crazy-fast city life, I enjoy strolling around Asakusa to be reminded of what I think about when I think about Japan. It’s relaxing to marveling at the old Japanese architecture and traditional shops around the area. Please enjoy!
Take Ginza Line or Asakusa Line to Asakusa and take exit 4. Take a picture in front of the Asahi headquarters; the building is designed to look like a cup of beer with a thick bubbly head on top!
Follow the crowd to Sensoji temple.
Asakusa used to be a halfway point on the way to a pleasure district called Yoshiwara. Eventually, it became a pleasure district itself (although it seems like each district in Tokyo is a pleasure district!) Apparently, the western ‘striptease’ was introduced here. Sensoji is the main sight in Asakusa. This temple has been badly damaged throughout the years, especially during WWII, so it’s gone through many restorations and reconstructions. This temple was last reconstructed in 1950. Not many people know this, but real Geisha still study and work in this part of Tokyo.
Karminarimon , or Thunder Gate, protected by Fuujin, the god of wind on the right, and Raijin, the god of thunder on the left.
The main site in Asakusa is the Senso-ji Temple.
The street to Sensoji is called ‘Nakamise dori’. Along this street are over 80 shops, mostly of souvenir shops selling everything from wigs to calligraphy. I personally don’t enjoy walking down this street because it’s always very crowded and superficial. Head down the side alley on the right instead. Spend the morning trying as many Japanese snacks and treats as you come across. Most of the shops make the goodies onsite. Sembei (rice crackers) and age-manjuu (deep-fried anko, or red beds—theyre so delicious!) are abundant.
Sweet potato treat! Delicious!
Sensoji is the oldest temple in Tokyo; it was built over 1,000 years before Tokyo became the capital. Enshrined in Sensoji is the Bhuddist god of compassion, Kannon. Legend has it that this statue of Kannon was fished out of the Sumida River in AD 628 by two fishermen!
Approach the cauldron and guide the smoke over your body for good health. Pull the smoke on your injured body to be cured, or over your head to gain knowledge, or on your heart to get married. Inhale the incense!
After visiting the temple, walk down Shinnakamise-dori street. I love this street because it really resembles the Edo-period.
Sakura ice cream monako.
Eat Shabu Shabu or Sukiyaki at a traditional Japanese restaurant. We ordered Sukiyaki at Imahan and it was delicious! ~3500yen per person. Sukiyaki is a Japanese dish where you boil soy sauce on a pan and simmer vegetables, and raw meat in it. After you cook the meet, you can dip it in raw egg yolk. It’s very delicious and fun to eat ^^ In this restaurant you get to sit on a tatami mat and be served by waitresses kimonos. The place was beautiful with professional staff, high quality food.
After strolling around Asakusa, head over to Oshiage’s Sky Tree.
Sky Tree was announced the Tallest Tower in the World in November 2011. This free standing tower is meant to represent Japanese beauty and neo-futuristic design. The tower is illuminated every night, switching colors as a way to bridge the past to the future. SkyTree is a broadcasting tower that stands at 634m and was completed on February 29, 2012.
In busy season, they sell out or ask you to come back in a certain time frame. We were asked to come back 5 hours later (which we didn’t do). Regardless, we had fun exploring the Japanese shops inside the tower. This was actually our first stop in Japan, so the amount of Japanese products with incredibly cute designs, characters, colors, appeal, and strange uses really punched me with a magical air of Japanese charm–it knocked the wind out of me! I was overwhelmed with their things! There are many floors full of interesting things. There is even a Science exhibit, with connection to some Japanese Science/Techology University, and an aquarium in the tower!
Asakusa is one of my favorite districts in Tokyo. Although it’s very popular for tourists, you are still able to enjoy this traditional area. The contrast of Asakusa and Shinjuku, or Ginza, or example, are amazing. To change things up, I enjoy visiting this area!