gustatory exploits · itchy feet cravings

Tokyo diaries: Asakusa

After having a blast at Tokyo Skytree and Sumida Aquarium, we took a five-minute subway ride to Asakusa.

By the time we got to Asakusa, our stomachs were growling, telling us its already past lunch time and we haven’t eaten anything yet. Good thing we found this little takoyaki food stall at the corner of the street…

IMG_0111_2 We weren’t able to go to that famed Takoyaki Museum while in Osaka, but we’re lucky to see this food stall. Our first stop at this quaint, vintage district–who could resist finishing off a plate of piping hot takoyaki?

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Probably the ones sold in Osaka tastes much better, but this one is already way, way fabulous than the ones I get to order in Manila, of course. So fluffy, bigger, fresh and tasty! IMG_0110_2Just before we stepped out of the stall, the chef was kind enough to show us directions to the nearest bank. So we walked towards that direction but not before checking out the shops along the way, tempting us to splurge.

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It’s so hard to restrain our shopaholic tendencies that’s why we ran to the nearest bank to buy some more yen. Interestingly, there was this bunch of locals cheering loudly for someone while we were crossing the street. Their boisterous laugh was enough to make the heads of all passers-by turn. I thought I have to take a shot. Just by looking at their animated gestures, we guessed they were cheering for a colleague who will join a sports tournament? Not sure, but we felt energized. IMG_0124_2 IMG_0125_2

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After that trip to the bank, we headed off to Asakusa-jinja that was jam-packed with so much people. Turns out November is a busy month for this shrine and a series of festivals are showcased at Senso-ji.

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After walking past the first gate, we walked through the Nakamise-dori, which was overwhelmingly full of people. There’s a bunch of items I’m already eyeing on…

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As a history buff, a visit to old towns is a must. That’s why I immediately listed this venue when I drafted our 10-day vacation here in Japan.

Asakusa is the center of Tokyo’s shitamachi which means old town area. A visit to this place make you feel like you were transported back to Tokyo’s rich past.Asakusa

There’s this man-drawn carriage going around that we’re tempted to ride on. They call this the jinrikisha –human-powered rickshaws that will transport you to places within the area. We decided not to ride it anymore because it started to rain.

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At first, t thought the rain would dampen our tour of the Asakusa, but the vibrant atmosphere actually compensated for it. I don’t know with my friend, but I really feel like the cloudy, overcast sky lent that old-feel to this quaint and charming district.

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Browsing through some online information, Asakusa used to be Tokyo’s leading entertainment district for many centures. It was the site of kabuki theaters and large red light district during the Edo period. Modern types of entertainment, including movie theaters started to sprout in Asakusa in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

But large parts of the district were destroyed in the air raids during World War II. Its reputation as an entertainment district then waned but the government’s restoration of the Senso-ji temple helped it regain its popularity after the war.

The opening of the 643-meter tall Tokyo Skytree just 20 minutes away from this district further helped restore its status but this time as a popular tourist attraction.

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A vast number of locals trooped to the Temple to pray the day we came here. I’m not exactly sure of the festivities being held when we were here, but from what I gathered from my little research, the Japanese were already celebrating the Tori-no-ichi an annual traditional festival held at shrines and temples nationwide that’s set on some specific days in November. They celebrate the tori-no-ichi mainly to bring in good luck and prosperity to business ventures (much like how the Chinese celebrate the Chinese New Year.)

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After taking snapshots of Buddhist devotees praying, we ventured out to check the grounds of Senso-ji. Two women wearing colorful yukata robes were trying to take pictures of themselves at a marker sign. After they were done with their picture-taking, we decided to join them for a ‘groupie’. They were gracious enough to lend us a hand…with our mono-pod, at least. 🙂

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We decided to wrap up our Senso-ji temple experience with a tour of the temple grounds. Its a little quieter in this area. Just looking at the serene garden, plus the cold winter chill was just pleasurable…

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There’s this door post at Senso-ji that I so liked; I can’t resist taking a picture with it…

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And just when we were planning to leave the place, we heard loud oriental music being played and a bunch of people hovering in a corner of the temple grounds. We went near to get a glimpse of it…

 

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If this is their way of celebrating the tori-no-ichi , we had no idea. Good thing we managed to capture it at least.IMG_0179

And so that wraps up our Asakusa experience. But not before we saw another covered street lined with shops that we just felt we need to pass through…

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😀

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