Friday, 10 November 2017

Tokyo Personal Diary | Day 4 : Exploring Asakusa, Senso-ji & Tokyo Skytree

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Hey guys!

I finally have the time again to continue rendering the post for my days in Tokyo again hahaha, I'm so sorry for the cliffhanger at the day 3, but I've been struggling a bit for my finals. Actually, after walking around alone the whole day on the day 3, I thought of staying home for the whole day on the next day but I can't afford to waste my time just to be home given that I only came to Tokyo for a week. A friend, Atsushi-san suddenly said that he would love to show me around Asakusa and ofc, how can I decline such a kind offer from my Japanese friend. 

If the day before was spent to look around and be inspired by Japanese pop cultures and fashion sight, today is totally different as we're understanding about the human's nature spiritually and their belief towards the other realm of intangible. 


Senso-ji filled with people from every corners. 

The area of Tokyo where you’ll find the most vivid reminders of Edo’s Shitamachi and the popular culture it spawned is Asakusa (浅草), it’s best known as the site of Tokyo’s most venerable Buddhist temple, Senso-ji, whose towering worship hall is filled with a continual throng of petitioners and tourists. Stalls before the temple cater to the crowds, peddling trinkets and keepsakes as they have done for centuries, while all around is the inevitable array of restaurants, drinking places and fast-food stands. This infectious, carnival atmosphere changes abruptly just to the west of the temple, where the Rokku district has long been a byword for sleaze and vice. Asakusa is also best known to be a king of festivals. 


Asakusa Station

I took the direct subway of Tobu-line from Kitasenju to Asakusa together with Atsushi san, it was really smooth and as fast as less than 20 mins from Kitasenju.

True that you can access to Asakusa easily by Subway but if you are from Azuma-bashi, which is south east from Asakusa, you can experience getting there by ferry along the Sumida-gawa (Sumida River) that I went on the next day (except I did not tried the ferry, what a shame coz I was after my boarding time). 


Walking west from the river or Asakusa station, you can't miss the solid red-lacquer Kaminari-mon gate, with its enormous paper lantern, that marks the southern entrance to Senso-ji. This magnificent temple, also known as Asakusa Kannon, was founded in the mid-seventh century to enshrine a tiny golden image of Kannon, the goddess of mercy, which had turned up in the nets of two local fishermen. 

Most of the present buildings are postwar concrete reconstructions, and recent renovation work has seen the roof of the main structure completely covered in titanium tiles, to improve earthquake resistance.

Nakamise-dori and Senso-ji with its giant "chochin"

*The chōchin (提灯) are Japanese lanterns that have been crafted in Japan as far back as 1085. They are traditionally made with a bamboo frame covered in silk or paper. Remarkably, traditional chochin can be folded flat for storage.


Beyond Hozo-mon there's a constant crowd clustered around a large, bronze incense bowl where people waft the pungent smoke over themselves as it is considered as the breath of the gods, it is supposed to have curative powers. There's nothing much to see inside the temple itself, since the little Kannon, said to be just 7.5cm tall, it is a hibutsu or hidden image, considered too holy to be put on view. The hall, however full of life, incense smoke and the constant bustle of people coming to pray, buy charms and fortune papers or to attend a service. Three times a day at 6.30 AM, 10.00 AM and 2.00 PM drums echo through the hall into the courtyard as priests chant sutras beneath the altar's gilded canopy.

*Hibutsu (秘仏 ; "hidden Buddhas") are Japanese Buddhist icons or statues concealed from public view.

Still engulfed in this magnificent architecture.

Large incense burner.

It's customary to wave the smoke towards you to purify yourself. The extra incense can be purchased and lit here if you'd like to contribute to the smokiness.


A double-stroreyed treasure gate, Hozo-mon (宝蔵門) stands astride the entrance to the main temple complex. The treasures themselves, fourteenth-century Chinese sutras, are locked away on the upper floor. The gate's two protective Nio (仁王), the traditional guardians of Buddhist temples are even more imposing than those at Kaminari-mon. Look out for their enormous rice-straw sandals slung on the gate's tear wall.

Entrance of the main temple complex viewed from north, Hozo-mon.

Giant rice-straw sandals hung at both sides of gate's tear wall.

The lanterns hung overhead above the stalls.


Like many Buddhist temples, Senso-ji accomodates Shinto shrines in its grounds, the most significant being Asakusa-jinja, dedicated to the two fishermen brothers who netted the Kannon image, and their overlord. The shrine was founded in the mid -seventeenth century by Tokugawa Iemitsu and the original building still survives, though it's hard to tell under all the restocked paintwork. More popularly known as Sanja-sama, "Shrine of the Three Guardians", this is the focus of the tumultuous Sanja-Matsuri.

"Sanja Matsuri is Tokyo's biggest festival that takes place annually on the third weekend in May and centered on Asakusa, attracting up to 2 million spectators. The climax comes on the second day, when over one hundred mikoshi (portable shrines) are paraded through the seething crowds, among them the three mikoshi of Asakusa-jinja, each weighing around 1000kg and carried by at least seventy men" 

Omikuji (fortune telling paper strip) at Senso-ji.

Coz there were a lot of people we had to use the back alley from Hozo-mon to go to the Nakamise-dori lol!

I have faith in what they call "aesthetic" so this what I found at the back alley to represent it, Japanese and bicycles is inseparable!


The main temple approach starts under Kaminari-mon (雷門 ; "Thunder Gate"), which shelters statues of the guardian gods of Thunder and Wind (named Raijin and Fujin), and proceeds along Nakamise-dori, a colorful parade of small shops packed with gaudy souvenirs, tiny traditional dolls, kimono accessories and sweet scented piles of sembei rice crackers.

Once you pass under Kaminari-mon, you’ll see the two statues on the other side. On the right hand side, there is the statue of the goddess Kinryu (Golden Dragon), while the left-hand side you can see the statue of the god Tenryu (Heavenly Dragon). They are Placed in a symmetrical way to Fujin and Raijin on the other side, they are also protectors of the Temple and of the Buddhist religion. 

Kaminari-mon is actually not the official name of this gate. Its official, full name is Fujin Raijinmon, meaning “The Gate of the Gods of Wind and Thunder”. Fujin refers to “The God of Thunder”, while Raijin means “The God of Thunder”. The gate is popularly referred to as Kaminari-mon because “Kaminari” is the Japanese word for “thunder”

Souvenirs and touristy goods sold at Nakamise-dori.

Nakamise-dori, flooded with people of all sorts.

For the first time in Japan I felt it is getting hot, the weather was very warm and nice that day, provided every corner of Nakamise-dori was packed with people so carbon dioxide well supplied to kept me warm lol! I need to thank Atsushi san for always explaining things to me too, I feel like I've been quite a troublesome tourist to him lol gomen Atsushi-san.

Cute chihuahua! The owner said he didn't feel well that day, awwww

The rest of the day was spent going to and back around the Senso-ji ground, Hozo-mon and Kaminari-mon. I felt a bit tired from walking and circling the place so Atsushi suggested us to sit somewhere first and have something to eat or drink.

They are not a real sakura, yet it gave me bliss just by looking at their healthy pink shade!

Tokyo Skytree from afar, while sitting around Senso-ji area coz it's in the area after all.

Senso-ji is a popular viewpoint to see Tokyo Skytree. The temple is less than 2 kilometers from the tower. Sensoji with Skytree in the background is a popular photographic theme.

A seller selling grilled squids & fishes at his stall in front of Senso-ji.

It's almost Kodomo no hi so they put this koinobori up!

Kodomo no Hi (子供の日; "Children's Day") or traditionally called Tango no sekku (端午の節句) is a Japanese national holiday which takes place annually on May 5, the fifth day of the fifth month, and is the final celebration in Golden Week. Children are celebrated by flying carp-shaped banners called koinobori (鯉のぼり; "carp streamer") which are carp-shaped wind socks.

Choco banana! I really really have an allergies towards bananas but this is so forgiving!

What a kind person, after we sat down Atsushi excused himself for few minutes before showing up with this on my face, lmao. To be really honest I can't really consume bananas, but I am sure that my body will really forgive me on this lol! He said that this is vastly sold on matsuri so he wanted me to try on what Japanese people eat on matsuri. I am so touched!

Whenever I saw flowers, it reminds me of my mom. A stiff woman that loves flower lol.

Mizuame! It's so good and cute!

*Mizuame (水飴) is a sweetener from Japan which is translated literally to "water candy A clear, thick, sticky liquid, it is made by converting starch to sugars. Mizuame is added to wagashi to give them a sheen, eaten in ways similar to honey, and can be a main ingredient in sweets.

Now we're entering the Shin Nakamise famous shopping street.

Shin Nakamise.

Just a lil bit history about Asakusa that I find interesting. When Kabuki and bunraku were banished from central Edo in 1840s, they settled in the area known as "Rokku" ("Sixth District"), between Senso-ji and today's Kokusai-dori. Over the next century almost every fad and fashion in Japanese popular entertainment started life here, from cinema to cabaret and striptease. Today a handful of the old venues survive, most famously Rock-za, with its daily strip show, and there are loads of cinemas, pachinko parlours, gambling halls and drinking dives. It's not all lowbrow, though several small theathres in the area such as Asakusa Engei  Hall, still stage rakugo, a centuries old form of comic monologue in which familiar jokes and stories are mixed with modern satire.

Behind the Rox Department Store, the rather grandly named Rokku Broadway leads past betting shops and strip joints north into Hisago-dori, a covered shopping street with a few interesting traditional stores.

*Bunraku (文楽), also known as Ningyō jōruri (人形浄瑠璃), is a form of traditional Japanese puppet theatre, founded in Osaka in the beginning of 17th century. Three kinds of performers take part in a bunraku performance: the Ningyōtsukai or Ningyōzukai (puppeteers), the Tayū (chanters) and shamisen musicians.

*Pachinko (パチンコ) is a type of mechanical game originating in Japan and is used as both a form of recreational arcade game and much more frequently as a gambling device, filling a Japanese gambling niche comparable to that of the slot machine in Western gaming. the machine resembles a vertical pinball machine, but is different from Western pinball.

A cute girl playing kingyo sukui at Shin Nakamise.

Kingyo Sukui (金魚すくい; Goldfish scooping) is a traditional Japanese game in which a player scoops goldfish with a special scooper (made from paper). It is also called, "Scooping Goldfish", "Dipping for Goldfish" or "Snatching Goldfish". "Kingyo" means goldfish and "sukui" means scooping. Sometimes bouncy balls are used instead of goldfish.

Exit of the long Shin Nakamise shopping street.

Exiting the Shin Nakamise. After exploring the Senso-ji and areas of vicinity, both of us decided to just walk around to kill the rest of the time we still have within the day. I just followed to where Atsushi brought me, it is really really helpful to have someone who speaks both Japanese and English well or else I won't be exploring much coz I hardly understand a thing.

Still around Asakusa.

What a nice weather.

Dempoin-dori, Asakusa.

Writing down my buddies' names on paper while I'm standing in Dempoin street, Asakusa.

They said if you write down someone's name on a piece of paper to where you're standing and send the photo of it to them, they will someday land their feet at the place you're standing too, so I did it for the request from my friends. They were all so touched when I agreed coz I seldom take the request on haha omg were I so bad.

Spotted a Spanish street dancer performing while we were walking to Don Quixote.

Saw Don Qui from few meters away. (Japanese loves to shorten it to "Don Qui"/ pronounced as "Don Key" instead of calling it full lol)

Don Quixote in Asakusa.

I didn't took some photos of what Don Quixote has (I'm not sure but I thought it was rude to take photos of goods in Japanese's stores) but it reminds me of Daiso, except the store has a lot more to offer and nowhere as cheap as Daiso (for some small goods it's comparable). What I bought? nothing this time haha, I just wanted to enjoy the view and history of this place more. It was one of the most memorable days I had in Tokyo, praise my Lord for always sending me a kind people to help me getting around although I barely know anyone here to begin with. Now I miss Asakusa. It's a really long post but thank you if you've read it till here lol, I'll continue with my visit on the day 5 next, which was my last day there on the next post.

Feel free to click the links below to read for the other days too.

Tokyo Personal Diary | Day 1 : Arrival, Ueno Koen & Ameyokocho Local Market
Tokyo Personal Diary | Day 2 : Kanda Myojin & Yushima Seido In Akihabara & Night In Nishiarai
Tokyo Personal Diary | Day 3 : Visiting NALU Hair Salon (Number 76) In Omotesando, Harajuku, Shibuya & Tokyo Tower

Talk to you guys again on my next post!


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