2009 - 2010

Day 2


Today we spent the day in Asakusa (ah-suk-oo-sa).
The big attraction here is the Senso-ji Temple. These is a large iconic gate at the front which is followed by a long path towards the temple. This path is lined with lots of market stalls. There is also other streets off this main road with even more shopping and places to get food.
Below is our group in front of the main gate to the Senso-ji Temple.

The temple is a very big shrine and therefore has the customs to go along with it.
There was a large place to burn inscents were you were meant to push the smoke onto your body where you would like to be healed (push the smoke onto your back if you have back pains, etc.)

This market place had gift shops, toy shops and places to eat and drink.
One of the first places we noticed was this automated machine that makes small snacks. These snacks looked like biscuits, but they were soft sponge with some sweet filling. I believe the filling was some sort of bean mash.
For ¥ 200 we got at least 10 of these snacks in a bag, which works out to be $2 - $3 all together.

A little further up the path there was a sweet (non-alcoholic) sake stand. A cup of the sake cost ¥ 100 (~ $1.30) and was hot and really sweet, which was great because it was like having a hot cup of tea on a cold day that warms you up from the inside.
After chatting to one of the workers there, we found out that when they make the alcoholic Japanese sake by fermenting rice, the left overs are mixed with sugar
and water to make this.

The strange part for us was that they asked everyone to drink in a particular area and not to walk away with the cups. They were disposable plastic, but I guess this guarantees no litter.

The costumes that the workers here were wearing looked like traditional Japanese clothing, but then some customers (below) were also wearing the same sort of clothing. They look very intricate and add to the whole feel of this place.

As for crazy costumes, I had to get a photo with this guy! This pretty short old man had a stall in the market, but we weren’t interested in what he wanted to sell, just his choice of clothes.

Surrounding the main temple were lots of small shrines for different things. Below is a shot of our group in front of a shrine for the god of luck.

The shrines them selves looked so great and were topped off by the really nice gardens the surrounded them.

Just behind the main temple was an amusement park with rides and games. We were about to go in but realized the price of admission and then the rides were fairly steep and that we would be going to Disneyland soon enough so decided to go get some lunch and give it a miss.

For lunch we walked through the market place and found a McDonalds! Instead of eating there, we decided to go with a more Japanese meal instead, which was right across the path.
Robert ordered a shrimp dish and sounded quite pleased with it and I ordered noodle soup with pork. The soup itself had lots of flavor and I think it had tofu pieces in it, but I couldn’t really tell.
We also ordered the real alcoholic sake, which was very strong!
It is served hot in a small ceramic jug and just as I put my lips up against the little ceramic cup, just the fumes made me cough, lol.
I had about a cup and a half, but only to help Sarma finish off the jug :)

Just near this restaurant was a place called “Jumbo” which is a “Pachinko” place. We went in here mainly because Anthony was trying to find a toilet. When we opened the door the it was like we just walked in to a supersized, extremely loud timezone, but the games were just slot machines and some sort of marble game.

This photo does not do the size of this place any justice - it was massive!
Flashing lights as far as we could see and so loud that we had to yell to each other to talk.

That night we discovered the rest of our Aoyama-itchome train station and found that there was a sub-way (sandwich place) and lots of other places to eat in the building.
So that night we went to an Italian restaurant here (after checking that the prices were reasonable).
The food was ok, but the pizzas were “Italian style”. In other words, very little topping on cruchy pita bread that explodes with you put your fork to it!
We also order pasta (which had chilli through it… yuck) and desert which consisted of a glass with ice-cream, cream, custard, banana, chocolate, corn flakes, topping and some sort of (what we think was) alcoholic sauce.

The language barrier is proving to be a little difficult, but we are doing pretty good and our Japanese vocabularies are slowly growing :)

After dinner we went for a walk around town and then back to the hotel to find out that the rest of the group had arrived. Their room is just down the hall a little so we did a very brief introduction and called it a night.

Not a bad effort for our first full day!