2012 - 2013

Day 11


Asakusa is famous for the Sensoji temple and its many markets. Because we had been there before, we knew that this place was one of the best places to buy souvenirs so we planned to spend the whole day there. Jonathan wanted to buy some more gifts, but not the souvenir type, he wanted clothes, etc. so he decided to go back to Shibuya for a day of solo shopping. We all had breakfast and the rest of us caught the train to Asakusa. After a short walk we arrived at Kaminarimon Gate (which translates to Thunder Gate).

As soon as we got through this massive gate, we were greeted with the start of a long stretch of markets. It has one long road, lined with stalls selling all sorts of things, but then there are more roads of markets down the side streets - it’s massive! These stalls sell the same souvenirs as the tourist attractions, but with a lot more choice and a lot cheaper.

We spent a fair amount of time walking through the markets buying gifts and trinkets. I bought a couple of gifts, but not that many - most of the people I would normally buy gifts for are here with me this time! Last time I was in Japan, I bought a keyring from a gift shop in Hakone that was a little ninja with flexible limbs, but its starting to wear out. I ended up finding the exact same keyring at this market, so I bought that too.

At the end of the market is the Sensoji temple’s main hall and a five story pagoda. The temple was pretty busy too. Around the temple is a series of shrines and gardens that were pretty nice. Walking around was triggering a lot of memories from the last time we were here. I even remembered the places where I took photos last time!

For lunch, Rob and Sarah wanted Macca’s again, so the rest of us went in search of a more Japanese restaurant. After following some back alleys, we came across a quite little restaurant. It was really nice and I tried eel for the first time!

Later that afternoon, we headed back to the hotel and had about three hours to kill before we all met up for dinner. Jonathan wasn’t back yet, so Rob and I went back to Akihabara. We had two things on our shopping list, Rob wanted a particular (and really strange) Nintendo DS game and I wanted a ND Filter for my camera. Last time we went to Akihabara we stumbled across a little shop hidden away at the top of a very plain building and they sold heaps of old equipment, like the original Nintendo and Sega consoles, controllers and heaps of old retro cartridges - it also stunk pretty bad. Rob thought they might have his very obscure game, so we were trying to find it again, but it was harder than we thought. The good thing about that was it made us go into a bunch of building we wouldn’t normally have tried and we came across some really interesting places! We saw a really large shop, stacked to the brim with old oscilloscopes and multi meters, two floors of model train parts, a robot shop selling electronics and parts for all sorts of robots, comic stores, game shops, arcades and lots more. It was good fun just browsing through random shops, I wish we had this sort of variety in Melbourne!

After looking through lots of game shops, Rob finally found his game. I won’t go through the details of the game he wanted, but needless to say it was sufficiently weird enough to only be sold in Japan. After being amazed that we actually found it, we started looking for camera shops for my filter. There weren’t as many photography shops as I would have thought, but the smaller ones did not sell filters. After asking some strangers, we came across Yodabashi - a massive electronics shopping complex. There was one huge floor of camera gear and they had what I was after, so I bought an ND8 filter and a UV filter for my new wide-angle lens and a little pocket air blower.

Rob and I were very proud of what we had accomplished with our spare couple of hours and we made in back in time to meet the others for dinner. For dinner we went to a restaurant around the corner from our hotel. This time it was a Spanish restaurant, but their menu only had Japanese, Chinese or Spanish and the staff didn’t really speak English. Lucky some Spanish words are similar to Italian words, so we made some lucky guesses that worked out ok.
I had a set of mini steaks, they were really tasty, but it wasn’t really enough food. Most of the others didn’t really have big meals either, so after dinner we stopped by Family Mart and bought the famous microwavable burgers my brother keeps raving on about. They come in a plastic bag and cost a couple of dollars, the cashier puts it in a microwave behind the counter for a couple of minutes and as dodgy as this sounds, they are actually not too bad! So much so that Rob had a lot of these last time we were in Japan, so it was one of the things we just had to do on this trip.

Rob also had an ice cream that he recommended so we got one of those too. It is basically ice cream made from double condensed milk, put into a rice-paper/waffle-cone casing. It was really sugary and sweet, but pretty damn good!
That night I could barely sleep, possibly because of the sugar rush! That wasn’t too good because the next day was going to be a big day - Tokyo DisneySea!