Taiwan and Japan

2015 - 2016

Day 13

Asakusa Market

Today we had a shopping day planned and just about all of us slept in! After so many nights of getting to bed late, it eventually catches up, but met in the lobby and headed over to Asakusa market.
I’ve visited this market all three times I’ve come to Japan, its a pretty good tourist spot with the very eye catching Kaminari Gate out the front, followed by about 250m of markets and the famous Sensoji Temple at the end. This market sells just about every souvenir you can think of from chopsticks, keyrings, sake sets, toys (including BB guns) and street vendor food to full kimonos and there was even a wig stall! We got some breakfast nearby and headed over.

One of the most famous things at this market is the sake, but not your average sake, this is sweet sake! It is non-alcoholic and is the sake before it has fermented. It is served nice and warm and tastes delicious! This stall also sold some food too. We didn’t know exactly what it was, but we think it was small balls of mashed taro covered in peanut powder. Whatever it was, it tasted great!
This was basically our first stop at the market, but you must finish it before leaving the stall. The line for this sake wrapped right around the stall and they some how managed to fit an “eating and drinking” area there too!

I was struggling to remember how busy this place was the last couple of times I was here, but there were so many people here today! Walking around the market was a challenge (so was our attempt at getting a stranger to take a photo of our group).

Towards the end of the market, there were more food stalls. We watched some people making Takoyaki (Octopus balls) and decided to get some to share between us. Apart from almost burning our mouths because they had just been cooked, they were pretty tasty!

A few of us got approached by three young girls who would have been about primary school age. They must have had an English project from their school or something because they had English flip cards with some questions on them. They all read out the questions in unison asking us where we were from, why we came to Japan, what we wanted to become when we were young and what we liked about Japan. Afterwards they gave us hand made gifts for answering their questions and went out in search of more tourists. They were pretty cute and so mature for their age.

We did a quick lap of the temples in the area to snap some photos, but it was pretty tough with so many people. There was a large area for burning insense and in the main temple was a huge money vent where the large crowd would throw coins from a distance into the slots. It was really loud between the money being thrown, all the people and chanting and music in the background. The security guard at the temple even had a little cage to go around his head so he didn’t get hit by flying money!

From the market we found somewhere nearby to get some lunch, we ended up getting curry from a local chain called “GoGo Curry” that had been recommended by some others in the group. It was one of the only places that could fit our fairly large group in to sit. I’m not a big fan of curry, but it wasn’t too bad.

Our next stop was the Pokemon Center. This was in a newer area called “Sunshine City” that I don’t think was around the last time we came to Tokyo. It was basically a massive shopping center not unlike the big ones back in Melbourne, but this one had a massive Pokemon store, a Studio Ghibli shop and a Disney shop!
I didn’t really buy anything but others in the group bought lots! A lot of people even have second suitcases for all the merchandise they planned on buying! While I didn’t buy anything, I did get a chance to play some new pokemon game for WiiU that hasn’t been released yet, that was pretty fun.

We ended up going to a couple more shops that specialised in anime stuff and Rob got to buy some interesting gifts. By this stage everyone was done with shopping and were ready to go home. On the way back we also stopped at the Square Enix shop, which was pretty cool. They had some merchandise for sale on the shelves, but also a little cafe and a showroom. In the showroom was a pretty cool looking water feature that had water droplets falling from the ceiling, but at the top it looked like the water was moving upwards. I’m not much of a fan so I couldn’t really relate to what it was unlike others in the group, but it looked cool.

We made our way back to the hotel, unloaded all the shopping and went to a nearby restaurant for some dinner. Massive shopping days are not my favourite, but a lot of people in our group got the things they were after so it was a successful day!