Tokyo, temple, museum and palace
Tokyo Travel Blog› entry 3 of 34 › view all entries
March 11th, 2008 – by: portia
Tomorrow we had to make our way outside of Tokyo with several train transfers, so we wanted to be sure we were prepared.
After taking care of our train tickets and have confidence that we would find our way tomorrow, we set out for our touring by train. There were definitely a lot more commuters today, more in line of what I expected.
The first stop of the day was the Senso-ji temple near the Asakusa station (subway), so after getting to Ueno station by train, we had to get a subway ticket. By now we were able to figure out how to buy a subway ticket. We emgerged from the subway at the Kaminarimon Gate (thunder gate with a huge lantern over the entrance. Through the gate was this shopping arcade leading to the Senso-ji Temple. The shopping arcade was full of people going in both directions. Fake cherry blossom branches hung overhead from both sides.
Of course there were tons of souvenir shops selling other goodies, At the end of the street we saw the painted descriptive hisstory of the temple. This is supposed to be the most sacred and best temple.
A statue of a half seated buddha Nade Botokesan was the first one we saw, on the left side before going into the main building. Its surface was shiny and smooth by the rubbings of workshippers looking for good luck and healing. Then we went into a bigger gate, this one Hozo-mon Gate, three huge lanterns hung overhead! On the back side of the gate were a pair of huge straw sandals, one on each side.
A huge incense burner in front of the main temple was obviously a key attraction as people continously put burning fat incense into it and stood wafting the smoke to their noses. To the right of the main temple, was another popular attraction, a statue stood over a water basin rimmed with dragon head shaped spouts, people did a ritual of getting water from a ladle and rinsing their hands and touching their faces with the water. There was even a sign depicting what you should do, it was in Japanese of course, but we sort of figured it out by looking at the cartoonish looking man doing this ritual.
Into the main temple, where the kannon statue was not really visible from the distance people were allowed.
The temple garden has the only surviving structure from the 15th or 16th century, a hexagonal shaped wooden structure, not very big to the left of the main temple. huge five story pagoda is a replica, and it towered over the garden. I managed to find a few cherry blossoms and had to pretend there were all over the place. We were probably 10 days away from the real spectacular viewing of cherry blossoms in Tokyo, oh well.
After the Senso-ji temple, we headed back on the subway to the Ueno station, and looked for a restaurant to have lunch. We found a small restaurant across from the station, on the 2nd floor, and was probably directly under some tracks. It was a small noodle place, and we had a big bowl of noodles, some tempura for 1000 yen each. It was simple and tasty enough. They did have a guy who spoke English to take our order, even though pointing at the photo on the menu would have worked just fine. Normal everyday people seem to be its patrons, and that's exactly what we were looking for. Every time the train went by, the restaurant shook, a different ambience from last night's flowing river theme!
Armed with full stomachs, we headed into Ueno Park, and it was a BIG park.
We walked down the main walkway of the Ueno Park, lined with cherry trees with tiny buds now, and boy would it be beautiful looking when they cherry blossoms were in full bloom! We headed to the Tokyo National Museum, tickets were 600 yen each. We took a quick look in the main building, saw many buddhist sculptures, some were not of Japanese orgin, but from China, and elsewhere in Asia. The japanese warrior costume made of bear skins were pretty imposing looking.
That was a lot of wallking in the park and we found the nearest train station and hopped on the loop line to the Akihabara station for the Electronic Town. On the street outside the station we saw a drunken guy sitting in the middle of the street holding a bottle, and here were the first sort-of crazy driving we saw in Tokyo, so this guy was lucky not to be run over. We didn't want to buy anything but just wanted to have a look at this district where electronics from ipods to computers were sold. There were even stores dedicated to customers from China, with signs welcoming Chinese customers.
We walked down the main walkway of the Ueno Park, lined with cherry trees with tiny buds now, and boy would it be beautiful looking when they cherry blossoms were in full bloom! We headed to the Tokyo National Museum, tickets were 600 yen each. We took a quick look in the main building, saw many buddhist sculptures, some were not of Japanese orgin, but from China, and elsewhere in Asia. The japanese warrior costume made of bear skins were pretty imposing looking. Imagine running into one of those in a dark alley! Kimonos were beautiful too. But a visit to the restroom was something you should not miss if you visit. Heated toilet seats and fully automated operation were even fancier than the one we had in the hotel.
That was a lot of wallking in the park and we found the nearest train station and hopped on the loop line to the Akihabara station for the Electronic Town.
Although we had a lot of walking already, this was our last chance to get a glimpse of the Imperial Palace, so we hopped back on the train one more time and got out at Tokyo station. We walked west toward the palace, and here were some of the most concentrated collection of buildings we saw least Tokyo-like, walking here is no different from anywhere in a moderrn western city or a corner of Shanghai.
We struck out at the first 3 restaurants we went into, no tables were available. The hotel restaurants were pretty expensive, so we kept circling the hotel, and eventually found a restaurant in the basement about a block away. We were seated at the bar, as long as we got food, that was OK. The lady spoke to me in Japanese, and I had to tell her I am Chinese, and didn't speak Japanese. But she spoke English! we ordered among other things, a whole fish (not too big) cooked on open flame was good. We were treated with a special homemade yogurt from the mamasan, very tasty, and when we left, she also gave us a gift of packaged toothpicks in paper oragami. This restaurant had more than 500 books in the entrance with names of highschools in Japan. We asked the lady and she said she started 20 years ago collecting signatures and written comments from customers and these books were ordered by the highschools they attended.
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