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First day in Tokyo

Tokyo Travel Blog

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Senso-ji Temple

The 12 hours flight to Tokyo was quite a bizarre experience, we left at 1ish from London and it was dark 2 hours later.  I watched a couple of movies (60 to choose from on Virgin Atlantic) then the sun came out at around 9 pm and we had a full English breakfast at 11 pm!!  When we landed at Narita Airport it was roughly 1 am UK time but the sun outside was shining at 10 am on a splendid Japanese morning.  I was tired, I didn’t sleep much because the chap next to me wouldn’t stop talking about his holiday plans, cheers Jon!  I was really looking forward to my bed but when I finally found the hostel, after jumping on the wrong train and paying twice the fair as you do when you can’t read Japanese, I was told that check in was at 3pm.  Bugger that!!  Anyway, I did as I was told and dropped my big pack in the office, then I went for a walk in Asakusa to kill some time.

Senso-ji Temple from the court yard
 

 

Asakusa and Sensoji Temple

 

Asakusa is quite fascinating.  Over the years it has retained an authentic character and charm.  The main attraction to see here is the Senso-ji Temple and the first thing you see when you get there is a big crowded entrance with a huge red paper lantern, this is said to be one of the most distinctive sights of the city, you certainly can’t miss it!  Through the gate opens up a long 100 metres corridor called the Kaminarimon, which is basically one long stretch of souvenir shops and snack stands.

Kaminarimon's big red lantern
  I couldn’t resist temptation so tried some chewy yellowish balls on a skewer covered in a rich brown sauce, then I had some crunchy stuff with a gloss sweat coating and I washed it all down with a cup of undrinkable sweat hot sake ��" by the time I reached the temple I was feeling quite sick!

 

In the middle of the court yard outside the temple there is a large bronze incense burner surrounded by a crowd of believers that the smoke has curative powers.  I took some photos and watched as these people tried to capture the smoke and direct it to various parts of their body, one chap in particular stood out from the crowd by waiving smoke with both hand onto his crotch area :-) bet we can guess what his problem is!

 

On both sides of the court yard there are two long cabins filled with hundreds of tiny draws, you pay 200 yen and you get to shake a box until a small stick falls out of a hole.

Second highest pagoda in Japan, 55 metres tall
  There’s a number on the stick corresponding to a draw, and in the draw you find a message ��" this predicts your future and it’s supposed to be very accurate, right!!  Just as accurate as reading the future in your poo I suppose!  I tried it in a temple in Kamakura and it wasn’t promising, in fact my friend Nami managed to pick the same message out of hundreds of them ��" how weird!

 

Senso-ji temple is quite impressive, it’s the oldest one in Tokyo and I was lucky to have picked a sunny day for some nice shots.  Unfortunately you’re not allowed to take photos inside.  Next to the temple on the right there’s Asakusa’s Jinja (a Shinto shrine), I think there must have been a wedding going on so I stood back and watched a parade of fancy kimonos walk past me, they had a wicked big drum playing and some out of tune bamboo stick, which reminded me of the ‘launeddas’ an instrument played in Sardinian.

Meals ticket machine

 

On my way back, I wondered through a labyrinth of tiny old fashion streets.  Every other shop was a little diner with local people sat next to each other at long table opposite the cook, slurping bowls of ramen (noodle soup).  It looked pretty good to me and I was hungry, so I sheepishly walk in and sat between two japanese chaps.  The chef said something to me and I pulled my best facial expression to say ‘I don’t know what you are talking about but I’d like what he’s having’ pointing at the guy next to me.  He pointed at a machine in the corner and I soon realised that the way to order here is by using a machine where you simply press a button with a photo of what you want, insert the money and receive a ticket plus your change ��" great system!  I got my ticket and in no time I was slurping away and fishing vegetables with chopstick out of my ramen, it was delicious and only cost me 650 yen (about 2.

Aurelien, me and Sean
80p).

 

K's House Hostel

 

As soon as I made it back to the hostel I crashed on my bed and slept solidly for a few hours.  I woke up when a chap with a foldable bike told me to move my rucksack, because that’s where he kept his bike.  Ok, first impression weren’t so good but this guy turned out to be a very interesting character.  I won’t say too much about him because he’ll be reading the blog and I’m sure he doesn’t want me to say much about him but as far as I can understand he runs a pretty successful business in Singapore from his laptop, whilst travelling around the world, good life.

This is a quick film of some people trying to capture the smoke from the incense burner outside the Senso-ji Temple in Asakusa, Tokyo. Apparently the smoke has curative powers.
  There you go Sean (aka agent 007!), I’ve blown some smoke up your arse, hope you do the same about me in your blog!!  Jokes aside, I’ve had some interesting chats with him and I’m glad we’ve met.

 

This hostel is great, I found it through a website (hostels.com) and as you do I read all the reviews about it, they were all right.  The place is spotless, the staff is very friendly and the facilities are great, including electric toilet and power showers.  It’s situated next to two main tube stations, so getting home was easy and the subway in Tokyo runs like a Swiss clock!  I met lots of interesting people and I had a great time here, I’m disappointed I couldn’t stay a bit longer, but I will certainly come back in the future. 

 

Amongst the people I've met here I have to say hi to Dave the Kiwi rock singer, from Melbourne… Very funny chap!  He went out by himself on Friday night and didn’t realised that all public transports stop at 12am in Tokyo, so he ended up partying hard all night and sleeping in McDonald’s - way to go Dave, we’ll have that beer when I get to Melbourne!!  Also Brian, from New Mexico, who came to Japan to ski and see Iron Maiden in concert - not at the same time.  He has also given me his user name and password to his account for Digital radio so I can listen to any station as long as I have broadband - Cheers Brian!  Last but not least Aurelien, a Parisian DJ who’s hoping to promote his music in Tokyo’s bests clubs and pubs - this guy is going to be big, you can listen to his electro-club-tribal music on his website someonemusic.com - hope it works out well Aurelien!

dl4plm says:
Ramen .. hmmm! love it!!!!
Posted on: Nov 05, 2008
aiohdmg says:
Sound likesss..your 1st day of trip is not bad!! but it's cool.... (^_^)
Posted on: Nov 05, 2008
alicegourmet says:
Love Japanese Ramen! There's some authentic Japanese ramen places and sushi restaurants in L.A.!
Posted on: Jul 31, 2008
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Senso-ji Temple
Senso-ji Temple
Senso-ji Temple from the court yard
Senso-ji Temple from the court yard
Kaminarimons big red lantern
Kaminarimon's big red lantern
Second highest pagoda in Japan, 55…
Second highest pagoda in Japan, 5…
Meals ticket machine
Meals ticket machine
Aurelien, me and Sean
Aurelien, me and Sean
This is a quick film of some peop…
Tokyo
photo by: maka77