Japan – Tokyo, Gyeon Park, Ueno Park, Asakusa, SkyTree

22/04/16

I really wanted to try to see some Sakura as I’d read that it was one of the best things to see in Japan, so as the Shinjuku Gyeon Park was relatively close by we decided to take a quick trip. Entry was 200Y and immediately I could see some of the infamous cheery trees in full blossom, not too many though as it’s a little late now.

I thought it was a really pretty park with lots of blossom in the bushes, so many colours and intricate patterns, there’s a Japanese style garden and some English style garden (which we missed). Once we had seen the majority of the blossom we walked the long way round the park to head back to the Shinjuju gate. If I had more time, I would have loved to have brought a picnic and enjoy the view and the sun.

It took a while to get to Ueno park but it wasn’t difficult, this is where they have an estimated 800 cherry trees so I was really hoping to see a lot but unfortunately we were too late in the season and it had all dropped already. It wasn’t a mistake to go as there was a decent food market happening near the zoo, great timing as we were hungry for lunch. I chose to have some fried popcorn chicken, Rudy opted for weird and got some octopus balls. Mine was delicious, his was not… no surprises there! They were relatively cheap at 500Y each, and to fill us up some more I got a noodle dish which also cost 500Y.

We didn’t see the temple as we were heading to Asakusa next to see the big senso Ji temple. This was really easy to get to from Ueno as they are not far away from each other. As soon as we arrived at Asakusa there was a big increase in people, especially at the main gate and walkway. It seemed as though every kid in Japan had decided to go to the temple.. There are lots of shops selling tourist souveniers and food. Rudy decided to get a red bean soft ice icecream as it was really hot outside, however, the ice cream people would not let anyone eat it on the street so it was a bit pointless in getting it… I noticed a pharmacy / cosmetic shop and decided to buy some bits and pieces I had my eye on. I’m a little worried about how I will get it all in my bag, but I can sort that out later…

When we finally got to the temple, I could really tell it had been restored but it was still very grand and beautiful. I had read that Asakusa was one of the only places in Tokyo to be fully rebuilt after WW2 hence why there is the temple and all the other buildings are densely packed.

Inside the courtyard past the guards, all I could hear was this rattling sound which turned out to be fortune tellings. So you put in 100Y into the slot (not compulsory but I assume it’s an unspoken rule), then you shake the silver tin gently and then tip it upside down. A stick should fall out of the tin and on this stick is a number, the number then corresponds to a number on one of the many draws. Inside the draw is your fortune. You take one out and see if it is a good fortune, which you can then take home or a bad fortune where you then can tie it up to help rid of the bad fortune. I was happy I received a good one!

Then there was an incense burner where everyone was trying to wash themselves in the smoke, of course I joined in but the smoke was quick to get in my eyes… I have never seen this bathing in smoke before and assume it must be a Japanese tradition. There is also a water fountain with instructions to fill up the cup and wash one had, then the other and then take a sip. The water looked a bit recycled so I skipped the drinking part, but I did wash my hands.

Here at the temple there are  lot of women dressed up in Geisha outfits, I thought it added a nice touch and helped me to imagine what life was like back in the day. I saw some shops that allowed Kimono rent for 4000Y.

Once we were done with the temple, we took a stroll around the streets. The main thing I noticed was that there were many crockery shops, with a lot of knife shops. So if you want something sharp, this is the place to go! There is a variety of hand made, factory made, designs on blades and horn on the handle. I found it interesting to see and it surprised me to learn that knives can be really expensive! I had a look in a couple supermarkets which I always find fun, and made the wild guess that Japanese here eat more fish than meat. I also found the famous don Quiote shop which sells so much tat but is actually sometimes cheaper than in branded shops. I was happy to find a variety of snacks to try, and just to check out the other goodies I could buy.

To round up the day, we went to Skytree which was two stops away from Asakusa. It was fun to look in the shops on the way to the entrance, there was some wobbly soap which was like a fake booby and some plastic realistic food, of course I wanted to buy it all but had to reel it in. The Skytree cost 2000Y and there’s a bit of a wait to buy the ticket. Once bought  we took a lift up to the top which was super quick and then came out to what seemed to be some kind of show. There were some projections onto the windows of people window cleaning, and that turned into a musical escapade and then people in front of us started dancing and some other people came out and played some musical instruments. I found it amusing and random. I could definitley get lost in the view as Tokyo is so dense, I thought it was really amazing to see how big Tokyo really is, and loved seeing all the lights. I would love to see it when it is light, as there is the possibility to see Mt Fuji in the background. If you go down a couple levels by escalator there are seats and a glass floor. Although I was hesitant about going up, I was glad I did at the end.

 

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