Japan V - Tokyo, Asakusa and Senso-ji Temple
When I traveled to Japan, as my work required me to do, I didn’t have enough time to see landmarks. However, I had one day to explore the Japanese capital, Tokyo.
Having just one day to explore such a hugh city isn’t enough, so I had to choose what I want to see. I did what my friends recommended me and went to see the north of Tokyo to see the districts of Ueno and Asakusa. These districts are remains of old bottom town of Tokyo, Shimatachi, a former cultural center in the Edo period.
I woke up at four o’clock in the morning on that day. I wanted to do my aikido training beginning at 6.30am in Tokyo. Unfortunatelly, I missed it for I got lost at Shinjuku Station and I came twenty minutes late on a meeting with a Japanese girl who was supposed to take me to the training. She wasn’t there waiting for me, of course. I made it to the second training, I trained for one hour and then I finally went to explore the city.
Again, I had to visit Shinjuku Station. From there, after getting lost again, I got into the train to Ueno. I walked from the train station and when I asked another Japanese men how I can get to Sensoji, he helped me. But he was surprised that I want to travel this distance afoot. I didn’t seem to me to be such a long way, however, I agreed with him eventually. The road was long and it wasn’t even interesting.
As I saw more and more souvenir stalls I understood I am approaching to the temple. I bought several things there for I wanted to bring some presents from Japan for my closest and also for me. This was a unique opportunity to do so. Vendors sold many things, from fridge magnets, to china small bowls, kimonos, flip-flops and many types of meals.
Soon I found myself in front of Sensoji temple called Asakusa Kannon. It is a very impressive historical complex, youget there through the Kaminarimon gate (or the Thunder Gate) guarded by Fujin and Raijin statues. After you walk through a street with many shops you get to Hozomon, a two floor gate. Behind there is a thing making smoke. There are still some people around it trying to inhale smoke; accordingly it should make them healthier. Soon we get to the Main Hall with the main temple. Even there are many people, they throw coins, light candles. On the left of the Main Hall there is a five-storey pagoda. It is a replica of pagoda destroyed in an earthquake. The replica was made in 1973. The complex has also other buildings inside such as Hexagonal Temple or the Awashima Hall. There is a nice garden surrounding it where you can meditate.
I ride by bus back to Ueno Station. There I visited the Ueno Park for a while. There are several galleries, museums, and temples as well as a 17th century pagoda and a zoo. Unfortunately, I haven’t visited any museum or gallery despite I would like to. The Tokyo National Museum, for instance, must provide you with a look at historical items; from ukijoe (woodblock prints), to contemporary clothes and other artistic items. But I had to go for I didn’t want to miss my aikido training. It is a unique opportunity to train this sport in the cradle where it was born.
This is the end of my journey in Japan. It is a country of rich history and tremendous opportunities. Next time I go to Japan I would like to go outside large cities, to see mountains. I would like to visit also historical towns of Kamakura and Kyoto. But this will be next time.
Text/photo: Kristýna Bartůňková
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