Sightseeing: finally some travel time.
It has been almost a week since I landed in Japan and most of this time I spent at my new University, preparing for my studies. Last weekend I had some free time, so two other Dutch students and I decided to visit Tokyo. I visited Tokyo last year as well, but it was, is and will always be an impressing city! You will not get tired from seeing it for a second or third time or even more!
In Tokyo, and probably all around Japan, you can find temples literally everywhere! While walking from one district to another, you might look to your left or right and suddenly there can be a temple or shrine squeezed between two buildings.
First stop: Ueno Park
Using the public transport is the easiest way to move around Tokyo: trains will always stick to their schedule, even though they might be fully packed with people. (Which is also fun to experience for a change.). We took the JR Keihin/Tohoku line to Ueno station. Right behind the station is a large park in which several temples and shrines reside.
On a little island right in the middle of the Shinobazu Pond, where lots of water plants are growing, you can find the Bentendo temple hall. This temple hall was made for Benten, the goddess of good fortune, wealth, music and knowledge. The pond is also something you cannot see everyday in Western countries.
Tokyo Edo week: Wedding in Ueno Park
The Tokyo Edo week is a special week to ‘dress Japanese’. You could see lots of stalls in the Ueno Park special Tokyo Edo area, where they were selling kimonos among other things. There was also a wedding happening inside the Ueno Park, which is completely different from Western weddings, even though we were not able to understand most of what was said. Congratulations to the newly-wed couple!
Asakusa and the Senso-ji temple
You better be prepared, because it will be busy in the Asakusa district and especially around the Senso-ji temple. We walked from Ueno Park to Asakusa, which is a half-an-hour walk. You can also use the public transport to get there sooner, but to see more of the districts, I would suggest walking there.
The Senso-ji temple is a big Buddhist temple with a small park around it. When walking towards the temple, you will enter a busy small street with lots of stalls, where they sell everything from shoes, clothes and bags to small souvenirs.
Near the main entrance, incense is burned, thus the smoke will welcome you even before you can see anything else.
The sandal that you can see on the picture below is one of the two sandals that are hanging on the walls at the Senso-ji temple. The sandals, made of straw, are called ‘O-Waraji’. The sandals are the charm against evils because they are the symbol of the power of ‘Ni-Ou’. Many people touch these sandals, wishing for being goodwalkers.
Japan: an umbrella culture
I am from the Netherlands, a small country in Europe. Wherever we go, good or bad weather, we just go and use rain coats if it is raining. Here, in Japan, everyone has his or her own umbrella. Especially the transparent and umbrellas are quite popular among the Japanese citizens.
It is understandable though, that you would rather use an umbrella than wear a rain coat: it is quite hot and humid in Japan, even when it is raining in September.
Akihabara: Playground for electronics
If you like electronics, then you have come to the right place! The shops in Akihabara have all sorts of electronics. Like everything that you can imagine (from televisions and computers to refrigerators and vacuum cleaners)! There are big department stores and smaller shops. You can also find a lot of anime and manga related articles (like figurines and magazines, even body pillows if you are interested!) and shops around Akihabara. For me, visiting Akihabara was like visiting heaven!
I would also recommend to walk around during the evening, since Akihabara will be lit in hundreds of colors. It is truly a beautiful sight.
Visited on the 24th of September, 2016