Small in Japan

Adventures in Far East Asia


Day 1 Part 1
Day 3 Part 1
Day 5 Part 1
Day 7 Part 1
Day 1 Part 2
Day 3 Part 2
Day 5 Part 2
Day 7 Part 2
Day 2 Part 1
Day 4 Part 1
Day 6 Part 1
Day 8 Part 1
Day 2 Part 2
Day 4 Part 2
Day 6 Part 2

Day 1 Part 2


Making our way to the Asakusa shrine

Completely surprisingly, the Asakusa shrine is located in the part of Tokyo they call Asakusa. On the map (borrowed from "lonely planet") to the right, you will spot the location in the upper right part. It's not very far from Ueno, so in an hour's walk, we found it. It's not that big, at first. It merely crouches in between much taller buildings. At the main street, there is only a portal that works as an entrance to the way towards the shrine:

asakusa entrance

The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by - no, not the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men, but with souvenir shops where you can find almost anything that's even remotely related to the shrine and Tokyo and Japan respectively. There's kimonos, t-shirts, bandanas, pictures, posters, mugs, cakes, cookies, other food (whatever it might be), good luck charms (the famous waving cat in dozens of variations) waiting for tourists to buy them.

way to the shrine

And if that is not enough, how about that: The long way to the shrine is not the only place where shops are located. There are sideways that cover several hundred meters; they are also packed with stores. At these, you could literally buy anything except for video games and cars. Maybe it was the shopping center of that part of town, but then again it was a little shabby. Here's one of these sideways:


Finally, we got to the shrine. Now, Japanese people tend to wish themselves good luck. They either write their wishes on a piece of paper that they stick to special ropes in front of the shrine, or they drink special water from a fountain that's close to it. Or, they produce smoke by lighting incense sticks - once again, it's all for the good luck. It then looks something like this:

smoke on the water

And there we are: The Asakusa shrine in real-life size right in front of us. It's not as tall as the Kölner Dom, but it's quite okay for a religious building. It's well-kept, and people are respectful there. Again, no shouting, no running, nothing annoying whatsoever, except for the smoke (and its smell) from the sticks. I could live with that. These pictures round up our sightseeing for our first day. We left the hotel at 1500, and we managed to see all this until about 1800:

shrine itself

After this, we just wandered around. Unluckily, our experienced guide led us too far from the hotel, and as my travel-fatigue hit me (I didn't sleep on the plane!) we had a hard time finding our way back to the hotel. When we arrived, I tried to send an email home, and I even tried to phone, but I was not sure my messages gt through. I was then sitting on my bed, I was so stressed out that I got close to a nervous breakdown. I took a shower and fell asleep pretty quickly. The next day, I was in better shape and ready to tackle the city again.