Finding your Zen for a few Yen at Asakusa…

Spring Blossom & Temples in Asakusa

Spring Blossom & Temples in Asakusa

One thing I am always sure to do when visiting Tokyo is to spend a few hours in Asakusa. My preferred mode of transport there is to take the ferry from the Hamarikyu Gardens and take in the sights of the city en route, otherwise you can hop on the Ginza line on the Tokyo Metro and stay on all the way to the last stop (Asakusa). Once you are in Asakusa stop by one of the eating spots hidden away for some delicious sushi or sashimi (usually an entrance with a curtain and usually closed between 3pm-6pm). You can sit at the counter alongside the locals as the chef prepares whatever you want in front of you and you are served green tea and miso whilst you wait for your freshly-prepared food to come out. The local restauranteurs are friendly and as most do not speak English you have to explain clearly and slowly what you want (using various methods of pointing and sign-language if you don’t speak Japanese!). You can get a delicious lunch at a reasonable price as well as a good local experience. Then you are ready to explore Sensō-ji. You start at the huge imposing gate, Kaminarimon or Thunder Gate, which as you pass through leads the way to the impressive and historical Buddhist temple of Sensō-ji. Lining the Nakamise-dori are shops filled with local treats, gifts and snacks – TravelBella likes to pick up silk kimonos, and traditional sweets as gifts, the sweets are wrapped so beautifully and you can do all of your shopping right here! In the evening lanterns line the street and it is a beautiful setting. As you reach the main temple you pass by the O-mikuji stands and I always like to stop and ‘consult the oracle’ for some fun – they suggest a donation of 100 yen and if you observe the locals you can soon pick up how you do it but in involves picking out a stick from a tin, unwrapping the piece of paper around the chosen stick and then finding the corresponding ‘answer’ in one of the drawers, the symbols are fairly easy to read – and fortunately your divine answer is also in English! Pass by the heavy incense and the locals praying around the smoky fireplaces taking in the unique sights, smells and sounds and then you can wander around the ornate temple and see the pagoda in all it’s glory. There is also a tranquil garden at the heart of the temple for you to get in touch with your zen! Asakusa is a great place to visit if you do not have much time in Tokyo as it combines architecture with history, local tradition as well as being a great place to shop. It is easy to get to and can be enjoyed at any time of the day… let’s just hope that your fortune will be a good one!

 

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