Asakusa & Sumida River Walk
Today we take a walk around the Asakusa and the Sumida River area. Asakusa is located in East Tokyo and is home to Sensoji Temple - founded in 645 CE, Sensoji [浅草寺] is a great place to see some of the more traditional side of Japan without traveling too far out of the metropolis - it's also a great(?) place to see a bunch of foreign tourists too.
Many Japanese folks say that they don't like to see other Japanese folks when they travel overseas - one of the reasons seems to be that they wanted to get away from it all and the last thing they wanted to see were more Japanese at their holiday destination.
I also hear that English folks don't like seeing other English folks in Japan - do you feel the same when you travel to Japan and see visitors who are also from your neck of the woods?
Anyway, to get here, get off at Asakusa station [浅草駅] on the Tobu Skytree Line, Toei Asakusa Line or Tokyo Metro Ginza Line.
The Toei Asakusa Line will also bring you to Gotanda station where Mirai Store is.
In this post we also take a gander around the Sumida River area. Sumida is just one of the major rivers in Tokyo - the others being Tama, Meguro (which flows right beside our office), Edo, Tone, Arakawa and Kanda.
The nice thing about Sumida is that there is not much hustle n bustle to be encountered - just a nice n quiet walk.
The black building with the golden thingy on top is "Asahi Super Dry Hall" - the golden object is supposed to represent fire but many Japanese folks call it "Unko no Biru" [うんこのビル] meaning "building of poo."
The inner grounds of Sensoji. I've filmed here a few times - while general visitors don't need permission - you need it if you are filming for TV. Once we got permission to film for the show and started to take photos - they said "no photos because you only applied to shoot video."
Honestly, filming in Japan can be such a pain - even though media want to promote places to visit, many landlords just don't want any of it. I very much often have to beg for permission. Sometimes I wonder why *I* should be the one begging to promote *their* goods.
This is Nakamise - the pedestrianised road leading up to Sensoji - lots of interesting souvenirs and snacks to nibble on along the way but many snobbish store owners who shoo you away when you try taking photos.
Sensoji is not only visited by foreigners however and you will see many Japanese students visiting in groups. One of the interesting thing is that they all wear their school uniforms. I'm presuming it's so that the teachers or whoever is looking after them can easily keep tabs on their students.
That couple cute!
It's not common knowledge but many temples and shrines also own the surrounding land - if you thought that they only made money from donations and purchases of amulets then you would be wrong - they actually earn quite a bit from tenants paying rent too.
Folks making a prayer at the offering box - does not matter how much you put in but 5 yen is usually the norm as it's meant to be lucky.
Sensoji Temple had been under renovation for a while and it looks like it's all done meaning you can get photos without it being covered in steel. Speaking of steel - I'm looking forward to Batman and Superman - Japanese trailer below.
The racks on the right are where you tie your fortunes if they turn out to be...not so fortunate.
In my early years in Japan when visiting a shrine or temple I would normally wish to do well in my career - these days I wish for good health for wifey and I. Without good health, I wouldn't be able to forge my career anyway.
Depending on whether you are at a temple or shrine, you will see people clapping before making a prayer - do not do this at a temple meaning that you should not to it at Sensoji.
To distinguish between a shrine or temple, have a look at the last kanji of the name - if it ends with 寺 then it's a temple, if it ends with a 社 then its a shrine.
I love the smell of incense! Usually you will see folks standing around this urn using their hands to wave the smoke towards them for good luck and healing properties.
Another way for temples and shrines to make money is by having companies or folks in the neighbourhood sponsor parts of the shrine - things like walls, fences and lanterns will have the names of the folks who chipped in some cash.
Nakamise - some of the shops will have Japanese souvenirs which are...not made in Japan just like the Empire State Building fridge magnet that I have.
There are many small roads leading off Nakamise - don't forget to explore those too.
Exploring the streets of Asakusa.
Exploring Sumida River - reminds me of the time I spent walking up n down the River Thames back in London.
OK, I'm going to leave you here as I need to dash - stick by the river and you shouldn't get too lost.