JAPAN 2015: Day 1 - Sensoji. And an Adventure at Night.

Seeing that I still had some time after Ueno Park, I decided to explore another attraction before calling it a day. After consulting Google, I took the train from Ueno to..

April 7th, 4PM - Asakusa, Tokyo.

Honestly, I didn't know what to expect at this place. Heck, I didn't even know where to go. So I sort of just followed the flow and walked along the road until I stumbled upon this gate:

Wah, so many people one! Confirm tourist attraction! So I stopped and joined the crowd (I didn't even know what this place was called at that moment).

Upon passing through the gate, I found myself in a Japanese Jonker Street.

April 7th, 4.30PM - Nakamise-dori (仲見世通), Asakusa, Tokyo.
I mean, sure, this place is much posher and cleaner than the one we have in Malacca but the concept is essentially the same (not sure how long Jonker Street is but Nakamise is over 200 meters). The items sold in one store are also sold in another store just 2 units down. But it's pretty interesting, they have souvenirs, snacks, utensils, etc.

Hanami snacks were all over the place. So many different variations of dango, mochi and stuff! 

I don't know what these are, some fried sweets from the looks. It says "Ageman" on the packaging but the only "Ageman" I can find via Google is "Japanese Middle Age Man". I'm sorry guys...

Came across a soft serve stall and I knew I had to have one! This is cherry blossom flavored because well you know, when in Japan (and spring), eat everything sakura. Taste wise, wasn't great, I should probably rule out sakura as my favorite flavor but no, just because it's rare for me, I decided to go for more things sakura (as you will see later).

Oh right, after purchasing the soft serve and wanting to walk off, I was suddenly detained by the shopkeeper.

"Ice cream eat here preease!"

Ohh.... Japan got guardians of the ice cream one. (´⊙ω⊙`)!

I'm only kidding. Not about the getting quarantined in the shop part though. Turns out, Japanese people don't have this habit of walking while eating. Probably because they do not want to dirty the streets. So most food stalls and shops will make you stay until you finish the food.

Really loving how the streets look like.

Anyway, I walked a bit more and found myself at another gate:

April 7th, 5PM - Senso-ji (Asakusa Kannon Temple), Tokyo.
Rupa-rupanya this is the real gate and the one that I passed earlier was just a replica/decor of sort. This is called the Kaminarimon (Thunder Gate, ka-boom!), which is the symbol of Asakusa and the whole of Tokyo.

There is a temple beyond the Kaminarimon (Thunder Gate, ka-boom!). So this is why this place is filled with tourists! It is the home of Senso-ji, Tokyo's oldest temple (645 CE) and one of its most significant. Yes, thank you Google.

Some shots of the temple surroundings below:

I got caught up with taking photos of flowers and stuff. But how could I not???

The flora here (or actually, in the whole of Japan) is so pretty! Well, it's called spring for a reason. To further illustrate my point:

 If you don't love tulips, you are heartless!

Okay okay, I know you want to see photos of the place, and not so much on the macro shots of flora. So here are a couple (still got flora inside one):

The five-storied pagoda, the interior is off-limits to visitors. I'm as curious as you are.

Back to the temple. Didn't take any photos inside as it may be considered disrespectful (or I could be just lazy). So here's a photo of main hall's entrance. Question of the day, did that guy color his hair to match this place?

You'll often find fountains like this one near the entrance to a temple. It's called a purification fountain and here are the steps to using one:
At the purification fountain near the shrine's entrance, take one of the ladles provided, fill it with fresh water and rinse both hands. Then transfer some water into your cupped hand, rinse your mouth and spit the water beside the fountain. You are not supposed to transfer the water directly from the ladle into your mouth or swallow the water.
Non-native-yukata-woman posing for a photo, do you know you're supposed to do that?

I then walked around the temple grounds for a bit, and stumbled into another little friend of mine. *Cues "IT'S TIME FOR A MANDATORY DOG VID" jingle*:

Isn't he adorable?

I felt so at ease walking around the place. It didn't feel awkward, not even for one bit, being by myself. Also, I stumbled upon - not another little friend, but this cute couple snuggling close to each other on a bench.

 The weather was chilly and people all around are doing their own thing, moving on with their life. This old couple was there, sitting on a bench covered by a sheet of heat insulator, and in a world of their own. Obachan was singing a hauntingly sad song and ojisan was listening close like it was his favorite song in the world.

I was there. I felt like I was truly there at that moment.

The Tokyo Skytree touching the clouds.

The sky was still bright and I wanted to see where else to go but that was when I realized, my pocket wifi ran out of battery. I was rather tired too so I guess it was time to make my way back. Traced back to the station I came from and took the train back to my hostel's station.

April 7th, 7PM - Arakawa-ku, Tokyo.
That night, because my wifi died, I took the ballsy road and decided that maybe I can just walk myself back to the hostel without Google Map's assistance. You know where this is going.

Friends, I spent almost an hour being lost. 7PM in Tokyo was complete darkness already. All streets look identical in the dark. I was... so lost. So lost, so dark, but so safe. I walked into random izakayas that I managed to find in the neighborhood to ask for directions. When I told them the name of the place I was looking for, nobody seems to know.  (Ah well, at least I got some warmth from the short time I spent in the shop.)

I asked several other passerby's. Nope, nobody seems to have heard of this place I'm staying in. I was starting to suspect that I was in a completely different area altogether. Things are starting to look repetitive too, not because I've been there in the morning but more like I've been there 10 minutes ago.

=͟͟͞͞ =͟͟͞͞ ヘ( ´Д`)ノ

So I walked out to the bigger streets and walked along a row of shops to see if any looks familiar to me. That was when I spotted a coffee shop. Ah yes, coffee! How long has it been since I had my last coffee? Must've been more than half a day ago, it felt like forever. But wait... This could also mean, wifi for me to load Google Map! A stop at the coffee shop it is.

I was the only customer in the shop manned by an ojisan. It was warm, and I ordered a cup of coffee before trying to connect to the wifi. Coffee was mediocre by the way, coffee all over Japan are (at least the ones that I've tried). 


Nevertheless, coffee is coffee. I'm no coffee snob. But, wifi! I couldn't seem to connect to the shop's wifi and the ojisan couldn't help because apparently his son is the one who does the IT stuff. And then his son walked in - my oh my he's a handsome one, swept me off my feet and kept me safe from the dark and cold night. << I kid.

At that point I flipped table already. So I continued sitting there, sipping my coffee with no further plans. Then I started chatting with the ojisan, his name was Satou. Chatted for a bit before I decided to ask him if he knew the place I was heading. And then ta-dah! He told me that it was the opposite neighborhood. How did I end up in a different neighborhood to begin with? I do not know.

Satou-san explained the directions to me for a bit before I headed off, revitalized by hope and coffee. Managed to find my hostel after some walking, almost wanted to kiss and hug that building. Phew!


tl;dr - Got lost. No handsome Japanese man. Drank some coffee and found my way back.



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