I asked my contact at work to see if it were possible for me to have a long layover through Tokyo on my way back to America. He managed to give me 30 hours in Japan! With only a week before arriving and no plan, I asked my friend JiHyeon if she had any ideas about a good schedule for someone wanting to see the city of Tokyo and not just the airport area of Narita. JiHyeon lived in Tokyo for a few years and was more than happy to give me a travel agent's 2-day guide to Tokyo.
I will post that guide in the following days, JiHyeon really did a great job, but for now I'm going to show you pictures of the only part of that schedule that I checked out. I was thoroughly exhausted by the time I landed at Narita, Japan, and after dealing with a completely foreign language, subway system, and communication style, I was ready to just relax for a while when I got to my hostel (K's House; recommended) in Asakusa, Tokyo.
I slept like a rock after a night of chilling with a book and playing UNO with a group of traveling Australians. The next morning, I felt up to walking down the street to visit the street shops and the Buddhist shrine and temple nearby, 浅草寺, Sensō-ji.
This is the view from the street. Not bad, eh?
This is Kaminarimon, 雷門, the Thunder Gate. The god of wind and the god of thunder are depicted in the right and left side of the gate, respectively. On the opposite side of the gate are statues of the god Tenryū and Kinryū.
|This is a reproduction of the large paper lantern first stored here. I think it's cool that you can see a carving of a dragon if you look up at the very bottom of the lantern. I didn't get a picture of that, but here's one from the temple's official website.|
|There are two long lines of street shops after that gate leading up to the temple. They are called Nakamise-dori or Nakamise street.|
|On a side wall|
Wouldn't mind have this on one of my walls, actually.
I must report that the only Japanese food I ate during my entire stay was a prepackaged green tea ice cream bar from the 7-11. It was delicious, though. The best green tea ice cream I'd ever had.
|Getting closer to the temple|
This is Hozomon, 宝蔵門, Treasure-House Gate, the gate closest to the temple. The two statues there are identical and represent Niho, the god who guards Buddha.
|A small grave nearby|
|Near the grave|
|They're pretty serious.|
|The lanterns of the second gate|
|浅草寺, Sensō-ji, the Asakusa temple|
There is incense continually burned in that large pot. Worshipers waft the vapors towards themselves as a spiritual cleansing or healing.
Click here to learn about the main hall at the temple's official website.
|A view of the grounds from the temple's porch|
|The steps up to the temple|
Sensoji is Tokyo's oldest temple. It was built in honor of Kannon, the goddess of mercy.
The statue of Kannon for which the temple was made rests behind the curtain. There are statues of Hindu deities there to guard the main attraction of Kannon. (I gleaned that bit of information from Doug's blog post about Senso-ji. He loves Japan (and Korea!) and is great at sharing helpful information. If you're at all still interested in the site, check out his post. He's got a lot of neat things to share.)
Should you be interested even further, here's a good account of the story of the temple.
More pictures are to follow, but I'm stopping here with most of my coverage of the actual temple.