10 April 2017
I’m up at 5:00 in the morning, my body clock has kicked in and its telling me its 6:00 (Brisbane time) Monday morning and time to go to work. My early rise gives me the opportunity to capture a lovely sunrise photo. The low clouds of yesterday have cleared and its promising to be a nice day.
We are up on the 26th floor for buffet breakfast by 6:30 and down in the foyer at 8:00. Our group slowly assembles and at 8:15 we head out for our day of sightseeing. First it’s a ramble to the Sensoji Temple complex, Masa explains the significance of the healing incense smoke and the water purification ritual. Howard tosses a few coins into the temple’s well and wishes a modest wish (to match the modest donation) and I get another fortune. This time I only get medium luck so I give this to Howard and keep my good luck from yesterday.
Then down Nakamise Dori the main street leading to the temple and through the Kaminarimon or Thunder Gate. Sensoji is the one of the most popular temple complex in Tokyo, both for Japanese and tourists. Masa also explains the difference between a temple and a shrine. Shrines are Shinto, the traditional Japanese religion that believes in the gods of nature and in nature (shrines have the plain tori gates). Temples are Buddhist which came to Japan about 14 centuries ago (temples have the red ornate tori gates). Most Japanese take advantage of the best of both religions, Shinto for births, coming of age blessings and marriages and Buddhism when then need help and death. Very practical.
We then catch a ferry down the Sumida River to Hamarikyu Gardens, once a duck gaming reserve now a strolling water garden with lovely traditional layout. One of the highlights is a 300 year old pine tree. Beautiful.
A short walk later we enter the restaurant floors of a massive office building for lunch. With luck there is a Din Tai Fung, one of our all time favourite Taiwanese chains. We scoff our set lunch meals again and we are off again. Through a labyrinth of doors, halls and elevators and onto a mini bus to be transported across town to the Meiji Temple complex. It’s a relaxing walk through the park to the temple – unfortunately the complex is covered due to renovations in preparation for the 2020 Olympics and you’re are not allowed into the temple unless you are there for a ceremony.
But there is a very amusing Ema prayer
Back on the mini-bus to the Toyko Metropolitan Building and up to the 45th floor to the observation deck for a 360 degree view of Tokyo. As far as the eye can see in every direction there are buildings, building, buildings. Tokyo has a population of just over 13.5 million people, which is mind boggling considering the whole of Australia only has 23 million.
Back on the bus again we are transported back to the Asakasa View Hotel for a free night, upon Masa’s advise we head to the main shopping street to find somewhere for dinner.
But first another pit stop at Don Quitote to source an Australian / Japanese power plug, gloves and beanie for me (its going to be v cold tomorrow). After perusing dozens of menu’s and peering into even more doorways, we pick an Okonomiyaki restaurant in Chuo Dori Street, there is no English name written so I can’t tell you what its called.
We have just discovered Shochu (showchu) which is a clear spirit like sake but made from sweet potato or barley instead of rice. Masa has assured us that you don’t get a hangover from Shochu. Lets test the theory!
The dinner is delicious and very cosy with the hotplate warming us up. All in all a great day and night!