Getting to know Asakusa

9 April 2017

Our tour with Inside Japan does not start until 7:00 tonight when we meet our group and go for dinner.

Until then we are free for a bit of sight seeing. Alas, it’s a very wet, dismal day.

Sensoji Temple from our hotel room

We head out to the famous Ueno Park to see the sakura (cherry blossoms) but quickly turn back due to the rain. Instead we head to the Sensoji Temple and the relative protection of the narrow streets and alleys around the temple. At the temple I waft the incense smoke across my face for a bit of healing and then get my fortune told for 100 yen.

Sensoji Temple
Beautiful sakura at Sensoji Temple

No 91 GOOD FORTUNE

Bad fortune in the past will change to be good, just like the crescent grows to be full, you luck will grow to be good to the full.

From the palace in the clouds, wealth and treasure will come to you.

Make haste in doing whatever you want.

The sooner the better.

You wish will be realized. You should be righteous.

My lucky fortune

That’s a relief, my luck has been totally shitty the last couple of months. Good times ahead!

For those who don’t like the fortune predicted, you simply tie it up and leave it behind in the temple grounds. I like it!

From here it’s a short walk down to the Sumida River to look at the sakura along the river. They are so delicate and beautiful.

Sumida River and Tokyo Skytree
Sakura by the Sumida River

A bit more wandering in the chilly drizzle and we are ready for a bite to eat. We spotted an oyster restaurant last night and spend a good amount of time trying to find it again. Eventually we find the right street and are seated at a type of teppanaki bar but with a open mesh grill in the middle of the table.

We order 6 oysters (raw) and 2 scallops (to be grilled), saki for me and a beer for H. The oysters are massive and very fresh. Nom, nom, nom! We grill the scallops ourselves over the grill.

Sake and scallops
Local Asahi beer

After our light lunch we explore a couple more of the small shopping centres and shopping streets before hitting Don Quixote. Its a 4 story, 24 hour mini mart that stocks all sorts of weird and wonderful items. You can get everything from a girdle to snacks to alcohol to electronic gadgets to maid outfits. We went into buy deodorant – now that’s a challenging task – it takes about twenty minutes but eventually we find something that we hope will do the job. Only time will tell.

The amazing Don Quijote
The amazing Don Quijote
One of the many shopping streets in Asakusa

Time for another drink before we head back to the hotel to dry off and have a nap before our group meeting and dinner tonight. Just across the road from the hotel is a little Spanish inspired bar – well it has jamon and sherry available. Choosing the sake is fun, the chalk board menu is totally in Japanese and the guy serving has very little English. We establish that we want a cold, dry style and a vague price point and leave the rest to the nice man.

Asakusa Rokku Bar

At 7:30 we gather in the foyer and meet our companions for the next 9 days. Masa-san our guide, an couple of Brits – Jenny and Keith from Hampstead, 5 Americans – Judy and Jack from Florida, Nancy and Oli and Charissa from California and us two little Aussie diggers. Masa-san gives a quick briefing and then we head out to a nearby Izakaya (Japanese style pub), Tofuro. Its styled in the Edo period and located on the 4th floor – you would never find it unless you knew about it. We are seated in a private traditional room, with out feet in a foot well and have a set menu including an assortment of small dishes and shabu-shabu. All very delicious! We have a few people that don’t eat raw fish, a vegetarian, a cucumber allergy, some non-pork eaters. No problems with H & I – we are up for anything!

Its back to the hotel straight after dinner – we have an early start tomorrow morning for a full day sightseeing in downtown Tokyo.

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