Since the weather today was much cooler (only 28°!) we set out to see Tokyo’s outdoor attractions. Since there’s still an Emperor, you’re only allowed look at his front garden – though it does boast a water garden with a great set of fountains, and loads of cypress trees that sort of look like giant bonsai trees if you know what I mean! We looked at a famous bridge – though we never found out what it’s famous for 🙂
Next was the Sensoji Temple in Asakusa. This temple is approached via a 250m corridor of shops and stalls – not particularly spiritual, but then some of them have been there centuries, so maybe it’s just our western background that made them feel out of place. Mind you, it didn’t stop us buying a couple of souvenirs 🙂
The temple entrance gates hold huge lanterns taller than a man, that you walk beneath as you enter. People crowded around a large vessel filled with burning incense, drawing the smoke over their heads – presumably for luck. Inside the temple itself was a kind of altar, before which was a container where people threw coins and prayed. There were cabinets of small drawers with metal tumblers you shake till you get a rod to come out. The number on the rod corresponds to a drawer, each one containing a piece of paper. These end up folded and suspended like home-made christmas decorations on strings – perhaps they hold the supplicants’ requests and wishes. It was all quite different from the kind of thing we’re used to from home, and it was different from the temples we’d seen in China because these were busily being used.
We took a quick look at the Asakusajinja Shrine next to the temple before getting refreshments at the great western temple of McDonalds. The combination of air-con and coffee got us going again, and we decided to stroll back to Ueno at street level rather than use the Metro. This gave us a taste of a more normal Tokyo, a step away from the neon lights and Prada outlets. Before long we were back on the train heading back to Shinagawa.
The display on the train indicated that two lines had been closed or delayed due to earthquake! I thought I had been imagining things last night, but I distinctly felt three rocking movements as I lay in bed fitfully trying to get to sleep, and thought I heard three similar sounds like the curtains moving, or maybe the clothes in the wardrobe. It was nice to find out I haven’t completely lost my mind – yet!
Tomorrow we’re off to see Mt. Fuji, and the day will involve sky gondolas, pirate ships on a lake, and return by bullet train. It’s shaping up to be a great way to end our Far East tour. The only downside is we have to be up at 6:30 in order to get ready and have some breakfast before the coach picks us up, and just like Lost In Translation, it’s hard to get to sleep here 🙂