Monday, June 15, 2009

Sometimes Older is Better

Asakusa - A Place of Temples, Rickshaws, and Strolling Families

Day 6

When you get off the subway in Asakusa you see lots and lots of people. But, unlike other parts of this huge chaotic city, they aren't running they are strolling. They have their families in tow. They are stopping to take cell phone photos of each other. They are stopping in crafts shops to examine and buy things. They stop for lunch. They are just enjoying being together. Hence, I deem this a great place.

This is the home of the Senso-ji Temple (Tokyo's most sacred and spectacular temple). It is also home to a huge crafts market and too many restaurants and theaters to name.

The Hozo-Mon Gate
The Entrance to the Temple Forecourt

After crossing through the gate there is an area to buy your fortune, acquire a special charm and then purify yourself. The process to buy a fortune is pretty cool. First, you shake a big steel tube until a long stick pops out. The stick has a code that keys to the huge series of drawers on the wall behind the steel tubes. You match your stick with the drawer and take out a fortune. If the fortune is good you keep it.

If the fortune is bad you tie it to a rack nearby to prevent the bad fortune from following you.

I left my fortune tied to the rack.

The purification process involves going to the water fountain and washing your hands. After the water you light incense and place it in a large burner directly in front of the temple. People then stand next to the incense burner and breath in the smoke. They also fan the incense smoke over themselves.

Washing Hands

Purification With Incense

Mr. B an Miss M at the Shrine

After purification the visitor moves into the temple. At this point they throw a coin offering toward the alter area. They then step up, face the alter, clap twice, fold their hands, bow, and pray.

After visiting the temple they might buy a charm (I bought one for safe travel and another for a friend to get well, Mr. B and Mary bought one for highway safety, Miss M for success).

We then went back through the gates and explored the crafts in the main crafts stalls and along the side streets.

Along the way there are numerous specialty bakers, candy venders, and ice cream merchants. The perfect place for a summer day.

The Busy Craft Stalls

A Pancake Maker
A Small Piece of Sweet Bean Paste is Cooked in the Middle of the Pancake Iron
The Finished Product has a Lovely Shape and Smell
(Bean Paste must be an Acquired Taste)

Venturing Into Quieter Side Streets

Rickshaws Still Run Through Asakusa

So Much to Choose From
Miss M likes the Studio Ghibli Store

We closed out the day with lunch at the Geeva Bread Company which was tasty. We all loved the specialty bread sandwiches filled with egg, salmon, tonkatsu, or even noodles. From there we had ice cream (Mr. "B" opted for black sesame and pronounced it as awful, Miss "M" had mango and loved it). Mary and I had popsicles instead.

Last stop was to the candy venders. M has a thing about the sugar candy. It is beautifully presented. A lot of it is kind of like our rock candy with a hint of fruit flavors. They can look like little pastels or even sushi.

Candy Comes in Colorful Little Pastilles

Or Even Looking Like Sushi!

We really enjoyed our day in Asakusa. While filled with a whole bunch of people just being together and just being themselves.

Tomorrow we move on to a Sunday in Harajuku and a visit to Yoyogi Park!

Roadboy's Travels © 2009

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