Day 2: Asakusa, Ueno, and Akihabara

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I woke up bright and early (6:00 a.m.). Oh the joys of jet lag! Despite sleeping rather well, I still felt a bit heavy, tired. I must still be recovering from our long journey here yesterday.

Despite the jet lag, we still did some touring around. Because of the jet lag, we also took it easy and just did some walking around the northern areas of Tokyo – namely Asakusa, Ueno, and a bit of Akihabara.

Clockwise from too-left: Kaminari-mon, the pagoda, Nakamise-dori, Sensoji Temple

Since our hostel is close to Sensoji Temple, we started our day there. All the guides about Tokyo and Japan weren’t kidding when they talked about the crowds! The place is packed with people. It’s near impossible to get a picture without at least half a dozen other people in it. I did my best, though!

Nakamise-dori is the street leading from the gates (Kaminari-mon) to the main temple, and it’s lined with dozens of little stores selling snacks or souvenirs. I have to make a mental note to return here near the end of my trip to pick up some trinkets. The surrounding streets are also packed with little shops that are fun to browse. We also glimpsed the massive Tokyo Skytree, although we didn’t even go near it.

Instead, we took the subway to Ueno, where we checked out Ueno Park. It’s a massive green space amidst all the streets and concrete buildings and features the Tokyo National Museum (we didn’t’ go in) and a few shrines, including the golden Toshogu Shrine, which we definitely did stop to see.

Top: cherry blossoms (Sakura). Bottom (L-R): purification water at Toshogu Shrine, Toshogu Shrine, torii gates.

We were also very fortunate to see some early-blooming cherry blossoms! There are many different varieties of cherry blossoms and we saw some of the ones that bloom a bit earlier than others. Some of the other trees were budding so in a couple of weeks, the whole park will be absolutely stunning, I’m sure, with paths lined with cherry blossom trees in full bloom.

Lunch was okonomiyaki from one of the food stalls in the park. It was delicious, although I’ve read that the best okonomiyaki is from Hiroshima or Osaka. Later on in my trip, I’ll have to taste for myself!

After Ueno Park, we made the 20 minute walk to the famous Akihabara District, also known as Electric Town, as it was initially famous for its abundance of electronics stores. That reputation seems to still hold true, as we spotted lots of stores selling computers, cameras, etc., but more recently, Akihabara is known as an anime geek’s paradise. There are a lot of stores selling all sorts of anime and video game merchandise, like DVDs, figurines, key chains, and of course, manga…lots and lots of manga.

We didn’t stick around too long because we were starting to lose some steam, plus we’re saving our yen for later in our trip, so we don’t have to lug our purchases around Japan as we go.

So, for now, we’re back at our hostel to rest and then eat dinner. Later, we’ll be heading back to Sensoji to see it all lit up. I will definitely post pics later :) See ya!

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