Tokyo, Japan, Day 3. Today was a day built on changes. The original plan was to visit a bunch of museums, all around Ueno Park. The problem was that neither of us had properly read the guidebooks and failed to realise that they all close on a Monday!
We first of all wondered through the Ueno Park, visiting some of the multiple temples that are present in the area.
Benton-do is built on an island in a pond, a pond completely filled with Lotuses. (if you know me, you’d know that I was disappointed that these weren’t the car variety). This temple is dedicated to the goddess of the arts, wisdom, the sea and the protection of children.
It’s a temple with the same plan as all the others. Purify yourself with washing, wave the insense smoke at yourself, ring the gong, pick your fortune. The fortunes are apparently multi-lingual, so Sofia decided to take a chance – and ended up with good luck all round. To ensure this happens, she followed the plan and tied it to the washing lines.
Next stop was Kiyomizu Kannon-Do. This appears to be one of the real old ones, never rebuilt, inlike many of the others. It’s dedicated to women wishing to conceive, who would leave a doll here, a doll that would be ritually burnt every 22nd September. No photos were allowed of the temple, but it did have the best purifying dragon-statued fountain.
Plus this brilliant circular tree, looking over Benton-do.
Also, why do they tie bibs onto statues? They can’t be that messy eaters!
We finally wandered far enough to see the museums. And to realise they were closed. so a quick replan needed! It’s a good job we had our walking shoes on, we decided to hit another road passing through different neighbourhoods.
First up was Kagurazaka, what was formerly the geisha quarter and is now a brilliant set of small streets, with lots of restaurants and interesting shops. We managed to pick a lovely Tempura restaurant for a quick lunch (and cheap! so far, we’ve not being paying too much)
We made a stop at the Yasukuni Shrine which had a completely different atmosphere to others we have seen, a lot more serious.
Then we headed into the centre of town, crossing over 2 of the 3 moats that surrounded the Imperial Palace. The final moat is not crossed on a Monday, I’ll have to come back tomorrow.
oh..we also saw a turtle!
Then down towards Tokyo station and then Ginza, the major shopping street (think Oxford St crossed with Bond Street). Sofia was most impressed with the 6 storey Uni Qlo store (we did not pop in to shop).
After a LOT of walking, time to head for dinner. The guidebook pointed us towards a restaurant that was listed as French-style yakitori. Unfortunately, it no longer seemed to be there, having changed to being pure French. Never mind, it was pretty busy for a tucked down an alley restaurant, so we just went French…and it was great!
Heading back, you can tell it was a working day. The streets were definitely full of ‘salarymen’ either head down charging for home, or wandering slightly worse for wear after a few after work drinks. A change from the last couple of evenings.
Questions still to be answered – why are so many people wearing face masks. Are they worried about catching something? Or is it the polite thing to do if you have a cold? I definitely think the latter could be applied in London.
Secondly, every time we pass certain supermarkets, there are a row of men reading the magazines, just standing there. It seems to be accepted. Are they reading comics? Manga? Porn? A combination?
And that was today, day 3. Tomorrow is our last day in Tokyo and we are planning a split strategy. Museums for me, Hello Kitty for Sofia!
Today’s photos can be seen on Flickr