5 July 2010
Asakusa is one of the districts in Tokyo, famous for the Kaminarimon front gate as well as the Sensou-ji temple that the gate leads to. I've been there back in 2007, but it was raining hard the day we visited so we didn't get to see too much. Luckily we have a much better weather this time we visited Asakusa, so we had a better time looking around.
The Kaminarimon (雷門, i.e. Thunder Gate) is one of the most distinctive piece of architecture in Asakusa.
A kouban (交番) can be seen on the right in front of the Kaminarimon. They are like smaller police station, or sometimes known as "police box", although phone boxes outside Japan are different and resemble more of a phone booth instead.
There are people who offer rickshaw service around Asakusa. They also act as tour guides so they tell you history or other info of various places as they take you around the area. You can decide how long you want to do the guide, so it is quite a flexible service. We also have a guy who can speak pretty decent English (he said he studied in Japanese school when he was in Hong Kong), which is quite uncommon to encounter outside airports and department stores I must say.
According to one of the rickshaw guys, this coffee shop was visited by Ozamu Tezuka
Can't remember exactly what this is, but I think this door leads to Denboin
The two man who did the rickshaw service for us. Gotta thank their hard work for taking us around in such hot weather that day!
Asakusa Imahan restaurant (Orange Street branch). This restaurant specialises on beef bowls and other beef dishes, and is a well known and high class one, as it even appeared on TV shows as well (actually that's how we came to know this restaurant). That being said, the price is not exactly for those who want a budget meal though.
Website can be accessed here: http://asakusaimahan.co.jp/english/index.html
My beef bowl meal at Imahan.
Closer look at beef bowl.
Asakusa Kokaido Hall
Hand prints of various directors and actors can be found in front of Asakusa Kokaido Hall. Kinda reminds me of the Avenue of Stars back in Hong Kong.
And here's a hand print of Kitano Takeshi (aka Beat Takeshi)
The Tokyo Sky Tree, which is currently under construction, can be seen here in Asakusa approximately 1.7km from its location. As a new TV broadcast tower, its current state is already taller than Tokyo Tower.
Nakamise-douri is the street that leads one from Kaminarimon straight to the Sensou-ji temple. There are various shops on both sides of the lane, ranging from shops selling taiyaki, umbrellas, or other souvenirs and food. If it's raining that day, there will be a cover that covers the whole Nakamise-douri so you won't get wet. as you can see here and here.
Houzoumon (宝蔵門) - a second gate to the main temple of Sensou-ji. You see this at the end of the Nakamise-douri, i.e. Nakamise douri is sandwiched between the Kaminorimon to the south and Houzoumon to the north.
Closer look at the Houzoumon, with the gold colour lanterns next to the middle one, and the sign writing "Senjou-ji" in kanji seen at top
The large lantern inside Houzoumon
The main temple (hondo) of Sensou-ji itself was under refurbishment when we were there, but it was just for the outside only. There is a painting over the Sensou-ji to make it still looking attractive enough for people who come to visit it.
Omikuji are sold in one of the buildings near the Sensou-ji - 100 yen each.
Inside the Sensou-ji temple you can throw coins at the offering box and pray for blessing.
Beyond the net you can see there is a Buddhist monk praying there.
This is Asakusa Shrine, a Shinto shrine to the east of Sensou-ji.
A map of area around the Sensou-ji
A purification fountain at Asakusa Shrine.
I didn't read up what this ring is about, but apparently you are supposed to walk around it in a figure-of-8 pattern to give you good luck or something. Correct me if I am wrong.
Niten Mon Gate on the east.
There's an English description on the history
A view of the Houzoumon and the pagoda from the north-east.
The five-storied pagoda of Sensou-ji
Taiyaki being made in one of the taiyaki shops. The man first fills one half of the fish-shaped mold with pancake or waffle batter, then add red bean paste on top of it before adding another layer of batter over it like a sandwich.
He then puts the other half of the mold over, hence completing the mold and cooks them until it is golden brown.
View of Nakamise-douri towards Kaminarimon. It was an incredibly sunny day with very few clouds spotted in the sky.
View of one side of the Nakamise-douri. There are lots of people posing for photographs here and there or even just stopping around to take pictures of the place like me.
A machine that makes the taiyaki all the way from molding down to packaging - all done so automatically. It also serves as an attraction for the tourists who are visiting this shop (myself included).
The lantern in Kaminarimon.
This board at the kouban (police box) shows yesterday's casualties due to traffic accidents. The red number is the number of people killed, whereas the black one is number of people injured. In short, 1 died and 193 were injured as a result of traffic accidents in Tokyo the day before.
One more picture of the Kaminarimon before we left Asakusa.
I am not so familiar with temples and shrines, but if you want to know more about visiting a temple or shrine in Japan, you can check this page out so you will know what to do or not to embarrass yourself in front of the public.
Asakusa is definitely a place worth visiting as a tourist, especially if you are into shrines and temples. The Nakamise-douri that leads to the Sensou-ji has lots of shops and has a lively atmosphere. If you have the money do give the rickshaw service a try, especially if you find someone who can speak English! They know the place and will definitely help you to know and appreciate the place better. Man, they can even recommend you restaurants too after you finish the tour in the morning!