Though it might be hard to tell from some of my earlier posts (and some later ones that I have in the works) there really is more to Tokyo than eating sushi. With some of the time I had between meals I was able to get out and see bits of the city. With only ~50 hours on the ground the total of what I saw was necessarily limited, but I made it to a few different neighborhoods and saw enough to get a feel for at least part of it.
For starters, I stayed in the Asakusa district. I actually crossed a river from the Asakusa metro station so it is entirely possible that the neighborhood had a different name, but that was the general area I was in. Like many of my recent trips I prioritized cost over quality for this hotel stay and I got exactly what I paid for at the Khaosan Hotel Annex (the main property on the other side of the water was full). It was not luxurious by any means, but there was some privacy in the “pod” bed, it was clean and it was ridiculously cheap – about $30/night – which was helpful for my travel budget. And my lodging was only 15-30 minutes from most of the tourist destinations on the metro, so overall pretty convenient. No, I didn’t drink all those beers, but I had no troubles contributing to the collection.
The other main draw of the neighborhood was the Sensoji Temple. It is one of several temples in the city and, like most, is actually still actively used on a daily basis. I know that most of the classic cathedrals in Europe are still in use, too, but the overall volume passing through the temples I saw was very impressive. Still, the temples did have their quite moments. When I first arrived on Wednesday night and wandered around the neighborhood it was quiet, almost eerily so. This is the view of the Kaminarimon Gate and the street behind it that leads to the temple. During the day the area is packed with tourists and worshipers. But at 8pm on a Wednesday night it was almost completely deserted.
Above, the Kaminarimon Gate; below, the Nakamise Avenue shopping area
That same area, a couple days later during the day, even in the pouring rain was alive and bustling with activity.
The temple was pretty impressive, and I’m glad that I got to see it, even if my shoes are still wet 20 hours later. Worshipers bathing themselves in the incense smoke (photo above) or rinsing off in the fountain nearby were quite interesting to watch. Just one of the few non-sushi things to do in Tokyo.
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