Wandering around the streets of Asakusa

Sunday, July 17, 2016

People always associate Japan as a country of huge neon billboards, supersonic transportation, and fast-moving countrymen; neglecting their rich, ancient culture. Nevertheless, it's always a good decision to explore more on the archaic side of their state. If that sounds interesting to you, then Asakusa is the best place to go. 

Unlike Shibuya's bright lights and Shinjuku's serene garden, Asakusa is mostly historical and conventional. It's the Intramuros to Manila. Popularly known for its festivals, Asakusa is very rich in terms of temples and traditional shopping. Sensoji, the largest buddhist temple to date in Tokyo is located here that is why tourists and worshippers are attracted to go here. Though some of the buildings were just a post-war rebuilt, it is still considered as the oldest temple in Tokyo.

The most popular tourist destination in Asakusa would be the Sensoji Temple. Nakamise Dori or Nakamise Shopping Street, the 200 m stretch that leads to the temple, is always crowded with people. It's a very famous shopping street where you could find lucky charms, Tokyo's street foods, souvenirs like japanese fans,  typical keychains and many more. There are also shops that offers a kimono pictorial. (It's so expensive and time consuming that's why I failed to try it.)

It seems like Asakusa is also a must visit for foodies!! Along the street, you could find a lot of Japanese must-try dishes and street foods. Two of my favorites are the rice crackers and the taro ice cream waffle. 

Before you enter the temple, there's this tradition that you need to drink the water from the fountain to cleanse your soul. One custom that is a really must try is buying a lucky letter charm. You'd have to pay 100 yen, say a prayer/wish, shake a bottle of sticks and get the corresponding letter on a cabinet. Note that not all of the letters wishes you good luck.

Sensoji is surrounded by a lot of temples, including this popular five storey pagoda. Rumour has it that it still have some ashes of the Buddha. Standing at 53 meters high, the 5- storey pagoda is the second tallest pagoda in Japan. The original structure was built in 942, and it was rebuilt in 1973. 

Shin-Nakamise Shopping Street

If you still have an extra time, exploring the mini streets of Asakusa is worthwhile. You could find a lot of popular Japanese restaurants that offers their regional cuisines at it's finest. We happen to stumble on the popular Okonomiyaki restaurant. It was worth an hour of line up.

Since we went at a noon time, there were no rice and steak available. I was kind of disappointed since I'm really hungry. But soon enough, disappointments fade away as I tasted the best okonomiyaki in town. We also opted for monjayaki, a dish very similar to okonomiyaki, only that it is being cooked right in front of you and has sauce in it. You can also cook it yourself as there are instructions on the menu, but as tourists, we prefer that they'll just do it for us.
Seeing a sight of modernity in a walk of history is truly a beauty of this country. A megacity pictured as a symbol of a rising sun, one can never escape the thrill that Japan gives it's visitors and people.

Wandering around the streets of Asakusa will make you feel like you're not in the world's futuristic country. With it's people smiling with you, you can't help but be fond of this historic place.
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