Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Yokoso! Japan: Day 05

Modern Tokyo



Good morning Tokyo! Nothing like brushing up, taking a nice warm shower and doing the morning do on one of these automated toilet bowls. Didn't dare to try the automatic ass washer though.

On the Yamanote Line



Ah, the green coloured JR Yamanote line. Its the busiest railway line in Tokyo, going in a loop around the city center.



Seems to me like the railways are really the foundation of Japanese daily life. You can even see men reading porn magazines in public on trains.



Rush-hour crowd in the train. Pretty much similar in packing density to the subways in Singapore, HK and Bangkok. One nice thing about the trains in Japan are that the seats are cushioned!

Ueno



Our first stop was Ueno. This is the nearby Ameyoko Market, selling dried food and such. Nothing much.



Above: Doraemon game!

Asakusa Kannon Temple

Next stop, the suburbs of Asakusa where I stayed on Day 1. But this time, the purpose was to visit the famous Asakusa Kannon Temple.



Behind the photo-happy girls you can see the row of shops leading up to the temple entrance.



"Been there, done that, got the photo to prove it" tourist shot in front of Kaminarimon (Thunder Gate), the main entrance to the temple.


Above: Red on black.



Above: Pagoda of Five Stories. No entry.



Inside the temple grounds. Ahead was the main temple hall. This temple is the oldest and most impressive in Tokyo. I started to notice a pattern of rituals being performed.



Above: Washing hands in holy water.



Above: Make a wish on a piece of paper and tie it in a knot.



Above: Flying kois just outside the temple. You get to see lots of these in Japan. I like.



Above: Lady praying to Kannon, Buddhist Goddess of Mercy, inside main temple building. One advantage of having a "small" camera, you can take photos through fences easily. :)

Exploring Asakusa



After checking out the temple, we went on a restaurant hunt in the surrounding area. Asakusa is nice. Its got the same small city / large village feel as Kyoto or Nara.



We were told that this part of Tokyo had good and cheap food, and were actually trying to find a restaurant specializing in unagi (eel). We did find it somewhere near where the above photo was taken, but alas it was closed.



In the end, we settled for ramen. The waitress was at the restaurant was from China and could speak fluent Mandarin! No problems ordering here.

Tokyo River Cruise



From Asakusa, we took a Tokyo River Cruise boat to Hinode Pier near Tokyo Bay. That's the Rainbow Bridge behind me.



We took a ride on the scenic Tokyo Bay Light Metro Line across the Rainbow Bridge and back, just for the view of the Odaiba Seaside Park on the other side.



Above: View before getting off the train at the overhead Metro Station .

Meiji Jingu Shrine

We made our way to the Meiji Shrine, near the Harajuku station. The artificial forest surrounding the shrine is truly magnificent. The dense and lush greenery easily made us forget that we were inside a megalopolis.



Above: Sake kegs. That would be a lot of sake!



Above: Entrance to the shrine compound.



Above: Inside the Meiji shrine. Shinto worshipers toss some money into the offertory box, then bow a few times.



Above: Monk clearing up at the end of the day.

Sunset over Harajuku



After the shrine visit, we hung around the Harajuku station to take some photos. Of note was the band playing near the entrance to the station.



Minx Zone? These guys were quite good!

Shinjuku

The Shinjuku railway station is the busiest train station in the world. Right outside, is another one of the "happening" areas of Tokyo.



We were walking along the big bright streets when we saw an interesting small lane and ended up in fast food paradise, Tokyo style. The Yakuza supposedly tend to hang out around here, but thankfully we didn't meet any.



We had dinner at one of these small stalls, and continued our exploration, which brought us to a rather interesting area.



Sexy pub, Zone! In one section of Shinjuku there were lots of such places, even that cater to girls. They actually put up pictures of their top men outside, haha.



I wonder if all those Japanese people were also aimlessly walking around.



Above: Another band! Think the Jerms might make it big in Japan?

Late night rush hour

It was time to retire for the night, and we took the train back to our hotel.



Packing density was definitely higher here than what I'm used to.



Despite the crowd, the Japanese were still very organized. Queue-ing up single file right in-line with where the train doors would be.

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