Day 3, Ueno and Asakusa-Part 2

Ueno park was delightful. Scattered within this density of humanity are a handful of large parks that help to break up the neon walkways for Tokyo’s 34 million or so inhabitants. It includes a zoo, which I didn’t get chance to go around, a smattering of shrines alongside a number of cafes and The Tokyo National Museum itself:

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Scanned map of The National Museum

As an aspiring Aikidoka, it was the 13th century ceramics samurai regalia and various katana that had been carefully curated which peaked my interest, including a gorgeous set of Domaru type armour.

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I was also pleasantly surprised to discover the museum has a delicately pruned, traditional garden half way around the Honkan (Japanese Gallery).

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Towards the end of my hour or so long musing, I ended up exchanging pleasantries with a kind old Japanese lady whilst looking at an exhibit, who I assume was keen to discuss the exhibit- a classic, 21st century example of the Western Buffoon, found here with exquisite attention to detail paid to the magnanimous, reddish nose.

Kind old Japanese lady: “Blah blah blah wakari masuka?”

Me:”…Hai?” as I smiled politely

As per usual, I spent a painfully long time in the gift store. My clinical scrutinising of their postcard collection led to the purchasing of Red Fuji and the Great Wave Off Kangawa, both by renowned Ukiyo-e artist, Katsushika Hokusai.

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Contrary to common depiction, the wave is not that of a tsunami but of a ‘rouge wave’ or okinami- wave of the open sea
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Red fuji- south wind, clear sky- Hokusai

My next stop from Ueno park and the museum was Asakusa in the Taitō, home of Tokyo’s oldest temple, Sensō-ji. Yet escaping the subway proved easier said than done, there was around 28 or so exits to choose from. Looking at the same map as me were a young dutch couple who I struck up conversation with who were both heading to Sensō-ji. After exchanging pleasantries and anecdotes about toilets (a recurring theme), I wondered off in search of the temple. My ability to wonder proved fruitful yet again:

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Kaminarimon Gate- Thunder Gate, the enterance to the temple complex
Sensō-ji is the temple just off to the left of Nakamise Dori (street), which stretches about 250m or so behind the Kaminarimon Gate- it’s littered with a number of  souvenir shops.

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Nakamise Dori
At the end of this market street, you’ll find the looming Hozomon which is truly a sight to behold:

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Hozomon with it’s iconic red chochin (traditional lantern), weighing in at 400kg with a height of almost four metres. The second story of the ‘treasure house gate’ hosts a number of buddhist relics and designated Japanese national treasures.
Just to the left of the above photo is Sensō-ji temple with it’s striking five story pagoda:

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Senso-ji temple
At the centre of the temple grounds resides the Hondo, ‘main hall’. An active buddhist temple, I paid my respects by throwing in a ¥100 (£1.00) donation. How extraordinarily generous of me.

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Hondo, the main hall.
One of the main things that has struck me about Japan so far is it’s ability to actively marry the traditions of the past with modern society.  Asakusa is perhaps one the best and most beautiful examples of this paradigm. Unfortuantely the above photos don’t capture the thick ambience of the temple grounds: there’s a noticeable buzz in the air. Even on my way back through Tokyo’s well oiled arteries to Yoko and Aki’s, I couldn’t help feeling elated.

It was either because of some deep spiritual connection with Sensō-ji, or because of this:

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