Tokyo, Japan – Senso-ji Temple & Yurakucho

My first night in Tokyo was in all honesty, terrible.

Weary from a long period of travelling, all I wanted to do was crash into bed and comatose.

And yet we somehow couldn’t figure out how to turn on the heating in the room and I spent the night shivering in bed thankful for my heatpads.

Nonetheless, kick-started the day chirping my way down to Asakusa.

My goal was to visit Senso-ji Temple and a popular sweets shop located close by, but life works in such interesting ways and I somehow stumbled upon a confectionery shop that had a staggering queue despite the cold.

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(Pic grabbed from Matcha)

Kamejyu (亀十), is popular for its dorayaki or – sweet red bean paste. Being a typical Singaporean, I joined the queue not knowing what’s in-store for me.

Oh, the thrill!

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(Pic grabbed from Matcha)

Not my picture but I swear this was how the queue looked in spite of freezing temperatures!

I only got to know it’s popularity, even among the locals, when I casually started a conversation with a Japanese lady patiently waiting in line behind me. And I hope this doesn’t sound stupid but I queued for close to 30 mins and emerged with… only 1 dorayaki.

But-but-but it’s only because I didn’t want to start my day lugging shopping bags around and yet wanted to have a taste of this popular pastry.

Final verdict? Worth the queue! (Y)

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Kaminarimon

Crossing at the traffic lights I turned right on to Kaminarimon – 雷門. It is the outer of two large entrance gates that lead you to Senso-ji Temple.

It was Saturday morning and the place was bursting with the sights and sounds of tourist scrambling by in excitement. What an adrenaline rush!

Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 presetNakamise Street

Paced myself forward into Nakamise Street, a busy shopping street lined with food and knacky souvenir shops.

The colours seemed to anticipate the arrival of spring, every step bursting in youthful delight as shop owners attempted to lure you in like a cat with a ball of wool.

photo (9)Ganso Kimuraya Ningyoyaki

Not a huge fan of shopping so I mostly poked my nose among thee food corners.

I’m not a glutton, I swear.

IMG_1406Senso-ji Temple

Senso-ji Temple is one of Tokyo’s oldest temple and what a beauty!

Maybe it’s due to the fact that Senso-ji was the first temple I’d visited in Japan thus it left a rather lasting impression.

Its wooden structures crafted a memory in my heart. And the magnificent view of the temple left me wondering how it must have been like back in the past.

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Tried omikuji for the first time too and got ~ great blessings ~.

This Japan trip, and 2015, has indeed been a year of good fortune, blessings, and much to be thankful for. 🙂

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It was noon by this time and I was famished.

My plan was to visit this restaurant I’d read off from a travel book that had recommended it for it’s authentic cuisine.

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Located just a stone’s throw from Senso-ji Temple, Waentei-Kikko serves affordable seasonal set meals during lunches. They also provide extensive set menus for dinners but came at a rather costly price that wasn’t within my budget.

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I opted for the ¥3,500 bento and was very pleased with my meal. Crafted with such attention to detail, the sashimi was fresh and delicious and the savoury soup whets an appetite.

While the food was good, it wasn’t the entire reason I’d decided to come.

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(Pic grabbed from unconveringjapan)

The owner of Waentei-Kikko puts on a shamisen performance – to which I’ve discovered is the Japanese three-stringed lute (guitar). He performed together with an apprentice and they spoke in Japanese the entire time so I was pretty much lost.

But you know what they say, how music transcends all boundaries.

Tucked away in a cosy corner while the people strolled by outside, unaware of the magic that was piecing us together into one.

Their performance was ignited with soul and passion and I was captivated upon the first strum.

Not to mention, the apprentice was pretty cute. heh

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After the meal, I was also served Yokan – a popular red bean dessert made of red bean paste, agar-agar and sugar. Simply delish!

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And now back on to the bustling street. But where was the sweets shop on my to-do list?

To be honest, I was lost for another 30 mins because I just could not find the shop. Only to realise that it was right at the front at Kaminarimon Gate.

Tokiwado is a popular sweets store in Asakusa that sells kaminari-okoshi – “thunder” rice crackers or what most of us affectionately know as crispy rice sweets.

I bought 2 packs for the family but winded up giving it away to one of my host while in Tokyo, Henry-san.

Read good reviews of it so I’m guessing it should taste pretty good!

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With time to spare, adventure time began!

I can’t recall how long I walked but from Asakusa I trekked down to Akihabara, the land of otakus!

It’s a habit I’ve cultivated while travelling. Just plain walking and getting myself lost in neighbourhoods and backyards of the locals.

This way, you get to see the nitty gritty of the place you’re visiting. Not just the beauty and glamour they try to sell and feed you with.

20150530-160714.jpgAkihabara

I reached Akihabara as golden hour started.

How shall I describe Akihabara? Well, I didn’t really fancy it.

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Maybe it was due to the fact that the place was lined with sleazy shops selling sex toys and what nots. Or the fact that men strolled in and out of these places with such casual ease made me feel rather… repulsive.

I’m guessing that it might be due to the fact that it was only my 2nd day here and I might have experienced culture shock as I don’t see this back in Singapore.

With that said, I’d still recommend everyone to come check Akihabara out for its unique and eccentric side of Tokyo.

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Zoomed my way outta Akihabara to a place famous for its izakayas located right beneath the local train tracks – Yurakucho.

Remember the Singaporean girl I’d mentioned I met the previous night in my Japan Day 1 post?

Well, we met up and she brought me for dinner at Andy’s Shin Hinomoto.

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What a score! I’ve read this place up and it is really popular with both locals and foreigners.

You usually need to make a reservation in advance but we arrived early and could get a table for ~2 hrs. Lucky lucky!

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I think what draws people to Andy’s is the atmosphere. The service is also immaculate and the food fantastic.

Midway through dinner, a massive group of salarymen sauntered right next to our table.

Company event; second score!

Our whole purpose of visiting Yurakucho was to observe and experience these feisty men.

20150617-104551.jpgCheck out the huge group of salary men on the left!

And experience we did!

I guess 2 foreigner ladies tickled their interest.

But I also personally feel that they saw us as entertainers.

Though in truth, we saw them as entertainers too.

20150617-214309.jpgMe being intrigued by this whole bizarre situation

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I really wanted to try out a proper izakaya located under the train tracks so after a couple hours of shopping, we randomly strolled along the rows of shady looking izakayas (I really love this part) and picked one that had a small but mildly rowdy-looking crowd.

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Yi Fang introduced her fave Japanese drink – nihonshu – or how we all know as sake because I’d never had one.

It tastes a bit like a mix of vodka with soju. Not to my liking initially, but in time I grew to love it.

Hell, I practically drank nihonshu every night. Kid you not.

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She also introduced me to some of her favourite yakitori (grilled meat on skewers) and we all agreed that tori kawa i.e. chicken skin was our favourite sin.

20150617-220922.jpgMs Pretty Yi Fang ^^

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20150617-221035.jpgYi Fang trying to capture the rowdy-looking crowd behind me :p

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Happy stomach, happy faces.

Yet another good night marking the end of day 2 in Japan.

– e.s.
01/26/2015

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