Sanpomichi – Asakusa

June 16, 2011 Juju Kurihara 0 Comments

Asakusa (浅草) is one of the most popular spot for foreigners in Tokyo. This is like a counterpart of Akihabara (秋葉原) which is the heaven for technology nerd, while Asakusa preserve traditional part of Japan. It´s always packed with people, not only foreign tourists but also many Japanese as there are many wholesale stores in this area. Asakusa is famous for knives, for example.

Asakusa gives me a little nostalgic feeling. Before I started nursery, my family lived in Asakusa, just around the corner of Hanayashiki, an old theme park in the area. When my mum had time, she often took me there and we spent some time riding on some attractions. What scared me the most wasn´t the speed of the roller coaster but was its aged structure. I thought it´d fall apart while we were on it. But the park still exists and I´ve never heard they had any fatal accident yet, so don´t you guys worry.

 

imokinI like to go to Asakusa once in a while because only there, I can get my favorite sweets, Imo Kintsuba (芋きんつば). Imo is potato in Japanese and Kintsuba is a type of sweet like the photo. Usually inside of Kintsuba, they put anko but as I don´t like anko, I spend one morning or afternoon to buy Imo Kintsuba in Asakusa.

 

One afternoon, I came to Asakusa and decided to do sanpo (散歩/ strolling) and went into Sensouji (浅草寺), the famous temple.

At the entrance, there is a gate a huge lantern hanging down. This is Kaminari Mon. Mon is gate in Japanese and kaminari is thunder.

I was always wondering why there are many products related to thunder in Asakusa. It´s because of those two figures of the gods on the both side of Kaminari Mon. Facing to the gate, the one on the right is the god of the wind and on the left is the god of the thunder. Since Edo period, some how the god of the thunder was more preference to the people and stayed his name for the gate.

That day, as usual, there were so many people and it was hard to take photos without them.

 

  Once you go through the gate, first you see this shopping arcade called Nakamise (仲見世). Many shops were lined up on the both side of the passage. It´s like Japanese stype shopping centre, it just steal your time and perhaps some money.

Some are interesting, some are worth trying and some are just funny to look at.

 

senbei

My favorite are senbei (煎餅/ rice cracker) shops. They sell by grams and many different taste, texture and form senbei are all displayed in old fashion style; round glass jars or wooden glassed boxes.

They look so much tastier than coming in a plastic package. This is a quite dangerous spot for me because handmade senbei can cost quite a lot.

 

asakusa kimonoasakusa ninja

 

You can also buy some kimono. Not the best quality but it´s enough for a souvenir although I found it´s quite pricy still.

What made me laugh was mannequins at the shops.

I can really see that people are trying hard to sell kimono to foreign people that they CAN wear and it´s OK to wear. But I´d probably tell a foreigner wearing prerry kimono with this "spirit" hachimaki (鉢巻き/headband) that it´s nicer without hachimaki. I don´t think I can just let it go.

And this ninja kid? I just couldn´t stop laughing. I love to see some gaijin kid wearing this. It would really make me laugh. I wonder if people buy this because it´s ninja and cool or because it´s ridiculously funny.

 

Finally managed to get out of this commercial area. It´s hard to get out if you are with a Japan lover though.

So now in front of you, there is a main temple, Senshou ji (浅草寺) but before getting inside, we need to clean us a littele.

First their is a huge pot with many incense sticking out. You might not see it but you may see one spot that is really smoky. That´s where you have to go first. You get in the smoke and scoop it then put it over your head and body.

 

After getting rid of bad energy, now you can enter the temple.

sensouji, saisen

 

Inside the temple, there is a huge saisen bako, so you throw some change, like 5 to 100 yen, depends how much belief you have and make your wishes. Mind you, sometimes you see some bills inside the saisen bako.

As it´s a big temple, they have a huge saisen bako, like a small swimming pool. Imagine the monks swimming in it every night after closing the temple, hihi. Yes, a little mean.

 

yataiNow another walk around Sensou Ji. There are many stalls at the back of the temple. Stalls like this are called yatai (屋台) and you can get oden, tako-yaki or yaki-soba.

ningyo yaki

This is a stall making ningyo-yaki (人形焼き), it´s a sweet that anko paste wrapped with pancake mix-like dough shaped in some figure. Ningyo means dolls in Japanese by the way.

Since it has anko, it´s not for me but I like the outside.

But what I like is watching how they make them. It´s so systematic and fast but some how elegant its movement. That´s a shokunin skill.

 

Well, now my Asakusa day trip ends. I can´t believe I lived here, it´s so crowded and chaotic, although my level of "chaos" is much lower comparing to the people from some really chaotic countries. Perhaps it wasn´t like this when I was little. I only remember the theme park and my heat rash bothering my neck in summer. And also it was a precious time with my ever working mother.

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