I’m finally getting photos organized from our Japan trip. Finally.
Day 3 got off to a lazy start. There wasn’t really a plan aside from being at a certain place for dinner that night. We were originally going to go the National Museum of Japanese History, but it’s a couple hours away from the apartment. By the time we got ourselves together with a plan, it was later than we thought… Oops. 🙂
So the museum was tabled to later in the week and we got on the subway to go across the city to Asakusa for a visit to Sensoji Temple (also called Asakusa Kannon Temple), and nearby Skytree Tower. The first thing I saw while walking from the station to temple was this adorable Buddha.
To get to the temple, you first go through the Kaminarimon (Thunder Gate), which is apparently the symbol of Asakua and the entire city of Tokyo. The gate is very grand (as are most temple entrances), and very bright. Next is a sojourn through the 200 metre long Nakamise market, and there is no hardship there. Lots of typical tourist shops run along the (fake, but very pretty) cherry blossom framed main drag with some gems wedged in between. Tchotchkes, postcards, chopsticks, kimonos. Whatever your heart’s desire of Japanese stuff and things.
Turn down one of the many alleys and all you need to do is follow your nose to find a snack – food shops galore. In case you didn’t know, waffles smell like heaven on a brisk – read: COLD – sunny day. The specialty shops tend to be down the alleys as well; like the knife maker (forger?) or rather, craftsman’s shop.
We browsed and made note of souvenirs and gifts we might buy (as we were going to Kyoto the next day, we didn’t want to buy anything right away). I wanted to buy everything, but the Libra in me and my budget demanded that I be patient. Since we went to markets in three towns, I am glad we waited and so we could make informed purchases.
My favourite part of the market, was, of course, food related. Going back to my waffles comment, we had these wonderful chocolate filled, fish-shaped waffle cake things that I think are called Ningyoyaki. One word: YUM. They were fresh and warm when we bought them, and the chocolate was that wonderful gooey, but not messy, melt-in-your-mouth goodness that I love, love, LOVE. Like a chocolate lava cake. I’ve realized that as much as I love to bake, I don’t tend to eat much of the fruits of my labour, partly because I don’t really have a big sweet tooth. (I find dark chocolate more on the savoury side.) I also don’t tend to eat anything like a chocolate stuffed waffles unless I’m on vacation or a special occasion. I think I appreciate these treats more because they are just that: treats. And it was dark chocolate, so really, I was in love before I tasted it!
The temple itself is, like much of Japanese architecture, very regal and intricate in detail. It is very beautiful place of Buddhist religion. Legend says that in the year 628, two brothers fished a statue of Kannon, the goddess of mercy, out of the Sumida River, and even though they put the statue back into the river, it always returned to them. Consequently, Sensoji was built nearby for the goddess of Kannon. The temple was completed in 645, making it Tokyo’s oldest temple. (Excerpt from http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3001.html)
(Because it was one of the first things I noticed about the exterior of the building, I’m going to address the swastika at the top of the building in this photo. The fact is that swastika is a Sanskrit word and is one of the oldest symbols on Earth which can be found in all religions (particularly Buddhism) and traditions, on all continents. It represents good things. A certain individual chose it as a symbol for what is one of the greatest shames of the 20th century; therefore giving it a negative connotation. But really, it’s a symbol of prosperity and good.)
Sensoji Temple seems to be a special place for Matt and Dori, as Matt went off on his own for a bit. I lit a candle for Dori and all of my guardian angels. I love that the act of lighting a candle for someone or something seems to be a universal act across places of worship.
After the temple, we took the train to Tokyo Skytree, which I was told is the second tallest building in the world. It is a broadcasting tower, as well as restaurant and shopping mecca as well as a tourist observation deck. It is 2,080 feet tall! We did not go up the tower as we didn’t have time, but I can only imagine that the view is spectacular.
Chocolate seemed to be the food theme for the day (it was also dessert at dinner that night) because we stopped to have a snack and a much needed hot beverage at a place at Skytree called 100% Chocolate Café. Does that not sound like heaven?! The ceiling even looks like a bar of my baking chocolate. (My mouth is watering looking at the picture…)
I am very picky about my hot chocolate, but I was very impressed by what I was served. Officially in my top three hot chocolates I’ve ever had. Napoli is still in first (I don’t think I’ve written about it, but it was life-altering), but this came a close second!
In charmingly Japanese fashion, the chocolate in the café is organized in the most orderly way with a number system. There are 56 kinds of chocolate from around the world, each with a number. And you can buy a bar of each one if you like. Yes, please!