Asakusa Senso-ji and Amazing Soba
I was able to visit the famous Asakusa Senso-ji on my third day of my four days in Tokyo. This is the oldest temple in Tokyo and is famous for the Kaminarimon（雷門,）which translates to `Kaminari` (雷）thunder and ‘mon’ (門) gate, is the first gate you pass when you’re heading to the temple. The original gate and subsequent rebuilds were all burnt down but the one that currently stands was built in 1960. On the east side stands a statue of Fujin, god of wind, and on the west, a statue of Riajin.
After walking through the gate we came to a long market style street which sold all sorts of amazing things: mochi, rice crackers, old-style Japanese style clothing….There was even a whole shop dedicated to the manuki neko, the white cat you usually see in front of Japanese shop windows.
I was trying to save my stomach for lunch but being a lover of all things mochi (rice cakes), I wanted to try the yomogi-mochi which is actually mochi made from a plant from the chrysanthemum family that is used as a Japanese herb. It was covered in kinako which is a roasted soya bean flour. OK so this mochi might not sound particularly appetising but it was actually really nice! It didn’t taste like plants at all!
We also came across a shop that sold the cutest Japanese style pet-clothes and hats! I’ve been needing to get my cat a collar for a while (by a while I mean 3 years) so it was the perfect opportunity to buy a cute one. My dog’s wardrobe also increased…
After wandering through the markets, we came to the second gate which is called the Hozomon, which had another large lantern similar to the Kaminarimon. It was here where I met my fate with the omikugi, a sacred fortune-telling ‘lottery’. After you put a ￥100 donation in the box, you make a wish while shaking the metal tin filled with sticks with a number from 1-100. Tip the metal tin over when you finish shaking and out comes your sacred stick. I’ve never had much luck with these things, so I was hoping that this time I would get a good fortune for once. I got number 25, went over to the drawer marked ’25 二十五’ and slowly opened the drawer…and once again I got ‘Bad Fortune’. Whyyyyyyyyyyyyy!
If you get ‘bad fortune’, it’s even worse luck to keep the paper so you have to fold it and make a knot around a special hanger and make a prayer. So here is my little bad fortune knot! Hopefully my bad fortune only lasts till the end of this year…
Before going into the Main Hall you have to do two things: breathe in the smoke from the incense in the big cauldron looking thing then drink the water from the dragon fountain.
After looking around the Main Hall, we decided to take a walk around Asakusa. It didn’t seem that many tourists wandered out of the Senso-ji area which is a shame because there were many older style Japanese shops including some that sold recycled yukata’s and kimono’s at pretty reasonable prices. This is when we came across this little soba shop on the corner. It was freezing outside so coming into this restaurant and slurping on a great bowl of steaming noodles felt like all my ‘bad fortunes’ had disappeared! The shop had a standing area where those who were really in a hurry could slurp and go. By the way, make sure you slurp LOUD when you eat your noodles in Japan – it’s a sign to the cook that the meal tastes good!
Asakusa Senso-ji is a definite must if you’re ever in Tokyo but make sure you spend time to go outside of the main touristy area and explore the whole Asakusa region.