Three days in Tokyo – Around Asakusa

We woke up nice and refreshed after our long trip from Daegu to Tokyo, and set out to find a nice hot cup of coffee. It wasn’t hard to do. We were both still pretty groggy, as one might expect when they upend their day-night cycle abruptly, so we decided we should see some of the sites nearby and save the subway fares (which can be quite steep in Tokyo) for another day when we had a bit more energy to deal with the hustle and bustle of Tokyo’s busier parts.

Sensoji Temple  lantern

Sensoji Temple is famous for among other things, its large red lanterns.

Sensoji Temple garden

A beautiful Japanese garden at Sensoji Temple.

Sensoji Temple pagoda

The temple and pagoda at Sensoji are beautiful old structures in a super modern city.

It’s a good thing Asakusa has plenty to offer

Luckily, Asakusa has plenty and I mean PLENTY to offer to the serial sightseer. Our first target was Sensoji Temple. This temple was founded about a million and a half years ago by two brothers who netted a giant golden statue of a Bodhisattva whilst fishing in the Sumida River. There’s way more to the story than that, but suffice it to say that it’s either one of the largest or the largest temple in Tokyo and does the most faith-business. It’s also a stunningly beautiful and ancient temple, and the ginormous red lanterns really remind you that you’re in Japan (and that’s a good thing!)

Sukiyaki

Sukiyaki is cheap, fast, and delicious.

What do you mean food is expensive in Japan?

After our visit to the temple we had some muy importante business to take care of, and by business, I mean lunch. We were hungry. On our last visit to Japan we both fell in love with sukiyaki, the paper thin beef served in a savory sauce on rice. It’s simple, and cheap. By the way, people often say that Japan is too expensive to visit and that food is very expensive and all sorts of tripe. Sure, it can be breathtakingly expensive. It can also be cheap and delicious. Sukiyas are a great place to get a meal for less than about $5 US. The beef and rice is great on its own, but the magical element is the shichimi a mix of ground peppers that’s a bit orange in color that makes the dish really take off.

A few minutes later we were in Asakusa station getting the lowdown on the Tokyo train system from the most helpful attendant ever. She pointed out that the places we wanted to see the following day could all be accessed via the Tokyo Metro rail system, and that we could get an all day pass for ¥700. Hell yes, budget! Now, back to the main story.

Tokyo Sky Tree

Looking up at the Tokyo Sky Tree.

Tokyo and Mt Fuji

Mt. Fuji towers above Tokyo.

Getting high in Tokyo

We decided the next stop would be the Tokyo Sky Tree, the second tallest tower in the world (according to the internet) and the highest viewpoint in Tokyo. It was only about a 10 minute walk from where we were staying in Asakusa. At the base of the Sky Tree were some interesting places to shop for all sorts of Japanese memorabilia, and a sushiya I was eyeing up for a quick stop later. The weather was forecast to clear up about two hours from when we arrived, so we checked out the shops, had sakura flavored macarons and coffee,

As promised, the weather cleared up! We paid our ¥2,000 each and rode the crazy fast elevator to the lower viewing deck on the Sky Tree, at around 350 meters. The view was pretty expansive. As the clouds gave way and the sun set, Mount Fuji came into view to remind us how small we were even this high off of the ground and the city began to twinkle and sparkle as darkness set in.

Nigiri zushi

My order of nigiri-zushi. Aesthetically pleasing, non?

ikura nigiri

My favorite piece of sushi, ikura nigiri. The little orbs of salmon egg taste like the best ocean breeze smells.

Sushi. Because, sushi.

We returned to the surface an hour or maybe two hours later, and Carolyn suggested that as I was hungry, and she wasn’t, I should stop in for sushi somewhere. We stopped at the sushiya I spied at the base of the Sky Tree and I had a beautiful plate of nigiri-zushi. As you might expect in Tokyo, it was delicious. Carolyn wanted to do our ceremonial convenience store raid on the way back to the room.

Lawson red chicken

These “RED” chicken nuggets are delicious and cheap. They’re surprisingly…real…and the cheese flavor isn’t bad either.

Tokyo low-brow cuisine

Lawson convenience stores are perhaps my favorite convenience stores to raid. They have really tasty hot foods, interesting snacks, a great section of manga to look at, and everything is reasonably priced. We ended up with some chicken nuggets (because these Japanese chicken nuggets are truly a thing of beauty and taste nothing like you would imagine) and ice cream.

Once we were back in the room, we gorged on our snacks and passed out. Tokyo may never sleep, but we sure as heck did.

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