Adventures in Japan – part 1

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Ever since I was young, I’ve wanted to go to Japan. I’ve always had a great love for Japanese culture, music, and food. So getting to finally experience it in person was incredible. I’ve watched lots of videos on things to see, good things to know, and helpful phrases for tourists. But the experience of being there was better than I had imagined. It actually rained most of the time I was there, so if the pictures appear a bit grey, that’s why 😉

Day 1

I arrived at Narita airport, cleared customs and immigration, then exchanged my money. Then it was time to take the train. I took the escalator downstairs and picked up my JR rail pass (which would be activated later). I also purchased a PASMO card. You can buy individual tickets for each trip, but it’s far easier to swipe your PASMO or SUICA card each time you need. You can also reload your card with more funds if they get low. I then asked the information desk which train I needed to take to get to Asakusa (the area I was staying in). She told me which train to take, which track I needed, and the arrival time.

The trip to Asakusa took about an hour. The train was completely silent, despite the fact that it filled up quickly. I got off at the right station, pulled out my map, and tried to figure out where to go. A friendly businessman saw me looking confused and pointed me in the right direction. If you see a police box, or koban, they’re also happy to help you out. I made it to the hostel, checked in, and spent the next hour or so making up my bed, unpacking, and unwinding. I wandered around a bit that evening, but was pretty tired and went to bed early.

Day 2

I was still in recovery mode the next day, so I decided to stay in the area and explore Asakusa. I walked over to Senso-ji (the oldest temple in Tokyo). I started at the main gate and wandered down Nakamise-dori. It was full of vendors selling everything from kimono to freshly roasted chestnuts. People were milling around, taking photos, and enjoying the atmosphere. Many dressed up in rental kimono and were taking photos of themselves in front of the temple. Getting to soak in the atmosphere was amazing!

While I was there, a businessman asked if he could practice his English with me. I wasn’t in a hurry, so I agreed. He then gave me a guided tour of the temple, explaining some of the history and background of the area. I got to try omikuji (random fortunes) while I was there too. For 100 yen (about a dollar) you can take a small wooden box, shake it, then pull out a long wooden stick that has a symbol on it. You find the drawer with the corresponding symbol and pull out your fortune. I got a “normal/good” fortune on my first go. But if you draw a bad fortune, you’re supposed to tie it to a nearby rack so it won’t come true.

We parted ways and I continued exploring. I found a couple of other shrines nearby and a gluten-free bakery. I then walked to Sumida park, and sat quietly on a bench with a coffee, enjoying the view of the river. It was a lovely recovery day. The next day I planned to figure out the train system and head to Shibuya!

How was your weekend?

 

5 thoughts on “Adventures in Japan – part 1

    • Ally says:

      The streets are quite narrow, especially in residential areas. In more crowded places (shrines, temples, and shopping streets) there’s always a buzz of conversation, but I didn’t find it to be too overwhelming. I find the noise level in Canadian shopping malls to be far worse. However, you do encounter random shopkeepers shouting to those passing by, which is quite different.

      I was staying a block from a fairly busy street but never heard the street noise from my room. Even walking on the sidewalk, I never really noticed a lot of traffic noise. I imagine if you were closer to a busy highway, the noise would be greater.

      Hope that answers your question 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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