4.11.08

あきやすみ 5 - 浅草


Aki yasumi pt. 5 - Asakusa (Autumn Vacation part 5 - Asakusa)

Every time I visit Tokyo (東京), I almost always begin my stay in Asakusa (浅草). This is because Asakusa is totally KOOL and really interesting. Even though it's in the middle of Tokyo, it's got a really old-school, Edo (江戸) Japan kind of feel to it. The area also has plenty of shady characters going in and out of some questionable places (many of which may or may not be affiliated with gokudō (極道) syndicates). During my life I have always been drawn to this element and that goes for Tokyo as well.

One of the main attractions in Asakusa is one which makes a significant contribution to this old-school Japan feel-- Sensō-ji (浅草寺). On the site of Sensō-ji is Sensō-ji Temple (Buddhist) and Sensō-ji Shrine (Shinto); they are the oldest in Tokyo. The site was originally constructed back in 628 around a small temple erected to venerate Kannon, but since the originals we almost completely destroyed when Americans bombed the crap out of it during World War II, the buildings we see today were built about 50 years ago. The Nakamise market leading up to the temple from the main gate is very famous and draws in lots of people. Sensō-ji Temple is also the place where, last year, my wife stopped being my girlfriend and became my fiancée. ^^

Asakusa also contains Sadachiyo (貞千代) which is the place where I sit right now as I write this. Ryokans (旅館), or traditional Japanese Inns, first became widely available during the Edo period. The Sadachiyo ryokan is a beautiful facility that definitely puts effort into "keeping it real" with tastefully and traditionally-decorated guest rooms, dining/meeting rooms and lounge. The Edo Kaiseki (懐石), or Edo-style cuisine, that is served at Sadachiyo is absolutely delicious and satisfying, and is one of the aspects that I look forward to most. The other thing that makes Sadachiyo very pleasant is the quality and comfort of the o-furo (お風呂). There is an all-wood bath as well as an all-stone bath and the two change daily between male and female so all guests have a chance to enjoy both. Above and beyond all of this is the extremely high-quality and gracefully courteous service provided by the ryokan staff members. Every guest is made to feel welcome and special due to the incredible skill of the staff. This is my third time to stay here and it will not be my last.

Asakusa has tonnes and tonnes of other stuff to do as well, including access to the Sumida River (Sumida gawa - 隅田川) and the nearby Kappabashi (合羽橋) which is lined with outlet shops for restaurant owners and professional foodservice workers/employers (*awesome*). Asakusa has lots of bars, restaurants, shops and izakaya ((居酒屋) of course (just watch out for the shady ones ^^ ). There are plenty of shops here selling goods that friends and family back home will love-- things that fit into most foreigners' mental picture of Japan. Get tour fill-- I always do!

1 comment:

jonhohx said...

you can get rides on "himiko" from there as well