Asakusa was one of the first places I visited when I got to Tokyo, as it is where the Asakusa Senso-ji Buddhist Temple is located. It is one of the “oldest” districts in Tokyo, considering that the city was destroyed with the bombings in World War II. It is located in the north-east of Tokyo, not much elevated given that it is close to the banks of the Sumida River. It is also the city’s geisha district, and in the area you can find ryokans (traditional Japanese hotels).
Asakusa Senso-ji Buddhist temple of course is filled with tourists from every part of the world, and is not what a European like me would envision as a place of prayer. But it is what we’d envision a temple in Asia, with the bright red colors and lanterns that characterize it.
The temple is dedicated to bodhisattva Kannon (Avalokiteśvara). We were told there is a legend behind why the shrine was built here. Two brothers, both fishermen, found the statue of Kannon in the river, which was then recognized as sacred by the head of the village who had his house transformed into a shrine for it.
Here I also tasted my first matcha ice cream. Lovely. I am a matcha lover, there’s nothing I can do about it!
Something we found very peculiar was that you could only eat the ice cream standing close by the ice cream parlor, as to a certain extent Japanese find that walking and eating is disrespectful and bad manners.
We found the store on Nakamise-Dori, which is a street filled with stores that sell sweets, souvenires of every kind from kimonos to chopsticks to anime characters. Traditionally they were established to sell to the pilgrims who visited the temple, now they’re mainly for tourists.
The temple includes a main entrance gate called the Kaminarimon (Thunder gate), then the inner Hozōmon gate, that leads to the inner grounds with a five story pagoda and the main building called Hondō. Outside you will find yourself in a cloud of burning incense.
Along the river, in the Sumida River, is also where the Tokyo SkyTree is located: the second tallest structure currently existing in the world. We decided to go up at sunset, right before dinner. Inside the building you can find restaurants, bars and shops of all kinds. Including restaurants up at 340, 345 and 350 meters.
The view from 350 and 450 meters is something incredible. I wish there was the same atmosphere that they’ve created inside the Tokyo Tower.
Anyway I think I could’ve stayed hours up there, looking down, thinking about how beautiful the view was and how I felt as if I was in the right place at the right moment. Because sometimes you can be on the other side of the world, in a place you’ve never been before and feel as comfortable as if you were home.