May 18, 2013
Bright and early this morning we headed to Senso-ji Temple; Tokyo’s oldest Buddhist temple that is within easy walking distance for us.
To enter the temple you pass under the Thunder Gate; a massive paper lantern painted red and black.
I broke the rules to take this picture of the altar, but it was so beautiful I couldn’t resist. I felt terrible afterwards and made a donation to try to make up for it karmically.
The ceiling of the temple was beautifully painted and we sat for awhile craning our necks to try and see it all.
Down the steps from the temple you can see the courtyard and the Five Story Pagoda.
Tucked into a small corner on the grounds we came across this bronze Buddha and Japanese man praying together. It was a quiet moment I was happy to be there for and after snapping this picture I snuck away to leave them alone.
The way out of the temple is the Nakamise-dori, a 250 metre street lined with 89 shops that has been around since the 18th century (after some rebuilds). The shops are mostly filled with touristy stuff; knick-knacks, Japanese fans, boxes of candy and small paper lanterns. We were there a little early so not all the shops were open but we got a little sample of just how busy this spot gets.
Totally changing gears we decided to head to Akihabara, the popular neighbourhood in Tokyo for all things electronic, computer, anime, and otaku related. Basically, a nerd’s paradise and there were nerds aplenty!
We started at the Tokyo Anime Centre and I learnt a bit about some popular Japanese anime, while Jeff got into a staring match with an intense looking dude who could have been his long lost brother from another mother.
After wandering in and out of stores for awhile (Jeff was drooling and trying to figure out how to cash in his RRSPs for some of the neat stuff he saw), we decided we needed lunch to keep up our energy for the rest of the day. One of the things I love about restaurants here is that there are usually pictures in addition to the written menu. I’m not sure if it’s a thing to help tourists or not, but it is definitely appreciated. We decided on little restaurant in a back alley of Akiba that had a fun way of ordering.
Yep! It’s a vending machine. You look at the pictures to decide what you want, put your money in, press the button that corresponds with the picture and it spits out a little ticket. Give the ticket to the waitress and you are on your way. While we waited the waitress brought over complimentary iced green tea and before we knew it our food was ready. I got some shrimp/veggie tempura was rice and soup and Jeff got pork tempura stew with the same sides. It was hot and fresh and best of all, we got all this food for less than $15!
Pretty sure you can tempura anything here. I think I had tempura salad today and it was delicious.
Japan seems to be agreeing with Jeff. He hasn’t stopped smiling since we got here and that’s ok with me :)