Sunday, 14 December 2014

Tokyoed II

Apparently I forgot to post this at all? Apologies...

This morning I discovered an email from my friend T-san. "My favorite place is Asakusa. You have already been there? Have fun(^^)"

I hadn't actually heard of Asakusa, but naturally this prompted me to look it up. My plans for the day were currently "Temples?? Tour??" according to my notes, so seeing it was easy to get to Asakusa, I decided I would. I'm still in walking mode, because I quite like walking around in general and Tokyo seems to be a fairly pleasant place to do so, despite being not the most scenic of places.

I hopped on the train, this time up to Ueno station

A bridge over the road held several works of art, most interestingly this marble and gold anthill.

I then strolled a mile or so to Asakusa.

Big Chef is watching you.

For some reason, this street is full of shops selling funereal goods and similar. I won't pretend for a moment to know what any of this is.

In Japan, you can eat jet-black burgers. Why, you may ask? Why not? (A: because they look revolting and terrifying in equal measure) (actually, I bet Momo would eat them, she is equal to anything)

Asakusa is a more old-fashioned district than Akihabara was, with a more temply atmosphere, including Sensou-ji. This is a large temple, surrounded by many stalls and shops selling all kinds of things. The main approach to the temple is extremely busy, to the point where you can't really appreciate anything - you've got to basically cling to a stall to not be swept away, and this is a firmer commitment of interest than you usually want to make.

Pretty sure these guys are trainee sumo wrestlers.

Either amazingly significant in a ritual sense, or cosplay, or just fun. Often very hard to tell the difference. Note both the box-head and the demon mask. Click the photo for a better view.

However, there are many little shops and restaurants just a street away, far quieter and giving a chance to stroll in peace.

Like this one, selling kitchen knives larger than a toddler. Yes, that thing on the left is about four foot tall.

By ducking around the shopping streets, I reached the temple pretty much intact.

Here it is.

Having briefly looked around, I wandered off in search of fresh excitement. Like these roasted chestnuts:

Pretty tasty, but would have been much better actually hot. Why are they not hot?

And this bowl of gyudon (beef and rice).

And this adorable nativity display, with tiny rabbits.


What I ended up doing was wandering back down all the way through Akihabara towards Tokyo itself. I just kind of wanted to see the city, and it was as good an option as anything. Actually getting to outlying regions seemed pretty fiddly with the underground, and moreover, this route would let me see the Imperial Palace. Well, the walls at least...

Aki by day.

Models in one of the shops.

These seem to be characters from a show, pretty accurately modelled.

Yeah, um, I photographed these for instructive purposes. They have small pieces of tape attached in key places, because these are (as far as I can tell) anatomically-correct models of characters. Someone believes this to be sufficiently necessary that it's worth making commercial models of these to sell at retail. I'm just going to let that thought hang.

Oh look, something completely innocuous! Hooray!

Walking essentially down beside a railway line, you see a pretty grimy side of the city, though it's still less beat-up and grimy than a lot of the UK. Nice locations for an indie flick though. Or basically anything set in the North. Presumably here they have different cinematic stereotypes, though.

I paused for a while in a Doutor's coffee shop. The coffee was okay, but the cake was less cake than a sort of triangular assemblage of froth, pretending to be a cake. Not a fan. This is pretty much par for the course with Japanese cakes, alas. Stick to the pastries, is my advice.

This is actually under part of the railway; the pavement runs that way. I just liked the idea of this hut, which I imagine to be an unofficial construction, where some cunning salaryman nests. Or the base of a small secret organisation. There are many possibilities. Actually there were tons of little businesses built into the railway, since for a very long stretch it's essentially a huge bridge through the city, with hundreds of arches.

Everything here is very tall.

Tokyo proper

Eventually, as expected, I reached Tokyo station. This is a nice old building, though in a very Western style. I suppose railways were.

At this point I turned off west towards the Imperial Palace, pausing at points to absorb just how staggeringly tall everthing was.

Eventually I reached the outskirts of the grounds, where I wandered for a little while and ate the rest of my chestnuts.

Realising that I couldn't really get anywhere very interesting (tarmac with trees in doesn't really impress me, nor do walls; I've seen plenty of both in my lifetime) I turned back into town. Here I discovered some boulevard-type streets to wander down in roughly the right direction, and duly did so. At this point, I was really pretty cold. It was overcast, windy and about 5C. More to the point, Tokyo was proving just as short of teashops as just about everywhere else had so far.

One thing I did notice was the number of department stores still here. I don't know if it's a cultural thing or an effect of the way the city's built, but they're very prominent. It struck me that they do lend a kind of opulent, even romantic air to the place; a sense of bustling commerce, of a place where huge palaces of exciting things to buy still stand patiently around, just as they did in some mythical period of British history where stories are set. I suspect the amount of truth is about equal in both cases, and once you actually go into a department store they're not especially romantic, but still.

Spot the difference. Why? Why does it cost more than three times as much if you are female? This is nonsense.

Eventually I stopped at a station, too cold to enjoy any more walking, and headed home. Apparently I walked only about eight miles, but it felt more - I suppose tarmac and cold do that. Also, there's a big difference between walking in the countryside and a city walk through tourist areas with stopping and starting.

Not a bad day, on the whole, but I wasn't feeling too great in the evening so I just ate yoghurt, did my laundry and went to bed. Luckily I felt better the next day!

1 comment:

  1. nom...nom...nom. black burger, delicious! I demand pink, blue, wooden, metal, diamond burgers!!!

    ha! not much of cosplay from that box man...

    chestnuts should be HOTHOTHOT

    the last photo of the suits, I guess they are trying to convey a message-women should not wear business suits, business is not for women, I hope my interpretation is wrong here

    mmm, the yakuza knives are to my taste:)