Asakusa is one of the most popular tourist spots in Tokyo. It’s also known as ‘old Tokyo’ or ‘Temple town’. What first greeted us when we arrived was the ginormous red lantern at the Kaminarimon (Thunder Gate) which is the outer gate of the famous Sensoji Temple. Throngs of people were at the gate trying to take photos, our little group included. Unexpectedly, a couple of locals came by mid-self-portrait, and asked if we were willing to be interviewed for a local breakfast TV show! What?! With a little hesitation and a lot of nudging from my hubby, we agreed. The segment asked us what photos have we taken during our holiday in Tokyo. Having only been in Japan for all of one full day, we didn’t have much – well except for food, lots of them (not surprising right?) We shared some of the photos we took with their tech guy after much gesturing and basic Japanese during the interview. It was all a bit of a laugh really. I’m sure not everyone can say they were interviewed for a Japanese TV show! (By the way, our TV segment got bumped for the Academy Awards on screening day. Ah well, I guess what the movie stars wore to the Academy Awards was more interesting than food photos!)
Okay, back to Asakusa. Once you step through Kaminarimon, you’re faced with a busy pedestrian mall, known as Nakamise Street. This is where the ‘old Tokyo’ comes in. Stalls selling traditional Japanese items and souvenirs line both sides of the street. There were also many stalls selling traditional Japanese snacks such as red bean crepe cakes, mochi, sweet sake and takoyaki and some of them were made not with modern machines, but old-style methods.
The Sensoji temple grounds were filled with locals offering incense and prayer cards and ringing prayer bells. It certainly was a busy and colourful sight with locals and tourists intermingling and sharing the beautiful, sunny winter’s day.
Now the day wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t stop for some actual food would it? We walked along the streets near Sensoji Temple and noticed a tiny, little shop specialising in fresh udon (Japanese style wheat-flour noodles). Promptly, we joined the queue and we were glad we did so. Once seated in the small restaurant which probably only housed five tables and a bench, we ordered our udon meals. The fresh udon was springy and delicious and they came in the form of curry udon (with thick Japanese curry), miso based udon (rich miso soup base) and the set meal which came with a bowl of udon in dashi stock and crisp tempura of fish, prawns and vegetables on rice. Nothing’s better than fresh and delicious hot noodle soups to satiate our hunger after a long wander through Nakimase and Sensoji Temple – simply perfect.
Coming up next: A night out in Golden Gai – the home of izakayas.