Japan 2013: Day 2 – Tokyo

7It was another hot day in Tokyo (the heat never let up) and we had itchy feet to get going. On my husbands previous trips he hadn’t been to the Asakusa region, and although I have stayed here twice before it always calls me back at the first temple I ever saw in Japan. So we headed to Senso-ji.

As always Nakamise-dori, the shopping street leading directly from the Kaminarimon to the main hall, was buzzing with tourists. Lined with tiny shops selling, mostly, traditional products Nakamise-dori is quite the experience. If you need to do some souvineer shopping then this is the place to be.

We enjoyed our walk around the temple ground, cleansing ourselves in incense and getting our omikuji – I think we even got good luck!

Since my last visit a new landmark has sprung up in Tokyo, the Tokyo Skytree- the tallest tower in the world! Just a stones throw from Asakusa Senso-ji it would have been foolish not to go up and have a birds eye view of Tokyo.

Hint #1: If you are planning to visit the Skytree then book your ticket in advance, on a busy day waits can be upwards of 1 hour to even get a ticket!

Getting in to the Skytree was a bit of a hassle, with the queue to buy tickets being around 40 minutes long. The only respite were water misters which would momentarily cool you down. Once in and in possession of our tickets we waited in line for the lift. There are two types of ticket you can get in the Skytree: The Tembo deck (at 350m tall) or the Tembo Galleria (at 450m tall!). Obviously the higher floor does cost a little more, but in for a penny in for a pound- let’s go to the top!

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Summer is not the best time of year to get clear views from the Skytree, the haze and heat of the city in the summer can obscure views. But I would still strongly recommend it, it was great to see the tops of all the buildings in the area- and fun to see how many swimming pools or sport pitches are on the roofs of buildings!

For the evening we decided to explore the local Jimbocho area a bit more, a made our way to the controversial Yasukuni shrine. You may have read about this shrine in international news, any visit from a Japanese politician causes quite a stir. This shrine houses the spirits of all those who have died fighting for Japan – and as it houses those who also found in the second world war, this does cause some distress. As it was night the inner shrine was closed, but the walk towards the shrine – through towering torii – was mystical in the low light.

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