5th July 2012: Gods of Old {Japan, summer 2012}

Yesterday morning started with a much dreaded headache so I decided to try and take it easy, get some morning rest and fill the blog up. Later on I headed off to Asakusa – after a small adventure charging the Suica train card – and had a typical me moment getting lost around the building I had to walk around. Yep, turned the wrong way around said building.

Asakusa [浅草] hosts Sensō-ji [金龍山浅草寺], a Buddhist temple dedicated to the bodhisattva Kannon and it is particularly famous for its giant lanterns (chōchin, [提灯]). Some drama actor I have a tiiiiiny bit of a soft spot has been… well… filming around here a couple of times. And I did not try to reproduce any camera angles *coughs*. Behold the main entrance, the main building and a close-up of the chōchin.

The entrance to a Buddhist temple. There is a huge (taller than a person) red paper lamp hanging with the kanji 雷門 on it, two demon statues stand on its sides

Another  entrance gate, with another huge red lantern. The building is decorated with red, white and green

A close-up of the lantern, with 小舟町 written on it

I bought a Temple charm from one of the maiko, a mini lantern and a daruma. The sellers were very nice once they had no more option but to acknowledge my present and we got by in Japanese with calculator showing of totals. In one of the stands I was given an origami crane, which was really cute. I had been recommended a tayaki (sweet) stand but unluckily that they they had cleaning day and they were not serving.

“Close” (in Tokyo terms) to Asakusa is the Tokyo Skytree [東京スカイツリー], which has taken over television broadcasting functions from Tokyo Tower and it is about twice as high. Since I was “in the area” I decided to drop by, although I did not feel like climbing it. Although it has been recently opened, going up is super expensive and… is not Tokyo Tower XD Excuse the funny picture format.

Tokyo Skytree - a tower seemingly made out of grey scaffolding

Getting there I crossed in front of the Asahi Beer Group Building Complex, so have a picture too:

The Asahi building, with horns like a bull

And a system of floodgates, just because I’m biased:

A canal with a flooding gate system

I got something to eat from a Family Mart under the Skytree, and that included dorayaki, because I was starting to feel brave about interactions!

A pancake-like sweet, about the half the size of my hand

Then, I headed to Shibuya [渋谷] because I was getting tired and there was a nice, long, metro ride in the Ginza line. Guess what was the first thing I looked for? The Shibuya 109 building. Unfortunately, if there is an aquarium up there, it is restricted area. Sales day, too. Was crazy, so root me with the Angels for this one XD (X Clamp reference, for those who are hanya’ing right now).

Shibuya 109 building. It is a regular mall with a round tower full of advertisements

Since I had the time I stalked the infamous Shibuya Crossing, which serves about 3,000 people per green pedestrian crossing:

Shibuya crossing, empty of people and cars

Shibuya crossing as people flock into it

Then I did what one does in Shibuya… roam around and spend money OTZ. Though I was banned from Mandarake yet, there were many interesting stores, among them the equivalent to a FNAC / Virgin Media or similar with a HUGE Fukuyama Masaharu DVD promo poster; for the good of my wallet I forbade myself to walk into it. The funny anecdote of the day came when I was listening to KAT-TUN’s Peak and suddenly I heard Kame speaking. I was surprised because I do not have Peak live on my mp3. Then I realised that it had been Shibuya’s giant screen with their new car CM. D****e helped me find a few bargains in Book Off after we met.

A shopping street in Shibuya. One of the billboards on the right reads Book Off

And speaking of meeting, I kind-of was thrown into a nomikai [飲み会] with her volunteering partners that she met in Tohoku. A nomikai is a… typical Japanese drinking party with real Japanese people and at first I was a bit 0_0 about the whole thing. After all my Japanese is… more basic than basic. Surprisingly it turned out very enjoyable with me… making up Japanese as I went along and D****e helping me out most of the time. My random vocab was very surprising at some point for one of the girls because… yeah, I can’t ask for my food to be heated but I know how to say “typical Japanese paper screen”. The downside was coming home past midnight. The upside, was lots of fun.

And guys, romantic dorama weird plots happen in real life. There was a married couple there to prove it.