The temple at Asakusa is the one place on every tourist’s itinerary when they visit Tokyo. It’s certainly been on mine – I had been there on each of my two visits to Tokyo – but I’d never stayed there. This time we were literally a hop-skip-jump away from the temple, in one of the many side streets of Asakusa. Here, you can see the essence of old Tokyo – a warren of narrow, tightly packed streets.
If the streets of Asakusa represented old Tokyo, then Sky Tree (the tower behind), represented new Tokyo. So new in fact that it wasn’t there on my 2006 visit. Given that the tower was over 600 metres tal, and the surrounding suburbs were generally low-rise, you could see the Sky Tree from anywhere in Asakusa.
From the temple.
From the river nearby, day and night.
Unfortunately, this was another instance where Hubby’s acrophobia kicked in, especially when he heard that you ascended via a glass lift (echoes of Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator), hence I only ever got to admire it from afar.
Aside from the temple, Asakusa is famous for its shopping street, Nakamise, which leads up to the temple. It’s busy all the time! This shot was taken before 9am, and there were school kids on excursion already.
The street has all manner of shops, from street food, souvenirs, clothes, toys, even kitchen knives.
Night time was just as busy. The main gate, Kaminarimon, was busy even at 9pm.
And those school kids were still roaming around at that time, too!
Our Japan journey is nearing its end, and the last place we visited was the great metropolis of Tokyo. We stayed in the district of Asakusa, in the old part of Tokyo, famous for Sensou-Ji, Tokyo’s oldest Buddhist temple.
As you can see, it’s a major tourist attraction, but it has all the essentials of a Buddhist temple, such as decorated lanterns.
And a smoking cauldron in which to purify yourself – or take selfies in front of.
We conclude our visit to Takayama with a walk up to one of the surrounding hilltops, Shiroyama. We are a bit above the town there, and had a good view.
Overlooking the town is a rather big bell, attached to a nearby temple.
The hilltop was forested, with many wandering paths.
It’s forested enough to attract all sorts of wildlife, although we didn’t see any!
And we of course got a final glimpse of the wonderful autumn leaves. It’s a sight to remember this mountain town by.
We made a visit to Takayama Jinya – the old administrative ‘office’ of the region during the 18th and 19th centuries.
Inside, it’s a little like Nijo castle in Kyoto – a series of interconnecting rooms and buildings, surrounded by gardens – except a little less grand.
The weather can be extremely wild up in the mountains, so even the roof tiles were weighed down.
The museum gave us a glimpse into life at the time for those at the top and the bottom of the heap. Very important people were carried in these sedan boxes.
Criminals were carried and kept in these more humble (and uncomfortable) cages, and were subjected to all sorts of painful punishments. I wouldn’t want a run-in with the law in those days.
Some everyday scenes from around Takayama.
Bicycles were again the prime way to get around the old town, given the narrowness of the streets.
Shrines were in abundance, and beside each one, a water spout for ritual cleansing.
Stalls selling grilled rice dumplings on sticks (mitarashi dango) which seem to have been there since time immemorial.
Japan’s love of dogs knows no bounds.
You can always count to find a ‘pub’ wherever you are.
This chrysanthemum is a little ray of sunshine on a gloomy day.
Takayama is a town of two halves. From above, it looks in every way a modern town.
But in its heart is a very old town.
The town was founded in the 17th Century, and being surrounded by 3,000 metre high mountains, was virtually cut-off from the outside world during the long winter months. The buildings in the old town are low to the ground, and the weathered wood gives the town a very earthy, cosy feel. Very different from imperial Kyoto, or even Kawaguchiko where you can see the sacred Mount Fuji from every street.
Let’s continue our walk around Takayama. There’s plenty of interesting things to see, and it’s all about the rivers.
It’s a town of many bridges, and from the sandbagging action by the river side, a few floods as well.
It was really a friendly town and a change after the busyness of Kyoto and Kawaguchiko. Even the statues were smiling.
We were approached by these primary school children, who, in English, asked us a few questions for their class assignment.
The Miyagawa markets are open every day. It’s mainly a produce market, but the permanent shops alongside it cater to tourists. It was rather quiet when we first arrived, probably because it was a little cold.
The stall holders were well-prepared though. This lady selling assorted pickles was all kitted out with crocheted blankets, and I’m even guessing a mini heater too.
There was plenty of autumnal fresh produce around – this stall sold different types of radish and other root vegetables.
Being late autumn, we saw plenty of late harvest apples for sale. This variety is called Hida, after the region that Takayama is in. They are much larger than the apples seen in Australia – some were the size of a lawn bowls ball, and so were priced accordingly.
The Tomato Lady even wore her special hat. Given how cold it was, I’m guessing that these were grown in poly tunnels or green houses.
The next morning Obaasan greeted us with a hearty (but not excessive) breakfast in our room – after the bedding was put away, of course.
Then it was off to explore Takayama proper. First up was a visit to the Miyagawa morning markets across the river.
The river was running fast, and the ‘koi’ (or Japanese carp) were feasting on whatever morsels they could find.
The temperature was around freezing that morning – so different from the last time I visited nine years before when the weather was much milder.