Today I set myself a goal which was to spend as little yen as possible. My plan was to walk everywhere and to see as much as possible. I left the hostel at 9am and it was midday before I reached the first of my intended targets. That’s not to say I just walked for 3 hours – I came across so many things as I went that I was detoured several times and I loved it. The first thing I came across was a school set out in the old Shinto design, it was beautiful. I came across an elderly lady who loved my Pokemon phone case and proceeded to speak to me in a flurry of Japanese, it was a one sided conversation. The next little side quest was the discovery of about 5 shrines, each as lovely as the other and just like yesterday they were squarely hidden away from the public. The last of my discoveries was an alley way that opened up into this these markets that continued on for kilometres. I bought a few roadside kebabs to see what they were like – and for 200 yen I was decently satisfied, the first was delicious, and the second was just…strange. I’d love to tell you what they were but I have no knowledge of what I put in my mouth.
By the time I got past all the lovely distractions and arrived at Rikugi Park my feet were killing me! I was thinking that maybe I’d been foolish in thinking I could get everything I wanted to do today done by walking. That is until I saw the park and I knew all this effort was making it all the more special. It cost 200 yen to see it, which I didn’t realise going in, but it really is splendid. It’s also fairly quiet compared to other parks around the area which definitely suits me.
After a nice sit down I made my way through the Yanesen area towards my next destination which was a local cemetery and the Tennoji temple. It was quite the eye popping hike as what was business buildings and shops suddenly turned into traditional housing and shrines everywhere. I was quite shocked at the sheer number of graves spread out throughout most of the suburb as well. It was quite haunting but equally as beautiful. The temple itself was very well kept, and the Buddha was special. I must say the Japanese in the area seem to have a very unique behaviour around and towards death – on the one hand the graves are impressive and immaculate and there are men running around with hand sponges scrubbing down each inch of the entire graveyard, and on the other hand there are people jogging, dogs being walked, tours taking multiple photos next to the tombs and in general a complete turn around in respect. I don’t know what to make of it.
Next up was a walk across the suburb to what was my favourite part of the day – a visit to a Shinto temple I’d read about as a less known thing of beauty in the area. The walk was much the same as near the cemetery area, everything was a mixture of the old and the new and the buildings were adorable. The shrine itself (another freebie) didn’t really have a garden to brag about, but the building itself was impressive. What made this visit special though was the Shinto wedding ceremony I got to witness. The music, the garments, and the people were all lovely to see. Who cares that this place didn’t have a garden to photograph, it was special in it’s own way.
It’s hard to see from those photos – First time my camera on my phone has really let me down – so I’ll post the gopro footage when I sort out a charger for my laptop which is about to die! Speed typing time…
After the wedding ceremony I made my way across towards the park near Ueno station. There is a zoo and I hate zoos. This one didn’t look any more impressive than the others I’ve seen and I refused to pay admission. Instead I worked my way past the duck ponds and towards more shrines and the Ueno station to eat my lunch. It’s an interesting walk as the bridge connecting the lake and the shrine is filled with street food market stalls and I wish I’d known that coming in or I wouldn’t have bothered buying lunch back on some street corner.
Making my way from Ueno over to Senso-Ji was fairly straight forward. You follow the main road leaving Ueno station and keep heading that way till you find a massive crowd of people. When I say massive I do mean massive. I took me 10 minutes to make my way to Senso-Ji once I got to the gate!!! It was ridiculous. I hate crowds and this really ruined the experience for me, but from what I can tell that is the experience everyone has. The building itself is enormous and I can see why it could be beautiful, but the crowds greatly deterred me.
I left there fairly quickly and made my way across another river and into the Sumida park, where I stumbled upon a lovely engaged couple getting their wedding photos done. They were in traditional garb and looked fantastic. I might have acted the clown and made them both laugh a few times while the photographer was trying to make them serious, oopsy. Worth it though, they loved it. The park itself is pretty, but too close to the railway to be peaceful. The impressive thing about it is the Tokyo Skytree looming over it.
This thing is gigantic!!! I made my way there hoping to get a glimpse of what 450 metres in the air looks like, but alas I didn’t want to spend the 3,000 yen today, a day of trying to limit costs.
The walk home was a total nightmare for my body, and in the end my ankles, knee, back, and feet were wrecked, but I can’t say I regret any of it. I ticked absolutely everything off my to do list, did it before nightfall, and did it without relying on any public transport or help. So while my body may be in pain, my soul is soaring right now! Mission accomplished.
PS – Apologies for the late blog!!! The laptop died and I’ve only just found a charger here in Tokyo – Yodobashi Camera store, everyone was super helpful.
The Senso-Ji Shrine on a Sunday afternoon
Tokyo Skytree looms large