JAPAN (日本): SENSŌ-JI TEMPLE + LITTE STREETS OF ASAKUSA + HAKONE

Photos: Camie Juan (For Outfit Photos)

Location: Tokyo, Japan

Outfit: Coat (Uniqlo x Lemaire), Shirt (Zara Man), Trousers (Zara Man), Cap (New Era), Sneakers (Adidas)

Aside from exploring Shinjuku and the Tokyo Skytree, we also went to Asakusa to visit the Sensō-ji Temple on our first day in Japan. I just felt like Shinjuku is so busy and modern, whereas the Sensō-ji Temple is the complete opposite–and so I think it deserves a separate blog entry!

Many tourists, both Japanese and from abroad, visit the Sensō-ji every year. It’s one of those landmarks or spots that you need to check off your list to be able to say that you’ve been to Japan. Catering to thousands of people, the surrounding area has tons of traditional shops and food stalls that showcase many Japanese traditional dishes.

Nakamise-Dori, the street leading from the Thunder Gate to the temple itself is lined with small and quirky shops that sells souvenirs ranging from traditional Japanese fans, kimonos, wigs, Buddhist scrolls, mochi, toys, clothes, etc.

Airlite Int’l Travels and Tours gave us an hour to explore the Asakusa. It’s your option if you want to stay with the tour guide or go on your own. Camie and I decided to leave the group and visit the Sensō-ji Temple and explore Nakamise-Dori. Since the last week of March and early April were apparently the best time to visit Japan, almost all the places we went to were flocked with tourists. Nevertheless, it did not stop us from getting inspired and learning about the Japanese culture. 

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SENSŌ-JI TEMPLE (浅草寺)

The Sensō-ji Temple is the oldest temple in Tokyo. Around 30 million visitors from throughout Japan and abroad visit this temple every year. Many seasonal events are held including the Hozuki (Chinese lantern plant) Market and Hagoita (wooden paddle) Market. The huge lanterns hung at Kaminari (Thunder) Gate are very famous throughout Japan. The entrance to the shrine is through the “Kaminarimon gate”. This gate along with the inner “Hozomon gate” and their large lanterns, are favourite spots among tourists for getting photographed, making Sensō-ji the symbol of Tokyo.

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O-mikuji are random fortunes written on strips of paper at shrines and temples in Japan. These are usually received by making a small offering (5-yen is enough) and randomly choosing one from a box, hoping for getting a “good fortune.” The o-mikuji is scrolled up or folded, and unrolling the piece of paper reveals the fortune written on it. It includes a general blessing which can be either a great blessing, a small blessing, a small curse, an ending curse or a great curse. Kinda creepy! Haha! 

 

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Camie and I did some exploring at Nakamise-Dori (a shopping street outside the temple). We did the most stupid thing of leaving our money in the tour bus. It was the perfect place to try their street food and buy pasalubongs but we ended up creeping up on the locals and tourists and checking out what food they were eating. Haha! We didn’t want to waste time looking for our tour guide to get our wallet so we explored on our own and it took us to these charming little side streets in Asakusa!

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While walking around the streets of Asakusa, we stumbled upon this man wearing a traditional Japanese geta. This is a kind of sandal with an elevated wooden base held onto the foot with a fabric thong to keep the foot well above the ground. 

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We saw this really tall Japanese guy wearing a traditional Japanese outfit (or so I’d like to think) so Camie and I ended up following him just to snap this photo! Oh, the things you do when you don’t have money. Haha! On a positive note, this easily became one of my favorite photos from the trip! 

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HAKONE (箱根町)

Hakone is located in the mountainous far west of the prefecture, on the eastern side of Hakone Pass. Most of the town is within the borders of the volcanically active Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, centered on Lake Ashi. Hakone is an internationally well-known holiday resort that includes many renowned hot springs. They have about 20 different qualities, nicknamed “Hakone Seventeen Spas.” 

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LAKE ASHI (芦ノ湖)

Lake Ashi, also referred to as Hakone Lake or Ashinoko Lake, is a scenic lake in the Hakone area of Kanagawa Prefecture in Honshū, Japan. The lake is known for its views of Mt. Fuji, its numerous hot springs and historical sites. We went on a 10-minute cruise around the lake (it was literally 10 minutes only lol). The cruise was definitely too short considering how far we traveled by bus. The cool part is that the boat looks like a pirate ship. The Japanese captain is even in a full on pirate costume! 

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We also went to Gotemba Premium Outlets (a shopping area for high end local and international brands) and I got myself this bag. It can be a tote bag and a backpack! I think it’s very Japanese so I just had to use it right away! 

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Itinerary by Airlite International Travel & Tours. If you’re interested in joining their tours, check out their website and like them on Facebook for more information and promos! Stay tuned for my next series of posts! 
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