For Day 4, Nicole and I visited Sensoji Temple in Asakusa. Sensoji Temple is one of the more famous temples in Japan and definitely one of the biggest tourist attractions in Tokyo. It is easy to find souvenirs and experience parts of traditional Japan in the middle of a modern city.
We visited most of the shops and made a couple of purchases. Nicole bought a lovely yukata and I found quite a few souvenirs perfect for co-workers and family. I was tempted to buy Japanese rice cakes and other snacks to take bring back home but was worried I had bought too much from Disneyland and more food would not fit in my suitcase.
After browsing the shops and tasting some yummy (and not so yummy) snacks we arrived to the entry way for the temple. We decided to draw our fortunes. I drew out "Best Fortune." Nicole, on the other hand, pulled out "Bad Fortune." She tied her bad fortune nearby to change her luck and avert the bad fortune she drew.
We proceeded to the temple and smelled incense, which is believed to be beneficial to one's health and increase one's life expectancy. We performed Omairi, which is washing our hands and mouth at the Temizu to purify/cleanse ourselves from evil spirits.
After visiting the inside of the temple, we decided to stop and have a light lunch. We tried grilled squid and yakisoba from some food carts nearby. Both dishes were extremely delicious! There was no end to the good food in Japan, especially when it came to sweets. There were Ice Cream Hamburgers, Soft Serve Cones, Shaved Ice, and plenty of Pastries filled with red bean paste- of which I discovered a couple of days ago that I am not a fan.
The Sky Tower, recently completed in March 2012, was pretty close to the shrine and I love how it contrasts with the traditional architecture of the temple's entrance.
Nicole and I originally planned to walk over to the Sky Tree, but our entire day at Tokyo Disneyland left us feeling pretty tired earlier than expected. So after some quick shots of the Tower across the river, we headed back to our hotel. There was some commotion by the Temple behind our hotel, so we checked it out and realized there was a summer festival going on! Traditional festival games such as pulling out water balloons, catching fish, and tug of war was being played. Nicole and I took a quick lap and went to our hotel room to rest.
As the sun set, we heard the sound of Taiko drums and music being played. We went out to see if there was a performance, and to our surprise, there was! Women and children in yukata were doing traditional dances as the taiko drummers played. I managed to record a snippet of the night to share the sights and sounds we experienced:
This was an amazing cultural experience and I am so glad we got to be a part of it. I thoroughly the dances, the traditional clothes, and the overall atmosphere of fun. Nicole and I have been very lucky during our trip because we stumbled upon many things by happy accidents, so my fortune must clearly be making all of this possible for us!
Hope you enjoyed Day 4 and will check back to see what we did for Day 5!