Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Tokyo Part Four - Kamakura and Asakusa

One morning, S had a bright idea that we would go to Kamakura and see the giant Buddah. So go to Kamakura we did. The train ride was about an hour long and when we got there, we looked for the ever faithful maps that we had become so accustomed to seeing around and we headed in the direction of the Giant Buddah.

About 2 hours later and still heading in the same direction, I wondered out loud if we were going in the right direction. I had a bit of a feeling we might have missed a turn somewhere. The traffic was thick and all heading the same way we were and so we just kept walking, thinking and hoping they were heading to the same place we were. After all, it was a few days past New Years and around New Years Japanese visit temples, shrines (and giant buddahs) to say their prayers and wish good fortune for the year.

Five hours and 7 km later (we stopped to take pictures, eat etc along the way) - at 3pm in the afternoon; the sun was starting to set. There was no sight of a buddah anywhere and my feet were starting to hurt. We noticed that there had been a train track that pretty much followed the path we walked so we walked up to that and had a look at the map on offer. We had walked 5 km too far. So, we hopped on the train; tired and exhausted and went the 5km back the way we came to see the Giant Buddah. 

By that time I was almost ready just to head back to our hotel, but I am so glad we jumped on that train to the Giant Buddah. It was absolutely breathtaking and I highly recommend seeing it. I would also recommend just taking the train and not trying to navigate your way by foot, but to each their own.

We really enjoyed our time seeing Daibatsu and joined the rest of those who were there in lighting incense and saying prayers for the year ahead. We also joined the many people drinking canned hot coffee from a vending machine in a meagre attempt at trying to warm ourselves. Kamakura doesn’t have many (any?) Japanese restaurants as it seems to be mainly a touristy area. We ended up stopping by a little Italian place and we had wood fired pizza for lunch. It was only 600Yen ($6.50) per pizza though, so we didn’t pay tourist prices!

The next day it was my turn to choose a destination. I was given instructions to choose something that was easy to get to and easy to get around. I had been to Asakusa when I went to Japan with school in 2004 and although I didn’t remember much of the place, I did remember it was beautiful.

We missed out on going to Kyoto due to bad planning and Asakusa was in a very small way similar to what I remember Kyoto being like. I knew S would enjoy it. When we got to Asakusa, we hopped off the train and headed towards Sensoji Temple. We got sidetracked at Nakamise; a popular shopping street that sells traditional souvenirs. The souvenirs are definitely overpriced, though there is a lot of interesting stuff and we spent a couple of hours looking through the different shops and choosing gifts.
Sensoji was quite busy but we were able to walk around the whole temple and get some good photos. We also saw a monkey show which was really impressive. That monkey was clever!
For lunch, we headed to the giant sperm Asahi beer museum. It was underwhelming to say the least. The restaurant itself was quite dark and dingy and the menu didn’t have too much on it. It was a definite tourist trap and we got sucked in!
After Asakusa, we decided to walk to the Tokyo Sky Tower that opened last year. I had no plans to go right up in it, since I’d already seen the view of Tokyo from quite high, but the shops in Sky Tree town were interesting to look around. We ended up here for dinner as well as we found a little Okonomiyaki restaurant and since that’s my favourite food, there was no way I could resist! I’d recommend Sky Tree Town as there is a lot to look at and a lot to do. Especially if you tack it on to a day at Asakusa. 


  1. Some of those pictures remind me of my trip years ago, but the giant buddha looks amazing, it instills a sense of calmness just through the photo.

  2. More pretty photos and more making me wish I had the $ to travel :-)