Jasmine in Japan: Day 1 – Sensō-ji in Asakusa

At the end of the first day, I went to one of the most important tourist attractions in Tokyo: the Sensō-ji in Asakusa (浅草寺).

At the Sensō-ji in Asakusa

The Sensō-ji complex is located in the Asakusa district and is one of the oldest and most important Buddhist temples in Tokyo and in Japan in general. My impression: colorful, loud, and hectic (and it was not even high season yet). A huge number of impressions have a completely different effect than, for example, a religious building, not to mention a monastery in Germany.

From the Asakusa Nekoen I reached the complex via the east gate. A bit unusual, as most tourists come in via the Nakamise-dori shopping street and the two large gates Kaminari-mon and Hōzō-mon – well, I left the complex this way.

After visiting the slightly smaller Asakusa Shrine, I entered the large main hall like hundreds of other visitors. You could see a great Kannon statue and buy devotional items. Or, in my case, my first souvenirs at one of the many stalls: a little lucky charm for the newlyweds which supposedly protects their relationship. Can’t do any harm, I thought.

I turned around – oops… don’t I know these people?

Chance encounter number 1

Well, the cabin crew from the outbound flight, who had so kindly helped me with my luggage, had the same idea. Since their normal return flight had been canceled due to the strike in Germany, they also explored Tokyo. Now this complex is certainly one of the places you absolutely have to go. Nevertheless, in a metropolitan region with almost 38 million inhabitants, you don’t necessarily expect to meet six people again that you didn’t arrange to meet. We chatted for quite a while. I got a few more tips for sightseeing and submitting all the bills for my emergency purchases. And we agreed that if we ran into each other again, we would go for a drink. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. What a pity…

Oracle

I then went outside and visited some smaller shrines and statues. I was getting hungry too, so I went to the Nakamise-dori for a sweet treat (something with/made from sweet potatoes), as I hadn’t eaten much that day. Later I would go out to dinner with Amber.

On the way out I saw some of these oracle stands in the hustle and bustle which piqued my curiosity. Even though I don’t believe in such things, I still wanted to experience them. Luckily I had some change after buying food. I threw 100¥ into one of the boxes, made a wish, grabbed one of the metal boxes, and shook it. Eventually, after much rattling and banging, a stick fell out. This told me in which drawer I would find out my fate.

Unfortunately, it was a dud… To fulfill the ritual, I folded the piece of paper and tied it to a wire cord on one of the many racks. Quite a few pieces of paper were already hanging there. This is supposed to drive away bad luck. So that was my experience with an Omikuji.

I traipsed around a bit more, but there was still more time left until dinner than I expected. Somehow I was too overwhelmed as well. I decided to go to Akihabara and check out what would await me there…

Pictures – click on the photo for more information:

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