Today was our first full day in Japan. Originally the plan for today was to visit Tokyo Sky Tree, however Tokyo has treated us with some rainy weather to start the trip and we decided instead of the Sky Tree we would visit Asakusa and do a bit of shopping. After a decent sleep in from yesterday’s exhaustion and a fantastic Japanese style breakfast, we set off to the train station. Upon arriving at Asakusa, we were met with the smiling face of Midori-san! Her happiness quickly spread through the group and the fun began.
In Asakusa, there is a large Buddhist temple, the ‘Sensoji Temple’. It is surrounded by the ‘Nakamise shopping street’, in which we enjoyed a long walk around and bought ‘omiyage’, or souvenirs. The constant bustle of people and the vast blanket of umbrellas along the streets kept us somewhat dry from the continuous rainfall, and it was fun to see all the different stalls and what they had to offer.
After our visit to the shopping streets of Asakusa, we jumped on another train to Sky Tree Town, at which we could view the tower from the ground and observed all the fog around it, and we knew we had made the right decision to not go up. Walking through the shopping centre under the tower, we viewed some more interesting stalls and eventually purchased some green tea flavoured ice cream wrapped in a pancake, which was very delicious.
Another train took us to Ryogoku (Sumo Stadium) at which Hyde Sensei surprised us with tickets to the Sumo Tournament! We were all extremely excited and after a long walk around in circles trying to find our seats we settled in for a great show. The sumos have some strange traditions before each bout, such as slapping themselves all over their bodies for intimidation, and throwing handfuls of salt onto themselves and the arena as purification. These pre-wrestle rituals would drag out for many long minutes, with the wrestlers facing off and then suddenly coming back to the corner of the arena to chuck some more salt around. They would do this up to 3 or 4 times before the wrestle actually began! It was fun to watch because the Sumos would perform some funny tricks before the wrestle and really got the crowd going. After many hours of viewing the entertainment of the sumo tournament, we set out for the train station once again.
A short while later we arrived in Shibuya, known for its crowds and enormous crossing. We visited the statue of Hachiko, a dog with a very famous story. Hachiko was a loyal dog who would wait at the entrance to Shibuya train station for his owner every day, however one day his owner did not return from work. He had passed away during the day, however Hachiko continued to wait by the entrance every day until he himself passed away nine years later. After visiting the statue, we crossed the world famous intersection and looked for a place to eat dinner. After locating a noodle shop, we settled in for some fantastic Ramen. Dinner was delicious, and although Mr Rosenblatt struggled with his chopsticks a bit, we all eventually finished and it was time to go shopping! After an hour or so of more fun, we met up again and it was time to return to the hotel. We said goodnight to Midori-San and another train ride brought us back. We were all very exhausted and glad to be able to get some rest.
After so much excitement from just one day in Japan, we are sure the rest of the time will be even better! We are looking forward to seeing more of Japan, however for now we are just grateful to be able to get a good nights sleep.
OYASUMINASAI – Aidan