After our trip through Ameyoko Market we decided to walk to Asakusa, home of Tokyo’s most famous temple. It houses a famously massive lantern. I can assure you, it’s a very big lantern.
On our way there we passed Kappabashi Street.
This is where restaurants buy all their non-food supplies from, including the incredible plastic food displays. The street is quite obviously marked out by a tower of balconies made to look like different coloured coffee cups on one side and an enormous chef’s head on top of the building on the opposite side of the street.
We approached Asakusa
– Tokyo’s ancient entertainment district – in soft spring sunshine. The road leading up to the main temple (Nakamise) is lined with stalls selling a mixture of local tasty treats and souvenirs from chopsticks and mobile phone charms to kimonos and swords.
At the main temple we bought our fortunes.
This is a thing you can do at most temples. You put your 100Y coin in a slot/box (all unattended, Japanese people are so honest it make my heart sing) then you shake a box that has a lot of sticks in until one comes out of a little hole.
You then match the word/symbol on the stick, to one of the drawers and inside that drawer is your fortune.
My fortune was very good, Luke’s was only OK. If your fortune isn’t great then you can tie it up and let the wind blow away all the bad luck from it.
As we headed home to get changed for the evening we spotted the Golden Turd sparkling near the metro station.
It was our host’s dad’s birthday on April 1st. As Tokyo was still in crisis mode, many people were still out of the city – including most of his family and some friends. So we stepped in. We met Mr Fluffyman (that is what his Dutch name literally translates as) and some of his friends at a bar in Akasaka. (Asakusa and Akasaka all in one day is confusing, I tell thee).
At a fairly standard beer house, we stood around tall tables in a small area spilling our onto the pavements. We gave the birthday boy his gift and he hesitated to open it, having got used to Japanese custom which is to thankfully receive the gift and then open it in private. Being showy Europeans we all demanded to see him open it and then joy unconfined danced on his face at seeing Wills & Kate in tea-towel form*.
The staff learned it was his birthday and came out one by one to wish him a happy birthday and do a little bow, one even came out with some small cakes for him. Super cute. We then set off to have CHINESE food for dinner. I know, right? In Tokyo and we have Chinese. It was the birthday boy’s choice and the old men were paying so we were just happy to be there. I was really bothered by the smoking in the restaurant. Now that I’ve gotten so used to the smoking ban here, going back to eating in a smoke-filled restaurant is pretty gross. It feels very backwards for such a forwards-seeming society.
We dashed off to try to find a good night view of Tokyo. We arrived at Roppongi Hills to try to get to the top of the Mori Tower. Sadly, we were too late, despite having got a taxi (which are MASSIVELY expensive), so just went and had a drink in a trendy bar in the tower.
After a pricey cocktail, we decided to head home, as we had a full day planned for Saturday, too late to catch the last trains we had another taxi.
A quick word on taxis – they are not cheap at all. But then, taxis in London are hardly affordable, especially when traversing the city. Do not touch the doors! The taxi driver opens the door for you, it pops open when they stop to pick you up. Luke was looked at with an hilarious level of disdain when he attempted to open the door of the cab. With most other things, you don’t tip cab drivers. They’ll take it as an offence to their driving skills. A sort of ‘take this money so you do a better job next time’ thing.
One thing I forgot to mention about the Ebisu night was that before we went home we went to a late night ramen shop. Ramen shops are like kebab shops here, they stay open late and are really cheap. Unlike kebab shops, they are really healthy & filling. Our 2am ramen stop was almost certainly what stopped me having an horrific hangover on this day. I wish we had some late night noodle shops in London.
*he was mildly amused by the tea-towel