Japanese has always been a hobby of mine which became more then just a hobby.
As a result I went to Japan for a year abroad program with Uni from 27th August 2010 to June 1st 2011. And then again after I graduated I went to study for the JLPT N2 at NILS in Fukuoka (January 17th to July 10th 2013).
I'm now doing an MA in translation at SOAS, London (Sep 2014-2015).
This is a blog of my adventures and thoughts while in and about Japan...
Friday, 19 September 2014
Walking All Over the East (Monday 15th - Asakusa)
Sumo wrestler wearing a kimono with kitties
It was Monday today but really, really felt like we’d been here for
almost a week already. We went over to Ryogoku where the Sumo tournament has
just started. The plan was that some people wanted to get cheap tickets which
are only sold on the day buuuut we got there at about 11 and all the tickets
were sold out. So Wes and Josh decided to get up early on the Wednesday
(because we’re at Kamakura tomorrow) before Josh leaves on Wednesday.
We decided then to walk down the river to Asakusa stopping off at a
pretty Japanese garden on the way. Asakusa is where the newly built Sky Tower
is (but we didn’t go up) and the famous Kaminari-mon (gate) and shrine. And
because it was a holiday for the Japanese (3 day weekend) it was VERY busy. We
managed to squeeze through the shops between the gate and the shrine to find
this one particular spice shop which was the original location of a spice and
Josh loves. Which Josh, Stacey and Wes were looking at spices though me, Gabe
and Ben were wandering outside and spotted an old man carrying a fluffy sausage
dog in a holder, its legs dangling down either side and the old man gently
swung the bag as he walked. Ban actually ran over to take a photo (I’ll post it
when I can get a copy).
The seven spices shop
We meandered back to the shrine to check it and some of the (very
expensive low quality touristy) shops out, and stopped off at a very popular
ice cream and melon-pan stand. All of us got melon-pan (bread baked with a cookie
top) which was massive, warm and squishy, but Stacey decided to get cheese
flavoured ice-cream… :P It was ok, just really, really weird.
I did an omikuji, a fortune, next at the shrine and got pretty good
fortune. Not amazing but not terrible either, it was funny how accurate it
seemed to be. But that’s how fortunes are meant to be (accurate no matter who
you are because of the vague writing).
We decided to take the 40min walk from the shrine over Ueno part to
Nippori which was where friends had told me about Nippori Textile Street. The
walk took a little longer because we stopped in a shop that sells plastic food,
and we got distracted walking through Ueno Park and the cemetery. Which was
spooky and awesome at the same time. I was worried we’d get shouted at for
walking through it but there was a security guard on a bike who just didn’t
care. As we left the cemetery an old lady told us to be careful which was
It seems like every time we've walked between places we’ve stumbled
across interesting things that we would have missed if we’d gone by train.
Although it is extremely tiring walking everywhere all day for 3days+ in a row.
Nippori Textile Street was pretty awesome but it was late in the day
and a lot of them were closed. There were lots of second-hand kimono shops and
leather shops, but none that had the strips of kimono fabric I was looking for.
But I got some for a friend and a Japanese tapestry for myself so I was happy.
We’d promised Ben that we’d have all-you-can-eat sweets at Sweets
Paradise (somewhere we went often at Uni in Osaka) so headed over to Shibuya. I
had to ask the tourist information where a football shop was for Ben and it was
right next to Sweets Paradise! So after Ben and Wes bought football scarfs we
pigged out on cake and sweets and hot chocolate for over an hour. It felt like
we needed to be rolled out. It was a good day.