Monday, September 17, 2012

Asakusa

(Sorry about the late post, this draft has been in work for a while. How does 3 posts at once sound to make up for it?)

So about a week ago on Sunday, September 9, IES sponsored a tour of Asakusa, which is a pretty close to what I have personally decided is the center of Tokyo (somewhere I have yet to go, mind you). This was our agenda: visit the 2 smallest museums in the world, go to the Senso-ji temple and surrounding area, eat lunch, then take a water taxi to Ryogaku and see a sumo competition. Ambitious, right?

The 2 smallest museums in the world were both craft museums. The first had miniatures which are a huge thing in Japan. They just like making mini replicas of things. It was pretty cool, the detail on these things is amazing. The 2nd museum had assorted crafts and on the weekends they bring artists to do their work on display. There was a wood carver there who had outrageously overpriced carved wooden faces about the size of my eyeball. Yeahhh, okay. Highlights from T2SMITW:
Miniature

Overpriced wood carver
We then located to the area surrounding the Senso-ji temple. It was packed. The temple itself was huge and beautiful. There was a pagoda also, which I obviously took pictures of myself in front of. There was a station where you pay 100 yen to pick a stick out of a container that has a number on it, find it's corresponding drawer, and pull out your fortune! I ended up getting a fortune that pretty much told me I was going to be arrested soon, but if you tie the bad fortune to the random pole-like structure, it's supposed to go away. Be gone, bad fortune! The main attraction in the temple area was a long, narrow street of shop after shop after shop. They were mainly touristy stores filled with Japanese goods at decent prices. I picked up a few things to add to the souvenir collection. One particularly odd thing I noticed was when we bought ice cream and were forced to eat it directly next to the store. Eating or drinking and walking is not an acceptable custom here. People buy drinks at vending machines and chug them right there so they don't have to drink them on the train. It's very odd and, when you're on the smallest, most crowded street ever, extremely frustrating.

So from there we went to lunch, HIGHLIGHT! Bento boxes are a huge thing here in Japan. They're just a variety of food all put in one place and everything is in their own little neat and organized place. It's perfect for people with OCD. Or people who just like to eat lots of different things in one meal. And look how pretty it looks!


After lunch we headed off to the river taxi to go towards the sumo competition. We stopped along the way to get this group photo (to the right, Skytree in the background which is the tallest building in Japan). Then we water-taxied along to the sumo competition! Now I have no previous knowledge of sumo, but from what I was told it was a pretty easy game to comprehend. About 1/16 of the rules of football (take that, America!). Essentially, there is a circular floor where the two "wrestlers" fight and cannot step out of. You can't fall down or kick in the face (i'm pretty sure) or grab the one area of the body that actually is covered in clothing. So basically, the two guys step up and prep for the fight. What actually happens is they walk up like they're ready, then back down at the last second before the fight starts to throw white powder on the floor. A friend of mine described it like this, "They're just really large dough balls on a baking sheet and they need the flour so they don't stick to the tray." It might make more sense if you were there. But after about 13 pump fakes and retreats to stretch, the two actually go at it! The entirety of the fighting portion takes about 30 seconds at most. So a lot of build up for little fight. But either way, a lot of butts. 

The sumo was really interesting to watch and even to observe the crowd. There was a total of 1 loud fan, not much like American sporting events. Also, there were people sitting literally 5 feet away from the fight. Numerous times they were on the receiving end of a blow from the fight. How's that for front row? 

Overall Asakusa was a pretty cool place. Every day I see and learn new things, so this can just be added to the "Really Cool Things I Saw in Japan That I Don't Quite Understand" list. But the bento boxes, I get those.



No comments:

Post a Comment