Tokyo Tower, Zojoji Temple, Meiji Shrine, Asakusa, Narita Airport
※ This article discusses our sixth and last day in Tokyo, the 22nd of March 2017..
As planned the day before, this day had a busy schedule. We wanted to finish everything on our current bucket list for Tokyo.
We left the hostel early, though we had to finish packing. We left the luggage at the hostel. After a long walk, we reached Zōjō-ji. This buddhist temple is located in front of Tokyo Tower. The Jizō stone statues are particulary beautiful. They represent unborn children and parents can pay for such a statue and decorate it. They looked beautiful on that day with beautiful weather:
For 900 Yen, we took the elevator to reach the observatory of Tokyo Tower. This was also really nice. You get a nice overview and in the south of the Tower, streets are said to look like Tokyo Tower. Have a look:
The left foot of the tower is resembled by a curvy street, but besides that it is a funny similarity. Lookdown windows are small gaps in the floor made of glass. So you can watch pedestrians walking along the streets. However, the windows are small, a metal grid is underneath it for security reasons and you only see the pedestrians very close to the Tower. So the angle is pretty acute.
We sat down in a park close to Tokyo Tower. We wanted to eat our chips. Some elderly ladies came together to play gateball there. Gateball is the Japanese version of Croquet. It was totally fun to watch them playing as they interacted with each other, were enthusiastic about the outcomes of hits and on their hands, they had a little gadget. This was apparently used to track the points and who comes next. I liked the strategic nature of the game. It was not only about hitting the ball into the gates.
From Akabanebashi, passing Aoyama-itchome, we reached Omote-sando train station. Our first try to reach the Meiji Shrine failed. So we gave it another shot. From Omote-sando to Harajuku, it is just 1km, but the streets are busy and we thought we will find something for lunch. Next to Harajuku station, we entered "Italian Tomato". They offer a mochi variation of Pizza Margherita, a "mochigerita". I ate one and ordered some apple juice. Martina ate some pasta. As a dessert, we got some small pancakes with bananas. It was a little expensive, but okay.
After lunch, we accessed Meiji Shrine from the right side (which is Harajuku station). As usual first, you go through a torii. Then a large number of sake barrels is displayed on the right and a large number of whine barrels can be found on the left. After passing another torii, you will reach Meiji Shrine. One of the most important things to remember about Japanese history is the Meiji Restauration. The Edo period spanned from 1603 to 1868. At the end of the Edo period, Japan was completely isolated and recognized that it lacked many technological advances that can be found in the west. When the Meiji period started in 1868, Japan opened its borders, introduced international relations and international trade. This lead Japan to a capitalist, imperial world power under Emperor Meiji. The Shrine, we visited, is dedicated to this Emperor. Again, parts of it were under construction. Presumably, because of Tokyo 2020. In the end, I think so many people coming to the Shrine and the path through the woods is actually more interesting than the Shrine itself.
It was about 14:30, when we finished. At 17:13, we wanted to catch a train in Asakusa in order to go to Narita Airport. Our flight from Narita Airport Tokyo to Kansai International Airport (KIX) was scheduled for 19:30. The train at 17:13 was the last train to be there in time. Before, we also had to pick up our luggage from the hostel. So we decided to do another activity, which we came up with on Sunday. We went to Asakusa. On a side street of Nakamise-dōri, artists are located which draw caricatures ( 似顔絵 , にがえお, nigaeo in Japanese). We went there and asked for a painting of the two of us. It took him about 30 minutes to draw us and it was about 40 minutes in total we spent inside the shop. Very fast in my opinion. Anyhow, you can find these caricaturists at various tourist spots, but their style is a little bit different. I liked the style of our painter and specifically, he added the Kaminarimon in front of us. This was a nice feature. It costed 6372 Yen, an amount of money I like to spend on some creative artist. Will I show you the image? I don’t know. So far I don’t have a proper scan of it. So you need to visit me to see it 😉.
We were perfect in time to catch the train at 17:13 in Asakusa. The train from Asakusa to Narita Airport costed 1290 Yen. Narita Airport is located outside Tokyo in Chiba prefecture. So it took about 1 hour to reach it. We checked in at VanillaAir and they asked us whether switching to an exit seat would be okay. In case of emergency, we have to help other passengers to get out. But in front of the emergency exit, you are not allowed to have your luggage next to your feet, but you have more space for your feet. The last property turned out to be quite advantageous for us.
After the checkin, we ate some pommes and went through the security check. Apparently we have been quite late and they already closed the gate while we went there. However, we have not been the last passengers. The flight was quite comfortable, took about 100 minutes, but Martina ordered some pasta, which was much smaller than displayed on the menu.
We arrived at KIX and went to the trains. Using a JR train, we went to Tennoji, took the Osaka Loop Line to Umeda and a JR train brought us back to Kobe Sannomiya. This train trip costs 1720 Yen. It was annoying to carry that much luggage between the trains, but we were glad to arrive.
Conclusion of the day: The tight schedule was great. We finished some remaining sightseeing spots and Asakusa became my favorite sightseeing spot of Tokyo. Zōjō-ji and Tokyo Tower are both nice locations, Meiji Shrine is beautiful and the caricature was fun.
How was Tokyo? It is indeed a different experience from Kansai. The people talk a bit different and because they speak English better, it is more suitable for tourists. We went to major sightseeing spots in our week in Tokyo and we enjoyed it.
Thanks for doing this with me, Martina.