A rainy, wet and cold day in Tokyo

{ Japan April 2010 - Day 4 - Central Tokyo and Odaiba }

Our initial plan was to spend our day in Hakone - a national park about 100 km from Tokyo famous for its hot springs, lake with views of Mount Fuji and natural beauty, with interesting ways to travel around via ropeway, cable car, trains, boats and buses. I had the whole day trip planned. However, the weather forecast said that it was going to rain that day. It would be wet and cold in Hakone, and there would definitely be no views of Mount Fuji. And so, we had to cancel the plan.

We decided to bring forward some of our Tokyo plans, and spent the day around Central Tokyo. It was a wet, rainy and cold day in Tokyo. 

Tsujiki Fish Market

Our first stop in the morning is the Tsujiki Fish Market (築地市場 Tsukiji shijō). We did not leave early before dawn to attend the tuna auction which usually start at around 5am. We heard that there had been complaints from the traders about irritating tourists snapping photos and disturbing the auction in the morning, and determined not to be a pest, we did not visit the auction. The fact that it started extremely early may have contributed partly to the decision too!


We spent our time around the outer market where there were retail shops selling dried seafood, fresh seafood, knives and all sorts of kitchen and cooking materials. We sampled the various dried seafood and seaweed that were sold, bought finger food like unagi (eel) and bought bits and pieces of dried food to bring home. After being surrounded by all these food - fresh, or otherwise - we decided to step into a small little local restaurant for lunch. There were lots of raw food being sold and cooked food too. The raw oysters were big and juicy and the sashimi (raw fishes) were fresh and amazing!


Sensō-ji in Asakusa

Our next stop was a Buddhist temple, Sensō-ji (金龍山浅草寺 Kinryū-zan Sensō-ji) in Asakusa. The temple was dedicated to the bodhisattva Kannon, or known as Guanyin or the Goddess of Mercy. Guanyin is a bodhisattva that I am familiar with. There is also a temple dedicated to Guanyin in my hometown Penang, Malaysia (found a blog by Jamie Pang with great photos of the temple). Although both temples were dedicated to the same bodhisattva, the temples were different.

We walked through the main gate with a big lantern that was the symbol of Asakusa. Walking pass a row of shopping streets with people holding on to umbrellas to shelter from the rain, we walked to the main hall. The main hall was, unfortunately, under renovation when we were there, but it was still open to public. Similar to the Meiji Shrine that we have visited the day before, there was an area for people to wash their hands before going into the temple. There steps to pray were also similar. Right outside the main hall, incense were burnt. I saw the Japanese trying to fan the smoke from the incense to themselves, and of course I did the same!

For a 100 yen, one could make a wish and asked for a fortune, called an omikuji in Japanese. If the fortune was good, one could bring it home, but if the fortune was bad, then it was customary to fold and tie the piece of paper on a wall with metal wires. Lucky for me, my fortune was a dai-kichi (大吉) which meant great blessing and I kept it for good luck.


We spent some time walking along the shopping street right outside the temple. There were a row of small stores with lots of sakura trees along the street. There were lots of shops selling souvenirs and trinkets for tourists and locals alike to buy as gifts for their family and friends. It was unfortunately raining during that time, ruining the experience a little. Or maybe it was a blessing in disguise, as I did not spend much money there!


Tokyo Imperial Palace

We took the train to Tokyo Station and walked towards the Tokyo Imperial Palace or kōkyo (皇居). We walked among the buildings around the business district before reaching a huge park full with interesting looking trees. The palace grounds were huge and most of the area were open to public. Many people would actually jog around the park in the evening after work.


We could only walk around the outer area of the palace and looked at the palace from afar. I loved palaces and all things royal, but it would definitely be more enjoyable if we could spend time inside the palace.


Odaiba

We went to the large artificial island of Odaiba in the evening. We crossed the Tokyo Bay on the Rainbow Bridge (the bridge in the photo below) to get to Odaiba. The island was built to protect Tokyo against attacks from the sea, but had since developed into a major tourist spot. There were many places and things to see around the island, and it looked like a pretty interesting place to visit in the day. However, due to the time, we only had dinner and took a short walk around the bay. There was a huge shopping centre called Aquacity Odaiba and a replica of the Statue of Liberty.


After spending a rainy, wet and cold day in Tokyo, it was time to head home. I hoped that the weather would be better tomorrow as travelling in the rain was never fun.

::: Footnotes :::

Tsujiki Fish Market } The Tsukiji Fish Market, or written as 築地市場 (Tsukiji shijō) in Japanese, is in Tsukiji, Tokyo. It can be reached via Tsukijishijō Station. The tuna auction is closed to tourist right now. So, do check before you go! There are many shops in the outer market that is worth a visit. 

{ Sensō-ji in Asakusa } Sensō-ji, or written as 金龍山浅草寺 (Kinryū-zan Sensō-ji) in Japanese is in Asakusa, Tokyo. It is a few minutes walk from the Asakusa Station. 

{ Tokyo Imperial Palace } Tokyo Imperial Palace or kōkyo (皇居) is a 10 minute walk from Tokyo Station. The palace is not open to public but there are guided tours in Japanese, with English pamphlet and audio guides which has to be requested in advance.

{ Odaiba } Odaiba is a huge artificial island on Tokyo Bay and can be reached on the Yurikamome - an unmaned elevated train with rubber tires. The Yurikamome uses the Rainbow Bridge to get to Odaiba and offers spectacular views of the harbor and the Tokyo waterfront area.

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