|Ema -votive tablets|
From here we made our way to Ueno Park, all made easy bywhizzing around on the subway system which is very easy to negotiate. We discovered the delightful Peony Garden, with the most magnificent display of peonies some which didn’t look real and others with blooms protected by umbrellas. From here it led into the Toshogu Shrine and Kara-mon Gate, this is very ornately decorated not unlike some Chinese Temples. The shrine is dedicated to the memory of the first shogun, Ieyasu. The rows of copper and stone lanterns which lead to the shrine were donated by warlords eager to curry favour.
|A beautiful Peony|
We planned to go to the National Museum but unfortunately it was closed for the day, though it was meant to be open. We had a delightful lunch at one of the garden restaurants then jumped on a train to Asakusa to go to the Senso-ji Temple. The temple has been rebuilt many times since its founding in 628 and is the oldest temple site in Tokyo. The Kaminari-mon Gate is flanked by two gods, Fujin and Raijin. It is a very lively place with many people coming to pray. The two giant sandals hang on the walls of the Hozomon Treasury Gate are made for deities with feet of mythic size and they also symbolize the traditional footwear of the Buddhist pilgrim. On the street in front of the main gate are market stalls selling souvenirs and food. It’s a good place to buy gifts as well as the arcades which run off from this area.
There was a small Craft Museum in the area which we eventually found which was quite interesting. There were plenty of places to eat around this area so we had dinner here.
|Sushi Bar near Fish Market|
We had lunch then off to the Imperial Gardens which were beautifully laid. There is a craft shop around the area, but could we find, no. We wandered around and ended up in the area of a number of beautiful government buildings.
Our big expedition was to Nikko a place of temples, religious art, sacred store houses and tombs. We went to the tourist information bureau to get a map and were given two paper cranes, a lovely gesture. We then caught the bus to the start of the temple area, as we got off it bucketed down with rain; our umbrellas were sitting comfortably in our hotel room. Across the road was a shop and restaurant. We bought 2 umbrellas had a bite to eat. As we left it had completely stopped raining and the sun was shining. Oh well we have the umbrellas now. We paid to cross the Shinkyō (Sacred Bridge). It was constructed in its present form in 1636. Except on special religious events only the Emperor or members of his retinue could cross it. It was all very interesting but crossing doesn’t get one to the actual entrance so a bit of a rip off.
|Shinkyo Bridge Nikko|
We then followed the path up the hillside to where the temples and shrines were. There were some buildings under renovation so we could not enter but the ones we did were all very fascinating. It is definitely worth the visit. As we arrived around lunchtime we couldn’t do the whole area justice. However we were glad of our umbrellas as we left one of the temples as it bucketed down again and we would have been completely soaked. It was a good thing
|Three Wise Monkeys -Nikko|
When we returned to the town it was rather a sleepy hollow and was hard to find anything open, we eventually found a little coffee shop that barely looked open it had a gentile English décor, which seemed out of place. Duly refreshed we headed back to the station to catch our train.
The next day we went to the Tokyo National Museum it has a huge collection of Japanese art and antiquity. There is so much to see almost 3000 items at any one time. It is hard to absorb it all in one visit.
There is a market under Ueno rail lines but we thought it quite rubbishy really, just lots of clothing all much the same. We then walked to Yanaka, there is a famous cemetery there but the area itself was quite interesting. As we made our way to the station there were many food stalls lining the footpath inviting us to try their wares, which we did, very yummy.
The next day we were off to Hakone.