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  • Writer's pictureKarli Messer

Asakusa Adventures and New Friends

My first morning in Japan, I woke up bright and early at 5 AM. I couldn't wait to get started with my day so I started unpacking and getting ready. I usually don't straighten my hair, but it was so frizzy I had to try and tame it with a flat iron. I took my time getting ready and I was out the door by around 6:40 AM.

This is the street near my ryokan and the Tokyo Sky Tree in the distance.

Even though the convenience stores and some 24 hour restaurants were open, I wanted to sit down for my first meal in Japan. I couldn't really find any Teishoku or Japanese breakfast restaurants so I went with something more familiar, a cafe called Dotoru Coffee. It was my first time ordering in Japanese so I made a recording to listen back to as practice.

This is my first meal in Japan! A tuna sandwich and iced latte. I found the milk a little different from American and Canadian milk. The milk here seems less sweet and less fatty. I wonder if it's the way the cows are raised?

This is the start of my solo travel adventure! Only a five minute walk from my breakfast stop, I was in front of Kaminarimon Gate. Since it was 7:30 AM there was hardly anyone there! I recommend an early visit since the temple is always open, but none of the shops were open until around 8:30 AM.

After walking down the long alley, I arrived at Sensoji Temple. Since it was pretty much deserted at 7:30 AM, I asked the only person in sight, an older Japanese woman, to take my photo. She was hesitant at first, saying, "I don't know how to take a photo. I don't have a smartphone!" A five minute photoshoot later, I had three crooked photos and a new friend!

She was kind enough to accompany me around the temple, despite the humidity and heat. It was almost 35º C and the sky was beautiful, not a cloud in sight. I came to learn that she lives in the neighborhood and walks from her house, through Sumida Park and to Sensoji every morning. This morning, I had the pleasure of joining her!

As we're walking, an older Japanese man approached us joining in on some of our conversation. He was quite the character. He started to explain different parts of the temple and at his beck and call we followed him like a tour guide throughout the temple. I met all sorts of people who stopped to listen in on his stories or take our photos. He was a little strange, but I was able to learn more about the temple than I could possibly imagine on my own.

Here are some photos from my "tour" of the temple!

It seems like the man is quite famous. A security guard called our attention and advised us to stay away. There have been multiple complaints. Unfortunately, his enthusiasm and demeanor aren't always well received. He approaches tourists and his loud voice carries across the whole temple grounds. In the end, I had a great time and got some insights from Japanese locals on my first day.

After me and the older woman split from the enthusiastic older man, we went to the nearby McDonald's to continue the rest of our walk. She treated me to orange juice and we sat in the air conditioning for another 20 minutes. Eventually, we decided to get going and she told me she typically eats lunch after her walk at Katsuya, a pork cutlet restaurant. Right when we are about to go our separate ways she pulls out a coupon and suggests we stop for a bite to eat! We had her favourite, grilled ginger pork, all for less than ¥500 or around $5.00!

I gave her my blog link, but she doesn't have a computer. If she reads this, I'd like to thank her for letting me interrupt her walk. Maybe we'll meet again some morning in Sensoji Temple!

I went home to rest and cool down, then packed up my things to send via takkyuubin mailing service. After a quick recharge, I was off again! My friend Hannah reached out and invited me to dinner in Shibuya! We went to an omuraisu, or omelette rice restaurant called Tamago to watashi which means Egg and Me. It was delicious! If you've never had omuraisu I'd describe it as a ketchup flavoured mystery rice topped with egg. Delicous!


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