Arriving in Asakusa
This flight was cake. 11ish hours direct flight from LAX to Tokyo Narita Airport. I completely recommend shelling out more money for a direct flight. There were flights for half the price but were sometimes up to 40 hr journeys. No thanks.
We booked through Japan Airlines but they were partnering with American Airlines so that’s what we flew on. Nice, comfy plane. Good service. Food was gross but isn’t most plane food? No complaints about the flight. Felt faster than any of my flights to Europe.
So this stress after landing was my fault. It could have been avoided if I hadn’t acted out of character and procrastinated reading all the info I meticulously saved and printed on getting around and logistics. The moment had finally arrived and I wasn’t prepared. So. Don’t do what I did, show up with a plan on how you’re going to get from the airport to the city.
Cab rides will cost you a couple hundred bucks, as the journey is nearly an hour drive. Or take a semi-express train like we did for the equivalent of around $12. So tired. So sweaty. Bags were annoying to lug around. But somehow we figured it out.
It only took about 0.01 seconds to realize that truly very, very few Japanese people speak English. Well enough to help for that matter. So be warned. All those times my mom tried to teach me phrases and telling her “Later, not now.” Well. That time is here. And my mom isn’t around. So gotta figure it out.
I took a photo (the next morning) of this Gyukatsu place I wanted to eat at for dinner. First mishap in Japan, me not noticing a line of about 15 people lined up outside the restaurant and me walking up, sliding the door open, making the number “2” with my fingers and getting shoo’d out like a mouse in a kitchen by an old woman speaking Japanese that probably translated to “Bruh. Can’t you see there is a line. Byeeeee.” Haha, oh well. I was so tired and hungry and delirious to be as embarrassed as I should have.
We wandered around the block, checking out all the restaurants and all their fake food displays in the window. It didn’t take long to narrow our choices down to spots that had signs that read “We have English menu.”
I got ramen and Jill got gyoza we ordered from a machine inside the restaurant. You hand the slip of paper with your order on it to the host and that’s how you get your food!
After we ate, we took a walk around to try to stay up so that we could get on the local time sleep cycle.
Despite our best efforts to stay awake we made it to 8:40pm and passed out. Consequently, I woke up at 3am and laid in my little coffin bunk ‘til about 5:30am. Jill was up too so we decided to get up and explore. For a city with 25 million people, they wake up fairly late. So wandering around so early made for a peaceful and quiet introduction to this wild city.
For a country that smokes a lot you would never really know it. The city is impeccably clean. IMPECCABLY clean. Not a single ciggy butt on the ground. People smoke in designated smoking areas and not walking around.
Asakusa felt very local and more traditional looking Japanese prefecture compared to the electric towns of Shinjuku or massive Shibuya. So it was funny to see two American eating establishments on top of each other. Denny’s and…..
I’ll dedicate its own post as to why 7-11’s are so different in Japan and why you should definitely eat there often. We got breakfast there every day of the trip.
Just a couple hours later this place was absolutely covered with people. The Sensoji Shrine (also known as the Asakusa Kannon Shrine) was completed in the year 645 making it the oldest temple in Tokyo.
An awesome place to get more local and authentic little trinkets and souvenirs. I’m bummed it was closed this early and then closed when we’d come home at night but if you’re ever in the area during the day I think it’s worth a visit.
One cool thing about being up early is that you can see all the artwork on the outside of shop gates that you normally would never get the chance to see while they’re open. Almost every shop had some kind of decorative piece and they all varied in subject and style.
I had first heard of these from a friend at work who also has a huge love for and fascination with Japan. He asked me to pick him up one of these lucky charms for him, specifically “safety while traveling.” This little shop was closed since it was so early but I made sure to pick some up before the trip was over. You can find them outside just about every shrine we saw.
This kid was so cute. First of all, he’s walking and reading and not on a phone. We noticed that Japanese people are often found reading: on trains, buses, even just walking around. He paused to bow in front of the shrine. Then went on his way and continued reading.
I don’t know if it was this specific shop or not but you can get the strongest Matcha Ice Cream in the world in Asakusa. All over Japan you’ll see Matcha confections and desserts. So good.
We walked by this rabbit cafe called Hutch. If only we had time to check it out we totally would have!! We had several other animal cafes on our list but we’ll have to come here on our next trip to Japan.
I’d like to thank all these dogs for coming to my Meet-n-Greet outside Starbucks. So sweet of them to take time out of their busy lives.
And we’ll end this very long post with a corgi and as always thanks for reading :)