It’s time for A to Wa of Japan again! Last week’s post was about things beginning with す (su) and we looked at Sushi (寿司). This week we are looking at things beginning with せ (se). A big thank you to everyone who joined in with suggestions this week:
Japan Australia suggested Senso-ji (浅草寺 / a temple in Tokyo), sento (銭湯 / bath house), and Setouchi (瀬戸内 / a place in Okayama); Zooming Japan suggested Seto Naikai (瀬戸内海 / Seto Inland Sea), and Sendai (仙台 / the capital city of Miyagi Prefecture); Jay Dee suggested Sendai, seppuku (切腹 / ritual suicide by disembowelment), and sebun irebun (セブンイレブン / 7-Eleven); UK Seikatsu suggested sekihan (赤飯 / rice boiled together with red beans), setta (雪駄 / Japanese traditional sandal), semi (セミ / cicada), and Seikimatsu (聖飢魔Ⅱ / a rock band); and J-Boh suggested sebiro (the Japanese word for a suit, written with the characters 背広, but actually from the London street “Savile Row”, famous for tailoring), Seto Naikai, sensu (扇子 / folding fan), and serebu (an abbreviation for ‘celebrity’, but one with a specifically Japanese implication of ‘middle-aged woman’).
Some really interesting and original suggestions this week, and I wish I had time to choose a few topics, but unfortunately I’m up to my eyeballs in packing and can only manage a brief post again this week. I promise to come back with longer posts once I’ve moved house and settled! So, this week I’m going to write about…
If you visit Japan and only have time to go to Tokyo, but want to see a decent temple, Senso-ji in Asakusa is your best bet. It’s an absolute tourist trap, but still one of my favourite places to visit in Tokyo. Senso-ji, also known as Asakusa Kannon Temple, is Tokyo’s oldest temple, built around the year 645. Most of the buildings were destroyed in World War II when the temple was bombed, but were rebuilt later and have been reconstructed to their former glory.
At the entrance to the temple grounds is the Kaminarimon or ‘Thunder Gate’, where there are always crowds of people waiting to have their picture taken. The gate features a huge paper lantern which is about 4 meters tall, with a diameter of 3.4 meters and a weight of 670 kg (JNTO).
Leading towards the temple there is a street called ‘Nakamise-dori’ (仲見世通り) lined with colourful, bustling stalls and shops, mainly full of (slightly tacky) souvenirs. This is the best place in Tokyo for getting small gifts for friends without spending too much money. Although, if you’re like me, you will still spend a lot because you can never have enough Hello Kitty phone charms and Rilakkuma keyrings!
As well as character goods, you can also buy food souvenirs and even clothing, such as T-shirts and yukata (light cotton kimonos).
Many of the shops were destroyed during the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923. They were then rebuilt, but destroyed again during World War II.
The temple grounds are quite large, and there’s a lot to look around. Do wander off down the side streets and round the back of things – you’ll be surprised what you can find! It was by wandering that I found the very best melon pan (a kind of bread/cake) I have ever eaten:
From this shop:
The photos in this post were all taken on 15th April 2011 – almost two years ago to the day. It seems like such a long time since I was in Japan, but looking at these images takes me right back. Senso-ji is a real must-see for any visit to Tokyo, and is really easy to get to. Just take the subway to Asakusa Station, and you won’t be able to miss it when you exit.
Find out more about Senso-ji:
Next week we’ll start with そ (so), so please leave a comment below suggesting a topic for things beginning with そ. Topics can be anything, as long as they are connected to Japan – food, places, people, characters, whatever you want to hear about! Just remember that the words you suggest must be Japanese (for example, you can’t suggest ‘sock’ for ‘so’, because ‘sock’ in Japanese is ‘kutsushita’, but you could suggest ‘soba’, which is a kind of noodle.
I look forward to hearing your suggestions! (*^_^)v