On our last day in Japan, we headed over to another shrine. But before we got there, we stopped by the American shrine to coffee- Starbucks! 😉 It was pretty much like most US Starbucks, except that the menu was in Japanese and I paid for my coffee in yen.
We visited the Asakusa Shrine next. It’s one of the most famous shrines in Tokyo, partly because it survived mostly intact the World War II air raids the US conducted against Tokyo. The shrine has many visually striking features. One is the large lantern marking one entrance to the shrine and the Nakamisi-dori, a street leading into the shrine with many small shops lining it. The shrine also has a beautiful pagoda soaring several stories high. It’s in an urban location instead of being in the middle of the woods like the Meiji Shrine was, so it made for an interesting contrast in both design and the layout of the buildings.
After the shrine, we went to the Tokyo Imperial Museum. Outside of the museum entrance was an answer to a puzzle we had been trying to solve. Throughout the trip we had noticed outside of the buildings racks with numbered holes in them, and sometimes the holes had locks on them. We couldn’t figure out why they were there. At the museum we saw the same thing, but some of the holes had umbrellas in them. Ah-ha, they were umbrella lockers! Instead of handing out plastic umbrella bags like many US stores do, people just leave their umbrella on the rack instead and can lock them up.
Inside the museum was all kinds of Japanese art, some of it dating back several hundred years and marking various points in Japanese history. Many of the pieces were quite pretty- especially the robes and decorative bowls and boxes. I enjoyed looking at the exhibits, but towards the end of our visit, I was really starting to feel the effects of jetlag and sleep deprivation setting in. Besides feeling fatigued, I completely lost my appetite, which was a bummer since there were so many tasty food options around.
The museum was surrounded by another beautiful park area. One statue was devoted to the US president Ulysses S. Grant, who visited Japan while he was President.
We headed back to the hotel one last time to pick up our bags. But on the way back, we ran into some street performers putting on a show involving large drums. I don’t know what the reason was behind the performance- once they were done, they picked up their drums and left. That street happened to be lined with various stores selling all kinds of wares. One store had boxes of plastic model food just like the ones outside of many Japanese restaurants. I’m not the type to bring home lots of souvenirs from trips, but I couldn’t resist picking up a plastic piece of sushi for 200 yen.
After one last walk through Asakusa, we grabbed our bags from the hotel and headed back to Narita to fly home.
Tomorrow’s post- The pleasures and perils of flying standby.