first of all, thank you very much for all the positive energy you sent me so far!
The first post was read by more than 80 persons from 12 different countries around the world!
Let me tell you a bit about my first day in Tokyo.
The arrival at the airport and the process through the immigration and customs went quite easy. After an 1 hour train ride, I reach the hostel I booked in, which is located in the Asusaka city part.
After a quick check-in, I take a walk in the area to grab some food. As I can’t understand a single word of japanese, I feel so thankful that most of the restaurants display pictures of their dishes, and I use my incredible smiling and finger pointing skills to order noodles. I won’t go to bed starving tonight 🙂
After a short and dfficult night (thank you jet lag and my snoring room mate), I am now off for the first sightseeing session.
The hostel is well located, not far from sightseeing points of interest.
The first stop is the Sensoji temple just 2 streets behind.
This is a buddhist temple surrounded by shrines and pagoda. The temple is huge and the lantern quite impressive.
People are coming here to know their fortune and get some luck in different ways. First there are the usual coin collecting chests. Second , there are small boxes that people are shaking to get sticks with a number. This number is correspondig to a box in a wall, and containing the fortune for the coming days.
When I came here the night before, it was a nice and quiet enjoyable place, however during the day, it is invaded by armies of visitor and especially kids 🙂
After the Sensoji Temple, I walk to enjoy the view from the Skytree a few hundred meters further. The Skytree is a huge TV and radio broadcast tower, which is 634m high and so the 2nd highest tower after the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.
On the way to the Skytree, I live my first interesting experience of the trip.
In a side street, I see a buddhist temple, like many others we can see in Tokyo. As I start reading the “tourist” information in front of the temple, a woman arrives by bike and tells me with basic english that I can come in with her to take a look at the temple. She can’t speak a lot of english but she seems curious and asks me where I am from etc… In the temple, I leave my shoes at the entrance and go with the woman to the first floor where people are praying in front of a shrine. I seat in the middle with the others, who starts smiling and being curious about me. The woman explains the others that I am visiting and that she invited me to take a look at the temple. Another woman comes to me, apologizes about her poor english and gives me some papers in english with basic explanations about buddhism and how people are praying. The woman gives me a small bracelet and invites me to pray myself in front of the shrine.
After that she asks me if I have time, as she would like to show me a DVD about buddhism and ask a monk who can speak english to discuss with me. I answer why not and we go back downstairs where a TV is installed.
The DVD is a bit strange. The buddishm is called Nichiren Shoshu and the basics of the doctrine are based on a document called the lotus Sotra, which is supposed to have been written by a Buddha I’ve never heard of before. After the end of the DVD, a young monk arrives with tea and we start discussing. He explains me that the goal of his religion is to reach happiness and asks me of which confession I am. I answer that i am not very interested in religion and that my family is more catholic. He leaves me a few seconds and comes back with a leaflet containing their view about other religions and in this one especially about christianism. It is explained that the christian cross is an evil object and that nobody should worship it.
The monk informs me that my soul can be saved and that they can make a kind of ceremony to make me a believer of their cult. I look at him with astonished eyes.
What the f*** I am doing here? I answer politely that as I said, I am not really interested in religion, gather my stuff, stand up, and leave.
On the way to the Skytree, I check on Google and find out that Nichiren Shoshu is a radical branch of the buddhist religion and is seen in certain countries as a religious sect.
What a learning for me! I thought buddhism was the most tolerant religion I’ve known, but it seems that like in other religions, some radical people are using it in a wrong way and actually for their own purposes.
Anyway, interesting experience, now back to the Skytree.
I take the elevator up to the first floor after having queued in the normal queue. It is funny that for many things there are special conditions for tourists, for example discounted tickets that can only be bought before entering Japan.
From the top of the tower, there is a nice view on the city.
At the moment, during the night, the Skytree is illuminated in blue white red, as a sign of support following the recent terrorist attack in France.
For lunch, I move to the metro Station Ryogoku. It is where the Sumo stadium is located. Usually, you can watch Sumo wrestlers training in the morning at some Sumo school, but as there is a huge tournament in Fukuoka at the moment, the school are all closed.
In the afternoon I move to a city part called Akihabara. It’s for me as geek a kind of dream place as it is famous as the city part for electronic stuff (including videos games), Manga and Anime.
I take a walk in the area and enjoy some Star Wars video game, like the 3D ball simulating the fight from a X-Wing.
In the evening, I come back to hostel to attend an organized tour to a local market called the Torinoichi market. This market is an annual festival organised on the rooster (Tori) day of the chinese calendar. It is organised to celebrate the end of the year and people can buy there some decorated bamboo rake to get more happiness for the next year. The bigger it is, the luckier you will be the next year, and from one year to another, it has to be bigger and bigger. When somebody is buying a rake, the seller team celebrates it by singing and claping hands (Tejime ceremonial).
There are also some Nade Okame (a face with big cheek) that you can touch to get some luck. According to the place you touch on the face, you get a different luck (left cheek health, right cheek love, etc…).
Some people would think of similiarities with my face. However, I can tell you that some of my friends pulled my cheeks many times at school and they re not so rich smart or whatever 🙂
Back at the hostel around 22:30, it was a long day. Goodnight!