Wabi-Sabi Sole

Finding Beauty with Imperfection

Category: Asakusa

Tokyo Take Two

Thursday morning we woke up to a wintery mix. We took our time getting organized hoping the weather would break. The weather was still messy by the time we finished breakfast and checked out of our room. Oh, well. That’s one of my rules. “Don’t let the weather stop you.” Instead, we stopped at the closest Family Mart and invested in lightweight umbrellas. Perhaps, the best purchase of the day!

On our agenda today was exploring Asakusa. Asakusa is located on the NE side of Tokyo. We were in the SW corner. It took us about 40 minutes on the train to transit over.

Our first stop was to visit the Sensō-ji Temple. Sensō-ji Temple is the oldest temple in Tokyo. It is very significant and attracts 30 million visitors every year. Cindy and I accounted for two of those visitors today.

The Temple is huge. I was especially excited because I haven’t been to this temple in over a year. Last time Dave and I visited was during Tokyo marathon weekend. At that time, the pagoda was undergoing renovations. I was able to see the pagoda for the first time today!

The snow, the pagoda, and the temple made for a magical experience. Check out all the people!

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I’m so glad we made the trip over to see the Temple. It truly is a magnificent structure and the gardens are amazing even in the rain/ snow.

Cindy was able to have another stamp added to her book at the Senso-ji Temple and also at the Asakusa Shrine.

Since we were in the area, I wanted to take Cindy to see another of my favorite Shrines. The Imoda Shrine or Lucky Cat Shrine. It’s so cute and the coupled cats are said to bring good luck and love to marriages. Who doesn’t need a little extra of either?

My favorite thing to discover at certain Shrines is the “May Peace Prevail On Earth” signs. The sign coupled with the serenity of the Shrine and the beauty of gardens truly makes my heart happy. I can’t help but believe that every one of the wishes tied on the prayer wall are wishes of peace, goodness, and well being.

By this point in the day, we were starting to get chilly and wet from the winter mix. We worked our way back to the shopping area around Asakusa. We shopped for a few items and then worked our way to Shibuya. We had one shopping spot to visit before heading home. My favorite. Tokyu Hands.

The only thing holding us back while shopping was the reminder we still had to get back home with all of our purchases!

Today, without intention, I treated Cindy to a true wabi-sabi experience. The weather was definitely imperfect, but the opportunity to see the Temple and pagoda in a little bit of snow was pretty fun. Of the 30 million visitors, how many had a chance to experience it in snow? She was such a trooper. I teased her at one point and said I was glad she was my sister in law from Chicago – otherwise, we might not have left the hotel! To her, this was a messy winter day at home!

We worked our way home and enjoyed a cold beer and Garrett’s popcorn as an appetizer to the white bean chicken chili Dave made this morning in the crockpot. Ahhhh. After two days in Tokyo, there’s no place like home!

MariCAR Christmas

I’ve been talking about wanting to see the numerous holiday illuminations in Tokyo relentlessly. Dave had a great idea. Let’s do a MariCar ride around Tokyo and check out the Christmas lights. Brilliant! The wardroom is SRF set the date for Friday, 12/15 at 7:00 pm. Perfect for seeing lots of people and holiday lights. There were 8 of us plus the two guides. Keeping with the Mario Cart theme, Dave and I picked Mario and Luigi costumes.

Friday was pretty chilly. Fortunately, our costumes allowed for plenty of layering. I stuffed my inside and outside pockets with hand warmers and put warmers in my boots. I stayed toasty the whole way.

The ride took us around the middle of Tokyo. The sights included Ueno, Ginza, Tokyo Station, Asakusa, and Tokyo Skytree. So much fun for only ¥7000 – $70.00. This was a different course than I rode last year with Dina. Plus, before we rode the course during the day. Nighttime would be a new experience!

Here are a few shots from along the route.

Seeing Tokyo Skytree was really cool. We saw it as we approached and then stopped for a group photo.

Here are a couple pictures of the trees around the Emperor’s Palace.

From Asakusa- Kappabashi- Kitchen town.

Ueno Station.

The highlight was waving as we were stopped at lights. It was easy to make people smile.

Dave and I had so much fun. It was a little scary at first and when you go really fast or hit bumps. But, it’s super cool and fun. We talked about who in our family would love this the most. We agreed his brother Bob, niece, and nephew – Jade and Jordan would absolutely love the experience. I hope we can go during your visit. Here is what you need to do in order to participate in MariCart when you visit. I took a screen shot of the website. Basically, you need an International Driver’s License. You obtain that and I will make our reservations.

Keep in mind, you’re allowed to wear your own costume. Dave suggested next Christmas season we dress as Santa and his elves!

Asakusa Seven Lucky Gods

After visiting the Tokyo Skytree, we went to the Sensō-ji Temple where we began the Seven Lucky Gods pilgrimage around Asakusa (pronounced A-sox-sa). The Sensō-ji Temple is one of the largest and most well temples in Tokyo. There were so many tourists!


A selfie at the start of our pilgrimage, the front gate of the temple. It was such a bright and sunny day!


After crossing through the front gate, there is a street with many stores selling every imaginable souvenir. Some of the stores weren’t open yet and so I was able to get a couple pictures of the art painted on the store doors.


The temple is very large and beautiful. 

With this Seven Lucky Gods pilgrimage, we were able to collect Temple stamps and small prayer cards that hang from a branch. At Sensō-ji Temple, I purchased the branch with a rooster card (2017 is the year of the rooster) and the card for Daikokuten, the God of commerce and prosperity.



Very close to Sensō-ji Temple was our next stop at the Asakusa Shrine. This shrine is dedicated to Ebisu, the God of wealth and prosperity.

Ebisu is the patron of fisherman and is shown holding a fish on the prayer card.

Our next stop was at the Honryuin Temple where Bisyamonten is honored. Bisyamonten is the God of War. He is pictured with an angry face to defeat evil!

The temple was unique because it had daikon that could be purchased as an offering. According to the temple brochure, “the daikon represents our minds trapped in deep ignorance, emanating poison of anger, but by offering a daikon to Kangi-Ten, that poison will be purged from our body and soul.”

Also, while we were waiting for my temple book to be stamped, one of the monks encouraged us to take dust from a beautiful gold urn and rub it on our palms and all over our bodies to cure any ailments. We rubbed it into our hands and down our legs hoping for a pain free marathon next weekend.

Cleansing water.

The fourth stop was the Imado Shrine or the Lucky Cat Shrine. This one has been on my list of must visit every since we went to the Lucky Cat Temple. The legend of the Imado Shrine was about an old woman who lived in Imado (Asakusa). She was forced to sell her cat due to extreme poverty. In her sadness, she dreamt of the cat telling her to make its image in clay. She created the clay cats and sold them. They were so popular she soon became very prosperous.


Here we collected the first of two prayer cards for Fukurokuji. Fukurokuji is the God of wisdom, luck, longevity, wealth, and happiness. The Imado Shrine features cats coupled together and visiting this temple is said to bring good fortune to your marriage. Also, if searching for a spouse, this is a good temple to visit and pray.


I purchased one of these cute of course a lucky cat prayer cards! Kawaii!


Look at these watering cans!


The next stop on our pilgrimage was the Ishihama Shrine. Here we collected the card for Jurojin, the God of longevity.


I loved the mixture of the stone and red wooden Tori gates.


After this stop is when my navigation went astray. I marked all of the Temples/Shrines on Google Maps the night before. Unfortunately, I tagged two of the wrong temples. Temples often have the same name. Like saying “First Baptist” or “United Methodist” – there can be more than one in an area. I should have looked at the map I was given at Sensō-ji Temple a little closer. I would have saved us about 1.5 hours of back-tracking.


The good part, we found a delicious conveyor sushi spot to eat lunch. All was not lost!

When we finally arrived back at the Fudodin Temple where we collected the prayer card for Hoteison, the God of good fortune.


If you notice Hotei on the map, you will see this temple was very close to where we just were when we went to the Ishihama Shrine. I added a 1.5-hour detour. Fortunately, we did ride the train and eat lunch for some part of that 1.5 hours.

The Fudodin Temple was small and colorful.


Now we were back on track with two stops remaining. As we were walking towards the Yasaki Inari Shrine, we came upon a vending machine selling beer. Yes! Another new experience! Would we be able to buy a beer? Yes, yes we were! And thanks to my fabulous brother, I had a koozie to keep it cool and my hand warm! Kanpie!


I’m still confused about how this is possibly legal. Regardless, we happily drank our beer and walked to next stop, the Otori Shrine also dedicated to Jurojin. Our second Jurojin – Jurojin is the God of longevity and pictured here with a deer, a symbol of longevity. 


I am not clear why there are two Jurojin on this pilgrimage. There are also two Fukurokuju – we skipped the last one. Here is the Otori Shrine. Small and bright. 


Continuing to the last stop, the Yoshiwara Shrine, we came across a small shrine around the corner from the main Shrine. Both the main and smaller Yoshiwara Shrine are dedicated to Benzaiten, the Goddess of water and music. Check out the artwork!


We continued on to the main Yoshiwara shrine. It was just as embellished!

The main altar. Gotta love the Sake barrels!


The prayer card of Benzaiten.


I took another up close picture of the hanging offering outside the entrance.


And one last selfie at the completion of our journey.


Our branch is now complete with our cute prayer cards for each lucky God.

This is my fourth Seven Lucky Gods. I enjoy them because they take you through parts of an area you wouldn’t normally visit. Plus, I love seeing the different temples/shrines. They are all so unique. Simultaneously, I love the scavenger hunt aspect. Yesterday was the perfect setting for wandering around Asakusa gather luck!

This Seven Lucky Gods pilgrimage was a bit longer than the others I have completed. According to Dave’s Fitbit, we walked 13.30 miles on Saturday. (This also included our trip to the Tokyo SkyTree.) None the less, it was a lot of walking and my side excursion only made it longer. By the time we finished, we were ready for a cold beer to celebrate our pilgrimage. Kanpie! 

Japanese Hotel

Thursday evening, Dave spontaneously suggested we take time to sightsee in Tokyo for the long weekend. The New Sanno was booked, of course, so I made us reservations for a room at the APA Hotel in Asakusa. Asakusa is on the east side of Tokyo. We have not really explored this area yet. We are the blue dot in the photo. 


I used several of the local Facebook pages to select the hotel. It came with good recommendations and the suggestion to bring your own pillows. Haha. Seriously, I wish we would have listened! They are flat! We were provided robes set with crane origami. 


The room is tiny and a great deal. About $85 a night! Besides a bed, window and full bath, it has two pairs of slippers for each of us, a fridge, a place to hang stuff, steam pot, humidifier and a TV. 

Check out all 118 square feet. 

Perfect fit!?! 


The only place for our carry on sized suitcase was in front of the door. Putting the suitcase in front of the door is a bit of a hazard. We therefore had a serious conversation about egress. Dave promised to get us both out in the event of an emergency. Safety is paramount. 

A place to hang stuff. 

Bed. Window. TV. 


The bathroom is adorable. The sink and shower faucet are controlled by the same spot! 


The toiletries were fully stocked. 


Ironically, the only oversized item is the soap, conditioner and shampoo! 


Honestly, it’s part of the Japanese experience. And it’s only for two nights. Tomorrow, I plan on taking Dave to at least seven temples (another Seven Lucky Gods pilgrimage) and possibly another two to see Ume Blossoms. In the afternoon, perhaps we can make it to the Tokyo Skytree. My tourist list is long as always! 

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