04 February 2007

Day 5, 19 Dec 06 - Tokyo/Asakusa

Snugged comfortably in our futon, we didn't feel like waking up knowing that we were about to leave this beautiful mountain onsen ryokan. The warm Japanese-style mattresses and bedding spreaded out over the tatami mats were certainly sheer comfort in cold weather.
After yet another sumptuous breakfast, we decided to go for another quick dip at the hot spring (must make every minute count!).
Soon it was time to check out and for a moment, we couldn't bear to leave this tranquil town for the hustle bustle Tokyo. Perhaps we would be back some day.

We decided to take a bus directly to Kinugawa Onsen Station to catch SPACIA, the Tobu Limited Express train back to Asakusa. The bus journey took 1hr and cost 1500 yen per person. We had to pay an additional 1300 yen per person to upgrade to SPACIA but the money was well worth as the seats were more comfortable and spacious than the rapid train (which gave us stiff back during the journey to Nikko).
2hrs later, we were back at Asakusa, a contrast to the peaceful mountain village of Yunishigawa. Although we had visited Sensoji 浅草寺(Asakusa Kannon Temple) before, we decided to re-visit it again since we were already in the vicinity. It is customary for visitors to go through the Kaminarimon (Thunder Gate) 雷門, the outer gate of Sensoji and symbol of Asakusa, followed by shopping at Nakamise-dori 仲見世, a shopping street of over 200 meters before reaching Sensoji.

Nakamise was exceptionally vibrant and we learnt that it was Hagoita-ichi (Battledore Fair) from 17 till 19 Dec. Numerous stalls selling hagoita (battledores) 羽子板, shuttlecocks, kites and other New Year decorations lined up the streets around Sensoji. Hagoita is the wooden paddle used in Hanetsuki, a traditional Japanese New Year's game that resembles badminton. The Hagoitas on sale are good-luck charms for ornamental purposes and they come in different sizes, most of them feature portraits of kabuki actors and Edo ladies; and even celebrities from entertainment, sports, politics, anime. When a battledore is sold, it is common practice for the sellers and buyers to clap their hands rhythmically while shouting some cheer representing good luck. Really omoshiroi (interesting) to witness this colorful festival.
As we wondered around Asakusa, we came across some pachinko parlours and couldn't resist popping in to have a go at the game machines that got millions of Japanese salarymen and housewives hooked. Hubby also tried his hands on those UFO machines in an attempt to catch some freebies.

Checked in Shinjuku Washington Hotel in the evening, and we were lucky to be upgraded to a bigger room. Really appreciate the extra little space where we could put our luggage(and shopping bags :p).

As for dinner, after 3 days of Japanese feasting, we decided to go for Italian cuisine which is very popular in Japan. Ordered casear salad, pasta and pizza, which were nicely prepared.

With that, we concluded our day looking forward to Disneyland the next day. Yippee!

Day 5 thoughts: I wish we can go back to Yunishigawa some day.
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