Ueno

Another fine day for us. The temple gong woke me at 6, so I finished up the blog entry from yesterday. Then, we packed ourselves up and walked to the tour hotel – only it was the wrong one, so we had to catch the subway to the right one. Oops. (Though we found out later on that the tour info had changed but nobody said anything and the 3 people we spoke to had done exactly the same thing!) On the way to the hotel, we walked down a street with street stalls all closed. It was weird:

Before opening time in Asakusa
Before opening time in Asakusa
Before opening time in Asakusa
Before opening time in Asakusa
Before opening time in Asakusa
Before opening time in Asakusa

By the time we got there and dropped off our luggage, we were ready for a sit down and day plan. Only we couldn’t find anywhere to have brunch that was both cheap and comprehensible and had seating! The places that had both cheap food and seating had ticket vending machines that we couldn’t understand. So we ended up at a Chinese restaurant! The food was just OK but at least we could sit down and point at things on the menu!

Lunch in Ueno - Chinese and not great
Lunch in Ueno – Chinese and not great
Lunch in Ueno - Chinese and not great
Lunch in Ueno – Chinese and not great

We then headed for a temple but couldn’t actually get to it because it was above the market and we saw no way to get to it. So we continued on to the next one, which was the Yushima Tenmangu Shrine. It’s quite old (1478) and very pretty. There were a lot of school girls in uniform praying in the temple:

Yushima Tenmangu Shrine
Yushima Tenmangu Shrine
Yushima Tenmangu Shrine
Yushima Tenmangu Shrine
Yushima Tenmangu Shrine
Yushima Tenmangu Shrine
Yushima Tenmangu Shrine
Yushima Tenmangu Shrine
Yushima Tenmangu Shrine
Yushima Tenmangu Shrine
Yushima Tenmangu Shrine
Yushima Tenmangu Shrine

There was a lady all dressed us in a kimono, getting professionally photographed. I snapped a pic from the side.

Yushima Tenmangu Shrine
Yushima Tenmangu Shrine

Once the school girls were finished, a lady dressed in another kimono brought her baby in to the temple. Very cute:

Yushima Tenmangu Shrine
Yushima Tenmangu Shrine

We sat down in the little garden attached to the temple while we planned our next steps. I noticed some turtles on the stones in the little pond. I’m not sure they’re real, but Ela thinks she saw one move:

Yushima Tenmangu Shrine
Yushima Tenmangu Shrine
Yushima Tenmangu Shrine
Yushima Tenmangu Shrine

Next, we headed over to Uneo Park. There’s a few temples and shrines in there as well – one of which is on the lake of waterlilies:

Ueno Park
Ueno Park
Ueno Park
Ueno Park

The temple is called Bentendo temple and is accessible by bridges, but looks like it’s floating in the middle of the lake:

Bentendo Temple, Ueno
Bentendo Temple, Ueno
Bentendo Temple, Ueno
Bentendo Temple, Ueno
Bentendo Temple, Ueno
Bentendo Temple, Ueno
Bentendo Temple, Ueno
Bentendo Temple, Ueno
Bentendo Temple, Ueno
Bentendo Temple, Ueno
Bentendo Temple, Ueno
Bentendo Temple, Ueno
Bentendo Temple, Ueno
Bentendo Temple, Ueno

We crossed back across and contemplated more temples further away, but instead just went to the one really close by. This one is actually a shrine called Hanazonoinari Shrine and is fronted by a tree with a branch that has been trained to grow is a full loop:

Hanazonoinari Shrine, Ueno Park
Hanazonoinari Shrine, Ueno Park
Tokudaiji Temple, Ameyoko area, Ueno
Tokudaiji Temple, Ameyoko area, Ueno
Tokudaiji Temple, Ameyoko area, Ueno
Tokudaiji Temple, Ameyoko area, Ueno
Hanazonoinari Shrine, Ueno Park
Hanazonoinari Shrine, Ueno Park
Hanazonoinari Shrine, Ueno Park
Hanazonoinari Shrine, Ueno Park

We were all templed out by this time and we wanted to check out the Daiso shop. My umbrella was broken and I wanted a new one, and Ela wanted to buy a portable ashtray. I also bought myself a less daggy hat – though not at the $1 shop!

We then managed to get to the temple we’d looked for earlier. The very pretty Tokudaiji Temple:

Tokudaiji Temple, Ameyoko area, Ueno
Tokudaiji Temple, Ameyoko area, Ueno
Tokudaiji Temple, Ameyoko area, Ueno
Tokudaiji Temple, Ameyoko area, Ueno
Tokudaiji Temple, Ameyoko area, Ueno
Tokudaiji Temple, Ameyoko area, Ueno
Tokudaiji Temple, Ameyoko area, Ueno
Tokudaiji Temple, Ameyoko area, Ueno
Tokudaiji Temple, Ameyoko area, Ueno
Tokudaiji Temple, Ameyoko area, Ueno
Tokudaiji Temple, Ameyoko area, Ueno
Tokudaiji Temple, Ameyoko area, Ueno
Tokudaiji Temple, Ameyoko area, Ueno
Tokudaiji Temple, Ameyoko area, Ueno
Tokudaiji Temple, Ameyoko area, Ueno
Tokudaiji Temple, Ameyoko area, Ueno
Tokudaiji Temple, Ameyoko area, Ueno
Tokudaiji Temple, Ameyoko area, Ueno

By the time we finished that, we were very footsore and I was hanging out for a coffee. We walked back in the direction of our hotel, thinking we’d find somewhere to sit down for a coffee, but as it was a Saturday afternoon during a festival, the little Ameyoko street markets were full of people and there were no places to sit down. Plenty of stuff for sale, including lots of dried and not-dried seafood. Some of it we had no idea what it was!

Ameyoko Street Markets, Ueno
Ameyoko Street Markets, Ueno
Ameyoko Street Markets, Ueno
Ameyoko Street Markets, Ueno
Ameyoko Street Markets, Ueno
Ameyoko Street Markets, Ueno

Since there was no coffee and sitdown to be had, we just went to check in to the hotel. I had hoped to get coffee in the room, but no. Only tea. We’ll have to buy some coffee so we can brew our own. As it was, I had to go and get cold coffee at the vending machine around the corner.

We met our tour at 6pm. There were 12 of us – mostly Aussies – plus our tour guide who is Japanese but lives in Australia for half the year and does tour guiding. She took us out to dinner at an Izakaya and ordered a whole heap of food for us to all try. There were some delicious (and some not so delicious) things to eat! Sashimi and Japanese pizza and deep fried chicken etc etc. It ended up costing us 2200 Yen each, which wasn’t too bad at all!

Izakaya dinner (pub meal) with the tour group in Ueno
Izakaya dinner (pub meal) with the tour group in Ueno
Izakaya dinner (pub meal) with the tour group in Ueno
Izakaya dinner (pub meal) with the tour group in Ueno
Izakaya dinner (pub meal) with the tour group in Ueno
Izakaya dinner (pub meal) with the tour group in Ueno
Izakaya dinner (pub meal) with the tour group in Ueno
Izakaya dinner (pub meal) with the tour group in Ueno
Izakaya dinner (pub meal) with the tour group in Ueno
Izakaya dinner (pub meal) with the tour group in Ueno
Izakaya dinner (pub meal) with the tour group in Ueno
Izakaya dinner (pub meal) with the tour group in Ueno

About half the group went back to the hotel after dinner and the rest of us went out for a drink. One of the tour had her birthday today so we helped her celebrate. She ordered the sake that comes in a box. The sake is poured from an enormous bottle – like a champagne bottle – until the glass flows over and continues to pour until the box is also filled. The sake is a little sweeter than what we had the other night. Not bad though.

Sake served in the traditional way in Ameyoko district, Ueno
Sake served in the traditional way in Ameyoko district, Ueno

The birthday girl went on to explore on her own, since she can’t sleep yet. The rest of us returned to the hotel so we can be up and have had breakfast and meet by 9am.

Reworked and larger sized pictures from this day are here. Click on the first picture and then move through them at full screen size.

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