Chasing the Blues Away with a Visit to Asakusa
Moments After a Bad Dream
I truly love life and wake up every morning full of gratitude. I mean if you think about it, we have so much to be grateful for, no matter what our situations may be. But life's not always perfect and things can get us down, even the most positive ones, including me.
Like this morning for instance, I woke up feeling blue. It came as a shock because the mornings are usually when I feel the best but after a horrible dream about my dog being mauled by a tiger, my head wasn't in a good place. I knew that if I didn't do something about it, I'd find myself in a temporary depressive state, which is never a good thing.
I'm sure we all have moments like this and we deal with them in our own ways. For me, I find that getting out of the house is the best thing to do, whether it be a brisk walk to get some fresh air, or like today, get out and force myself to explore the city.
If you're the type of person who stays in, cooped up at home watching television all day, you might find it a good idea to get out and about. Well at least I hope you do after reading this because today I'm taking you with me to Asakusa, one of the best places to get lost in Tokyo.
*Photos taken by myself unless otherwise noted.
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An illustrated tour of Tokyo rarely seen in travel guides. To browse through this book is to stroll through the streets of Tokyo.
Where To My Dear?
It's not always easy venturing out into the crowded city like Tokyo, especially when you're not feeling your best. I literally had to push myself ( with brutal mental force ) into the shower, get dressed and kick myself in the behind to get my foot out of the apartment. It was cold and I honestly just wanted to stay in bed.
Despite my desire to stay indoors, I quickly throw my heavy down jacket on and grab my keys before I can change my mind. I'm out the door, down the elevator and walking towards the train station in less than a minute. Once I pass the ticket turnstiles at the station, I realize something very crucial to my plans. I have no idea where I'm going! As I stand there shivering on the platform waiting for my train to arrive, I quickly decide to pick the first destination that comes to mind.
So what did I do to keep myself occupied for close to an hour commuting on the metro? I believe it or not, I'm writing this on the train as we speak! In fact, this entire story today is being written in "real time". Pretty cool don't you think?
During my train ride, my nerves start to get to me - for me that means that the left side of my face starts to hurt and my vision starts to blur ( effects due to two past episodes of Bell's Palsy and panic disorder ). I tried my best to ignore the unpleasant sensations by keeping myself occupied with writing and feeling determined to enjoy my day.
I finally make it in one piece and despite my fears, I'm here. I have arrived in Asakusa.
Do you experience days when all you want to do is stay in bed all day?
Tokyo is definitely a city that stands out from others. Huge, bewildering and so much to see, the city combines old and new and is both traditional and trendy. This photographic journey is perfect for the armchair traveler.
As soon as I arrive,the first thing I notice is how crowded the place is but that's to be expected. Asakusa is a major tourist destination for Japanese and tourists alike. As soon as I exit the underground, I breathe in a huge inhale of fresh air and look up at the clear blue sky. Even in the midst of a big crowd, looking up at the blueness of the sky makes me feel less claustrophobic and almost instantly, my discomfort disappears.
I already know where I want to go so I head towards the red vermillion Kaminari-Mon ( Thunder Gate ), the entrance to the temple grounds. Walking along Nakamise-dori ( center shopping street ), I notice all the tourists from around the world, curiously looking at the unusual souvenirs and enjoying the traditional Japanese food stalls lining the street and this instantly puts me in a happy mood. Happiness and joy is contagious and it's abundant here.
At the end of the shopping street, the huge structure that is Sensoji Temple, greets me in all its splendor. I walk up breathing in the incense that fills the air and make my way to the main hall, where I dutifully throw in a coin and pray for peace and happiness. As I walk out of the prayer hall, my head feels clearer and I start to wonder why I felt so bad this morning. I feel good enough to continue exploring Asakusa and head towards the small side streets that criss-cross the city like a labyrinth.
Take a 10-Minute Tour with Me Through Asakusa
Sensoji Temple - Tokyo's Oldest TempleClick thumbnail to view full-size
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Exploring the Streets of Asakusa
One of my favorite things to do in any city I visit, is to comb the streets one at a time, looking to discover interesting and this is exactly what I do. I take risks turning into unfamiliar streets, which rewards me with new sights, unknown shops and hidden treasures. Buildings that hark back to olden days make my heart beat just a little slower. There are less crowds here. Just the rhythm of everyday life, with locals going about their daily life.
It's 5 PM and the temperature has dropped to 2C and I need to warm myself up in a cafe and I need to find one fast. I am shivering and I forgot to bring my gloves with me. After a good 20 minutes, I find a decent cafe and order myself a hot cup of organic tea. As I sip the hot liquid, it warms my body instantly, making me appreciate the tea even more. How could a simple cup of tea give me so much comfort? I get my Ipad out to continue writing.
The Streets of AsakusaClick thumbnail to view full-size
Twilight in Asakusa
Twilight is when magic happens in Asakusa, especially the area right around Sensoji Temple. Perhaps I've been too busy going from one place to another every time I've been here before, but I realize that it's my first time here at night. I wonder why I never came here at night before. I feel the excitement of seeing something for the very first time as I marvel at how different everything looks when it's dark.
The great thing about traveling solo is that you get to choose how long you want to stay, and how you want to spend your time. The wind is starting to blow and the temperature is bone-chilling so I decide its best to head on home. I soak up the atmosphere of Asakusa one last time before deciding to board the train back home.
Magic Happens at NightfallClick thumbnail to view full-size
Life Awaits Right Outside Your Doorstep
At the end of the day, I am once reminded of the strength we have in ourselves to overcome our personal obstacles and fears. And I'm reminded of it all the time. By replacing my fears with things that I enjoy as well as challenging myself to new things, my fears slowly lose its potency.
It's hard to believe all those years spent not leaving home all day, a place that was both a prison and a safe haven. No longer do I want to stay living like a hermit. These days, even when things are not quite right, the world awaits me with open arms, ready to embrace me with all it's beauty and wonder.
What Did You Think?
Would you be interested in visiting Asakusa on your visit to Tokyo?
Explore Your World
It is my hope to show you a glimpse of life in Tokyo from a personal perspective. Living in a big city makes it too easy to forget the small things in life that makes it so beautiful. There's a whole world out there ready to explore, even in your own back yard!
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