SNAPSHOTS | JAPAN + KOREA 2017 | TOKYO | DAY 2 (2/2)


Continuing on from part one of day two, we spent the rest of the morning/afternoon exploring Asakusa and Sensō-ji temple.


One of the must-do's when you visit Sensō-ji is to get an omikuji! These stands are located all around the perimeter of the temple grounds. Omikuji are basically written fortunes that predict your future. 

A small offering of ¥100 is required beforehand. After inserting your coin, shake the metal omikuji box on its side until a wooden stick pops out. The stick will have a number written on it which corresponds to the drawer where you pull your fortune from. 
Omikuji are written fortunes offered at shrines and temples in Japan. Usually, omikuji require a small offering (¥100 usually), and are chosen randomly from a box. At Senso-ji Temple (Asakusa Kannon Temple), Tokyo’s oldest temple, in Asakusa you can pick up an omikuji to try your luck.
Each shrine and temple has different ways of offering omikuji, but at Senso-ji, you place a ¥100 coin into a a lot on the counter, as a voluntary and expected offering. You are then to pick up a metal box that has a tiny, rounded slot at the bottom where a stick will come out from.
You can shake the box a few times, in hopes of receiving a good fortune. After you are satisfied with the shaking, turn the metal container over to drop out a stick with a number - the stick will fall out of the bottom of the container. If you are unable to read the Kanji numbers, do not worry, simply look at the characters and play a little “Eye Spy” as you match the characters to the ones on the drawers in front of you. The numbers will lead you to a specific drawer filled with omikuji, which you can then read and decipher. Some places even offer translations, but sadly, Senso-ji did not have a setup translation available.
After receiving your omikuji, if it is a good fortune and one that you would like to come out, you can take it home with you, as it symbolizes the fact that you are bringing the good fortune back with you. If it is a fortune that isn’t as good, and one that you do not want to come true, you may tie the omikuji onto one of the omikuji “trees,” nearby, symbolizing the fact that you are leaving this fortune behind and you hope to find a better one.¥100

Omikuji are written fortunes offered at shrines and temples in Japan. Usually, omikuji require a small offering (¥100 usually), and are chosen randomly from a box. At Senso-ji Temple (Asakusa Kannon Temple), Tokyo’s oldest temple, in Asakusa you can pick up an omikuji to try your luck.
Each shrine and temple has different ways of offering omikuji, but at Senso-ji, you place a ¥100 coin into a a lot on the counter, as a voluntary and expected offering. You are then to pick up a metal box that has a tiny, rounded slot at the bottom where a stick will come out from.
You can shake the box a few times, in hopes of receiving a good fortune. After you are satisfied with the shaking, turn the metal container over to drop out a stick with a number - the stick will fall out of the bottom of the container. If you are unable to read the Kanji numbers, do not worry, simply look at the characters and play a little “Eye Spy” as you match the characters to the ones on the drawers in front of you. The numbers will lead you to a specific drawer filled with omikuji, which you can then read and decipher. Some places even offer translations, but sadly, Senso-ji did not have a setup translation available.
After receiving your omikuji, if it is a good fortune and one that you would like to come out, you can take it home with you, as it symbolizes the fact that you are bringing the good fortune back with you. If it is a fortune that isn’t as good, and one that you do not want to come true, you may tie the omikuji onto one of the omikuji “trees,” nearby, symbolizing the fact that you are leaving this fortune behind and you hope to find a better one.

Everyone received good or average fortunes, while I was the only one who drew a bad luck one. Knowing me, I didn't expect anything less. Coincidentally, it foreshadowed some eventual mishaps on our trip... but that's a story for another time.


If you receive a good luck fortune, you're supposed to bring the fortune slip with you, thus bringing good luck wherever you go. If you received a bad luck fortune like I did, simply fold and tie it up, leaving your bad luck behind. Clearly it didn't work for me.


If you venture off the main temple grounds and explore a little further, you'll find lots of little treasures and quiet spots away from the crowds.


Quick breaks in between to refresh! LT got an iced coffee from a vending machine...



... while KN and I shared ice creams! I'm pretty sure we had ice cream almost everyday in Japan, but hey, we're on vacation! Walking a million steps a day also lessens the guilt somewhat.

On the left, matcha soft serve from a small matcha sweets store, and on the right, super rich Cremia soft serve. While normal soft serves contain somewhere up to 8% milk fat, Cremia consists of 12.5% Hokkaido milk and 25% heavy whipping cream. This results in a strong creamy milk flavour and a smooth, velvety mouthfeel. To me, it was almost like eating frozen condensed milk. It's that decadent.

Another famous feature of Cremia ice cream is its cone. Made of langue de chat, it's a thin cookie cone with a buttery flavour and crisp shortbread texture. You can find Cremia ice cream at its main flagship in Shibuya or at various stands and places around the city. If you do find it, get it!


View of the Tokyo Skytree, about a 20-minute walk from Asakusa. We skipped the observation decks of the Skytree and Tokyo Tower in favour of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building and the Mori Tower in Roppongi Hills. That will all be explained in day 5!



After more exploring and shopping, we stopped for lunch at Tsuruya, a quaint restaurant specializing in unagi and tempura. Everyone opted to get either a half order of the una-don or the ten-don which was a decent portion in itself. The lunch set also came with soup and pickles.

Compared to unagi that I've had in the past, this was quite the treat. The meat just seemed so much more fleshier, almost fluffy in a way. The sauce that they baste the eel with was delicate and used sparingly, allowing you to appreciate the subtleties of the fresh eel itself and some of the smokiness imparted from the grill. Unfortunately, we weren't as big as fans of the tempura. The prawns were huge, but they were too aggressively battered and actually quite soggy.


Finally moving on from Asakusa, we made our commute over to Ikebukuro.


Our main reason for visiting Ikebukuro was Sunshine City. Part shopping mall, part office building, Sunshine City is a large complex that also includes an aquarium, planetarium, and indoor theme park.

If you're a fan of characters, it's worth the trip. There were entire stores dedicated to Studio Ghibli, Sanrio, Disney, you name it.


Carbs and pillows. The perfect marriage.


I found Disney stores in Japan to be so different compared to the ones we have in North America. The merch is infinitely times cuter. I guess the marketing is not just limited to a kid demographic in Japan.


Moomin cafe! They sold cute moomin waffles and pudding cups.


I'm sad I wasn't able to visit a flagship Loft but I was content with its mini store in Sunshine City! Stationary and pen heaven.


And here ladies and gentlemen -- my childhood! I didn't jump on the whole Pokémon Go bandwagon but you best believe I had a binder of Pokémon cards growing up. 

The Pokémon Centre in Sunshine City is the largest of all its locations around Japan. You can find all sorts of merchandise here including plushes, figures, toys, clothes, and edible souvenirs.


Pikachu and ramen -- nothing could be more Japanese than that.

For dinner, we had planned on going to a conveyor belt sushi restaurant near Ikebukuro but the line-up seemed too long and it was getting late. Instead we decided to just head back to the Airbnb to drop off our stuff and find some food nearby.


When it's 10:00 in the evening and you haven't had dinner yet-- 24-hour restaurants come to the rescue! Sushi-zanmai is a 24/7 sushi chain boasting great value for its quality. They have a ton of locations all over Tokyo and luckily there was a branch within walking distance of our Airbnb. We were seated on the lower floor and was told that smoking is permitted after 11:00. Culture shock to us, but smoking is widely accepted indoors in a lot of restaurants. We quickly ordered and were thankfully done and out before people started lighting up.

My mom, sister, and I just shared two different nigiri sets to make ordering a little easier. Both were around the ¥3000 mark I believe. The platter in front had a wide variety of seafood -- tuna, scallop, sweet shrimp, unagi, ikura, etc. The dish in the back featured different types of tuna and preparations. As this was our first sushi experience in Japan, the first bites of fish were amazing. Melt-in-your-mouth and incredibly fresh. And this is considered a value chain in Japan! I can't even imagine what the premium spots are like. I'm ruined for life.

- CT

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CT is a 23-year-old Edmontonian who started blogging as an excuse for taking pictures of her food.

"One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well." - Virginia Woolf