tokyo trip

In Japan, Tokyo

Tokyo Trip in a Hurry: Asakusa, Akihabara, Shibuya, Roppongi Hills

Spring of 2004. The company I was working at sent me for a business trip in Tokyo. Coinsidentaly, a collage classmate and a college friend’s then-boyfriend-now-husband were also sent by their employer’s their company’s headquarter in Ibaraki Prefecture. One weekend, their group planned for one day Tokyo Trip and I decided to join and meet them at the Hamamatsu train station in Tokyo. At that time, smartphones (or even roaming mobile phones) and social media weren’t yet that popular or readily available so we only communicated via emails (and Friendster). The plan was to meet at the train station at a certain time and, without any further texts messages or whatnots, we met at the exact time and place agreed upon.

At present time, everyone has access to mobile phones yet still need to constantly communicate on their way to a meeting. Funny how technology has only made things more complicated and I’m going to stop here for it only shows how much I aged since this trip.

I was not aware of the itinerary but as it turned out, the route would be Asakusa, Akihabara, Shibuya, Tokyo Tower and a bar in Roppongi Hills. From the train station, we walked past the very tall World Trade Center Building towards Asakusa Water Bus Station where we took the water bus headed to Asakusa.

World Trade Center Building, Tokyo

Tokyo Water Bus, Sumida River

Tokyo water bus

That’s one of the Tokyo water buses in 2004. Years later it would be replaced by more sophisticated and more futuristic-looking water crafts.

Water bus station, Hamamatsu, Tokyo

Carlo, the college classmate, is the one on the left and the college friend’s then-boyfriend-now-husband, Ody, on the right. And the tallest guy in the photo below was their training leader who also acted as our tour guide.

Crusing Sumida River via Tokyo water bus

Crusing Sumida River via Tokyo water bus

Crusing Sumida River via Tokyo water bus

Crusing Sumida River via Tokyo water bus

A peek  nside Tokyo water bus

A peek  nside Tokyo water bus

Crusing Sumida River via Tokyo water bus

As it turned out, a ride on the water bus can be a sight-seeing itinerary in itself. You’d cruise along the Sumida River where countless modern Japan architecture are banked on the riverside.

That’s Odaiba’s famous Rainbow Bridge on the next photo.

The Rainbow Bridge in Odaiba, Tokyo

Buildings and bridges along Sumida River, Tokyo

Buildings and bridges along Sumida River, Tokyo

Asahi Beer Headquarters, Asakusa

Asahi Beer Headquarters
Asahi Beer Headquarters

Asahi Beer Headquarters

The tall gold building and the shorter one with a golden flame (also referred to as the golden poop by the locals because, look at it) on top are the two buildings comprising the Asahi Beer headquarters. Asahi is one of the top beer brands in Japan, and is also being distributed in many other countries.

Kaminarimon (Lightning Gate)

A few minutes walk from the water bus terminal and you’ll find yourselves at the first of the two gates leading to the Sensoji Temple. The first gate is called Kaminarimon or the Lightning Gate. From there, one must be prepared to get photobombed should they wish to have their photos taken. The crowd is quite large, especially on weekends as it is in any other tourist spots anywhere in the universe. The world, rather.

Kaminarimon (Lightning gate), Sensoji Temple, Asakusa, Tokyo

If ever I would have a chance to visit Asakusa again, I’m going to reserve at least an hour photobombing. I’ll be in everyone’s photos and no one will notice and if they do, how can they complain? Everyone’s photobombing everyone’s photos be it intentional or not. It’s going to be fun.

A kanji shirt Kaminari (Lightning)
Kaminarimon (Lightning gate), Ssensoji Temple, Asakusa, Tokyo

Kaminarimon (Lightning gate), Ssensoji Temple, Asakusa, Tokyo

Statues of Fujin, the god of wind, and Raijin, the god of thunder, adorn the east and west sides of the gate, respectively (right and left in the photo). Hardcore fans of the anime and manga series, Flame of Recca, will surely go gaga over this piece of information. Check out Fujin and Raijin in case you do not know.

Two other statues of guardians are on the opposite side of the gate but since I’m not familiar with them, I paid less attention. Sorry!

Past the Kaminarimon gate is a series of souvenir shops called Nakamise-dori. I bought a few ones for omiyage or pasalubong.

And by the way, should there be any grammar nazi reading this page, please be warned that the phrase “Kaminarimon gate” is redundant if you know what the “mon” in “Kaminarimon” means. Google it for your own protection.

Nakamise-dori, Sensoji Temple, Asakusa, Tokyo

Hozomon (Treasure-House Gate)

Hozomon (Treasure-house gate), Ssensoji Temple, Asakusa, Tokyo

Hozomon (Treasure-house gate), Ssensoji Temple, Asakusa, Tokyo

Hozomon (Treasure-house gate), Ssensoji Temple, Asakusa, Tokyo

Passing through the Hozomon or Treasure-house gate, you’ll finally reach the Sensoji Temple.

Sensoji Temple, Asakusa

It was the first huge temple I saw in Japan and outside the Philippines so you could just imagine the awe and excitement it brought me only to find out years after how it was nothing compared to the towering temples at the top of the mountains in China.

Sensoji Temple, Asakusa, Tokyo

Sensoji Temple, Asakusa, Tokyo

Sensoji Temple, Asakusa, Tokyo

There was a huge incense burner where Buddhist locals and tourists burn their incense and pray.

Buddhist incense burner at Sensoji Temple, Tokyo

Buddhist incense burner at Sensoji Temple, Tokyo

Buddhist incense burner at Sensoji Temple, Tokyo

Five-storey pagoda at the Sensoji Temple, Asakusa, Tokyo

A five-storey pagoda stands near the Sensoji Temple. It is the second highest five-storey pagodas in Japan (second to the one at Toji Temple in Kyoto).

A few sights seen and tons of photos taken, we left the temple and went to the nearest subway station to take a train to Akihabara, Tokyo’s home for cheap brand new and used electronic products.

Akihabara Tokyo Electronics Shopping District

Tokyo Akihabara Electric Town

Tsukumo Building, Tokyo Akihabara Electric Town

Akihabara Electronic Town and Anime Center, the holy mecca for all things electronics and manga. Otaku overload.

Girl handing tissue papers in Akihabara
Girl handing tissue papers in Akihabara

Seeing the girl handing out tissue papers reminded of of what my sister told the first time we went out to Tokyo, “You don’t need to bring tissue papers when going out, someone along the way is ought to give you one.” Shops hire promo girls to hand out tissue papers carrying the shop’s name on the packaging.

And then these girls in Cosplay appeared.

Akihabara Promo Girls in Cosplay

Akihabara Promo Girls in Cosplay

Unlike the one handing out paper napkins, these two promo girls were dressed in full cosplay and were both willing to have our photos taken with them.

Radio Kaikan, Akihabara, Tokyo

Above photo was taken in front of a popular electronic shop, Radio Kaikan.

There were so many electronics products being sold in Akihabara for very low prices. If I only had enough money with me then, perhaps I had bought myself a ton of electronic loots. The only thing I bought for myself was a CASIO men’s wrist watch for just 2,000 Yen from a sidewalk vendor. While you are reading this, I’m still wearing the very watch and have not replaced it even once.

Casio wrist watch I bought from a sidewalk vendor in Akihabara
LAOX Store in Akihabara Electric Town, Tokyo

But aside from electronic products, we also found other interesting merchandise being sold at specialty shops such as a life-sized nude doll made from soft silicon alloy. I believe sex toys are a fad among Japanese men. Correct me if I’m wrong.

Our next stop was Shibuya. It was already becoming dark when we reached the famous shopping district but the place remained so crowded. Watching people move from one side of the street to the other during traffic lights changes was like watching military platoons marching at the command of their officer.

“The Scramble,” Shibuya Shopping District

"The Scramble," Shibuya Crossing, Tokyo

"The Scramble," Shibuya Crossing, Tokyo

"The Scramble," Shibuya Crossing, Tokyo

It was told that the best spot to watch the Shibuya Crossing (The Scramble) is from the Starbucks building across the street but the guys at Wowsabi know a secret place with an awesome view of the crossing.

Starbucks, Shibuya Shopping District, Tokyo

Tower Records, Shibuya Shopping District, Tokyo

Things there are still expensive for us third-world citizens so we didn’t do any shopping. We just enjoyed the lights coming from huge screens mounted on almost every building.

Like a boss at the Shibuya crossing, Tokyo
Like a boss at the Shibuya crossing, Tokyo

We saw a big red bike parked on the street and took turns taking our photos riding it.

I was hoping the tour guide would lead us to where the famous Hachiko statue but he didn’t. He must not have been a fan.

Tokyo Tower

Tokyo Tower at Night
Tokyo Tower at Night

Two train rides and a very long walk and we reached the Tokyo Tower. It was already late so we didn’t stay for long. We just went to the floor where you could see the entirety of Tokyo in full 360-degree view. We didn’t even had the chance to visit the wax museum so we just took photos at one Madonna wax model and the miniature Tokyo Tower on the ground floor.

Madonna, Tokyo Tower Wax Museum

Roppongi Hills

A few more minutes of walking and we reached our last stop in Roppongi Hills, Tokyo’s “United Nations” District. The place is a popular hang-out for expats because of the series of pubs, night clubs and disco houses operating there. We saw a lot of couples doing their drunk scenes. Meanwhile in a McDonald’s outlet, an intoxicated couple (a Japanese girl and a Caucasian guy) went together in the toilet and stayed there for about fifteen minutes. We didn’t judge them.

Tokyo Tower at dawn

View of Tokyo Tower at Dawn from Roppongi area.

The sun has already started to shine when we parted.

I walked towards random directions to find a subway station for hours. The sun has already risen completely before I saw a train station to Shinjuku where I would take another train to my sister’s place in Kawagoe.

This Tokyo trip entry first appeared on Multiply (a now defunct social networking site) in 2004 and later moved to WordPress. Tons of new information were crammed on this post between edits.

Last updated: April 13, 2017

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