Tokyo

Day 4 – Asakusa and Akihabara

We take a break from shopping today and head to Asakusa, home of the Senso-ji temple, the oldest temple remaining in Tokyo (WW2 bombs take out most of them). It’s teeming with people so it’s a bit hard to appreciate the famous entrance gate with its huge red paper lantern. We then get stopped by three Japanese university students who ask if they can show us around and practice their English.

We walk with them up to the temple – they didn’t really know too much about the area but it’s nice to chat to them and they help Josh pick a good fortune reading from the temple entrance. The temple is covered in scaffolding so not much to admire, and inside is dark and crowded. We said bye to the girls and tried to find somewhere good for lunch – fail and end up in a Mos burger chain, the first dodgy meal of the trip. Hopefully the temple areas in Kyoto will be better and less crowded than this one.

We then hop on the metro to Akihabara, known as Electronics Town. It’s pretty manic, streets packed with mostly men and shops selling computers and cameras, retro arcades, and weird ‘maid’ cafes where you’re served by girls in costume. We fail to find Super Potato, the retro game store mecca, instead going to an arcade which is on top of a 6-flooor Don Quixote store – which sells everything from toiletries to cosplay Halloween costumes – pretty odd. The arcade isn’t as nice as the Kichijoji one, a bit dank and smoky.

For dinner we stop off the metro at Ebisu, a rather chi-chi part of town, to find Chibo, an okonomiyaki (Japanese omelette) restaurant recommended in the guidebook. It’s on the 38th floor of Yebisu Garden Place, an expensive-looking development of shops and restaurants all done out in a slightly kitschy European style. We get a fast lift up to the 38th floor that makes my ears pop, and admire the amazing views of night-time Tokyo while we wait for our table.

It’s pretty busy so we don’t get a table with a grill-your-own hotplate (or at the bar where the chef cooks right in front of you), but the food is still excellent – a bowl of fresh tofu, plain but delicious, grilled spinach, asparagus and cheese, and mains of onokomiyaki – mine stuffed with cheese and kimchi which made for a tasty rich yet sour mix – which the waitress skilfully squirted with a mayonnaise topping. Extremely decadent and delicious, and very good value given the gorgeous setting. Afterwards we take more photos and get a glass lift down to the ground – awesome view on the way.