Asakusa shrine strikes my fancy, and there is a cherry lined park along the banks of the river. Hubby has caught a lurgy – in my most optimistic fashion, I say “Good it’s on the last day, not the first?” I leave him slumbering, miserable. I figure out where various things cherry blossom may be: Kuritsu Sumida Park by the river shows promise, and the Asakusa shrine and district are not far from there.
Two stops on the Ginza metro line and one on the Skytree line and I am disgorged from the subway along with a million others. I try to stay out of the way while I orient myself: difficult to do with the masses going in one of two directions, but working my way diagonally whenever a space opens allows me to find a spot to park myself. Round the corner to the river, to be greeted by the sight of a giant golden – something… The locals apparently refer to it fondly as the golden poo (T**d actually), and I must confess, whoever decided this was an objet d’art has a scatological sense of humour. It’s decorating the Asahi Tower, the Japanese beer empire, but I don’t think it says much complimentary about the drink.
Next to it is the Skytree – another phallic homage to the erections of man. I sometimes wonder, if women rule the world would we out-do each other with great holes in the ground? Sorry – I do have some strange thoughts sometimes – no offence intended boys or girls.
Anyway, I figure if I follow the flow, I’ll manage to arrive at Asakusa shrine, and so it is. What can I say? It’s a Buddhist shrine dating from 684. To enter, you go through the Hozomon gate, protected by some fierce guardians, though they are safely contained behind a fence – safe from pigeons that is. As with any place of worship, the approach to the shrine is full of merchants, anything from worship tokens to food to collectables are on show in Nakamise st. The temple complex is brilliantly colourful, as are the ladies clad in kimono, celebrating the weather and the season.
Last minute decision before we leave is to see the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. Well, not the palace itself, that’s the Imperial Family’s domain. T’would be a bit like going to London and wandering about Buck Palace while the Queen’s at home: wouldn’t happen!
Anyway, the gardens may be worth viewing, and maybe a glimpse of the imperials themselves? No, but as I am entering the garden, having been vetted by the guards outside, I hear some rather vigorous battling going on behind a screen of shrubs, accompanied by the sounds of blows and “OOmphs” Intriguing to speculate what all that is about, and I guess it’s ninjas in the employ of the emperor whacking each other with sticks and swords. (Not the turtle kind – the human black-garbed kind). I’ll never know.
The East Imperial gardens are vast, and beautiful, like all Japanese gardens.
I only get as far as the Koi ponds, and then I’m entranced. As I’ve said before, I’ve fallen in love with Koi as a photographic subject: so tricky to get right, but so rich in colour and diversity. Meet the Koi.
Once more I’m blessed: this time with a white swan in the moat outside.
And then reluctantly I return to collect my husband, pack my bags, and ready myself for the Claytons Business class that is Jetstar: to be affronted when I get to Queensland, because I have too much carry on baggage for my next domestic leg in economy. Business class, schmusiness class, this is Jetstar here, and NO allowances will be made. We have to check my precious plum liqueur contained only in the satchel that W has been carrying – if the bottles break in transit the leprechaun is getting it in the ear! Tired from my sleepless overnight flight, I swear NEVER again, no matter how tempting the fare.