Our second day in Tokyo began with a visit to Lifehouse Tokyo Church in Roppongi. Lifehouse Tokyo is an extension of Hillsong, and is a part of the Australian Christian Church network. It was really nice going to an actual church service after four months of not having an “official church,” but it felt a little bit like a youth service. They told us we needed to sit at the very front of the sanctuary, and the service started with ear drum blasting dance music. A group of church members created a mosh pit in front of the stage, and because it was the international service, the worship team sang songs in Japanese and English. We did, however, feel very welcomed and they gave us candy and free drink coupons to their cafe. I might write a separate blog post about my thoughts and feelings after going, but I’ll just say that the service felt a bit scripted and formulaic. The fact that we were warmly welcomed is the most important part though, right?
After we left the church, we headed towards the Tokyo National Museum. On our way, we stumbled upon the Ryodaishi Shrine:
Then, we went on to the museum. Tickets for the National Museum are ¥620 for adults and ¥410 for students:
The museum has seven main buildings, all filled with various cultural items, and exhibitions that feature other Asian cultures as well. We visited the Honkan (Important Cultural Property) and the Heiseikan Buildings.
The Honkan Building was our first stop. It had 23 different exhibits that showcased highlights of Japanese culture, Buddhist statues, pottery, traditional swords, religious items, and traditional Japanese garb.
The Heiseikan Building included exhibits that showcased Japanese architecture. There was also a special exhibition called “A Journey to the Land of Immortals: Treasures of Ancient Greece,” but you had to pay extra so we skipped out on that.
There were other buildings on the museum grounds, but a few were closed, and some we didn’t have much interest in. Overall, it was an interesting museum to visit and there was a lot of beautiful artwork on display. I definitely think that it’s something every tourist should try and check out while in Tokyo.
From the museum we hopped on the train to Asakusa (ah-sock-sa ). Asakusa is famous for Sensoji, a Buddhist temple, and the Thunder Gate (Kaminarimon). On our way to the temple, we came across some pretty great architecture, and grapes growing on an apartment balcony, right in the middle of an urban street with Tokyo Skytree in the distance.
At the Temple, we pushed our way through the crowd, and explored the temple grounds. There was a long street with various food and souvenir vendors, and a lot of different restaurants. We spent some time taking pictures of the temple, and then went shopping; I bought a My Neighbor Totoro keychain, and we found a few art pieces that we want to bring home with us.
The amount of tourists was overwhelming; everywhere we turned, there were foreigners with selfie sticks, mothers carrying sweaty babies, and hipsters lighting incense and bowing at the temple entrance. The Thunder Gate was just as bad, and it was impossible to get a clear shot of the gate without also including Renata and her three German sons.
I should know by now that Tokyo, and Japan in general, is a tourist haven. Yet, somehow it surprises me every time, and I actually really hate it. But I still love travel, and I loved the feel of Asakusa. The temple was enormous, and absolutely gorgeous. Unfortunately, they were doing work on the main pagoda, but everything else was fantastic.
It looked even better at night, and the crowd got smaller after most of the shops closed down.
Dinner was at a place that I know not the name of, on one of the many side streets surrounding the temple. Caleb had Unagi-don, and I had seafood curry because curry is life. We also had an order of grilled squid (guts included), and I forgot to take a picture. It was a bit too fishy for my taste, so I let Caleb eat most of it and happily ate my curry in peace.
After dinner we headed back to our apartment, but first stopped to take pictures of this dog in costume.
I don’t know who this dog is, but I love him.
I also love these beautiful fish that we saw on our way home.
I love this city.
Day 2 was once again hot, sweaty, and exciting. Tokyo reminds me so much of New York City, but at the same time, has its own uniquely magical qualities. It’s much cleaner and quieter, and seems to be more manageable. We have done so much, yet we have so much left to explore.