Day Two: Temple and Tech

We found an advantage staying in this corner of Shinjuku, closer to the CBD. During rush hour everyone is heading here, which makes lining up for the Oedo Line a pleasant experience. The trains are only moderately full, and seating is always an option.

As first time tourists in Japan, we had to hit the main spots – so we headed to the Senso-ji temple and Kumonarimon gate in Asakusa. The history of the place is amazing, and the crowds in late 2018 no less so. Busloads of foreign tourists converge on the gate and temple, and mix with the odd Western vlogger, groups of local schoolchildren on school projects with senior guides, and local travelers.

Something that cannot escape notice is the care lavished on small items, things that back home someone would say “good enough as long as it works”. I have encountered that sense of care and pride in places big and small: from comb makers in Asakusa to the gacha shops in Akihabara. As a foreigner it would be easy to say that’s just an affectation, but I doubt that somehow.

I had my doubts at first about Akihabara, but all that went out the window because absolutely nothing can prepare you for the sheer… Bigness of everything. There’s just this wall of technology and sight and sound that hits you in a mad rush, and after that first several minutes you either figure out the rhythm, or lean back against the wall, hapless.

More to come.

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