Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Japan 3: Tokyo 3: Asakusa

17th May 2007: Asakusa, Tokyo.

Asakusa 浅草, the famous district of Tokyo. Walking along this busy street will bring travellers to the famous temple, Sensoji Temple 浅草寺. But before reaching the temple, travellers will be brought to the test. Temptation from the souvenir shops, selling numerous Japanese decorations and gifts, and shops selling rice crackers, Japanese snacks and sweets. It is not quite possible not to stop at any of these shops, all trying to earn the tourist dollar. It may be an area for temple visitors, but it has turned to more of a commercial area than a sacred one.

It might be a tourist attraction, but the amount of domestic tourists far exceed the number of foreign tourists. It is also very likely to see Japanese dressed in their traditional costume, the kimono, walking along the streets. A polite request is more than sufficient for a photo taking session; the Japanese are most likely to be very willing to for a photo shoot.

The old streets still surviving in this modern nation.

Summer is coming, and Asakusa is gearing for their sanja matsuri, one of the grandest festival in Tokyo.

The volunteers were mostly Japanese though a couple of foreigners can be seen participating. There were numerous group, probably representing different temples or clans, carrying the mikoshi or portable temple.

A tourist attraction? Maybe, but more likely a traditional festival that has been celebrated for many years, and despite Japan being a modern country, this tradition will probably continue. Japan, a country where the modern and the traditional blends together.



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