More photos of Ueno and Ameyokocho on that hot October afternoon a few weeks ago! This place really is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Tokyo, both for domestic and foreign visitors to Tokyo. The shopping is in my opinion second to none in Tokyo, both in terms of prices and in variation. There’s a huge variety of shops and many little arcades and malls nestled among the restaurants and hidden under the train tracks. This is also where quite a few different genres of subcultures converge for their shopping needs, as you will see anyone from sports team freaks to old men trying out golf jackets to rockabilly boys, punks, skaters, vintage military gear lovers and many more. The area is right between Ueno and Akihabara which means that you could easily spend a couple of days slowly browsing your way from one end of to the other. The first photo is of one of the three different tourist bus lines heading out from Ueno station and covering the area, a great way to see the city if you are a tired of walking around. The bus is called Megurin.
It is the last day of October and the word most suited to describe this month would probably be “hot”. We had the highest October temperature ever recorded in Tokyo, earlier in the month, and I am still rolling up my shirt sleeves when stepping outside. On one of those really hot days, as the sun was setting, I took a quickie walking photo tour of the colorful Ueno/Ameyokocho area. Starting from in front of Ueno JR Station, the shopping streets here are full of shops, street stalls, restaurants, hotels, cafes and even the odd house of ill repute. The third and second photo from the end should be of special interest to the casual tourist, as it shows one of the restaurants of the biggest tempura chain in Japan, Tendon Tenya. Apart from cheap and good tempura it also serves soba and udon, and it is a cost effective way of experiencing these three Japanese specialities. The portions are larger than the average Japanese fast food restaurant’s as well. You can see their mouth watering official web site here. They also have a shop in Bangkok if you want to try Japanese food in Thailand.
Few things are as attractive as a confident, natural, relaxed man with a purpose. If you look around the web these days there are plenty of photos of very beautiful or very powerful men and women, but very few flattering photos of everyday, standard men. As a photographer, taking photos of beautiful things is very easy and very rewarding. Point and click. The more beautiful the person is the better the photo. A monkey with an instamatic could not fail to get a good photo of Kate Moss for example. But what attracts me in photography is to find the beauty hidden in the everyday, to find the most flattering aspect of any person I see. Like these men who took part in the Torigoe Shrine festival one evening earlier this summer. None of them would be invited to the runway and you would probably pass any of them on the street without thinking. But in reality, if you look closely enough, there is as much beauty in all of these faces as there is in the most highly paid supermodel in Paris. Of course it helps that a Japanese festival with its community spirit, uniforms equalizing everyone across nations, class and age, and the singleminded purpose of the festival, where the normal everyday machines temporarily surrenders to the human spirit.
If I have to rank the many tourist destinations in Tokyo and give you the place that should be on the top list of any tourist with the ambition to see Tokyo, it is easily the Asakusa district. I have blogged about this part of the city and the fantastically colorful Sensoji (Tokyo’s first and grandest temple) many times before but I just can’t help myself from pulling up the camera whenever I pass. Everytime I visit I have the ambition to find the odd little spots I have missed earlier, to go for details rather than large open views but I always get blown away by the colors and size of everything. Asakusa is easily the second greatest city attraction (ok, technically the greatest but Gion in Kyoto still wins for pure charm, beauty and dignity) in Japan. You can make several little trips (the place changes atmosphere and color so much during the day) or spend an entire day here from morning to midnight. Luckily most of Tokyo’s backpacker hostels are in the area. Use the tags at the bottom of the post to find more posts about Asakusa!
The many gates of the temple are fantastically photogenic, and the nearby bridge over Sumida river tends to be a popular photo spot with tourists and locals. One local lady even decided to climb the bridge pillars to get a better view! Next to the famous Kaminarimon you’ll also find the number one souvenir associated with the gate: Kaminariokoshi. In the last photo you’ll see a couple checking out the shop just before closing one evening a few weeks ago.