I couldn’t help myself sneaking a photo of of this cat sleeping on the shoulder of one of the many people out to enjoy the huge Sanja Matsuri about a month ago. He seemed to be snoozing just well up there until “somebody” woke him up by getting too close with a noisy camera. I hope the men and women carrying the omikoshi didn’t mind not being the center of the attention for a few moments!
When Japan opened up to the Western world in the end of the 1860′s, it didn’t take long for western things, customs and manners to be adopted by the Japanese. One such thing was the concept of a bar. The first western style drinking bar opened up in Asakusa in 1880 and it is still there, Kamiya Bar, with three floors, a restaurant and even an outside bar, right on the street corner near the famous Kaminarimon gate. A lot of the hip young creatives would go to drink there until the war and the bar has featured in many novels and even movies. To tourists it is mostly known for the unique brand of brandy, the Denki Bran, a mix of all sorts of liquor creating quite a special taste. At 30 or 40% (there are two varieties) it can be difficult to drink straight but its also popular in different long drink and even cocktails. Even though it absolutely unique, a true Tokyo and Asakusa souvenir and quite nice, it is really dirt cheap. I can’t remember how much I paid for this bottle but it is almost criminally cheap! Absolutely the souvenir to take home if you have friends that are into unusual liquor.
Kamiya bar is easy to find. Just stand in front of the Kaminarimon, facing it. Turn about right, and walk along the road until you have the bar on your left, about 100m.
The name is a combination of the word for electricity and the word for brandy. In 1882 when the drink was invented electricity was the cool new thing and almost all major brands that started in this period of Japanese modernization had the word electric or electricity somewhere in their names.
And for no real reason I also post a cherry blossom photo!
It’s not very new anymore but I still make a point to go up to the top floor every time I pass, the new tourist information building in front of Asakusa’s famous Kaminarimon, the entrance gate to the huge Sensoji temple. I took these photos at the Sanja festival earlier this month, just as the dozens of omikoshi, portable shrines, leave the temple through the main street and spill out on the big scramble street crossing. It was fun to see it all from above, as I have been down there in the middle of it all many times, trying not to get trampled by the rickshaw pullers, the busses, the police cars and the omikoshi! I think it was the first time I ever saw an omikoshi from above like this.
The last of the Firefighter’s memorial service photos from Asakusa last weekend. I was in ladder heaven! These ladders are traditionally 7m tall, but I have seen both shorter and taller ladders used in different exhibitions. Click on the ladder acrobatics tag to see more of this Japanese tradition on this blog.