As our base was in the Tokyo area, selected places of interest were those in the nearby vicinity without having to travel great distances. A couple of places further out for full day trips would be Hakone, Kamakura and Nikko which would require a 1-2 hr train ride.
The day before had been spent exploring the shopping malls in Shibuya but only managed a couple of them before our tired legs had enough. Shibuya 109 was all about fashion for the young with its 10 floors stocked with similar teen clothing and accessories. There was one rather eye-catching store with its kinky outfits and girls outlandishly dressed in them that was enough to make us walk past it twice to get our eyeful. Would have loved to snap a pic of them but thought better of it.
As I did not wish to spend every day just wandering among the shopping malls, my plan for day 3 would be on other places of interests. From my online search, Ueno Park is famed for its many museums and there was some sort of market bazaar at Ameyoko. As it was just a few stops from Shibuya and on the main JR line, we decided to proceed to Ueno after getting my Oath CD.
Fare vending machines for the JR train lines (Shibuya station). Fare for each station displayed on map above. The circle as seen on display on left panel is the JR line which loops around the main stops in the inner Tokyo area. Lovely stained glass panel at Ueno station.
Unlike the day before when it was merely cloudy, the skies darkened and started a downpour. This being their rainy season and had been expected, I had armed myself with an umbrella. But not wishing to get our sneakers wet and soggy, we got a pair of Japanese sandals from one of the 100 yen store near the Ueno station. It didn’t help that we were already feeling underdressed but not wishing to trudge around in wet shoes for the next couple of days, we would have to be a bit thick skinned. To get some respite from the rain and hoping that it would lessen after a while, we took refuge at Starbucks (just after exiting the station) and had another iced Macha as well as asked for directions to Ueno Park.
One of those seatless ramen eateries, just eat and go. A shrine chanced upon a short distance from Ueno Station. Heavy rain as evident from the pic. Large gong above the entrance which worhsippers would hit with the rope before entering the premises.
Another shrine along the way. White handed gibbon at Ueno Zoo
Though the initial plan was to locate the Tokyo National Museum, we decided to visit Ueno Zoo instead since it was right along the route. By the time we were done, it was already too late for the museum and anyway our legs were too tired for further exploration. On the way back to Ueno Station, I spied another shrine a short distance down a slope and across the road to our right. Might as well go take a look ….. and discovered that this was the Benten Temple that was listed in my online guide.
Front and back of Benten-Do. According to the signage, this temple was constructed on a man-made island in the 17th century by Mizunoya Katsutaka, previous lord of the present day Shimodate city. Original hall and important cultural assets were destroyed by a US air raid in 1945 and rebuilt in 1958. Previous access to the temple was by boat but later a stone bridege was erected. It was only then that I realised the reason for the temple being surrounded by a pond full of lotus plants.