Low city: Asakusa

Low city: Asakusa
Low city: Asakusa

“Ah, you went to Tokyo!” a teacher greeted me last year.

“Yes!” I agreed happily.

“Then, you went to Asakusa?”

I hesitated, heart sinking. “…no.”

This year, returning for my second Golden Week in the capital city, this time with my sister joining me, I vowed to make the “Kyoto of Tokyo” a priority.

I had adored the kimono rental experience in Kyoto, so I was eager to share it with my sister — especially in early May, rather than the deep of winter. We scouted a rock-bottom bargain at a shop catty-corner with the city’s main attraction: a historic street of shops and ancient temple gates.

Even harried with the seasonal influx, the ladies at the shop assisted us thoughtfully: allowing us to deliverate over hair ornaments, folding us into the kimono underdress like life-size origami patterns.

The city was ours to explore for the day. Asakusa immediately impressed with its food: squares of sweet beans bound in translucent gel, a sweet potato cheesecake so mouthwateringly scrumptious, we ordered a second helping on the spot.

By then, our tired feet urged us to accept the offer of a masterfully eloquent rickshaw driver, who assured us in English that his service boasted not only driving and navigation but photography. He more than delivered.

On our driver’s advice, we returned to the temple grounds on foot for a monkey show. The trainer complimented and cajoled his little friend into leaps and sommersaults, drawing applause and cheers from the crowds.

Nearby, rows of daringly bright food stalls lured us with their wares: candy-coated bananas and grilled octopus skewers. We rounded out the meal with a trip to another recommendation from our driver: a tiny but well-equipped sushi carousel, its menu boasting full color illustrations of each dish.

After sauntering the streets in our elegant attire, admiring the selections of dozens of other young women who had opted for combinations of dainty pastels or dramatic deep reds and gold, it didn’t take much to convince us to invest in kimonos of our very own. We dashed back to the shop to hand in our rented finery, then arranged the sale with a local vendor, all just before closing.

Thus concluded our last day in Tokyo, before we launched south — back home to my Kagoshima island.

Sayonara, Tokyo!

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