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Japan, November 2011 | Tokyo in Photographs

I spent a few days in Tokyo prior to and after volunteering in Ishinomaki (see posts in PART ONE and PART TWO for images) with a friend’s tsunami relief group. This was my fourth visit to Japan, and I was already very familiar with Tokyo after studying there for a year in college. There’s always so much I want to do whenever I’m in Tokyo– visit my old haunts and let the nostalgia and “otherness” of living abroad just wash over me. Because I only had a few days and I wanted to save most of my energy for the hard work I would be doing as a volunteer, I contented myself to casually wandering the neighborhoods surrounding the Japanese Inns where I was staying. [SIDE NOTE: For anyone interested in travel to Japan, I highly recommend staying at the Homeikan Ryokan in Hongo 3-chome and the Andon Ryokan in Taito-ku. Both are simple, inexpensive lodging with fabulous breakfast. Where Homeikan is traditional, Andon is modern. They see their fair share of tourists and will take good care of you.] I find some time alone to be energizing while traveling, but happily, I had the chance to spend time in the evenings with old friends and my Japanese Host family over good food and drink.

I love Tokyo, especially the shitamachi (low town, or old town). Most of the following photos were taken wandering around Asakusa, Ueno, Jinbocho, Kappabashi. As usual with travel posts, I’ve captioned them for context. Enjoy!

Tokyo Sky Tree over the Sumida river in Asakusa, morning

The Tokyo Sky Tree tower, the world’s highest broadcasting tower, over the Sumida river in Asakusa, early morning

Guest room in Homeikan Ryokan Japanese Inn in Hongo San-chome

Sitting area in a guest room at Homeikan Ryokan, a Japanese inn near Tokyo University

A Buddhist Monk asking for alms outside Ueno station

A Buddhist Monk asking for alms outside Ueno station

Japanese schoolgirls in uniform enjoying the sunshine in Ueno Park

Japanese schoolgirls in uniform enjoying the sunshine in Ueno Park

More than 50 stone lanterns line the walkway at Ueno Toshogu Shrine

More than 50 stone lanterns line the walkway at Ueno Toshogu Shrine

Sign for a designated-hours women-only car on the Hibiya line of Tokyo Metro

Sign for a designated-hours women-only car on the Hibiya line of Tokyo Metro

Passengers riding a Tokyo subway train

Passengers riding a Tokyo subway train

Left, my Japanese host mom, right, a skyscraper in Shidome

Left, my Japanese host mother, right, a skyscraper in Shidome

Graffiti on the wall of closed businesses in Jinbocho at night

Graffiti on the wall of closed businesses in Jinbocho at night

The Jinbocho antique book district in Tokyo, Japan

Construction in the Jinbocho antique book district in Tokyo, Japan

Antique books for sale in Jinbocho, which is full of stores that specialize in old and rare books

Antique books for sale in Jinbocho, which is full of stores that specialize in old and rare books

Japanese schoolboys and their teacher strolling through a side street in Asakusa near Senso-ji temple

Japanese schoolboys and their teacher strolling through a side street in Asakusa near Senso-ji temple

A persimmon tree laden with fruit in Asakusa

A persimmon tree laden with fruit in Asakusa

Pigeons flock over the roof of Senso-ji Buddhist temple in Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan

Pigeons flock over the roof of Senso-ji Buddhist temple, a popular tourist destination in Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan

Visitors to Senso-ji temple wash themselves in incense smoke for luck, blessing, and healing before entering the temple

Visitors to Senso-ji temple wash themselves in incense smoke for luck, blessing, and healing before entering the temple

The outer vestibule of Senso-ji temple with giant lantern, and a nearby pagoda framed by Tokyo Sky Tree tower

The outer vestibule of Senso-ji temple with giant lantern, and the nearby five-storied pagoda framed by Tokyo Sky Tree tower

The Five-Storied Pagoda and Tokyo Sky Tower from Senso-ji in Asakusa

The Five-Storied Pagoda and Tokyo Sky Tower from Senso-ji in Asakusa

The private garden behind the five-story pagoda

Taken from the private garden behind the five-story pagoda

Immaculately manicured Japanese black pines in the Senso-ji pagoda garden

Immaculately manicured Japanese black pines in the Senso-ji pagoda garden

A young man in yukata modeling in an Asakusa alleyway outside Senso-ji

A young man in yukata modeling in an Asakusa alleyway behind the shops that line the path to Senso-ji

Bicycles outside a shop in Asakusa plastered with posters for traditional Japanese entertainers

Bicycles outside a shop in Asakusa plastered with posters for traditional Japanese entertainers

A tsunami relief campaign poster subtitled in English

A tsunami relief campaign poster subtitled in English “Ain’t Gonna Take This Anymore,” showcases fishermen and farmers working to clear tsunami debris

Sights from Kappabashi kitchen town include the Niimi kitchen store building with teacups for landings and plastic food manufactured for restaurants to display

Sights from Kappabashi kitchen town include the Niimi kitchen store building with teacups for landings and plastic food manufactured for restaurants to display

Plastic food samples,

Plastic food samples, “sampuru,” on display on Kappabashi-dori where speciality kitchen shops sell directly to restaurants and tourists alike

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in Nishi Shinjuku, night

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in Nishi Shinjuku, night

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