Layover: Asakusa in 13 Hrs — Japan

In early 2014, we had a chance to travel to Taiwan and Singapore. We spotted a cheap ticket in September the year before, and bought it even though there was an overnight layover in Tokyo. We don’t mind these layovers though, as they simply provide an opportunity for us to “sample” another country without needing to buy a separate ticket. Most of the time, as we usually travel to Asia, we end up with layovers in Japan.

We don’t mind this at all.

Sensoji Japan, where the cities never sleep, countless supply of good food, provides the perfect layover experience for us. Not to mention, the people are courteous and the transportation outstandingly convenient.

We landed in the Narita International Airport around 16:30 and immediately hopped on the Skyliner into Tokyo. The Skyliner goes as far as Ueno, and because we have limited time, we decided to just hang around there. We booked a very reasonably priced hotel close to Ueno station, which we quickly found our way to, checked in, dropped our bags, and headed out on our adventure. (Read my review here)

I had never been to Japan, and although there are millions of destinations to pick from, Joy wanted to give me a solid “Japanese” image first so she thought Asakusa would be a good introduction. And was it ever! I was immediately mesmerized by the city lights and the juxtaposition of the old and new. We took a picture in front of the famous Thunder Gate, under the huge red lantern, and headed on in.

Asakusa We walked through the strip of small shops right in front of Sensoji, where the road is lit by lanterns. The shops sold snacks and souvenirs; I bought a roll up painting of “The Great Wave off Kanagawa” and Joy bought a paper fan with bunnies on it. Sensoji was magnificent, and it wasn’t the only temple there. There were smaller pagodas around and they all looked exotic and amazing. After we walked around the temple grounds a bit, we decided to find places to have dinner (yes, “places”, because one is simply not enough). The first place we went to was a BBQ joint in a basement. The servers there had a hard time understanding English, however, they did have an English menu, so we had no problem ordering our meals. We only ate a little bit, and headed right back out again, as I wanted to find my favorite — Sushi!! Which we found right away. Not far from the BBQ place, there was a conveyor belt sushi shop, so we had some more food there.

Conveyor Belt Sushi The night was still very young, but we were exhausted from jet lag. We struggled to get back on the train because Joy wanted to show me the famous Shibuya crossing. It was about a 20 minute train ride, and we both fell asleep on the train. Shibuya was very different from Asakusa and filled with shopping malls and commercial buildings. We walked through the famous crossing, but due to us being too tired, we headed right back down into the subway station and headed home to our hotel.

Although Shibuya might be where all the action is at, my heart was captured by Asakusa. You may think it’s because I’m a cheesy tourist who simply fell into a tourist trap, but it was my first impression, and it will always be how I remember Japan.

Originally published at on April 11, 2017.

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