Friday, 30 March 2007

Cruising the Sumida River

Friday was an amazing day here in Tokyo. In fact, I would have to say it would have to be one of the highlights of my tour of duty here.

My sensational friend Jacob and I visited the Asakusa area of Tokyo before taking a leisurely cruise along the Sumida River to the Hamarikyu Gardens where we partook in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony.

This was my second visit to Asakusa. It's home to the Senso-ji Temple - Tokyo's oldest with history dating back to 628 AD. I'm not much of a fan of temples as one is pretty much the same as the next, but Senso-ji and it's surrounding environs are an exception. This is where you'll find some traditional style commerce taking place with lots of knickknack souvenir stores. Asakusa is a place where tourists here on a short-stay are recommended to visit - it's largely a high concentration of the uniqueness that is Japan.

Again, this was the second time I've done the Sumida River cruise from Asakusa to Hamarikyu Gardens. This time however because it is cheery blossom season there was a cruise-extension which took us to parts of the Sumida which were lined with cherry blossom trees. This 45 minute tour is pretty impressive. The boat passes under about a dozen or so unique and stylish bridges which all rest only about 5 metres above the water.

It was good to see Hamarikyu Gardens in a different season. Last visit on December 13 was at the end of the autumn season. This season, spring, there is lots of new growth and the park is a whole lot more greener. One can't go by the gardens without partaking in a tea ceremony in the tea house in park central. For 500 yen (NZ$6) you can enjoy some greenish tea brew and a sweet thing served to you in a Japanese kind of way (very hard to describe). I think a Japanese tea ceremony is probably on par with afternoon tea or low tea in England.

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