December 28–Northern Tokyo and Sushi Bar Yasuda

We headed north in Central Tokyo to Asakusa, about 20 minutes on the subway or 13 stops on the Ginza line, to get to Senso-ji Temple, the site of the oldest temple in Tokyo.

outside Asakusa station

Above and below is the Thunder Gate.

Through the gates is a market with stalls selling souvenir items and local snacks. We bought a lot of snacks: mochi, okaki and something that was kind of like popcorn but probably made with rice. There were other things that were sweet, like sembe and yokan, and some things I had no idea what they were.

At the end of the market street another gate and then the temple.

The place was quite crowded but apparently nothing close to as crowded as it will be on New Years Day. Booths were selling wishes and prayer items for the temple. There are other structures on the site, including smaller temples,and a pagoda, as well as gardens.

We walked from there to look at the Sumida River.

Our destination was the Tokyo Skytree, seen in the background.

Kids were playing on the art installations along the riverside walk.


When we got to the Skytree, we discovered you needed a reservation to go up. The available reservations were from 4:00 to 4:30 and there was an enormous queue to buy reservations. We decided to skip going up and instead went to a 31st story restaurant in the hotel, retail complex.



We had the set steak lunch.

Dessert of mango, mochi with a powder that tasted like green tea and ice cream.

We took the subway to Akihabara, the original electronics district but now and area known for fans of anime and manga. The area looks like the futuristic vision in the movie Bladerunner.

Allie wanted to go to Sega World where you can play video games. The place was 9 stories of mostly young men playing games.

After five minutes, Scott and I left to look at the streets outside. The place was too hot, smoky and nerdy. Even the pedestrians in the area were mostly young guys.

A lot of places related popular culture including cafes about popular music groups. AKB48 is a girl group with the current #1 song in Japan.

We got back on the subway to get to our dinner reservation at Sushi Bar Yasuda. One thing I really like about Japanese public transportation is that my feet touch the floor instead of dangling in the air.

Sushi Bar Yasuda only seats 8 people, although for a while there were the 5 of us and another family of 4.

The menu is pretty simple. You decide how many pieces you want and Yasuda-san decides what he will make you. There is only sushi on the menu and drinks of beer, sake and shochu selected by Yasuda-san as those that go best with sushi. Below a clam only found in Far East Asia.

Blue fin tuna:

Yasuda-san owned the top New York sushi restaurant where we ate in 2006. He had a bunch of sous chefs working with him there. Now he works on his own with his wife doing all the non-cooking tasks. He even pickles the ginger served.

I think this was jack mackerel:

Freshly cooked sea prawn.

Half a roll of otoro:

After my 12 pieces and half roll, I was satisfied but Scott, Robin and Allie had one more piece, an uni, sea urchin, from near Russia.  Earlier we had uni from Santa Barbara, California.

We had to give up our seats at the counter for the next reservation, but we were able to sit at the side table to finish our meal with white sake, or unflitered sake which is sweet.

After that delicious meal, I thought we were headed home but the kids took us to a karaoke bar. Bar isn’t the right word since you rent a private room and drinks are delivered to the room. As Allie explained, if singing in public embaresses a lot of us North Americans, the level of embaressment for Japanese would be exponential, so they like their karaoke more private.

Allie singing the AKB48 #1 song.  She had to sing alone since having the words didn’t help the rest of us unless they were the odd English words which are part of the song.

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