Adventures of a teenage author...

This is Marta, author of the Darkwoods series and of Marta's Blog. I created this blog specifically for blogging about my 2015 study abroad adventures in Europe, but it's becoming the blog for all my travels. I hope you enjoy all the pictures and stories!

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Tokyo, Day 2 - Tokyo Station

I went to the Sensoji Shrine by myself, but a couple of hours after that, my wonderful, genius, patient, pleasant, sweet, long-suffering, brilliant chef of a roommate (she reads this blog) arrived in Tokyo. As part of the afternoon, we decided to head to Tokyo Station.

Something really neat about the subway stations in Japan is that around each subway stop is a variety of shopping and eating places. The one nearby our hostel was minimal, but apparently the grandest one is Tokyo Station.

There is an entire two rows dedicated to anime stores, and since I've gotten into that a little bit, I had a lot of fun looking at those. We also wandered around the rest of the station, too!

First, this is the escalator down into the subway station:

Next, pictures from the anime section!

This is the Miyazaki section
 And............ everyone knows this next section!

Gotta catch 'em all!

I don't know if I mentioned this, but we were there at the beginning of October. Apparently Japan really gets into Halloween (at least the touristy parts do), so we had fun seeing Pokemon in Halloween costumes!

Pikachu in an Eevee costume!

Look at all the costumes! I especially love the Sableye dressed up as a Litwick!

I love Pokemon Go, but I don't know this team...

So cute!!

After that, we went wandering around the subway station, and we found a candy store. Entirely to my delight, we got to see a guy making hard candy!

After that, we went to dinner. After dinner, we went home, but not before I saw this beautiful room:

Monday, April 15, 2019

Tokyo Day 2 - Sensoji Temple

Finally made it to Tokyo, Day 2!

As I mentioned in a previous post, Tokyo is a very modern city, despite being very old, so I had to really look to find the historical stuff. Luckily for me, I found one of the best - Sensoji Temple!

Sensoji Temple was built to honor a Buddhist goddess of mercy, named Kannon. The story behind the temple is that two brothers were fishing in a nearby river, and they found a statue of the goddess. They tried to give it back, but the statue kept reappearing, so it was decided to build a temple there to honor the goddess.

The temple is the oldest one in Tokyo, going back to the 7th century (although, if I remember correctly, it needed to be reconstructed after WWII... but I'm honestly not sure about that). It's very colorful and very beautiful.

To get there, first you walk up a market street of hundreds of souvenir vendors. I remember reading that in days gone by, they would sell seasonal items that you need for a festival, but today, they sell a lot of souvenirs. I got a lot of Christmas presents at Sensoji!

Anyway, after the long row of vendors, there's the gate leading up to the temple grounds. Hanging in the middle of this gate is a giant red lantern with black Japanese writing on it (I think Kanji):

Here it is closer:

And, here's that lovely symbol that we all love to see:

Remember - this is a symbol of Buddhism. It's not Nazism.

Here's the relief on the bottom of the lantern. Isn't that beautiful?!

Take a nice step back and see the gate from a distance. 
A lot of these Asian temples have beautiful wood designs under the eaves:

I saw lots of people doing this pose. Gotta be a tourist!

Once you go up the row of vendors and go through the main gate, there's a huge square open area and across that is the shrine holding the goddess's statue (and a lot of gold ornaments to go with it). Inside the walls of the big square are rooms that you can look into but you can't go into; there are different kinds of smaller statues in those rooms, which you can see, but I didn't get pictures of them.

The next pictures are from the square area, leading up to the main shrine.

Another lantern hanging in a doorway, but I didn't go through that one. 

A pagoda

If I remember correctly, this was the building where you could buy your fortune. Do you see the wooden frame in the background with white paper tied to the strings going between it? See this post if you don't remember what that's from. 

Here's part of the garden

This is the pathway going up to the main temple. The right and left are stalls that sell spiritual items like fortunes and amulets.

This is where people wash their hands to be pure for the temple

The entrance to the main temple. Notice another lantern!

The next pictures are from the inside of the main shrine. These next pictures, I got mostly for the beautiful artwork.

I assume this is Kannon, the goddess whose statue washed up in the river. 

A dragon, holding a pearl... I honestly don't know, but does this have anything to do with The Librarians episode?

Inside the temple. They asked for no pictures of the goddess's statue, so I just have pictures like this.  

Looking back at the square area from the top of the main shrine. 

After that, I wandered around the square and took pictures of the sides:

One of the shrines in the walls.

Something I noticed is that it's not unusual at all to see people in kimonos. I especially saw a lot of them at the shrines, where I assume they were either there for a formal occasion, or they were tourists doing the various kimono tours:

Anyway, that was the oldest shrine in Japan. I spent a lot of time staring at the artwork, which is almost totally new to me. After this shrine, I joined forces with my dear, sweet, adorable, interminably patient roommate, and we toured the rest of Tokyo and part of Kyoto together. Day 3 is going to have a huge post, to say nothing of Kyoto, which will be insane. I'm planning to get to all of that during the rest of this break, but then, that's what I said for the last two breaks, so... who knows. 

Anyway, stay tuned!

Friday, April 5, 2019

Ueno Park - Zoo and the Typhoon

About the time I was in Japan, we heard about a horrible typhoon farther south, towards Hong Kong. I didn't know much about it, and since I didn’t sleep much on the trip from Nara to Tokyo, I was really too tired to think properly.

But, short version, there was a typhoon heading north as well, and the very edge of it brushed over Ueno while I was there.

But this all happened while I was in the Ueno Zoo. This is the oldest zoo in Japan, and somehow it survived WWII. Currently, its most popular attraction is the Chinese panda:

Not that there aren't other adorable animals too...

It's Anamay!
Anyway, it had been drizzling periodically all day, so I was't overly concerned with the fact that it was raining a little harder. My shoes were getting damp, but I had a raincoat-type thing, so I wasn't overly worried.

But right when I was going past the otters, the floodgates of heaven suddenly opened. In the blink of an eye, it went from fairly damp to everything soaking. It cut right through my coat, and my shoes, and soaked all my paper maps (not my phone, thankfully). 

I dashed inside the nearest building, the night exhibit, and hung out there to wait out the downpour. It was over surprisingly quickly, so I snuck out and tried to keep walking. Of course, by this point, I was completely drenched and getting a little chilly. I still stuck it out in the zoo until it closed, and by this point, I was just happy to hop on the subway and get back to my hostel to relax. 

When I got back, I saw the weather channel playing in the common room, and on the map, they showed the corner of a typhoon passing over Tokyo. 

So yes, I was stuck in a typhoon. 

I went out to dinner and came back, and no sooner did I get inside than I heard the sound of really loud rain pelting down. The typhoon was back! I stayed inside my capsule and did as much writing as I could, and the entire time, I listened to the sound of the typhoon outside. It was, to put it mildly, very windy. 

So, that was my first typhoon! Ah, good times. 

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Ueno Park - Ramblings

Yep, I'm still on my first day in Tokyo. Classic...

Anyway, after seeing Kanei'ji, I decided to wander around the rest of Ueno Park to see what I could see.

Here are the pictures!

Am I the only one who thinks this looks like a totem pole?! Because to me, this looks like a totem pole!

This shows up on the map as the Giant Buddha Head.

This was a Japanese prince who was well known for his charity work, but I have completely forgotten what kind of charity work he did. 

This is a drinking fountain in Ueno! Notice how the water goes straight up? I had fun trying to drink out of that!

This is the Five Story Pagoda

Up next is the story of how I got caught in a typhoon, and then more ancient Japanese temples!