Continuing on my journey in Japan, I left Asakusa on my fourth day, after a ramen lunch, and got on the train to make my way across the city once again. I had a mission to visit Sugamo, a part of Tokyo not usually visited by tourists, in order to see the Arai Kannon, the washing statue. If you know me and my work, you know that I wrote about the washing statue in one of my Kami No Sekai short stories. Yes, it’s a real statue, and I was ready to see it for myself!
When I got to Sugamo and off the train, I walked along the main street towards the temple. Many people ride bikes out in this more remote area of the city and there were mamachari lined up all along the streets.
Walking up to the temple, I could already feel like I was in someplace special. It was a small, quiet neighborhood establishment. No one taking photos. Just people praying and going about their daily business.
And there it was! The statue was waiting to be washed. Here’s how it works. You throw 100 Yen into the donation box when it’s your turn to wash the statue. Then you step up, drizzle water on the statue using the ladles, and then you pick up the wash cloth and you wipe down the statue in all the place you yourself have trouble. I often have back aches, head aches, and my right shoulder and arm hurt a lot, so I made sure to wash and wipe down the statue in all of those areas. I felt very much like Yuki in WASHING STATUE WANDERLUST. I made sure to lean in and ask the statue where it wanted to go. :)
From Sugamo, I took the Yamanote line back to my hotel in Nishi-Shinjuku for a snack and a nap. Then I left to go back into the city!
For the evening I chose to go to Ginza where I visited my favorite place, Itoya (also mentioned in SUMMER HAIKUS, for those keep track of my story references). Itoya is a stationery store, and if you love pens, pencils, office supplies, and beautiful paper, Itoya is the place to be. They have something like 7 floors of good stuff. I spent a lot of time there and drooled over everything.
After shopping in Ginza, I was ready for dinner and I had a craving for eel. I really wanted a good eel dinner while I was in Tokyo, and there was a place in Ginza I wanted to try. This was a tiny little place tucked into the back streets of Ginza, and they spoke like NO english here. Lol. I totally didn’t understand the little old woman who was telling me “No seats.” It sounded like “no sheets” and I held back my giggles until I understood what she was saying. She wanted me to wait outside until a seat opened, which I did.
Once I was inside, I got a seat at the bar next to a large tattooed man with his own bottle of shochu. He didn’t even look at me while I ordered my box of eel and rice, so I read and drank my beer while my food was cooked.
The grill was right on the other side of the bar! And look at the fan that guy was using for the grill. It’s singed! Lol. I wonder how many times it has caught on fire.
I took out my phone to get this photo of my meal, and the big guy next to me burst into a laugh. Lol. I’m sure he thought I was some silly foreigner, but I didn’t care. This eel was so good. They steam it, then grill it, dip it in sauce, grill it again, dip it in sauce, repeat until it’s perfect then serve over a bed of rice. I ate every last grain! Delicious! I would go back to Japan just for this meal.
On the way home, I made sure to hit the 7-11 again for snacks and drinks and called it a night in my room.
Kampai! It was another great night in Tokyo!
Up next: an aborted trip to Yokohama and then shopping in Harajuku.