Asakusa was the most touristy and busy place we’ve been to yet. Senso-ji, known for it’s large red hanging lanterns, is the oldest temple in Tokyo. The streets are lined wtih shops where you can buy souvenirs, candies, and things for the shrines. There is a steady stream of people trekking to the main shrine, but unlike in the United States I don’t mind the crowds very much. People are more mindful of personal space here and don’t push you out of the way to get to way they’re going like in Los Angeles.
After some festival food, Miranda I went to a sento. Recommended to us by my Lonely Planet tour book, we were the only foreigners there. This was the first place I’ve really noticed people staring at us. Despite forgetting our towels having to do a dripping wet walk of shame to the lockers, we left feeling relaxed. Even though the crowds here aren’t so bad, soaking in the baths gave us so much needed refreshment.
After we bought our tickets for the Shinkansen we met with my family for a final dinner at a place called NINJA Akasaka. They had a vegan set that consisted of a lot of tomatoes and some more traditional and international dishes for everyone else. It was definitely a tourist trap, but we still had fun. They fully committed to the ninja theme and even gave us an impressive magic show at the end of our dinner.
Leaving Tokyo is bittersweet. While I’m excited for the rest of my trip, I also don’t know when I’ll see my family again. In the past there’s been an assurance that we’ll see each other again soon because my cousin’s were constantly visiting America to see their grandparents. Now that my great uncle has moved back to Japan, we no longer know when we’ll be able to meet again. Will it be 5 years? 10? Under what circumstances? As much as I want to return to Japan every other year, it’s just not something I can commit to. While my family will always have a place to stay in Los Angeles, it’s not any easier for them to come to the United States. As Miranda and I make our way to Tokyo Station and the Shinkansen, I can’t help but feel like I’m leaving a little part of myself in Tokyo. How can a place I’ve never lived feel so much like home?
It took us around 3 hours to make it to Kyoto, and about and hour and a half to find our Air BnB. Our taxi driver, unable to understand the Google Map I kept showing him, pulled over twice to ask for help from some younger people then dropped us a 15 minute walk from the Air BnB. After we met up with Miranda’s sister, Mairead, we went in to the wrong building and were very close to ringing the doorbell of someone’s apartment when we realized we had the wrong address. Thankfully we weren’t very far off, and the happy sisters could celebrate their reunion.