Sengaku-ji, the least crowded temple in Tokyo

As much as I complained about the windy, cloudy weather in Yokohama, it really wasn’t anything compared to the next day in Tokyo which was windy, cloudy, and rainy. We noticed our AirBnb host had a basket of loaner umbrellas that were all significantly sturdier than the cheapo 300 yen models we had bought a few days a go, so we grabbed two as we headed out the door. Setting off, umbrellas in hand, we grabbed our usual poor travelers breakfast (rice balls, bread, and tea) from the Lawson on the way to the train. The first stop we had planned for the day was Sengaku-ji temple. This temple is famous for being the burial site of the famous forty-seven ronin (I told you that I didn’t know much about Japan beyond samurai, so here we are again).

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Most delicious breakfast in Tokyo? Ehhhhh. Most affordable breakfast in Tokyo? You bet!

The temple was pretty small compared to Senso-ji, and there were only one or two other people in the entire complex. This was probably less a testament to the temple’s popularity and more because it was cold and pouring rain. We wandered around the temple grounds, looking at some of the buildings (most of which were closed). There was a staircase to the left of the entrance that led up to the tombstones of the forty-seven ronin. On the way up the steps there was a museum which cost a little extra, but we decided to splurge just to get out of the rain.

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Sengagku-ji in the rain. Also featured: the only two other people we saw there.

Inside the museum there was a short movie recounting the story of the legendary masterless samurai and their efforts to avenge their former master. If you’re not familiar with the story check it out here. There were also some helmets and scrolls from the time period. In another room there were statues of all of the samurai with information about their rank, age, role in the raid, and how much money they made. Most of them were between the ages of twenty and forty, but there were a few who were older.

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Zojo-ji and Tokyo Tower. Would you have paid to go up to the top in weather like this?

After leaving Sengaku-ji, our next destination was the Tokyo Tower. On the way we walked through the Zojo-ji temple where the mausoleum of the Tokugawa shoguns is located. Again, if you’re not familiar with Japanese history here’s a brief overview. Honestly, the highlight of our time here was a trip to the bathroom which featured heated toilet seats. It was an incredible reprieve for our frozen bums. I’ve never so thoroughly enjoyed spending time in a public toilet. Of course the temple itself was very impressive. It more similar to the size of Senso-ji, but with much smaller crowds (again probably because of the rain). The temple building was of a starker design than Senso-ji, more white and brown, compared to the bright red of the former. We could see the base of the Tokyo Tower behind the main building, but the top was obscured by the clouds.

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These long rows are statues of Jizo, a Buddhist deity who protects the souls of unborn children and those who died early in life.

We walked up to the base of the Tokyo Tower, but decided it was too expensive (about $28 to go to the top deck, though only $9 to go to the main deck) to bother going to the top, especially when we most likely wouldn’t be able to see anything. We were both pretty hungry by this point, so we ended up heading back to Tokyo station to a really neat little vegan ramen place called T’s Tan Tan. I got the white sesame ramen and Alana had spicy pumpkin seed ramen. Both were very good and received our seal of approval. It was a little high for our budget, but it was a really nice departure from our typical convenience store diet.

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Yum yum yum yum yum yum yum, delicioso!

After lunch we did a bit of shopping and picked up some sweet potato sticks from Imoya-Kinjiro. They served as a tasty snack later that night. Like the previous day, the weather had us feeling a little worn out, so we decided to call it a relatively early night. We still had an hour and a half subway ride back to our AirBnb after all. On the way home we stopped for our usual poor travelers convenience store dinner (more rice balls, salad, and maybe some sushi).

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