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Exploring Tokyo: Odaiba and Sensō-ji

Spring is a lovely time in Tokyo, and we have hugely enjoyed showing three groups of friends around this amazing city during its emergence from winter. There is the oft-quoted proverb that travel broadens the mind, but hosting visitors also gives you fresh impetus to see and do new things without travelling (very far) yourself.

The Odaiba district’s half-empty multi-lane roads and busy elevated pedestrian walkways lend it a different vibe to the rest of Tokyo. I had been there several times before to visit a specific attraction, always in a hurry to get to the destination, and this was the first time I had taken time to wander and see the giant robot statue (from the Gundam franchise), and appreciate the waterfront. We then travelled back to central Tokyo by way of scenic cruise on the Sumida River—a pleasant and comfortable way to travel and see the city from a remarkably different angle.

The cruise took us to Asakusa, over which Tokyo Sky Tree dominates the skyline. Our boat docked opposite the Philippe Starck designed Asahi beer hall with its bizarre golden flame. Having visited plenty of temples and shrines elsewhere in Japan, this was our first time to Tokyo’s ancient Sensō-ji Buddhist temple. Temples (like churches) can vary greatly in how interesting they are as a tourst attraction, but I thought this was a good one. It was busy, but not so dominated by tourists as to destroy the atmosphere. Sampling the wares of the overwhelming number of shops selling sweet treats to pilgrims on the road leading up to the temple is part of the experience, but we avoided choice-overload by limiting ourselves to the three that were recommended in the Lonely Planet, which proved a tasty and sensible strategy.