Senso-Ji Temple

When I was in Tokyo, I actually ended up going to Senso-Ji Temple twice!  I went on Friday (right before my rain soaked visit to the Edo-Tokyo museum).  Then after doing a walking tour with some of my coworkers, two of us ended up back at Senso-Ji on Saturday.

What a cool temple!  First, it is really in the middle of the city.  It goes from bustling city to a sacred (but still very bustling) temple.  The shrine was crazy busy in the rain, and also crazy busy on the weekend (obviously).  

PS I love this photo!

On my second visit, Chariti and I were actually approached by five university students who wanted to practice their English.  They were part of their university's English club who occasionally goes to the temple to practice.  

It was great because I was able to get all my questions answered from the day before...including where the sandals of the gods were.  As you can see in the picture below, I am not sure why I could not find them on Friday.

Another question: where was the big pagoda?  It turns out that was under construction, so I do not feel so bad about missing that one!

Once you got past the main temple, though, there was this small garden on the side.  It was so peaceful in the middle of the city.  I loved it.  It had so many nooks and crannies.  

These statues in red symbolizes children who had passed away.  You could see them throughout the city at the different shrines

The students also told me about the holy smoke, which if it touches the part of you that is hurt, it cures it.

I must have the look though as I was approached by someone else who wanted to practice their English tour guide!  It was such a wonderful visit.  As I said, solidly visited twice.  It was a must-stop.

Times visited: 2
Time spent: 2 hrs
Overall: A-


Edo Tokyo Museum

After the shrine, I walked to the Edo Tokyo Museum.  

I had contemplated getting a cab, but unfortunately due to the rain, I could not find one.  I was soaked by the time I arrived...and cold (as you can see with the fogged up glasses).  

I start with this as a preamble because I am very sure this impacted my view of this museum.  

This museum focuses on the history of Tokyo; it started with when Tokyo was known as Edo.  It has been the third capital of Japan and has held that role since 1603.  

You start at the top of the museum and work your way down.  The museum is fantastic for children as it is quite hand's on and full of interactive displays.  It starts out with large scale replicas of different buildings from different periods within Tokyo.  One was a theater, Nakamuraza.  Inside the theater, you could see a replica of a play with life-sized actors.  

They also have a number of smaller scale models.  The level of detail is remarkable.  They have small magnifying scopes so that you can see the true level of detail.  They have hundreds of little people in them.  

Now, after these, you head downstairs.  I will admit that I really do not remember much of the rest of the museum.  I think I had been a bit overhwlmed at this point and honestly, cold and wet.  It was really loud in the museum and not particularly helped by all the school children.  

I hope the next time I am in Tokyo I have a chance to go again on fresh, dry legs.

Time in museum: 1 hr
Times visited: 1
Overall: B+

Tokyo National Museum

While I was in Tokyo, I wanted to hit the top museums, but at the same time, realized I did not have a ton of a time available.  Going to the Tokyo National Museum was a natural, easy decision.

The museum is at the northern end of Ueno Park, which has a number of Tokyo's museums, similar to Berlin's museum island or even how Madrid has a number museums centered around the Prado.  

The Tokyo National Museum is a museum compound of different museums.  I focused on the Honkan museum, which has the Japanese collection.  I also went into the Heiseikan collection.

The Honkan had a wonderful brochure that pointed out the highlights in the collection.  I also really liked the stamps on the exhibit descriptions about "important cultural item"  This museum really had everything you would htink of when considering traditional Japanese items of cultural importance.  

Based on my visit to the DIA to visit their Samurai exhibit, I have been really interested in the cultural significance of the Samurai.  The armour they have in Japan is beautiful.  It is so elaborate and well preserved.  

 The museum also had some beautiful kimonos showing different techniques 

They also exquisite examples of letter press, woodprint and paintings. The museum does not allow a ton of photographs of them, but I took a few where I could.  This painting was an example of satire. The level of detail and color was fantastic.  The planning required to execute these correctly is hard to imagine.

These statues were also beautiful.  

If you have one day in Tokyo, you need to go to this museum.  It is just a wonderful curated and edited collection.  It has the full breadth of art you would expect and was easy to navigate.

Time in museum: 2.5 hrs
Times visited: 1
Overall: A



One of the mornings in Amsterdam, I met my dad at the Verzetsmuseum.  In English, the museum name translates to the Dutch Resistance Museum.  It felt like an appropriate activity for Rosh Hashanah.  

It was an interesting contrast to Norway's Resistance Museum.

It was one of those deceptive museums -- that looks like it is going to be really small and quick to go through.  This one quickly proved me wrong!  

It was very interactive and multimedia.  I believe it had recently been renovated and redone.  

It walks through what Amsterdam and by extension, the Netherlands experienced during WWII from May 1940 through the end of WWII.  It showed what the Netherlands was like leading up to the raise of Hitler in adjacent Germany.  

I found the museum really well laid out.  It had a number of objects and interactivity.  There were videos, first person narratives to listen or read, objects saved from that time period, and photographs.  

I did find it a little difficult at times to do the museum in the right order, which is the slight ding in the score.  

I think Amsterdam should be promoting this museum more than it does!

Times visited: 1
Time in museum: 1.5 hrs
Overall: A-