Signs, signs: Asakusa rokku

I’m trying to get back into the blogging groove again so I’m digging up old photos and reminiscing the experiences that I may be inspired to write. So please indulge me for this week’s Signs meme.

Many years ago I was invited by a Japanese NGO to visit their country. After my official obligations were done, I stayed for three more days to get acquainted with Tokyo.

In my previous post, I mentioned about sightseeing and shopping at Demboin-dori, a shopping area in Asakusa. Having been amazed at the sights before me as I strolled along, and coupled with my faulty sense of direction, I got lost and ended up in the rokku (the sixth district) entertainment area, which was really a welcome eventuality.

Asakusa’s rokku, in its heydays, was  one of Tokyo’s prime entertainment districts before the war.  And even prior to that, between 1600s-1800s, it was said to be a known as a Yoshiwara, or the pleasure district. Sadly, it didn’t regain its popularity after the war ended.

At present, the rokku features attractions such as pachinko parlours, rakugo theatres (similar to a one-man stand-up comedy show), cinemas, and street performances.

Asakusa, Tokyo, Rokku
This is Asakusa’s rokku entertainment district.

Walking around the rokku, I could feel the post-war atmosphere. Actually, the whole Asakusa feels like old-world Japan. The advertising banners and signs for shops and shows are still traditional and some were noticeably garish.

The street cleaner had just finished his duties when I took this photo. The two “shelves” contained his cleaning brushes and is held together by a wooden stick.  He carried them on his shoulder as he went on to his next cleaning spot.  The rokku is a busy place but since I went there in the morning, the entertainment strip was still empty.



Signs, signs: Remnants of Old Japan

In 2006, I was invited by the Japanese NGO ACCU-EE to visit their country and participate in a conference for Environmental Educators. After the 5-day event, I didn’t return to Cambodia right away. I stayed for three more days to experience Japan for the first time.

During my extended stay, I chose a ryokan (a traditional Japanese inn)  in the historic Asakusa district of Tokyo. Not only that it is relatively inexpensive there (lots of ryokans, small hotels and and inexpensive hostels and dorms), but it is one of the few remaining places where you experience Tokyo of the olden days.

I went on a walking tour of  Asakusa alone. The weather was nice and cool, perfect for on-foot travel, and I wasn’t disappointed!

On my walks, I tried to avoid the huge crowd and walked the opposite direction. I found myself in Demboin-dori, a calmer, less-crowded street lined with amazing wooden shops.  I was told these traditional wooden shops (craft shops and restaurants) are centuries-old and was left as they were:

Signs Japanese traditional shops in Asakusa

Although I do not understand what’s written on them, I think the wooden signs and the exteriors are beautiful! And the interiors are even better.  As I was on a budget-trip, I restrained myself from getting some really great handmade Japanese souvenirs in one of these shops.


Signs, signs: Push

From Phuket, Thailand, my Signs, signs entry this week came all the way from Kathmandu, Nepal.
As you can see I am still in an arm-chair travel mode, unearthing old photos and reminiscing wonderful memories of my travel adventures, as a solo traveller or otherwise. But I digress.

When I was in Kathmandu for a conference a few years ago, the hosts treated the conference participants to a fancy dinner at the fancy Krishnarpan restaurant inside a fancy hotel. The hotel is called Dwarika Restaurant and, although my colleagues and I entered via a non-descript doorway, we were astounded by what we saw inside. Stepping inside it felt like I was in old world Nepal!

Dwarika Hotel is an amazing piece of property that was a product of a restoration effort spanning some three decades. The details in the hotel – the buildings and in every piece of furniture, pottery and other items there – were gorgeous pieces showcasing exquisite Nepali traditional architecture and arts. An example is this unique door handle of the restaurant – just a small detail yet it charms you right away!

Everything inside the Dwarika property feels luxuriously old-world. I especially love this door handle. I wish brought one back home for souvenir.

I would love to have a piece of Nepal in my own house! Don’t you?
I know I have the “Pull” photo as well but I could not find it as of this writing. I’ll post it if I find it just in time for next week’s Signs, signs meme.

Here’s a post I wrote about Experiencing Old World Nepal and more pictures of the hotel. Hope you enjoy it.


Signs, signs: Dead-end Beach

Still in Phuket…

I saw this sign while strolling along  Kata Beach just a few metres away  from the Kata Thani Beach Resort.

Signs, signs dead end beach

The resort was at the very end of a semi-secluded area with few hotels around; fewer still were the visitors at that time. The white, sandy beach was very inviting even though it was the onset of the rainy season in Thailand when I went there. What ruined a quiet walkabout, aka, beach-bumming, were the obnoxious touts that wouldn’t just leave you alone.


Signs, signs: Tsunami warning

I went to Phuket with my husband in 2008, nearly four years after the devastating tsunami that hit the island.

What happened there (and in Sri Lanka) in 2004 was something unimaginable – I wasn’t there but saw most on TV. Four years after the tsunami, I set foot in Phuket’s beaches – Nai Harn, Kata, Karon, Patong. Imagine walking on these beautiful beaches… There were already new establishments that replaced the old ones that was destroyed by the tsunami. It felt odd. I couldn’t help it but my mind was racing thinking about hundreds and thousands of people that drowned and died under water. You couldn’t help it because the signs of devastation were still around…

Anyways, I wonder if this sign was put up before the tsunami hit, or after.

signs tsunami evacuation route sign


Wordless Wednesday 0080: Tennis "babes"

Okay, the photo above is not mine but it is so funny I just had to post it for this week’s WW. I found it over the Internet while I was googling for a site that offers free livestreaming of the Aussie Open matches. Did I mention that I am a tennis fan? In fact, a huge Rafa Nadal fan? 🙂

I think the “babes” really look hot… guys, who would you pick and take home to meet your parents?

For more Wordless photos, visit the main site here.

Wordless Wednesday #55: Working girl

young Bangla girl

My entry for the Tuesday-Wednesday edition. Taken in Dhaka, Bangladesh in December, 2002. After getting off a bus, I chanced upon this pretty girl, roaming around with this mat on her head. Through my interpreter, I learned that this girl is one of the many displaced people in Bangladesh. She used to live along the Buriganga river and constant floodings swept away her family’s house and livelihood. This drove them to the capital of Dhaka where they have no permanent shelter and no food to eat. She earns money picking garbages and, sometimes, begging, too.

For more wordless, visit Wordless Wednesday.

Photo Hunt #19 – High

In 2004, my husband went on a cycling tour of western Europe starting from his native England, to France, Spain, Portugal and ending at the Rock of Gibraltar. He sent me this photo while he was on a pilgrimage to the Camino de Santiago. This photo was taken in Cebreiro, Spain, in between Ponferrada and Sarria on the Camino de Santiago. It was a tough day for him – a full-day climb, 60 miles from Ponferrada to Sarria, with this hill in between. You can find more on his cycling tour here.