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.

 

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Signs, signs: Hiding

Did you see my dog?

Pet Humour Red Dog
Someone didn’t want to be seen.

This was months ago and my dog, Red, was just over two months old.
I was looking for him as I realised it had been quiet so suddenly in the veranda where I let him play. I called him; no Red. I kept on calling him. Over and over. Till I found him here. Called him again but he just wouldn’t budge. I guess someone didn’t want me to find him. Oh well.

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Signs, signs: WarmShowers

signs warm showers host phnom penh
We’re one of the few in Phnom Penh that hosts touring cyclists from warmshowers.org.

This was a sign I made when we had guests from WarmShowers. In June, we hosted two  – a couple from England, and a solo cyclist from Australia. It was really nice to meet them and my husband, who was also a touring cyclist before, and I loved listening to their adventures in different parts of the world. We’ve been on-and-off hosts since 2006 and, so far,  we had hosted couples and solo cyclists from Canada, Spain, and the USA.

N.B. Please excuse the other sign that I deliberately pixelized. It showed our house and street numbers 🙂

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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.

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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.

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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

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Signs, signs: HK-China border crossing

I was organising my stuff at home over the holidays and was surprised to find a lot of photos that have accumulated in my collection. Yes, they did bring back a lot of memories of my travels (mostly work-related) when I was still single. I decided to post them one by one. Having said that, this is my first entry for the weekly Signs, signs meme.

HK-China border sign

Taken in November, 2004 on my first trip to China via Hongkong for an international conference on environment in Shenzhen. At that time, applying for a Chinese visa was not as difficult as it is (for Filipinos) today. Armed with an invitation letter from the Chinese NGO and other required documents, I received my visa at the Chinese Embassy here in Phnom Penh in just three days. No hassle.

My airfare and accommodation were sponsored by my host, the Chinese NGO, and I could’ve chosen a better travel route. However, being the adventurous me, I chose one that was not usually taken by most foreign travellers – a land trip to China. From Phnom Penh, I flew to Hongkong and rode a bus that took me to the border. Arriving late at night and fearing the border closing at midnight, I was surprised to see that there was a sea of people and  (public and private) vehicles there, coming in and out of the border. It was chaotic and noisy, always moving and in a feverish hurry, something I didn’t expect considering it was already close to midnight. I found out that the border crossing, located between Lok Ma Chau in Hongkong and Shenzhen, Guangdong, operates on a 24-hour basis daily.

Going through the Hongkong and then the Chinese border controls was a breeze although I have to admit I was nervous as the border officials, especially on the Chinese side, didn’t smile and were looking rather stern. Some English are spoken there and there are signages in English but on the HK side. I wonder, after nearly a decade after, what changes have occurred there?

 

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