Saturday, February 16, 2013

Asakusa, Tempura, French

Asakusa always rhymes with tempura. The old, traditional district is famous for the battered seafood and vegetable fare, as well as the gorgeous Senso-ji temple. Asakusa is one of the places most tourists visit, as it's considered one of the most traditional areas, where some establishments luckily survived the WWII bombings.

I don't go to Asakusa very often, as it's "far way". For Tokyoites, anything that's on the opposite side of the city is usually considered far, especially when it involves nearly one hour of commuting. Yet, I always feel a sense of achievement when I get out of my usual stomping grounds, and going to Asakusa was a good Saturday day trip.

This time, instead of hitting the touristy path, we explored the lesser-known, local areas. We found an old, nearly abandoned shotengai (covered shopping street), an abundance of craft stores selling beautiful dolls for the upcoming hinamatsuri (Girl's Day), and took refuge from the chilling February winds in the coziest, warmest Edo-period tempura shop, where I ate the best tempura of my life. It even surpassed this one in Shinjuku. The battered squid and shrimp was served on a bed of rice, along with pickled vegetables and a delicate yuzu-flavoured soup, and green tea.

It was probably one of the coldest days of the winter, a major change from the last time I visited Asakusa in July. On the way back home, we stopped by L'Institut Fran├žais du Japon, where I reveled at the sight of French books and magazines- as you may know, my mother tongue is French (I learned English at the ripe age of 17, while being an exchange student in America for one year). I miss reading books in French and being surrounded with them made me feel at home. I vowed to frequent L'Institut on a regular basis.

It was such a fun day, and a good reason to stop hibernating in February. All I want to do in winter is sleep, take baths, and eat. I wish I were an animal.

Tempura set, this stuff is out of control.

Keeping warm with tea

A cool, detailed mural on a side street

Old shotengai are the best

I found warmth in the form of a boy

Perusing the books at L'Institut Fran├žais

A better view of the tempura

And the soup!
Last two photos, thanks to Maaserhit Honda.


Gigglebangs Riceball said...

I wish I could hibernate too.

Unknown said...

J'aime! I was happy to see your post today. I am spending 2 months in Asakusa this summer because we adored it last time we were there. I also spent 12 years in French school so I am will be excited to stumble upon l'Institute. Merci!

T Jr. said...

Have you ever visit "Komagata Dojo" which is boil loach restaurant located 5min walk from Asakusa station. You may not enjoy its taste, but you would enjoy the mood.

Komagata Dojo:

Alex Kelly said...

Hello, I love your blog! Which restaurant did you feature in your latest post about Asakusa? Thank you!

anjlina joli said...

its really great blog, i really like it and i find it very helpfull..

Christine loves to Travel said...

I like your boots ;) where is it from?

Vivian said...

Top Shop! Last autumn... Maybe they still have them! I wear them every single day!