Ueno Park | Great Buddha Hill – Daibutsu

More popularly known as Chedi or Stupa, this structure is an architecture of Buddhist’s influence. For one that strolls in Ueno Park, you can hardly miss a prominent pagoda or chedi on top of a small hill nestled within the western bound, in-between Shinobazu Pond and Kiyomizu Kannon-do.
The only remain of Daibutsu
Known as Daibutsu yama or ‘Great Buddha Hill’, this small hill is the same ground as Kanei-ji Temple during Edo period. At present, it houses Ueno Great Buddha. The history of Great Buddha started in 1631 when it was built by a feudal lord Hori Naoyari, whom governed the area around Murakami in Niigata Prefecture. Alas, the seated Buddha statue measured 2.8 meters in height but it was destroyed by earthquake in 1647.

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Ueno Park Shinto Shrine | Gojo Tenjin

Attracted by countless arches of red torii situated adjacent to Great Buddha Hill, we footed forward descending on a flight of staircase. It led us to a Shinto shrine – Gojo Tenjin.
Tucked away beside Great Buddha Hill
The facade is adorned with a pair of white chochin, red altar and shimenawa. Shimenawa is a horinzontal straw rope with white zigzag paper strips (gohei) that marks the boundary to a sacred ground. Stood beyond the gate, worshipers were seen paying respect in silence.

Torii - Symbol of Shinto shrine
Torii – Symbol of Shinto shrine

Interestingly, figurines of foxes are everywhere here. In Shinto’s belief, fox is the messenger of Inari or kami (Shinto gods) of rice. Guarding the holy ground against the evil spirits or Kimon, a pair of foxes are  placed at the entrance of this Inari shrine.
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Ueno Park Shinobazu Pond | Benten Hall

Floating on the water of Shinobazu Pond, Bentendo Hall is a Buddhist temple dedicated to Benzaiten or the goddess of the arts, knowledge and wisdom. Today, Benzaiten is sought after for success in examination and good fortune.

Benten Hall floats on Shinobazu Pond
Benten Hall floats on Shinobazu Pond

Located south-west of Ueno Park, Bentendo Temple was built by a feudal lord (daimyo) named Mizunoya Katsutaka in early 17th century. At the beginning, crossing to the island to pray was a hassle and devotees had to take boat.
Biwa - symbol of Benzaiten or Goddess of Arts
Several years later in late 17th century, a stone bridge was constructed to ease commuting and thus, had
increased the popularity of this Buddhist hall.
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Tokyo Tower and Foot Town

Seeing Paris is incomplete without visiting Eiffel Tower. Similarly, visiting Tokyo Tower is like seeing Tokyo!

The icon of Tokyo
The icon of Tokyo

Standing at 333 m above sea level as the symbol of rebirth to Tokyo after the major destruction in 1945, Tokyo Tower is the world’s tallest self-supporting or free-standing steel tower surpassing Eiffel Tower in Paris by 13 m. At present (2010), Tokyo Tower is the tallest artificial structure in Tokyo but will be outnumbered by Tokyo Sky Tree Tower at Asakusa that is currently undergoing construction after its completion in 2012.

Inspired by the lattice tower structure of Eiffel Tower and designed by Tachu Naito, Tokyo Tower was built in 1957 and completed a year later. Constructed with steel, one third was sourced from scrap metal taken from US tanks damaged in the Korean War and total cost consumed of ¥2.8 billion.
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Tokyo Landmark | Imperial Palace and Nijubashi Bridge

Formerly Edo Castle or better known as Imperial Palace today is the royal residence of Japanese Emperor and his family. Originally, it was located in Kyoto, the former capital of Japan prior to Tokyo. After Tokugawa shogunate was overthrown, Emperor Meiji moved his residence to Tokyo and named as Tokyo Castle in 1868. A year later, the castle was renamed as ‘Imperial Palace’.
Famous Nijubashi Bridge & Tokyo Imperial Palace
Surrounding by moats, stonewalls and watch towers at almost every gate, Imperial Palace occupies a sizable area of Chiyoda in the heart of Tokyo with one of the best preserved and clean public parks I have ever seen. Pines lined up neatly over the trimmed grass contrasting the cityscape of skyscraper and government buildings. The public ground of Imperial Palace also breeds joggers and bikers apart from passing tourists.
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Tokyo Attraction | East Gardens of Imperial Palace

As the name suggests, East Garden sits on the eastern bound of the present Tokyo Imperial Palace – the official residence of Japanese Emperor and Empress.

Chiyoda East Gardens Main Entrance
Chiyoda East Gardens Main Entrance

Occupying 210,000 square meters in Chiyoda, East Gardens of Imperial Palace is open to public daily except Monday and Friday. Free access pass can be obtained via Ote-Mon or Ote Gate (nearest to Otemachi Subway Station) prior to entry.

If one happens to visit during spring, East Gardens offers a good spot to catch the sight of blooming Sakura or cherry blossom. Over 30 species of cherry trees live here. Besides cherry blossom, plenty of other plants such as bamboo, peony, willow also made this place their residence.
Blooming Sakura at East Gardens
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Alma 39 Bukit Mertajam | Sou Mien (Handmade Noodle) – Breakfast/Lunch

Named after its former address, Alma Thirty Nine Kopitiam is tucked away in a strip of shop houses in Taman Alma (Damai) of Kampung Baru, Bukit Mertajam. Formerly, the Sou Mien business was operated opposite the current location at the house numbered 39 more than 5 years.

The new facade of Alma 39
The new facade of Alma 39

Popular among the locals, the newly open restaurant offers a better atmosphere equipped with air-conditional dining area, marble/wooden tables and chairs. Aside from the infrastructure upgrade, the menu has been revised with more choices that includes appetizers, snacks, desserts and assortment of drinks.
Sou Mien is available in two sizes; Big or Small
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Ueno Ameyoko Flea Market | Street Food and Bargain Shopping

Wish to experience a typical daily market of South East Asia countries in Tokyo? Hop on a subway or train and head to Ueno. Claimed to be one of the best bargain places in Tokyo, Ameya Yokocho is perhaps the last and only surviving flea market or bazaar in Tokyo.
Crowded and packed
Ueno Ameyoko flea market
Ameya Yokocho or briefly known as Ameyoko is a bustle market street paralleling Yamanote Line tracks between Okachimachi and Ueno Station. Shops, restaurants, outdoor food stalls or what the local called as ‘Yatai’ are practically operating from sunrise till dark takes over under a stretch of concrete train track.
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