January 6th 2019:
Found a little café near the hotel (February Café) – cinnamon honey toast to start the day. The archetype of bread used for ‘morning service’ – thick sliced, pillowy, snow white. Apparently from a little bakery called Pelican, an Asakusa landmark for 75 years, their bread is in high demand each day. Toast it, then add cinnamon, a layer of sweet whipped cream and some rock sugar – wow.
Hopped the Metro over to Daimon station, and walked via the grounds of Zojoji temple to Tokyo Tower. An impressive landmark, the tallest in Tokyo until the Skytree took the top spot – and built in only 18 months. Great views, and a ‘hidden room’ experience as you head to the ‘top deck’ viewing platform – a mock up of the library room shared by the instigator and the architect of the tower, where you learn a little about the history of the building in between changing elevators. Another one ticked off that towers list!
Could have walked up the 600 odd stairs to the main deck level – but thought better of it, and walked down instead. Great way of seeing the interior of the tower structure.
Back to the hotel for a bit, then walked into Asakusa for my afternoon experience. David Bull is a carver of woodblocks used to make ukiyo-e, traditional Japanese woodblock prints. He’s been in Japan since the ’80s, I’ve seen him present a few of the Journeys in Japan programs on NHK World, and on the flight over I happened to see a documentary about a video gamed themed series of prints that he produced along with an American illustrator, Jed Henry. Ukiyoe Heroes was a very successful Kickstarter project back in 2012, and I decided I needed a few of these prints in my life.
So when I saw you could visit his shop Mokuhankan for a print party – signed right up!
A small group of 5 of us worked through the process of printing our own small version of Hokusai’s ‘Under the Wave off Kanagawa’, a print many people will recognise. David and his assistant Kawai guided us through the steps of inking each block, aligning the paper, and using a ‘baren’ to rub the washi paper against the block. David is a force of nature – extremely animated and enthusiastic about what has been his life’s work, great fun session. And the print turned out OK as well!
Stopped off in a little sake shop for a quick taster on the way back, then snapped a couple of shots of the local landmarks.