South Korea & Japan: Temples, Shrines & Seaside Treasures

Day 9 – Wednesday, October 19, 2022 – Explore Tokyo; Drum Master; Asakusa Walking Tour; Palace Grounds

This morning we chose not to go on the walk, but spent some time organizing our bags for the bullet train trip to Toba. We will pack a small carry-on for only two days and our big bags will be shipped to Kyoto.

At 9:00 am, four taxis took the 13 of us for the 20-minute drive to the older Tokyo district of Asakusa. We began our morning with the Taiko Drum player, Rikiya Kagawa at the Mianoto Drum Shop.

Rikiya is 30 years old and has been playing these Taiko drums since he was 15. Not only is he a professional drummer, but he also composes drum music and teaches drumming to little school age children. He began by describing the process of building these drums of different sizes and then gave us a demonstration of his art.

The best part of this learning and discovery was when he taught us the basics of drumming. We all got to choose a drum and he gave us a pair of bachi, the sticks used in drumming. Rikiya began by having us copy simple rhythms.

By the time we had finished our lesson, we certainly weren’t professional, but because he was a very good teacher, we all felt at least a tiny bit accomplished. I thought of my dear friend Nan Graber and her drumming classes. She will love this part of the tour when she comes to Japan.

After saying goodbye to Rikiya, our ears were ringing, but we had a smile on our faces. For the first time we saw the sunny skies of Tokyo. We strolled along the Sumida River Walk and saw the skyscrapers and the Tokyo Skytree Tower. Completed in 2011, it is an observation and broadcasting facility and the tallest structure in Japan.

As we walked we saw many young mothers riding bicycles with their children in carriers on the back of the bikes. Although we saw many young families, Japan’s birthrate is declining steadily. There were also many playgrounds and green spaces for daycare children to play while their parents are working.

The Asakusa area is an older neighborhood of Tokyo with more traditional building and smaller one or two-story homes and shops. There is also a mall with many small takeout food shops souvenir shops. We had lunch in this area with grilled mackerel as the main course. We were very lucky to have Ken’s lovely wife, Mieko, join us for lunch.

As we walked through the outdoor shops we stopped to try a Taiyaki, a sweet cake filled with red bean paste, pumpkin, or custard. We chose the custard and it was delicious. One last stop at an ice cream vendor and we were off to ride the subway to the financial district and the Royal Palace.

The palace is only open two days a year, New Year’s and the Emperor’s birthday in February. We walked through the meticulously manicured Black Pine trees. Once an ancient castle, the grounds are immense, all from reclaimed land from the sea. Because there is so much salt in the soil, many plants do not survive, but the Black Pine thrive.

At 3:00 we parted ways and the shoppers went on the subway with Ken and the rest of us took taxis back to the hotel. Ken is so organized, he had little pouches with the name of the hotel as well as money to pay the fare. It was 3:30 when we got back to our room to start the journal and get ready for our train ride tomorrow.

Dinner was on our own so we wandered around this safe city and enjoyed a quiet meal near the baseball stadium. We will say goodbye to Tokyo tomorrow. We don’t usually like big cities, but in all of our travels, this was one of the most pleasant.

Accommodations: Dormy Inn Korakuen Hotel -- Meals included: B, & L

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Overseas Adventure Travel:
South Korea & Japan: Temples, Shrines & Seaside Treasures
Pam Kim - South Korea
Ken Murakami - Japan


I love Taiko drumming! I once took a 5 day workshop in Taiko drumming as part of a Sacred Dance Festival in Utah. Yes, it is part dance.

Carolyn Moon   October 19, 2022 - 6:16pm

I enjoyed reading about the drums!

Susan Phillips   October 19, 2022 - 4:30pm

My trip was in Nov. 2018 and we didn't have the drumming. I envy you that experience. I love the drumming and wish I could try it, too. Were any of the drums the big Taiko drums? Watching those being played is almost like a dance! Enjoy the next destination!

Carol Larson   October 19, 2022 - 2:23pm

You are helping me prep for Japan! thx, Vic & Gennie!

Nan Graber   October 19, 2022 - 12:44pm
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OAT Drummers

OAT Drummers

Mom and Daughter on Bicycle

Mom and Daughter on Bicycle

Young Japanese Women

Young Japanese Women

Mieko and Ken

Mieko and Ken

Palace Gardens

Palace Gardens

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