You Say Assaaksaa, I say Asakusa

On two occasions now I have been corrected on my pronunciation of Asakusa, both times by white guys who giggle at me and then say something along the lines of "don't you mean Aaahhh-saak-saa". So I asked my friend Kumiko who comes from Japan...."how do you say Asakusa?" and she looked at me blankly and said "Asakusa, just how you said it". I said "are you sure" and she said "of course I'm sure I'm Japanese"

Which made me giggle, cause I've always just pronounced Japanese words in the same way that I learnt how to pronounce Maori words at primary school and it seems the two languages have a lot in common in terms of their use of vowels.

Anyway, we had a lovely time when we stayed in ASAKUSA.


As warned by Nalika, yes it's a bit old and a bit touristy and that suited us down to the ground

I couldn't be bothered being yelled at by grumpy old ryokan owners this time like we were last when we stayed further out in cheaper areas. And being very jetlagged neither could we be assed catching trains for hours to go anywhere. Instead we just hired little bikes and rode around the neighbourhood and Ueno park with all the other little old Japanese people who seem to inhabit ASAKUSA.

ASAKUSA was also right next door to a very festive looking temple with a lot of touristy street vendors, convenient for gift purchasing and sampling


We found this man who makes fresh and slightly overpriced shichimi out of the seven original spices: dried chilli, orange peel; sesame seed; poppy seed; hemp seed; nori and ground sansho


I've only ever tasted the mass produced togarashi shichimi, never freshly made. Needless to say when all the flavours are fresh the spice mix tastes incredible.

There are other vendors in the area too selling local specialities like mochi balls and tempura, all who are equally willing to pose enthusiastically for tourists.




Since discussing the idea of finding one's spiritual home with Ms Q the week earlier in NYC and pondering where mine is, I decided after another thoroughly enjoyable and successful stay in Japan, and since I'm not very spiritual, that on an extremely superficial level I love Japan!!!! For starters there are clean toilets everywhere, I never worry about having to crack a squat in a dirty or compromising place in Japan, the toilet seats often even open themselves and play pleasant flushing noises. There are cheap and yummy noodles and pork buns and tofu everywhere.



A seven eleven can quite easily provide me with over an hour's browsing and entertainment, not to mention a nutritious low fat and yummy meal. People are generally polite and gracious and I loose all fear of being mugged or loosing my wallet. Crime is low. I love a good scolding hot Japanese bath. The shopping is excellent and they have restaurants solely dedicated to crab, or eel or whatever your present seafood fixation happens to be. The public transport is easily navigatable and if it isn't some kind stranger will usually come to your rescue

I explained this to Kumiko and she shook her head, noting how difficult and oppressive Japan is if you live there, and I'm sure Japan is, should you happen to live there or in some way be embroiled in Japanese daily life. But for the tourist it really does provide the perfect hassle-free experience. I love Japan, or should I say Nihon? Naahhhhh.....Japan.


    hah! yeah most food-loving people who go there end up with a crush on Japan... though I'll admit, some of my friends have found more of a tourist's spiritual home in Korea....

    spiritual home, by the way - confusing concept!

    i guess most people use it ironically to refer to a place that fits their character + lifestyle rather than their upbringing, right?

    if people expressed it literally it would be kinda retarded, LoL

    i have a list of cities I either love to death, would like to live in, or feel like I somehow fit in/belong in, but the groups don't necessarily intersect...


    I'm glad you had a positive travel experience in Japan. In general, being cute always helps just about anywhere ;-) as well as being apparent Westerners tend to help, like in many non-Western places.

    Yah, Hawaiian and Spanish have similar vowels to Japanese and I imagine Maori's somewhat similar to Hawaiian.

    Is Japan really hassle free though? I feel I am behind all the rapid technological development taking place there whenever I go, like, I stand stupidly at the automated ticket gates at train stations... makes me feel like I'm a low-tech bumpkin.


    I was watching an NHK language programme last night and they pronounced it Asahk'sa - so not the way I expected (as I have always used the newby Japanese language student way). A bit of searching round the net also supports the fact that the 'u' is unvoiced. Could your friend be mistaken ? I know that plenty of native English speakers disagree about how to pronounce English words so I guess that happens in all languages no ?

    On 16 May 2016 at 13:49 Anonymous said...

    Well, all my japanese friends and the train announcements voice say Asak'sa...


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