STORIES FROM THE CITY: New York, Tokyo, and Beyond...Told with a dash of humor
John Burroughs, American naturalist: "Leap and the net will appear."
Good Luck Beans and Electric Brandy in Asakusa.
February 4, 2016
Feb 3, 2016
Today we went to Senshoji Shrine to get some soybeans thrown at us. I’d have preferred money, but it wasn’t up to me. We headed off to Asakusa station for the annual good luck bean-throwing event. See if you can find me in the crowd above.
The idea is to get 10,000 of your closest friends, hurry to the shrine and crowd as close to it as you are able—making sure to surround yourself with lots of people shorter than you if possible—then wait for the priests to show up.
Around 12:15ish the priests come out onto the deck and throw small bags of soybeans onto the crowd like beads at Mardi Gras. Someone chants a Japanese phrase that I think means ‘consider yourself blessed if you catch one of these bags and don’t get elbowed by a little old lady.’ But I could be wrong. In between the chants, the priests toss their bags of nuts while people crowd around like spinsters at a wedding reception trying to catch the bouquet. And then just a few minutes later they’re done. One would think they’d buy more nuts for the size of the crowd—but I’m just a foreign observer, so what do I know.
Though we were relatively close to them, those priests are mostly old or at least not members of a gym and most of the tossed packs didn’t go too far. One pack actually hit my hand, but then bounced off. Leave it to the already overly lucky Professor to get two bags, of course. He was nice enough to share—even if it was the smaller one.
The beans must be eaten after getting caught to make the luck start working—so we obliged the gods and swallowed them down. We then wandered back down the alley towards the street, passing all the many shops along the way. This is a great area to shop for gifts, though we didn’t do much shopping (seems The Professor’s luck had already kicked in). Since we were also right across the street from the river--where there are lots of scenic buildings including the Golden Turd—we stopped to take a few photos.
This part of Japan feels old with its many rickshaws hurtling down the street. It’s definitely a must-see area of Tokyo.
After a properly respectful reflective moment or two on the history, we headed to a bar/restaurant that we had been told about by a friend. Our destination was the Kamiya Bar which according to a website was the first western-style bar in Tokyo and was established in 1880 (give or take a couple of years). I’d say it has been remodeled since then, but they must be doing something right to stick around for 136 years.
The Professor made like a local and got an electric brandy—made from a sweet blend of wine, gin and brandy—and a beer chaser. I had Moscow Mules and we ordered some fried stuff, and pasta to soak up the booze.
This woman must not have gotten any lucky beans and had drowned her sorrows because she arrived very drunk. She kept sliding under the table. I think she was doing the Electric Slide instead of the electric brandy. After getting over the surprise that the bar not only served her an electric brandy but allowed her to keep falling under the table (something an American bar certainly would never do) and watching her for awhile to see what she or her companion would do next, we finished our own food and drinks and left. As I write this, I wonder how many more of those drinks she had before she finally blew her fuse and short-circuited for the day.
It was a quick outing, but we got some more luck for the year and were ready to come home. We needed to prepare for the next adventure—giant snow things!