Finding “Zen-Time” In Tokyo

No matter how packed your schedule is while in Japan, I highly recommend reserving a few hours of “zen-time”.  On our last morning in Tokyo, we decided to visit Zojoji Temple (増上寺), which happened to also be across the road from Tokyo Shiba Tofuya Ukai, where we had lunch reservations.  Both the temple and restaurant also provided great vantage points of Tokyo Tower.

The main building of Zojoji Temple.

The main building of Zojoji Temple — not the best shot but I wanted to get Tokyo Tower in the photo.

Here is some of the buddhist chanting that I captured. It was rather calming to just listen to them for a while and clear my mind.

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Having lived in Kyoto, the cultural capital of all traditional Japanese things, I have seen my fair share of temples and shrines, but this was my first time visiting Zojoji and I was excited to see such a colourful array of Ojizo-san (お地蔵さん).

ojizo-san

Jizo-sama is a Japanese deity who mainly protects children but also travelers.  These jizo had child-like features and sported knitted red bonnets and held pinwheels that whirled in the breeze.

ojizo-san

After saying our prayers we headed back over the road toward Tofuya Ukai for a mouthwatering, sensational multi-course meal, featuring different types of fresh tofu dishes. The restaurant is beautifully designed with its own garden and all diners have their own private tatami room.

tofuya ukai

Tokyo TowerThe dishes at Tofuya Ukai were all superb, especially the tofu simmered in soymilk and the deep fried tofu with miso sauce. There is a misconception that tofu is flavourless. Perhaps it is in the UK/US, where tofu isn’t exactly our forte, but I promise you’ll be coming back for more after dining at Tofuya Ukai. Go for lunch and order the Matsu (松) course.

Matsu Course Menu

Tofuya Ukai Matsu Course

My idea of a well-balanced lunch: bamboo shoot stuffed with fish meat and oyster dumpling; deep fried tofu coated with miso (simply divine); assorted sashimi; simmered turnip and miso; clam, shrimp, sardine sushi with sesame dressed wheat gluten and seasoned rape blossoms; soymilk with tofu hot pot; grilled Spanish mackerel and taro; steamed rice with lily bulbs and tsukemono; adzuki-bean mousse with strawberry.

We were full, but not uncomfortable so we made one more food stop before leaving for Hakone.  But of course, some traditional Kyoto style dessert from Gion Tokuya (ぎおん徳屋), located on the ground floor of United Arrows For Women in Harajuku.  It was the perfect way to end our time in Tokyo.

Parfait perfection!

Parfait perfection!

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