Japan 4

A random shrine I saw next to the Fish Market

I remember when i was back at home one of the biggest things for me to do was fantasize about the ancient east. I was spoon fed myths in my cartoons and video games about the ancient culture and mystic society. But when you arrive here you see that modern day society is as far removed from it as America is removed from…lets say historical reenactments. That is to say it’s there…preserved for historical and aesthetic reasons but thats not really an every day thing. The same was true in Japan, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying even the little touristy historical sites. 

One the first places I went to was pretty famously known as the Senso-ji temple. It’s Tokyo’s oldest and probably most significant Temple. But even before you get to the inner most part of the temple you see dozens of things on the way.

Kaminarimon or the Thunder gate.  The gate was larger than life and the lantern hanging inside of it was massive hanging lantern!

Seeing as how I knew absolutly nothing about the gate when i arrived I decided to look it up.

Four statues are housed in the Kaminarimon. On the front of the gate, the statues of the Shintogods Fūjin and Raijin are displayed. Fūjin, literally the god of wind, is located on the east side of the gate, while Raijin, literally the god of thunder, is located on the west side. Two additional statues stand on the reverse of the gate: the Buddhist god Tenryū on the east, and the goddess Kinryū on the west side.

In the center of the Kaminarimon, under the gate, hangs a giant red chōchin that is 4 meters tall, 3.4 meters in circumference and weighs 670 kilograms (1,500 lb).[2] Being very fragile, the lantern is not an original piece. It is instead a restoration that was donated in August 2003 in commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the start of the Edo period by Konosuke Matsushita, the founder of the Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. (now known as Panasonic).[2]

The front of the lantern displays the gate’s name, Kaminarimon (雷門?). Painted on the back is the gate’s official name, Furaijinmon (風雷神門?).[4] A wooden carving depicting a dragon adorns the bottom of the lantern.

File:Kaminarimon (outer gate), Sensoji Temple, Akakusa, Tokyo.jpg

This photo is from Wikipedia. All the pictures I took in front of the gate have me in them. If you want to see it…you know where to go. If you don’t know…you better ask somebody!

 After passing through the gate you will walk through a massive market known as the Nakamise-dori. I thought it was a little tacky that there were gift shops right around such an ancient revered site. But who could blame people for making a buck. Also this is where I bought many of the souvenirs I plan to mail back home in a few days.

The Nakamise-dōri (仲見世通り?) is a street on the approach to the temple. It is said to have come about in the early 18th century, when neighbors of Sensō-ji were granted permission to set up shops on the approach to the temple. However, in May 1885 the government of Tokyo ordered all shop owners to leave. In December of that same year the area was reconstructed in Western-style brick. During the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake many of the shops were destroyed, then rebuilt in 1925 using concrete, only to be destroyed again during the bombings of World War II.

The length of the street is approximately 250 meters and contains around 89 shops.

Eventually you will work you way thought the market and find a massive towering gate known as the Hozomon.

The Hōzōmon (宝蔵門 “Treasure-House Gate”?) is the inner of two large entrance gates that ultimately leads to the Sensō-ji (the outer being the Kaminarimon) in AsakusaTokyo. A two-story gate, the Hōzōmon’s second story houses many of the Sensō-ji’s treasures. The first story houses two statues, three lanterns and two large sandals. It stands 22.7 metres (74 ft) tall, 21 metres (69 ft) wide, and 8 metres (26 ft) deep.

Before you get farther into the

The Hōzōmon (宝蔵門 “Treasure-House Gate”?) is the inner of two large entrance gates that ultimately leads to the Sensō-ji (the outer being the Kaminarimon) in AsakusaTokyo. A two-story gate, the Hōzōmon’s second story houses many of the Sensō-ji’s treasures. The first story houses two statues, three lanterns and two large sandals. It stands 22.7 metres (74 ft) tall, 21 metres (69 ft) wide, and 8 metres (26 ft) deep.

Then finally you reach the middle of the temple and it’s beautiful. There’s even a five story pagoda towering over the whole scene. I think I’ll save you any more Wikipedia references for now and just let you enjoy the sights.

We stayed there pretty late just poking around and thats why some of the photos got a little dar at the end.

Funny story though. There is an ancient Budhist method of getting a fortune telling. I went to the shire with two friends and all three of us decided to get our fortune.

Within the temple itself, and also at many places on its approach, there are omikuji stalls. For a suggested donation of 100 yen, visitors may consult the oracle and divine answers to their questions. Querents shake labelled sticks from enclosed metal containers and read the corresponding answers they retrieve from one of 100 possible drawers.

One of my friends and I got the worst possible fortune imaginable, which pretty much said don’t do anything, because you’ll fail. My last friend got the very best fortune. We pretty much forgot about it until a few weeks ago when the friend with the good fortune pretty much told us his girlfriend dumped him.

The next day my friends and I traveled to the  Meiji shrine. the shrine was everything a Japanophile geek could imagine.  The Shrine is located within a very dense forest which is ironically located at the very heart of the city. (It was within walking distance of Harajuku street and ironically next to Yoyogi Park). As you enter the inner sanctum of the shrine the thick trees completely all the sounds of the city. It’s peaceful walking under towering wooden arches that lead the way.

These sites are highly revered by the natives. As practically everything from the land to the buildings is donated. You can also see hundreds of barrels of donated Sake that locals freely gave. I think those monks are well stocked on booze.

I suppose it’s hard to write more descriptions of the temple. Firstly I didn’t have an English speaking guide, and second I was too blown away from the beauty of the place to really listen if I had one anyway. So I’ll just let you enjoy the pictures.

On the left of this picture you can see just a few of the many prayers left by traveling visitors to the shrine. Some were in Japanese, some were in Korea and several were actually in English. On the Right you can just barely catch a glimpse of an actual Priestess. The place was actually full of them but they respectfully declines to have their picture taken so I respected their wishes….except in this case where it happened accidentally…

The above picture was taken by one of my friends. I got it off their facebook. But it’s the same wall where I saw the prayers (as pictured above) But I just had to show you guys some of these enormous trees.

I don’t have as many pictures of other places in the shire because it was actually requested that we not take pictures of certain locations. It’s considered a bit disrespectful.

  One of the very last places I visited was the Imperial Palace.  Yes, Japan does have an Emperor. Don’t worry though he’s nothing more than a public figure head.

For more…we go to Wikipedia.

The Emperor is the head of the Japanese Imperial Family. He is also the highest authority of the Shinto religion.[2] Japan’s present 1947 constitution does not use the term head of statebut refers to the Emperor as “the symbol of the state and the unity of the people”. It establishes the emperor as a ceremonial figurehead under a form of constitutional monarchy. In his dual role as head of a religion and head of state the Emperor resembles the British monarch, who is “supreme governor” of the Church of England.

Anyway.. back to the palace. I ended up actualy having to go to the Palace twice. The first time I went the actual palace itself was closed. I was immensely disappointed but as it turns out there’s actually a beautiful park surrounding the palace. The park also turned out to be the best place to take pictures of the towering walls protecting the Emperor inside.

Most of the palace is closed, except for to days a year during a spring festival. But they will let tourists view the East Gardens every other day. When i went back adn actualy got to see them I was pretty blown away. The gardens are beautiful and even though Spring was ending you could still see plenty of flowers in full bloom. Unfortunetly my camera was full of picture and dying that day.  But I did keep a few.

The last two photos were taken by a friend of mine I had made earlier that day at the fishmarket. Yes the same guy who was eating the beating fish heart.

The very last picture is an orange tree we would growing in the garden. My friend and I were staving and the oranges were within reach so we jumped up and grabbed a few and made that our lunch. I have to admit I was feeling pretty good that day, having eaten fruit from the Emperors garden and lived to tell the tale.

3 Responses to Japan 4

  1. Marty says:

    I was wondering when you next post was going to be posted. You’re seeing some really wonderful sites. What is your next journey?

  2. Deloris says:

    Wow! I just read this one tonight. Been busy since your Dad’s hospitalization. What beautiful sites and you as usual describe them so beautifully. You have got to figure out a way to “book” this experience somehow. I am so moved by the beauty of the experience. Love you. Give us more!!!!! Mom

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