Shrines and Temples, Tokyo
Favorite thing: Buy yourself good-luck charms (omamori). These charms are sold everywhere at shrines across Japan & common themes relating to good luck in examinations, general health, fertility & safe driving. Charms are written on paper & tucked into the cloth bag which are then worn next to the body.
Take a stroll & experience Shintoism in the most important Shinto shrine in Tokyo, MEIJI JINGU (IMPERIAL SHRINE) (1920). This is where the Emperor Meiji (reigned 1868-1912) & Empress Soken are enshrined.
SHINTO is Japan's oldest religion.
State religion from 1870s-1940s.
Core concept: Deities (kami) preside over all things (including dead & inanimate) in nature & are worshiped at shrines (jinja) erected all over Japan, be it on the hills or along waysides.
Rituals & habits originating from Shinto: purification & austere aesthetic.
Torii: Icon of Shinto. Gateway to the sacred precincts of the shrine.
Getting There: Harajuku Station (Yamanote Line).
Open Daily: Mar-May, Jul-Oct: 9 am - 4.30 pm; Jun: 8 am - 5 pm; Nov-Feb: 9 am - 4 pm.
Fondest memory: Walking under the canopy of cedars which leads into the shrine grounds is a very pleasant experience. The tranquility experienced here makes one forget that this is right in the center of one of the most dynamic cities in the world!
The are many wooden torii & the most impressive is one that the Japanese calls Otorii which was built in 1975 from huge logs that came from a 1500-year-old Japanese cypress on Mt. Tandai in Taiwan!
Nakamise-dori: This street have shops which will enchant you with their traditional arts & crafts as obi sashes, fans, dolls & kimonos.
A fascinating place :)
Fondest memory: Every visit to Tokyo warrants a visit to Asakusa; this is where I get my supply of souvenirs. Love the kimono-style housecoats sold in these little shops. Pricing is quite reasonable here; so have no worry!
SENSO-JI Temple (popularly known as ASAKUSA KANNON): Tokyo's most sacred temple.
In 628, 2 fishermen fished a small gold statue of Kannon (Buddhist Goddess of Mercy) from the Sumida River & their master built a shrine to Kannon. In 645, holy man Shokai built a temple to Kannon.
Visit Asakusa Kannon Temple and marketplace. It is fun to walk around the marketplace and buy souvenirs for friends. There are many shops along this area so make sure you look and price everything before buying. At the Temple, make sure you go to the cauldron of incense and put some of the incense smoke on your head. The legend says that the incense smoke supposed to help your brain. Many students come here to help them pass a big test. You know, when in Rome...!
Fondest memory: My fondest memory of Tokyo were the people. They were so nice and always helpful that it made for a very pleasant visit. Everywhere you go from stores to restaurants, they always greet you politely and thank you when you leave. I wish it could be like that in the U.S.!
Asakusa kanon temple in Ueno. Nice and very popular especially in sundays.
Akihabara electric town a must!!!Afterwards you'll find the usual electric shops in Europe like tiny and simple country shops.
Fondest memory: Shinju-ku, a very beautiful part of Tokyo, it does not remind you of Asia but more of big cities in Europe, lovely place with beautiful houses/buildings.
And that's me in Asakusa.
There are many vendors/ stalls here selling first rate Japanese souvenirs. But like I mentioned earlier, they don't come cheap. Gina bought some Japanese origami that cost a bomb (in my opinion). I couldn't buy anything because I'd given all my cash to Gina (she loves Japanese stuffs, you see... and we didn't have time to go to the nearest ATM machine. Yet). Yes, great friends will make such sacrifices for one another. :-)))
That's Gina (she's O.KATALINA here on VT) and I trying to do some souvenir-shopping along this long narrow alley in Asakusa.
Fellow Travelers, Take Note: They DON'T accept credit cards here. Only cash.
That's why both Gina and I looked soooo perplexed because we had run out of $$$$. And for the first time in our lives, we truly UNDERSTAND what a pauper must be feeling... because we felt like a pauper too... No, make it two paupers. :-(
visit the world-famous Asakusa district and its Asakusa Kannon Temple (I think that's what it's called.... Don't kill me if I got the name all wrong O.K.?). If you want to experience a wee little taste of good old Japan, this is the place you should head to.
Another temple you should NOT miss is the Meiji Shrine - Japan's most impressive Shinto shrine.
Favorite thing: At the north gate of the Kitanomaru-koen Park is stairs walking to to an old shrine. Very nice traditional Japanese settings.
Fondest memory: I happened to be there when a Japanese wedding ceremony was in procession. It was very interesting to watch how another culture performed its sacred rituals.
Fondest memory: The kannushi (lady with the white & orange robe) perform purification ceremonies & other rituals.
Fondest memory: The reason I took this picture is because it reminded me of the Japanese straw sandal. Kind of quaint :-) Just a passing thought... but it seemed to have stayed in my mind all these while.
Fondest memory: Kaminarimon (Thunder) Gate: Burnt down in 1865 & rebuilt in 1960. The 2 guardian statues of Fujin & Raijin have new bodies but old heads. Hey, the best of both worlds, isn't it ;-) ?