Two Tokyo Temples

I’m sure you already figured it out from the title of this post, but in case you didn’t, we went to two temples in Tokyo.  The first, and one of the largest in Tokyo, was the Senso-ji Temple in the Asakusa District.

Senso-ji Temple

It was huge and very festive.  Street vendors line the avenues leading up to the temple grounds, selling all kinds of things – anime characters, mini Buddha statuettes, kimonos, jewelry and bags, any kind of Japanese souvenir you would ever want to buy, all kinds of sweets vendors and soft serve ice cream places selling only green tea and vanilla flavors, the list goes on.

Cleansing the Spirit

Looking Out of the Temple

Throngs of people stream in and out of the temple building and the surrounding courtyard, cleansing their spirits at the incense burner at the base of the stairs then making their way up the steps to the shrine, where you can throw coins in a giant trough for prayers, which is in front of the screened-in altar – a beautiful, gold and red, opulent mass of jewels and flowers.  There were worshippers behind the screen all chanting together with a Buddhist monk seated facing the altar.  Next to the screen is a wall of fortunes, where you can shake a box full of sticks marked with numbers while making a wish.  A stick falls out of the box and you take a sheet of paper, which has your fortune on it, from the drawer with the number corresponding to the number on your stick.  Oscar did it, and got a very good fortune, but he wouldn’t tell me what he wished for.

The other temple we went to was the Meiji Shrine, a Shinto Shrine in the Shibuya District that is dedicated to the Emperor Meiji and his wife.  It is in the very center of a giant park that seems more like a forest, with long, wide gravel avenues leading to the shrine, bordered by incredibly tall trees that block out most of the sun, and there are giant gates at both ends of each avenue made of ancient cedar letting you know you’re entering a sacred place.

Road to Meiji Shrine

We went on a Sunday, so there was a traditional Japanese wedding service going on.  As opposed to the loud, crowded, festival-like atmosphere of the Senso-ji Temple, this temple was green and quiet, still despite the crowds, and serene.

Meiji Shrine

Too many pictures for the post!  Check out the gallery below:

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