Happy 2016 everyone!
I am really sorry for being on hiatus for the past weeks, it has been a busy holidays for me and my family, because it was our first! Yes, it was our first Christmas and New Year together. Will be sharing our family stories in the coming weeks. ♥
For now, let me share you my first wander of the year…
Spending New Year in Japan can be a little unusual from other countries, since most of them are spending their holidays visiting their first Shinto shrine of the year, which they call hatsumōde (初詣 ). This was my first New Year outside of Philippines and since we live in the Greater Tokyo Area, we chose to revisit Tokyo’s famous entertainment district, Asakusa.
Most people in Japan are off from work and school starting December 30 until January 3. It is the time of the year when people are cleaning their houses, paying all their debts, buying new charms or omamori, visiting relatives and exchanging gifts.
Upon getting off the train station via Ginza Line, we were surprised that some roads were closed and there were hundreds or maybe thousands of people on the road. Discipline was observed despite the busy event – policemen and road officers were stationed in every corner.
Here’s a link for the complete address using Google Maps.
Japan can be considered as one of the modernized country of this generation, however despite the dynamic growth of technology, they still preserve remaining pieces of their past. They value their own history that much and making it consistently sure to pass it on to their next generation.
Take a look at the Kaminarimon Gate or “Thunder Gate” (雷門) strikingly painted in red with giant lantern and two statues of guardian gods – Raijin (left, god of thunder) and Fūjin (right, god of wind).
* This structure was built more than once due to war and fire, take note that the current one was built in 1960 under Edo Period. (Oh yes, Asian History, love it. ^^, )
This will serve as the first gate to the main temple, Kaminarimon Gate.
TIP If you are planning to visit the shrine during the holidays, you really have to be patient. I mean it, because you have to walk with hundreds of residents and tourists while following their rules.
Their history, vivid as it may seem, signifies their practices and lifestyle. You will never question its visibility all over Japan. Someday, I am going to wear Japan’s national costume while roaming around the city! Yay! #AddedToMyOwnBucketlist ♥
After entering the gate, look what surprise we found… 👣
Before reaching the temple grounds, you will be welcomed by more than 50 Japanese Souvenir shops. This is one of the perfect spot to get your authentic gifts/memorabilia like magnets, chopsticks, green tea, biscuits, Japanese dolls, small figurines and the like. PS. This street was only 250 meters long but it took us 20 minutes to reach Sensoji Temple due to the massive crowd.
The second entrance gate is called Hozōmon or “Treasure-House Gate” (宝蔵門) which will lead you to the main hall of Sensō-ji. It features three large lanterns and the most prominent lantern is a red chōchin that hangs at the center.
On the left, you will see the five story pagoda or Gojūnotō (五重塔) that contains some ashes of the Buddha. I am totally amazed with the temple’s characteristics and ornament, impressively designed thousand years ago.
As I share more photos, I was reminded that patience is actually a great talent and it will go a loooooong way… 👌👣
Tokyo’s Largest Buddhist Temple
It was not in the photo, but at the side of this hall, you will see stalls selling Japanese ‘omamori’ or amulets, incense and ‘omikuji’ fortunes.
As we enter the Sensōji Temple or also known as Asakusa Kannon (浅草寺), we only spent few minutes to make our wish and prayers, so we can give way to other attendees. Please be reminded that the temple is quite dark and the air is covered with thick incense.
* I am not sure if they allow it or not, but whenever I visit temples, I don’t take pictures inside, to simply pay respect to their beliefs and sacred places.
Since Asakusa has a lot to see, let’s look around…
If you get tired or you prefer to take a break, Asakusa has a lot of food to offer – from fried snacks like chicken, long potato fries, takoyaki, mochi and noodles. (Price Ranges from ¥200-800)
However, I found something fancy…
For ¥200, you will enjoy this healthy coated banana with candy sprinkles and it is too cute to eat, right?
Cheers to JP for having cool and cute stuff! 😂
I got my ref magnet for ¥380.
You should also try getting your O-mikuji (おみくじ) or paper fortune available at the sides of the hall.
How to do it?
- Drop ¥100 at the tip box.
- Shake a box full of sticks.
- The stick you draw shows the number of your omikuji.
- Take a paper from the drawer with the corresponding number and see if you are 吉 lucky.
Of course, I tried it too…
My first omikuji for this year was a bit heartbreaking!!! I received a bad fortune which says the following:
“Thunder hit and sound is breaking the sky, it is really dark and terrible. A man of good sense of humor stay within a house closing the gate and doors. All looks really lonesome. There maybe some mistake and misunderstanding in writing a mail to others. Though you do your best with utmost care, troubles may be always your way.”
* Your request will not be granted. Patient will get well. The lost article is hard to find. The person you wait for will not come. Stop building a new house. Stop starting a trip. Marriage and employment are both bad. *
* WARNING *
Do not let this piece of paper decide for your choices in the future.
My simple wish may not come true but no one can stop me from taking wonderful trips and meeting the person I am waiting for. Honestly, there’s no wedding plans on the table. Haha! ♣
If you received a positive omikuji, you can keep it. In my case, since it is not a good one, I folded and tied it to the tree where bad lucks were collected
♦ PERSONAL NOTE ♦
We had the whole afternoon walking and checking some shops for authentic Japanese goods and it felt good to know traditional practices of this country. It wasn’t so bad to be accustomed to a new environment. More likely a breath of fresh air coming from the ancient times with modern clothes. Lels.
So if you’re looking for an authentic Japanese thing to do – do not forget to include Asakusa’s Sensōji Temple in your Tokyo itinerary! 🎌
HOW TO GET THERE?
Asakusa is served by different railway lines such as Asakusa Subway Line, Ginza Subway Line, Tobu Railways and Tsukuba Express.
I wouldn’t miss the chance of sharing tips on how to travel Japan cheaply.
Tourists may come from different cities, so I would recommend you to try Hyperdia, smartphone app that has routes and timetable for railway and aviation in Japan. 👌
For Tokyo Subway Pass, please click here.
HOURS AND FEES
Main Hall is open from
6:00 am to 5:00 pm (April – September)
6:30 am to 5:00 pm (October – March)
Temple Grounds are always open.
*** Admission to the Temple is amazingly FREE.
See you on my next adventure, またね!!!