Tag Archives: 寺

Japanese Robin Hood

29 Mar

I’m sure you know the story of Robin Hood. The English thief who stole from the rich and gave to the poor.

Did you know that there are two “Japanese Robin Hoods“?

One of them was a 忍者 (ninja) who lived in the 16th century named 石川五右衛門 (Ishikawa Goemon).
Like Robin Hood, he stole from the rich and gave to the poor.
He’s most famous though for being executed by getting boiled alive in a large iron pot. Because of this, Japanese old-style iron baths over a flame are called 「五右衛門風呂」 (“Goemon Bath“).

The other “Japanese Robin Hood” lived in the 19th century. His name was 次郎吉 (Jiroukichi)…but he is most often known by his nickname: 「鼠小僧」 (“Nezumi-kozou“…or “Rat urchin“).
As with Ishikawa Goemon, he is sometimes called a “Japanese Robin Hood” because he stole gold from homes of wealthy (samurai) and gave to the poor.

He was apprehended by authorities twice. The first time he was given a penitentiary tattoo, and the second time he was decapitated.

His grave is in Tokyo…and it is popular with students taking school entrance exams because 鼠小僧 (“Nezumi-kozou“) was such a successful thief (he burglarized hundreds of samurai homes) and, like Robin Hood, he was extremely popular with common people that the students hope some of his good luck might be passed to them.

Visitors to the grave of 鼠小僧 (“Nezumi-kozou“) will often shave off a bit of the grave stone for luck.

「鼠小僧之墓」 "Nezumi-kozou's grave"

「鼠小僧之墓」 "Nezumi-kozou's grave"

The sign says you can shave this rock in front of Nezumi-kozou's grave (for luck).

The sign says you can shave this rock in front of Nezumi-kozou's grave (for luck).

Nezumi-kozou's gravestone (people used to shave it for luck...so  the other rock was added in front of this gravestone for shaving).

Nezumi-kozou's gravestone (people used to shave it for luck...so the other rock was added in front of this gravestone for shaving).

This cemetary also does pet funerals. This is a pet grave marker.

This cemetary also does pet funerals. This is a pet grave marker.

From there, we walked around the town. The grave of 鼠小僧 (“Nezumi-kozou“) is not far from the 国技館 (Sumo Arena).

桜&提灯 (Cherry Blossoms and paper lantern)

桜&提灯 (Cherry Blossoms and paper lantern)

「ライオン堂」...a store where Sumo wrestlers shop for their XXL clothing.

「ライオン堂」...a store where Sumo wrestlers shop for their XXL clothing.

A poster advertising a Sumo wrestler's upcoming retirement ceremony.

A poster advertising a Sumo wrestler's upcoming retirement ceremony.

We had a picnic lunch in a Japanese garden near the 国技館 (Sumo Arena):

The Sumo Arena is visible outside the Japanese garden.

The Sumo Arena is visible outside the Japanese garden.

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A スズメ (Sparrow) was sitting on the bench next to us.

A スズメ (Sparrow) was sitting on the bench next to us.

Memorial Service

1 Dec

Yesterday we went up to 茨城県 (Ibaraki Prefecture), about 150 Km (about 95 miles) north of Tokyo.

It’s very different from urban Tokyo…it’s all mountains and countryside. A very beautiful and traditional Japanese area.

But we weren’t there for sight-seeing. My wife has some relatives who live there and last year, one of her aunts from that area died. So we went up there last year for the funeral.
And yesterday, as per Japanese tradition, was the 一周忌法要 (one-year memorial service).

The service started at 11:00AM, so we left home at 9:00 and took the express train up to 茨城県 (Ibaraki Prefecture) and got there at about 10:40AM.
We walked to the (temple) where the memorial service was to be held.

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It would take alot to clearly explain Japanese funeral and memorial services because they are quite different than the Western versions.
After the service, we went to the (grave) to leave 御線香 (incense).
Then, we (my wife, kids and I…as well as all of my wife’s relatives who were at the memorial service) went to a very traditional restaurant for lunch.

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Lunch was outstanding…and huge! We had 刺身 (Sashimi), 天ぷら (Tenpura), crab, ウナギ (Freshwater eel), salad, soup, beer and 熱燗酒 (hot Saké )!

Here are a few pictures that I took of the small-town area:

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BTW, today is the seventh birthday of 敬宮愛子内親王殿下 (Princess Aiko) of the 皇室 (Japanese Imperial Family).

aiko-sama

秋分の日

24 Sep

Yesterday was a Japanese holiday, 秋分の日 (Autumn Equinox)…so we all had the day off.

Both the 秋分の日 (Autumn Equinox) and 春分の日 (Spring Equinox) are holidays in Japan. Japanese people pay a visit to their family grave on these holidays.
(See my FAQ here to read about Japan’s holidays).

After we went to our family grave site, we decided to go to the Tokyo Dome City amusement park because we still had ride tickets from our last visit there.

I agreed to ride on the big, wild roller-coaster with my kids.

I’ll never do that again! I used to really like roller-coasters when I was my kids’ ages…but I’ve decided that I don’t like them anymore!

I thought I’d be able to take a video of the ride…but the amusement park staff wouldn’t let me bring my camera on the ride. It’s just as well…I couldn’t have been able to use my camera since both of my hands were holding the handrail on the roller-coaster with a deathgrip for the entire ride!

(But last month I took a video of this roller-coaster while I was standing safely on the ground. It’s on this post).

After the amusement park, we walked to 根津神社 (Nezu Shrine).

This is a video of the shrine’s entrance:

Nezu Shrine has a row of over 150 Torii Gates.

Here’s a video I took while walking under all of the 鳥居 (Torii Gates):

Here’s the rest of them:

A few more videos of the shrine:

From there we walked to 上野 (Ueno) and went to some temples, the park, and a few stores around there.

We found this small (cicada):

We had dinner in an 居酒屋 (Japanese izakaya restaurant).

We went home from 上野駅 (Ueno Train Station)…and walked past the Hard Rock Cafe, Uyeno-eki Tokyo.

Here’s a video I took walking to the entrance of 上野駅 (Ueno train station):

Japanese Garden

10 Aug

Today we went to 柴又 (Shibamata). This is a traditional 下町 (downtown, blue-collar) area of Tokyo. We live in downtown Tokyo…but this is one of the downtown areas that stills maintains the old, traditional look.

I’m trying to explain it so that people from outside of Japan will relate…but Japan’s 下町 (downtown) and 山の手 (uptown) are unique and hard to explain accurately.

Come to Japan and I’ll show you. 🙂

Anyways, 柴又 (Shibamata) is the hometown for the character 寅さん (Tora-san) in the popular TV series 男はつらいよ (“It’s tough being a man!”) that ran from 1969-1995 in Japan.

The actor that played the main character (Tora-san) died in 1996. There’s a statue of the “Tora-san” character outside 柴又 (Shibamata) train station.

Here it is:

Near the train station is a store that sells Japanese candies. Just like most of the shops in this area, it looks like an old traditional Japanese store.

Here’s the 駄菓子屋 (Traditional junk-food shop):

(The Coke machine looks like a robot).

We also went to a temple and saw them setting up for a 盆踊り (Bon Dance Festival)…(we didn’t go to the festival, though), and a traditional Japanese street performer, and we went to a Japanese garden.

Here’s a slideshow of some of the photos I took:

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I took a few videos today and uploaded to my YouTube page (in all of them you can hear (Cicadas) in the background. Proof that it’s summertime in Japan 🙂 ).

Also, in the last video there are 提灯 (paper lanterns) that say 寅さんの日 (“Tora-san Day”). This is in preparation for August 27—the anniversary of the first episode of TV series 男はつらいよ (“It’s tough being a man!”) that began on 1969/8/27.

Here’s my video of the Japanese garden:

Here are three videos that I took of the traditional Japanese street performer:

And here are two videos that I took of the 下町 (traditional downtown area):

We’ve been to this area a number of times. But it had been awhile since our last time here…so it was alot of fun!

鎌倉

21 Apr

Today we went to 鎌倉 (Kamakura).

Kamakura was once, long ago, the capital of Japan. It’s not too far south of Tokyo in 神奈川県 (Kanagawa Prefecture).

Kamakura is my favorite part of Kanagawa Prefecture.

It’s still very “traditional” Japan. There’s a nice beach, 大仏 (Great Buddah), many shrines and temples, lots of great souvenirs and food to buy, and 江ノ島 (Enoshima) and 横浜 (Yokohama) aren’t far.

One reason we decided to go to Kamakura today was because they were having a 流鏑馬 (Horseback Archery) show (like the one I watched in Tokyo yesterday) today.

My wife’s aunt wanted to join us today. So we woke up early and met her at the train station at 7:30AM and the six of us (my wife and I, our three kids, and my wife’s aunt) got to Kita-Kamakura Station at 8:45AM.

From there, we walked to 浄智寺 (Jyouchiji Temple).

Then we walked to 源氏山 (Genji-yama Mountain) and followed the hiking course.

And we walked to the 高徳院 (Koutokuin Temple) with the 大仏 (Great Buddah).

At the 高徳院 (Koutokuin Temple), there were some children dressed in kimono who were learning 茶道 (Tea Ceremony) (In Japan, preparing and serving Green Tea properly involves an elaborate ceremony). The children and their 茶道 teachers were preparing and serving tea for free. So we decided to have some.

It was very good!

The tea ceremony teacher:

From there, we walked over to 長谷寺 (Hase-dera Temple), which is a beautiful temple with a beautiful garden and Koi (Carp) pond.

The temple is up on a mountain with a beautiful view of Tokyo Bay.

In addition to that view, on the way up to the temple we were able to see 富士山 (Mt. Fuji).

At Hase-dera Temple, we ate a picnic lunch.

After lunch we headed to the 長谷駅 (Hase Station) on the 江ノ電 (Enoden Train Line) and rode the train to 鎌倉駅 (Kamakura Station) and then we walked down the 小町通り (Komachi-doori) shopping street which is lined with many great traditional Japanese shops. We bought some freshly cooked おせんべ (Rice crackers) at a shop here.

We went to the 鶴岡八幡宮 (Tsurugaoka-hachimanguu Shrine) which is where the 流鏑馬 (Horseback Archery) show was. Since it was extremely crowded and I watched Horseback Archery yesterday, we didn’t stay for the entire show.

After that, we went back to the shops and got a few bottles of “Kamakura Beer” and some famous “Hato Sable” cookies from the 豊島屋 (Toshimaya) store for souvenirs.

Then we headed home. It was a fun day.