Tag Archives: temple

Setsubun

3 Feb

Today is February 3rd … in Japan, it’s a holiday called 節分 (Setsubun).

On this day, fathers wear a demon mask and the children throw beans at him and shout 「鬼は外!福は内!」 (“Demon (bad luck) go out! Good fortune come in!”) until he runs away.

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Then everyone eats the number of beans corresponding to their age (one bean for each year of their age).

Also, there is a special sushi people eat on this day.

And, at major temples in Japan, there is a ceremony in which celebrities who were born in the current Chinese zodiac year throw beans at the crowd.

We went to the famous 浅草寺 (Sensouji Temple) in 浅草 (Asakusa, Tokyo) and caught some beans that were thrown by famous people there.  The celebrity that I was most looking forward to seeing was 「アニマル浜口)」 (“Animal” Hamaguchi)!

Animal Hamaguchi was a professional wrestler in Japan and then he became the trainer / coach of his daughter, Kyoko, who was a female wrestler that represented Japan at the Olympics and other games.

Animal Hamaguchi is well-known for his loud, animated and humorous support and cheering of his daughter!
I like him!

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The charismatic “Animal” Hamaguchi throwing beans at the crowd.

Rainy day in Nezu

23 May

It was forecast to rain today but my wife and I decided to go to 根津神社 (Nezu Shrine).

I’ve written posts about this shrine before when we’ve gone there on sunny days and during festivals.

When we left our house the weather was sunny and warm. It was hard to believe that the TV weatherman said it would rain in the afternoon.

At lunchtime the weather was still nice, so we stopped at a convenience store and bought some beer and sandwiches and ate lunch in a park not far from the shrine.

After lunch we headed to 根津神社 (Nezu Shrine) as the sky was turning dark and the temperature began to drop.
It was a good thing that we brought our umbrellas because it began to rain hard as we were leaving the shrine.

Here are the photos that I took:

These turtles were cute…but our turtle is cuter! 😉

I think this bird was a type of 「白鷺」 (Egret).

The torii at the entrance to 根津神社 (Nezu Shrine).

Japanese lamp.

Sign says 「根津神社」 ("Nezu Shrine")

A row of over 150 "torii".

Click here to see my post with a video I took while walking through these.

Tokyo is the perfect hybrid

7 Dec

What is your image of Tokyo?
Ultra-modern and high-tech with robots, computerized bath-tubs and toilet seats, skyscrapers, and neon?
Or ancient with centuries-old temples and shrines in quiet old-fashioned neighborhoods with small restaurants and food booths selling very traditional Japanese food and snacks?

Either way, you’d be correct. Tokyo is a perfect hybrid of both the modern and the traditional, sometimes side-by-side.

I love both aspects of this city. The skyline with the skyscrapers and neon lights looks beautiful…and so are the ancient 下町 (traditional, downtown areas).

Last Sunday my wife and I went to a 下町 (traditional, downtown area).
Here are some photos I took:

A parrot outside of a pet store.

This pagoda is about 400 years old.

 

Have you ever visited Tokyo? How do you think it compares with other cities? I think it’s the most beautiful city.

Videos of Tokyo

3 Oct

I have a YouTube page of short videos I’ve taken around Tokyo.
But I haven’t uploaded a new video in awhile. Maybe I’ll add a new one sometime soon.
(Click here to visit my “Tokyo Five YouTube page”).

And here’s a post I wrote with a few nice videos made by the Japanese government to promote tourism to Japan.

But I have been getting emails recently from a visitor to my site, Akiharu Hioki, about excellent videos he’s made of scenes in Tokyo.

His YouTube page only has two videos so far but they’re very good.
Here are his two videos…

This one’s at the Tsukiji Fish Market, the largest fish market in the world:

And click here to read a post I wrote about unruly visitors to the Tsukiji Fish Market.

His other video is of the Jindaiji Shrine in Tokyo:

“New” Kanji of the Year

25 Dec

Every December a kanji character is chosen in Japan that represents the year that coming to an end, and the character is written in traditional 習字 (calligraphy) by the head monk at a temple in Kyoto and presented in a ceremony to the public.

Last year (2008), the character 「変」 (“change“) was chosen. Click here to read my post from last year to see why that character was chosen.

It was decided that since the U.S. elected a historic new President, Japan elected a Prime Minister from a new party, and also because of the global epidemic of “Swine Flu” which is called 「新型インフルエンザ」 (“New Flu”) in Japan…that the kanji character for 2009 is 「新」, which means “new“.

The 2009 Kanji of the year is the character for "New"

Here’s a picture of the head monk writing the character 「新」 (“new”) in traditional Japanese calligraphy:

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