In my previous article I had mentioned how Japan has touched my heart deeply and left me asking for more! In my weeks of being there I got several opportunities to take a look at some of their many temples and shrines (especially since I was visiting with my mum). The Japanese are very spiritual and take their shrines and temples quite seriously (just like us). Each one I visited was majestic in its own way and left quite an indelible mark on me! One temple I visited which is worth mentioning is Senso-ji. This is the oldest Buddhist temple in Tokyo built to honour Kannon, the Goddess of Mercy. Since I visited it during Sanja Matsuri—one of their main annual festivals, it was crowded beyond belief! The Sanja Matsuri features about one hundred mikoshi (portable shrines), in which Shinto Gods are symbolically placed and these are paraded through the streets to bring good fortune to the local residents and businesses. There are tons of shops leading to the shrine with everything from traditional items like kimonos, zori(traditional slippers,) sweets made with a filling of red bean paste (very popular), to modern items like backpacks, toys, souvenirs and more!

a the mikoshi me at one of the gates 600x400

b stautes of gods guarding senso ji 600x400

c shopping outside senso ji 600x400

d traditional japanese slippers 600x400

One of their main shrines is the Meiji Shrine (Meiji Jhingu) which is situated in a beautiful forested area of the Yoyogi Park and dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his consort, Empress Shoken. There’s something extremely austere about it—in serenity and size and sans any embellishments. There are so many areas one can just sit in-amidst nature and massive trees—that it’s very peaceful. There is a beautiful, old camphor tree on the eastern side of the shrine, which allows for you to write your prayers and wishes on wooden tablets (called ema) and hang them on the hooks provided in the hope that they come true. I would say, it's a definite visit for anyone going to Tokyo.

a meiji shrine 600x400

b the walk to and the gate of meiji shrine 600x400

c ema hanging from the camphor tree 600x400

The icing on the cake for us was visiting what is now my favourite experience of Japan, the Daibutsu (or the Great Buddha) at Kamakura. The Daibutsu (as the statue is fondly known) is a bronze statue of Amida Buddha, which is magnificent and will both dwarf you and humble you with its colossal size. It was once enclosed in a temple, but that has since collapsed and still the Daibutsu sits strong, forgiving and loving out in the open. To say that the Buddha is enormous will be an understatement. There is an amazing feeling of peace and of being loved, that you feel watching the expression carved on the face of the statue as well as in the details of the hands and other features. You can visit the hollow inside of the statue till a certain time and get a better idea on how it was set and how it has withstood the onslaught of nature for hundreds of years. Not a place that lets you leave easily!

a daibutsu 600x400

b daibutsu 600x400

Like I said before, I look forward to when I can go back and envelope myself in beauty and culture of Japan and its people!

Happy Travels!

Nethra

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