Skytree and Senso-ji

I’ve been slacking on keeping this blog updated. I’ve been trying to slowly learn a little Japanese and have been going through a phase of reading voraciously but, those are just excuses. I’m lazy and find I have to be at least a little inspired to write.

Anyway, way back in September, The Sailor and I took a little day trip to Tokyo to visit the Skytree. The Tokyo Skytree is the worlds tallest broadcasting and observation tower in the world. It was completed in 2011 at 634 meters (or 2,080 ft. for us non-metric dorks). If you’re interested in learning about the design, earthquake protections, naming  and all that jazz, you can read about it here and if you want to learn more about what is in and around it you can do so here.

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450 meters above a hazy Tokyo.
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Somewhere in that haze is Mt. Fuji… supposedly.
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Looking down 350 meters.
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That’s 1477 feet down to the ground.

After perusing the highest tower in the world, we decided to see what else was in the area. After a quick search we decided to walk over to Sensoji or Asakusa Kannon Temple; a colorful, popular Buddhist temple that happens to be the oldest in Tokyo.

Kannon is the Goddess of Mercy and legend has it that 2 brothers pulled a statue of her out of the Sumida River in 628 which they then put back. But, the statue continued to return to them. The temple was built nearby where the story claims to take place. The original construction was completed in 645 (yes, the year 645) but sadly was destroyed during WWII. The current temple was built in its place shortly after the end of the war as a symbol of rebuilding and peace. It is a beautiful slice of the past nestled in the big city. If you’d like to read more specific details on it you can do so here and here.

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Kaminarimon or Thunder Gate
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Hozomon or Treasure House Gate
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Main Hall and 5 story pagoda.
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Me and Buddha
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Temple grounds would not be complete without an awesome stone bridge over a Koi pond.
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Temple grounds with the Pagoda which is said to house 100 statues and thousands of Buddhist “spirit” tablets or ihai, along with the ashes of a Buddha.
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Komainu or Lion-dogs
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Komainu are always found in pairs and used as a place for couples to pray for successful relationships.

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Contrast of the old and the new with the Pagoda from 1645 and the Modern Skytree.
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Sisterogon Street shopping mall with traditional Japanese wooden floor.
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This new shopping street was much less crowded than the famous Nakamise Dori.
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And filled with adorable shops like this one selling traditional souvenirs and tiny live Koi.

After we had explored Senso-ji for a bit we decided to take a long walk to the Kappa-Dera or Sougenji Temple just a 20 minute walk away in the Tokyo neighborhood of Kappabashi which literally means Kappa Bridge. It was supposedly so plagued by the the pests that the area residences built a small kappa-temple to appease them. The altar is kept stocked with cucumbers, said to be the kappa’s favorite food, and i has a chamber that supposedly contains antique scroll-drawings of the goblins and even a real mummified kappa-arm.

Sadly, the tiny temple was closed and gated off so we couldn’t even get close. To say i was disappointed at missing out on this weird little treasure in Tokyo was an understatement. I guess we could have looked closer at the very limited hours of operation before walking over. If you’re interested in in reading more about the strangle little place you can do so here and here.

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I literally fell twice despite all the very obvious warnings of the small steps that were ALL OVER.

This is just one of several little day excursions to Tokyo we have taken. Stay tuned for more posts if I don’t slip into utter uninspired laziness again.

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