Join Eckerd students as they learn Japanese in Tokyo while experiencing the culture of this fascinating nation.
Today we went to a designated World Heritage Site.
Rinnoji was the first temple we visited. It was founded by Shodo Shonin, a Buddhist monk. The main building, called Sanbutsudo, was painted in gold statues dedicated to Amida, Senju-Kannon and Bato-Kannon, manifestations of the three deities of the mountain kami (in Futarasan Shrine).
The second shrine was Toshogu, a mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu (15-43-1616). Gold leaf, wood carvings, and traditional methods were widely used in its construction.
The last temple, Futarasan was also founded by Shodo Shonin. This shrine is dedicated to the kami (gods) of Nikko’s most sacred and cherished mountains, Mount Nantai, Mount Nyoho and Mount Taro.
It sure was cold today, but the shrines were not only elegant, but also vividly colored and beautifully designed. Not to mention, the ramen we had was the best.
Today we went to a Kabuki theatre to see 2 acts in a very long play. It started off a little slow and was a little hard to follow, even with the English translator but it was a really cool experience and I wish we could have seen more of it. The second act of the play was really cool because we got to see some traditional Kabuki dancing and all the actors seemed to really enjoy the rolls they were in. It’s a strictly all male cast but it didn’t seem like the men minded playing women. They were actually very good all except their voices were a little off but I still really enjoyed watching the play, even if the seating was a “little” cramped.
The dates on these are going to be wrong because the date on my camera was wrong, it will be two days ahead, I hope that will not be a problem. So for the pictures I am posting we went to two different Shinto shrines. The fist was the Teppozu Inari Shrine, where a purification ceremony was taking place called the Kanchu suijoku. This is where men dress in only loan cloths and bathe in freezing cold water to purify not only their bodies, but their spirit as well. From there we went to the second shrine, Kanda Myojin, and were able to watch the Hocho-shiki, which is the rite of slicing a carp. This is done with great skill and prestige. From where I was standing I couldn’t see much but I was able to see the men be blessed and the carp itself as well as the craftsman sharpening his blade.
so today we went to the Kenchoji and Engakuji Temples as small groups. It was really cool and very quiet at the temples, which was unusual because, as of late, there were always lots of people but there were not that many at these two. The one thing I really thought was cool about both temples was the Triangular symbol (also called a Triforce in the Zelda games) was on both of the Temples. It made me wonder how the two were connected and what the real meaning of the symbol was. We had the opportunity to remove our shoes and walk through one of the building to the back where a beautiful garden was and we were able to sit and really take in the view. It was probably the most calm I have been this entire trip.
(p.s. The date on these pictures is correct, I finally was able to fix the date on my camera)
Today we had the opportunity to visit two Temples and a Shrine. It was pretty cool to see the differences in sizes. The First temple we went to was Zengakuji. We thought it was really small and there were hardly any people there but it seemed to have a lot of presence. It is the famous “47 Ronin” are buried. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see the graves. The second temple we went to was the Zojoji Temple. This was a much much bigger temple with a lot more people. There seemed to be some kind of ceremony going on when we went there. We weren’t sure what it was for but Lori thought it might have been some kind of wedding. The last place we went to was a very, very small shrine devoted to the Seven Gods of Fortune, called Juban Inari Jinja. The entirety of the shrine were some steps up to the place where you pay your respects and a small shop on the side of the building for selling Omamorii’s. It was a really nice place and I was able to ring the bells and make a prayer for everyone on the trip to find happiness and peace. We have definitely seen a lot of shrines and temples in the short time that we have been here. It’s been pretty cool to see just how deeply the religion is rooted into modern day culture.
The Toshogu Shrine, where the founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate (Tokugawa Ieyasu) is enshrined, was probably one of the most beautiful and intricate shrines we have seen on our trip. Buildings shimmer in sunlight from the gold paint that accents the architecture. There are also many works of colorful art carved into walls of animals. The Chinese story of the 3 monkeys, hear no evil. see no evil and speak no evil, is also engraved on one of the buildings. Absolutely amazing!
This weekend we took a weekend trip to Nikko. Saturday night we spent the night at Furumine Jinja, a beautiful shrine constructed and managed by monks since around 782. For us it was a place of relaxation and reflection where we could escape from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo. We settled in and were treated to a traditional dance performed by a graceful female. It is not pictured, as photos are not allowed in the holy area. We then ate a bountiful dinner, pictured above, featuring conventional Japanese cuisine as well as elements of local produce, including a regional sake made with water from the mountain. It was quite delicious. We enjoyed some down time in the common area watching Sumo wrestling on TV. Then it was off to the hot springs, a central tenant of Japanese bathing and cleaning tradition. They are used for more than just hygiene, but are instead viewed as a ceremonial washing away of demons and negative energy. I was surprised at how very hot they actually are, sizzling much hotter than an average hot tub. In my experience they were both refreshing and demanding, although the Japanese guests seemed to be not so impacted as myself. We were given kimonos designed to keep us warm and after leaving the bath we returned to the common room to relax and talk before finding our way to sleep. It was a pure, unhindered kind of sleep and when we awoke we were blessed by monks as part of a beautiful Shinto ceremony. After eating breakfast it was off to our next journey…