May 31, 2012

Asakusa Kannon Temple and Nakamise Shopping Street

The second place on our itinerary which we visited.... the Asakusa Kannon Temple...
Asakusa Kannon Temple, which is also known as “Sensoji” is a Buddhist temple located in Asakusa, Taito, Tokyo. Sensoji was built in 645 A.D with the finest Japanese architecture. Asakusa is a famous district in Tokyo, Japan located in the center of Shitmachi which literally means “low town” or “low city”. Asakusa is very well known for various temples in which Asakusa Kannon Temple is the most famous and also the oldest temple of Tokyo.

According to the legends of Asakusa, two brothers fished the statue of Kannon (goddess of mercy) from the river Sumida. They tried to put the statue back into the river but fortunately the statue always returned to them. So they planned to build a temple which started in 628 A.D and finished its construction in 645 A.D.

The travelers initially enter through the “Kaminarimon” (thunder gate) which is the outer gate of “Asakusa Kannon Temple “or “Sensoji” and also the symbol of Asakusa. Then after the way leads to a shopping street of about 200 meters called Nakamise, giving a way to the second gate called “Hozomon”. The shopping street consists of various traditional garments popularly known as “Yukata”, local snacks, folding fans etc, which are said to be very unique and high in business.

Beyond the second gate, “Hozomon” stands at the Sensoji temple main building with five stories tower with multiple eaves which is the most attractive part of the building.
 A small sign about the Nitenmon gate.... We did not go Thunder gate, but from the Nitenmon gate as our bus stopped us there.....

 This is the five storied pagoda.
 This is the Shinto  temple.
(Shinto (神道 Shintō) or Shintoism, also kami-no-michi, is the indigenous spirituality of Japan and the people of Japan. It is a set of practices, to be carried out diligently, to establish a connection between present day Japan and its ancient past. Shinto practices were first recorded and codified in the written historical records of the Kojiki and Nihon Shoki in the 8th century. Still, these earliest Japanese writings do not refer to a unified "Shinto religion", but rather to disorganized folklore, history, and mythology. Shinto today is a term that applies to public shrines suited to various purposes such as war memorials, harvest festivals, romance, and historical monuments, as well as various sectarian organizations. Practitioners express their diverse beliefs through a standard language and practice, adopting a similar style in dress and ritual, dating from around the time of the Nara and Heian Periods.

The word Shinto ("Way of the Gods") was adopted from the written Chinese (神道, pinyin: shén dào), combining two kanji: "shin" (), meaning "spirit" or kami; and "" (), meaning a philosophical path or study (from the Chinese word dào). Kami are defined in English as "spirits", "essences" or "deities", that are associated with many understood formats; in some cases being human-like, in others being animistic, and others being associated with more abstract "natural" forces in the world (mountains, rivers, lightning, wind, waves, trees, rocks). Kami and people are not separate; they exist within the same world and share its interrelated complexity.

There are currently 4 million observers of Shinto in Japan, although a person who practices any manner of Shinto rituals may be so counted. The vast majority of people in Japan who take part in Shinto rituals also practice Buddhist ancestor worship. However, unlike many monotheistic religious practices, Shinto and Buddhism typically do not require professing faith to be a believer or a practitioner, and as such it is difficult to query for exact figures based on self-identification of belief within Japan. Due to the syncretic nature of Shinto and Buddhism, most "life" events are handled by Shinto and "death" or "afterlife" events are handled by Buddhism—for example, it is typical in Japan to register or celebrate a birth at a Shinto shrine, while funeral arrangements are generally dictated by Buddhist tradition—although the division is not exclusive.

The creation myth of Shinto is recorded in the ca. 712 Kojiki. It is a depiction of the events leading up to and including the creation of the Japanese Islands. There are many translations of the story with variations of complexity.
  • Izanagi-no-Mikoto (male) and Izanami-no-Mikoto (female) were called by all the myriad gods and asked to help each other to create a new land which was to become Japan.
  • They were given a spear with which they stirred the water, and when removed water dripped from the end, an island was created in the great nothingness.
  • They lived on this island, and created a palace and within was a large pole.
  • When they wished to bear offspring, they performed a ritual each rounding a pole, male to the left and female to the right, the female greeting the male first.
  • They had 2 children (islands) which turned out badly and they cast them out. They decided that the ritual had been done incorrectly the first time.
  • They repeated the ritual but according to the correct laws of nature, the male spoke first.
  • They then gave birth to the 8 perfect islands of the Japanese archipelago.
  • After the islands, they gave birth to the other Kami, Izanami-no-Mikoto dies and Izanagi-no-Mikoto tries to revive her.
  • His attempts to deny the laws of life and death have bad consequences.
The islands of Japan are to be considered a paradise as they were directly created by the gods for the people of Japan, and were ordained by the higher spirits to be created into the Japanese empire. Shinto is the fundamental connection between the power and beauty of nature (the land) and the people of Japan. It is the manifestation of a path to understanding the institution of divine power.)

 The main building enshrines the statue of the Kannon Goddess of mercy which is said 5-cm tall.

People smoke over their bodies from the bronze incense burner before worship.

The smoke is believed to heal or prevent illness

 Hozomon (Treasure house gate.) stands up at the end of Nakamise-dori.

Many events, temporary markets or local festivals, are held here in front of the Hozomon.

 You can see the Tokyo skytree from here as well.....
 Me and my colleagues and travelling partners..., Sanisah and Siti Eshah...

 More colleagues and travel partners..... Sanisah, me, Siti Eshah, Fairuz and Rosli
 A friend of ours,Wan Azmi to ask this Japanese lady and her lovely daughter for a picture.
 The big lantern hanging from the ceiling of the gate is covered with letters
meaning the name of a town adherent to the temple.
 Nakamise-dori, the lively 300-m long arcade is leading up to the Asakusa Kannon temple.
It is easy for you to get caught up in the rows of small shops selling traditional Japanese items such as oiled paper umbrellas, masks, fans, dolls, toys and Edo-styled wigs
 A shop selling Japanese Yukatas and wear for souvenirs...

A dragon under the lantern.


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