Monday, March 5, 2012

The intro to Tokyo - Meiji Shrine

Sunday started off uneventfully.  Woke up, brushed teeth, got dressed, made PBJ sandwich, walked down towards where the tour bus was parked.

I'm eating as I'm walking, then I see some sort of weird Subaru off to the corner of my eye.  Being a car guy, I decided to take a longer gander as I figure out the difference between the USDM and JDM counterparts.  Next thing I know, my PBJ sandwich goes P00F MOTHERFUCKER!  It literally disappears out of my hand.  I look up and around for a second, then I finally catch a glimpse of a stupid hawk which just managed to hijack my breakfast.  My supervisors forgot to tell me not to eat outdoors, apparently the birds are pretty adept at swooping in to take advantage of idiot visitors.

Ok, so Tokyo.  First stop was the Meiji Jingu shrine.  This shrine was built to honor Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken, who were both instrumental in opening Japan to the rest of the world in addition to setting up the foundation for all Japanese citizens to take part in schooling.  

The barrels above are just wrapped and decorated forms of normal barrels, seen below.  Again, all these are clickable.

This is the torii, which is like a divider indicating the transition from profane to sacred.  These are traditional Japanese structures typically seen around the entryway to shrines/temples.

Crossed the threshold, looking out from the center of the shrine outwards.

These little wooden prayer cards are called Ema, which are hung around a divine tree.  Most of these are prayers are written by visitors to the shrine, which will later be burned by priests as an offering.  Most of the prayers on these ema were in regards to things like the recent earthquake or the nuclear site incident.  It reminded me of  all the lit candles for folks who went missing during 9/11.

On days with better weather, my tour guide says the Meiji shrine hosts up to the TEENS in terms of weddings.  If you watch the video, you'll notice the bride wearing this large, hooded helmet looking thing.  And the reason for that space balls-looking helmet is this:  The wife is jealous of the man, and this jealousy takes on the form of invisible horns that protrude out of her head.  On the wedding day it's necessary to cover up these jealousy horns, for the sake of well...who the hell knows, to save face from people seeing your imaginary horn?  Hah, JK.

That's it for the shrine.  For fun I decided to make a little stop-motion video.  I was running a bit late on time so I couldn't use as many frames as I liked.  You have to click it to get it to work.

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