Monday, March 5, 2012

Last leg - Asakusa in Tokyo

More temples!  Today was much more about absorbing the ways of the Shinto than it was goofing around in hot spas.

The story goes like this.  Two fisherman were out doing their fisherman thing when one day they reeled in their catch, only to reveal that there was a small (I forgot, maybe 1x1inch) golden symbol of guan yin, the goddess of mercy.  That's the same god that mom has in the top of her mantle thing, the main female god.  Anyways, news spread of their finding, and it was determined that the symbol was sacred.  So this temple gets erected for the sake of housing the brothers' finding.  As a tribute to the brothers, they were also given their own temple.

Here's the main temple, the Kannon do, which houses the symbol.

I kinda bummed that I forgot to take a pic/video of the cleansing process required of visitors before entering the temple, but it goes like this.  There is a round fountain with little ladles sitting atop the thing.  You're supposed to pick up the ladle with your left hand, fill it with fresh water from the fountain, then pour it over your right hand to cleanse you of spiritual impurities?  Repeat with your right hand.  Then you fill up the ladle and you take a sip of the water, only to spit out the water into a water reservoir surrounding the fountain (it's classier than I make it out to sound).  Lastly, you fill up the ladle again, and angle it vertically, allowing the water to run down the handle, purifying it.

Inside the main temple is like a super-sized and super-golden version of mom's alter.  I couldn't find the little symbol thing the fisherman found.  Some stories mention it to be some sort of statue, so maybe my tour guide got the story wrong.

This is the Hozoumon gate, which is south of the main temple.  In the background to the left, you can see the Tokyo Sky Tree, which is the tallest communication tower in the world, and the second tallest structure in the world after the one in dubai (the one in dubai is almost 200meters taller!)

Five story pagoda.  We weren't permitted entry for some odd reason.

This is the iconic Kaminarimon gate, the thunder gate!  This is the main gate that leads to the temple.  Flanked by the gate are a bunch of stalls where food/toys/trinkets are sold.

The golden building there is the Asahi HQ.  It's built to look like freshly-poured beer.  Note that weird golden horn thing.  No idea what that was.

I've never seen such large puffer fish!

And here is a 3d image I compiled.  It's a picture of a tempura-fried green tea and red bean pastry thing.

Anyways, click on it to make it full-sized.  If you can cross your eyes voluntarily, cross them until you get the third image in the center and p00f, there's your 3d pastry.  If you can't cross your eyes voluntarily, sit about 2 feet away from the monitor, point at the center of the whole picture with your finger, then follow your finger as you move the finger closer towards your eyes.  Once your finger is somewhere between the screen and your face, you'll notice a third image forming right behind your finger.  You'll have to use your peripheral vision to notice.  So, once that third image is looks to be complete, take your finger away and concentrate/squint to clear out all the details.  There you go, 3d pastry.

That's it for this week.  Next week I'm going to Mt. Fuji.  Unfortunately I can' climb it due to the poor weather.  Typical climbing season runs from mid July through August.  Attempt to climb any earlier or later and you_will_die due to the really piss-poor weather conditions.  Damn shame I'll have to leave by mid =-May, I wanted to climb it too.

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