Japan 1983 (Part 2)

October 1

You go to a Japanese restaurant and have a wonderful dish, and the thing to do is take a picture with your phone, put it on Facebook, and see how many likes you get. If you don’t share your experiences, they don’t become part of the data processing system, and they have no meaning. ~ Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens author

Japan is a unique country, one that is both very modern and also very traditional. In the heart of Tokyo, there is a shrine dedicated to one of the most important Japanese Emperors and his wife. This Shinto Shrine is one of the most popular in Japan, and is an oasis of Zen, set in a vast forest at the heart of the hectic metropolis of Tokyo. ~ ancient-origins.net

[Continuing from Part 1 in the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo. Our group gathers for the tour . . . ]

[This is the inner courtyard facing the Honden (main hall) which enshrines the Emperor Meiji and his consort. According to “Sacred Space in The Modern City”, the shrine’s architect was Ito Chuta, also a Tokyo University professor and the architect of Yasukuni Shrine, Heian Shrine and Tsukiji Honganji Shrine. He sought to establish the architecture of Meiji Shrine as the standard for all Japanese shrines (flickr.com).]

[Offering Hall (haiden) – the place of worship at the Meiji Shrine . . . ]

[The National Diet Building is the building where both houses of the National Diet of Japan meet. Sessions of the House of Representatives take place in the left wing and sessions of the House of Councillors in the right wing. The Diet Building was completed in 1936 and is constructed out of purely Japanese materials, with the exception of the stained glass, door locks, and pneumatic tube system (Wikipedia).]

[The Tokyo Imperial Palace (Kōkyo, literally ‘Imperial Residence’) is the usual residence of the Emperor of Japan. It is a large park-like area located in the Chiyoda district of the Chiyoda ward of Tokyo and contains several buildings including the main palace (Kyūden), some residences of the Imperial Family, an archive, museums and administrative offices. It is built on the site of the old Edo Castle. The total area including the gardens is 1.15 square kilometres (0.44 sq mi).  During the height of the 1980’s Japanese property bubble, the palace grounds were valued by some to be more than the value of all of the real estate in the state of California (Wikipedia).]

[Roy, somewhere in Tokyo. I remember the gentleman on the far left – not his name, but I believe he was retired military . . . ]

[Edo Castle was enormous. Historians debate whether it encompassed six or up to ten miles. It was divided into a labyrinth of six wards defended by 60 foot stone ramparts (walls), wide moats and 38 gates. The Imperial Palace is considerably smaller. This is Sakashita-mon Gate leading to the former castle’s West Citadel. It is now the entrance to the Imperial Household Agency. As its name implies, Kunai-chō is responsible for managing the state activities of the Emperor and the Imperial Family (encirclephotos.com).]

[Tokyo Station (Tōkyō-eki) is a railway station in Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan. The original station is located in Chiyoda’s Marunouchi business district near the Imperial Palace grounds. The newer eastern extension is not far from the Ginza commercial district. Due to the large area covered by the station, it is divided into the Marunouchi (west) and Yaesu (east) sides in its directional signage. Served by the high-speed rail lines of the Shinkasen network, Tokyo Station is the main inter-city rail terminal in Tokyo. It is the busiest station in Japan, with more than 4,000 trains arriving and departing daily, and the fifth-busiest in Eastern Japan in terms of passenger throughput; on average, more than 500,000 people use Tokyo Station every day.  The station is also served by many regional commuter lines of Japan Railways, as well as the Tokyo Metro network (Wikipedia).]

[During the Edo period, Sensoji Temple was used as the main temple of prayer for the Tokugawa shogunate and resultantly, Sensoji Temple flourished in the city of Edo. Asakusa as a whole is representative of this shitamachi (downtown-style) culture during the Edo Period, and Sensoji Temple is the sightseeing spot that represents this history and culture of Asakusa largely due to the number of visitors it receives on a yearly basis. There are over a staggering 30 million worshippers whom visit the temple yearly and of this total, many are visitors from abroad. The main outer gate of Sensoji Temple, Kaminarimon, is the most famous landmark for this attraction and the large lantern connected to this gate is the top ranking photo opportunity location for visitors to the temple. This sizable lantern is 4 meters in height and weighs a whopping 640 kilograms. To the left and right hand side of the gate are images of the wind god and thunder gods. Derived from these images, the gate formerly was called the wind-thunder gate but eventually was abbreviated to the shorter thunder gate. The temple was destroyed in the great fire in the first year of the Keiou era (1865- 1868) but in 1955, the world-famous company Panasonic donated funds to rebuild this landmark of Asakusa (triplelights.com).]

[After entering from the outer gate, there is a street heading to the main temple called Nakamise-dori lined with stores that sell various traditional local foods and merchandise. The local specialties of Aasakusa that you can find here are ningyo yaki, which are bean jam cakes formed in the shape of dolls, as well as sweet rice snacks. Since there are many options to try local specialties on this street, you should certainly attempt to sample a few different foods. As you proceed further down this street, you will eventually approach Hozomon gate which has been preserved as an Important Cultural Property. Also, you will encounter the main temple and the surrounding 5-story pagoda as well as Asakusa Shrine. The architecture of this five-story pagoda can withstand the intense pressures of the earthquake-ridden Japan and accordingly, the newly constructed Skytree has been constructed with the architecture of the five-story pagoda in mind. From Senosoji Temple, it is possible to also catch sight of the Skytree and compare the similarities and differences between the two towers.

Admission: Free (triplelights.com)]

[We were now free to wander the wonders of Sensoji Temple . . . ]

[Always a nice place to visit with thousands of your close personal friends . . . ]

[So, let’s talk tiered pagodas. The Sensoji Temple is a five-storied pagoda, one of the most famous in Japan. Its height is 53.32 meters, which is about the height of an 18-story building . . . ]

[Five tiered stupas represent the five natural elements of the universe, earth, water, fire, wind and metal. A lotus flower, the symbol for Buddha, crowns the top of the pagoda. Contrary to local legend, Roy does not represent any part of a stupa . . . ]

[As we re-gather, Roy is out front, our tour guide center in the coat and tie, and we cliqued up with Randy and Marsha Moorey (far right of our group), from the Bay Area as I recall . . . ]

[We’re still in the Asakusa Shinto Shrine here; Marsha on the far right . . . ]

[Asakusa Shinto Shrine incense sticks with messages . . . ]

[Our guide in the middle, trying to round up his flock . . . ]

[The hustle and bustle of Tokyo . . . ]

In Japanese, sushi does not mean raw fish. It means seasoned rice. ~ Guy Fieri

[A tree . . . in Japan . . . ]

[A view that will always remind me of Japan . . . ]

[Wooden tasōtō are pagodas with an odd number of stories. Some may appear to have an even number because of the presence between stories of purely decorative enclosed pent roofs called mokoshi.  There existed specimen with seven or nine stories, but all extant ones have either three (and are therefore called sanjū-no-tō (three-storied pagoda)) or five (and are called gojū-no-tō (five-storied pagoda). Tanzan Jinja in Sakurai, Nara, has a pagoda having thirteen, which however for structural reasons is classified separately, and is not considered a tasōtō.)  The oldest three-storied pagoda stands at Nara’s Hokki-ji and was built between 685 and 706.  The oldest extant five-storied pagoda belongs to Horyu-ji and was built some time during the Asuka period (538 -710). The tallest wooden tasōtō belongs to To-ji, Kyoto. It has five stories and is 54 m tall (Wikipedia).]

There are some ghost stories in Japan where – when you are sitting in the bathroom in the traditional style of the Japanese toilet – a hand is actually starting to grab you from beneath. It’s a very scary story. ~ Shigeru Miyamoto

Japanese culture? I kind of love everything about it. I love the food. Everyone’s really nice. There’s just a lot about Japan that’s really cool. ~ Naomi Osaka

[Of course the best part of any trip is the fine cultural dining. I love the pomp and circumstance of it in Japan. And here’s where I developed an unnatural relationship with Sapporo dark beer. Marsha and Randy sitting on the far side, Roy on the right . . . ]

[Downtown Tokyo, the 2nd richest city in the world after New York . . . ]

[Like NYC, it would have been a fun place to live for a couple years in one’s misspent youth . . . ]

[Marsha, Roy, and Randy trying to figure out where we were. The locals would occasionally try explain things for us through Marsha (obviously of Japanese heritage) – but she was just an English-speaking American like the rest of us so all she could do was shrug her shoulders . . . ]

[The Ginza, almost as famous in international lore as the Fat Boys Walking Club, gave me an opportunity to try out my limited Japanese. “The clique” took the subway from the hotel to the Ginza. Once you come up out a subway stop however, you can’t find your bearings. So I stopped a young man on the street and asked, in Japanese, which way to the Ginza. He told us, we thanked him, and the following Ginza photos are as a result. Marsha at the entrance . . . ]

Japanese women have always loved my films, even when no one else did. Ever since I made ‘Maurice’ in the 1980s, I’ve been getting hundreds of letter from Japanese girls. They definitely have a special place in my heart. ~ Hugh Jackman

[Randy and Roy trying to keep their heads above water . . . ]

[Back at the New Otani. We obviously weren’t on the 2nd floor . . . ]

[Roy in the observation deck . . . ]

[I can’t recall if this was just the weather creating all of limited visibility we have had so far – or if it’s just the smog that was prevalent in all major cities in the early 80’s . . . ]

Japanese architecture is traditionally based on wooden structures that need renovating on a regular basis. ~ Tadao Ando

I wouldn’t mind a little bow. In Japan, they bow. I love it. Only thing I love about Japan. ~ Donald Trump

Up Next: Part 3 . . .

Editor’s note: I made my annual contribution to Wikipedia today. One can’t do this without them. And b), I found the Europe 2000 trip. I know many have been worried about it. The Super had all the photos and negatives in her archives because she had scrapbooked that trip . . .

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