adventure of my life (Hajime Hirayama:平山新)

Senso-ji(浅草寺)

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Sensō-ji (浅草寺) is an ancient Buddhist temple located in Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan. It is Tokyo's oldest temple, and one of the most famous sightseeing spots in Tokyo. Formerly associated with the Tendai sect of Buddhism, it became independent after World War II. Adjacent to the temple is a Shinto shrine, the Asakusa Shrine. The temple is dedicated to the bodhisattva Kannon. According to legend, a statue of the Kannon was found in the Sumida River in 628 by two fishermen, the brothers Hinokuma Hamanari and Hinokuma Takenari. The chief of their village, Hajino Nakamoto, recognized the holiness of the statue and enshrined it by remodeling his own house into a small temple in Asakusa so that the villagers could worship this Kannon. History The first temple was founded in 645 CE, which makes it the oldest temple in Tokyo. In the early years of the Tokugawa shogunate, Tokugawa Ieyasu designated Sensō-ji as tutelary temple of the Tokugawa clan. The Nishinomiya Inari shrine is located within the precincts of Sensō-ji and a torii identifies the entry into the hallowed ground of the shrine. A bronze plaque on the gateway structure lists those who contributed to the construction of the torii, which was erected in 1727 (Kyōhō 12, 11th month). During World War II, the temple was bombed and destroyed. It was rebuilt later and is a symbol of rebirth and peace to the Japanese people. In the courtyard there is a tree that was hit by a bomb in the air raids, and it had regrown in the husk of the old tree and is a similar symbol to the temple itself. Sanja Festival(三社祭) Sensō-ji is the focus of Tokyo's largest and most popular festival, Sanja Matsuri. This takes place over 3–4 days in late spring, and sees the surrounding streets closed to traffic from dawn until late evening. Religious in origin, Sanja Matsuri is primarily a festival of celebration. The atmosphere around Asakusa during the weekend of the festival is charged and energetic. People continuously flood the streets surrounding the Sensō-ji and flutes, whistles, chanting and taiko (traditional Japanese drums) can be heard throughout the district. The festival's main attractions are three Asakusa Shrine-owned mikoshi that appear on the third and final day of the festival. These three elaborate, black lacquered-wood shrines are built to act as miniature, portable versions of Asakusa Shrine. Decorated with gold sculptures and painted with gold leaf, each mikoshi weighs approximately one ton and cost ¥40 million ($340,000 in 2015) to construct. They are carried on four long poles lashed together with ropes, and each needs approximately 40 people dispersed evenly to safely carry them. Throughout the day, a total of about 500 people participate in carrying each shrine. Because of the importance of these three mikoshi, they are spectacles as they are carried through the streets. The areas immediately surrounding each shrine are busy with people, and as they are carried, they are shaken and bounced vehemently. This action is believed to intensify the power of the kami that are seated in the shrines and helps to bestow good luck upon their respective neighborhoods.It is not unusual for there to be someone standing on the poles supporting the mikoshi shouting and waving in order to help direct the people carrying the shrine. This sense of direction can be essential when trying to keep the one ton mikoshi from accidentally colliding with street-side shops and causing considerable damage. While the three primary mikoshi are the most important objects roaming the streets during the Sanja Matsuri, approximately 100 other smaller mikoshi are paraded through the neighborhood on Saturday. Of these shrines, several are solely carried by women or small children. Kaminarimon(雷門) Dominating the entrance to the temple is the Kaminarimon or "Thunder Gate". This imposing Buddhist structure features a massive paper lantern dramatically painted in vivid red-and-black tones to suggest thunderclouds and lightning. Beyond the Kaminarimon is Nakamise-dori with its shops, followed by the Hōzōmon or "Treasure House Gate" which provides the entrance to the inner complex. Within the precincts stand a stately five-story pagoda and the main hall, devoted to Kannon. Nakamise-Dori(仲見世通り) Many tourists, both Japanese and overseas, visit Sensō-ji every year. Catering to the visiting crowds, the surrounding area has many traditional shops and eating places that feature traditional dishes such as hand-made noodles, sushi, tempura. Nakamise-Dori, the street leading from the Thunder Gate to the temple itself, is lined with small shops selling souvenirs ranging from fans, ukiyo-e (woodblock prints), kimono and other robes, Buddhist scrolls, traditional sweets, to Godzilla toys, t-shirts and mobile phone straps. These shops themselves are part of a living tradition of selling to pilgrims who walked to Sensō-ji. Within the temple itself, and also at many places on its approach, there are o-mikuji stalls. For a suggested donation of 100 yen, visitors may consult the oracle and divine answers to their questions. Within the temple is a quiet contemplative garden kept in the distinctive Japanese style ASAKUSA Walking Course 2013-12-28 12.21.43 2013-12-28 12.27.03 2013-12-28 12.17.11

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