Thursday, March 22, 2012

Yasakuni and Sensoji

Water where you cleanse before entering the shrine area
Ben and I had a very beautiful day, we went to one shrine (a place of shinto religion), and one temple (a place of buddhist religion), both of which were incredible. 

Yasakuni shrine is dedicated to the soldiers and souls who died on behalf of the emperor of Japan. There are statues and memorials for most of the wars, but most prevalent are those for World War II. Foreign tourists are asked to be cautious here because the shrine harbors some controversy. After World War II, the souls of Japanese war criminals were enshrined as kami at the temple. This fostered international resentment especially from China, because one of the souls was of the general who lead the massacre on Nanjing. Although Japanese officials stated that their intent was not to condone the actions of the war criminals, but instead to remove the lingering essence of their spirits, controversy still surrounds the shrine. The Japanese group, the far right, who are known for protesting against pro-chinese, or more generally pro-foreigner, agendas have often taken to the shrine to tout their propaganda. Unfortunately, the far right are known for resorting to violence. Police officers stationed at the shrine will caution foreigners to stay out of the groups way for the safety of everyone.


The shine was very beautiful, but more beautiful in my opinion were the surrounding gardens. There were koi ponds, gravestones, and statues along beautiful paths in groves of trees, some of which were blossoming. There were vending machines for people to buy food to feed to the carp, the sound they made was really fun, it almost sounded like little kisses. The whole area was green and alive, it was very refreshing.

 After Yasakuni we went to Sensoji Temple. There were thousands of tourists, which was an extreme change of pace from earlier that day. Along the path to the temple there were dozens of little stores selling souvenirs and tasty treats.

Built in 628 AD, Sensoji is Japans oldest temple. It harbors Kannon the goddess of mercy.
This is the thunder gate that leads to the temple.

Nearby Pagoda
For a history of the temple check out this site

Today on our way home Ben and I went on a women's only car on the train (it was ok for Ben because it was not during the women only hours). Groping on crowded trains is a large problem in Japan, and in order to give women a secure area where they do not need to worry, women's only cars are offered.

Things were much more feminine on the car, even the "be careful not to smash you fingers in the door" signs were little hello kitties.
Be careful not to smash your finger ^-^

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