Saturday, September 24, 2016

Zojo-Ji, Minato, Tokyo

Another fine attraction in the neighborhood I'd neglected to post about is Zojo-ji, yes, that famous Buddhist temple next door to Tokyo Tower.

Let's just say I've been behind on things, because hubby and I have actually been there a few times, a couple of times on our own, then with my family last December, then the last time with mum and aunt-in-law just this past April. The below photos are from both visits, so if you notice there are no leaves on the branches in one photo and then greenery in the next, that's why :D

It was a gorgeous spring day when we walked mum and aunt around the neighborhood then to Zojo-ji.

We cut through the parking lot of the Tokyo Prince Hotel where I found a beautiful pink sakura tree in full bloom.

In contrast, I'd taken my mum and sister on a late winter afternoon, so we caught the temple in the dusk and the lighting was a bit darker.

Of course we've been coming to the temple from the Tokyo Tower side, but for a more picturesque view of the main gate below, you should start from Daimon Station and walk almost due west on the main street.

Top two photos taken on the spring day and bottom two photos were from winter.

Hubby loves going around and reading all the signs, including the inscriptions on the bells (and there usually are inscriptions!).

While hubby explains away the writing and the inscriptions, I noticed the pretty sakuras and these greenish-red fruits on a tree nearby, though I've no idea what kind of fruits. Does anyone know?

Moving on to the Daiden (Main Hall), we noticed people in suits and formal wear congregating outside on its steps, and then a huge line of uniformed middle schoolers (I think) emerged from behind the building! I think it must have been a school entrance ceremony, as it was early April when the Japanese school year starts. And an all-boys school too because I didn't see a single girl. The boys wore the more traditional French military-inspired gakuran.

The afternoon my mum and sister visited, they caught a praying session when all the monks gathered in the Main Hall to chant along with the rin gongs. The session was opened to the public and chairs were provided inside the hall for anyone to come in to join the prayers and/or just observe quietly. So all three of us went inside and sat for a while, and I didn't take any photos then as it seemed disrespectful to do so. Afterwards we walked around to take photos with the last bit of daylight.

Definitely come inside this Ankokuden! There are beautiful shrines in addition to the souvenir shop (omamori, etc.). And before you roll your eyes at these souvenirs, just know the proceeds of your purchases actually go into supporting the temples and shrines. 

Outside Ankokuden is the usual place to hang the wooden prayer tablets as well as the paper fortunes.

Also famous at this temple is the Garden of the Unborn, with rows upon rows of Jizo statues. Despite the name, it's not just grieving parents who come to pray to Jizo. Some worshipers come for prayers of fertility as well as easy childbirth too.

Anyway, these photos were taken at dusk on that early winter evening when my mum, my sister, and I were heading home from Zojo-ji.

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