Asakusa and Kanzashis
During the last weeks Peter and I have been very busy. While he was caught up at work a lot, I had to study for up to 5 tests a week at the university. On the weekends we spend our free time exploring Tokyo and it`s surroundings. So, even though we gained a lot of experiences to write about, we simple could`t find the time to do so, but now I will make a start and tell you about our afternoon drip to Asakusa.
First thing after arriving at Asakusa-Station, Peter started a hunt. He would`t tell me what exactly he was after, making it harder for me to help at looking for it, but finally we found it, Taiyaki. We bought three of these fish-shaped cakes, filled with anko, maroni and pumpkin. They were well worth the hunt!
Also, while eating our Taiyaki on a bench next to the shop, I saw something sparkling behind another shops window. After we finished our meal I went to have a closer look and immediately a very cheerful and motivated shop assistant came out of the store inviting me to come inside and have a better look at the shiny thing. The little shop durned out to sell Kanzashis.
Kanzashi is a traditional Japanese hair ornament which dates back to the Jomon period. Back than it was thought that a single small stick had powers to ward off evil spirits, so people wore them in their hair. During the following periods it changed a lot in style and was sometimes even modified for self-defence.
Today it is still (more than) a pretty jewelry and the little shop in Asakusa had them in every variety you can imagine. The nice shop assisted at once crafted one of them in my hair and then told me to try it myself. It is very easy, if you know how to do it! I did`t, but I got instructed and I am positive that, if I keep on practicing, I will be able to do it by myself for Christmas. Yes, I bought one of them. They are really pretty! The shop assistant pined my hair up with the Kanzashi I had chosen and Peter and I finally headed for the Senso-ji Temple, which was the original target of our trip to Asakusa.
To get to the temple you first have to get through a very crowded street called Nakamise-dori. It starts just after the impressive Kaminarimon, the "Thunder-gate", and is full of tiny stores selling anything one might want to buy on a trip in or to Japan. There are foods and sweets, T-Shirts and Kimonos, Katanas and bags shaped like cats. It´s kind of nice though, considering that most of the Japanese are really mindful and nearly ever push or bump into each other.
After managing to reach the temple you might still want to get clean before entering. You can do so by cleaning yourself with smoke. But be careful, even though it smells kind of good it might still lead to slight irritation of the throat!
The temple itself was founded in 645 AD. It is the oldest temple in Tokyo. According to legend two fishermen happened to find a statue of Kannon, the goddess of mercy, in the Sumida River in 628. Because of that the chief of their village remodeled his own house into a small Temple, so that the villagers could worship the statue there. The original temple was sadly destroyed by war and earthquakes and rebuild afterwards several times. The one standing now was build in 1958 using ferroconcrete. Next to the temple, on the temple grounds, there is also a Shinto-Shrine located. Since we happened to bump into a wedding over there we did`t take any pictures of it. As usual it was also not allowed to take pictures of the inside of the main temple.
Visiting Asakusa also the temple-gardens are well worth to take a walk through. There are pretty statues and other sacred buildings, a small river and a lot of Kois.
Even though we walked around a lot and tried some of the food sold there I still feel like I haven`t seen everything and haven`t tried all of the interesting looking sweets you can get in the area around the temple (there are some pink and blue bananas for example that I still start to wonder about every now and then), so I will certainly go back there again!
So, see you there,