Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Day 4 - The Thunder Gate (Asakusa)

Kaminari-mon Thunder Gate in Asakusa 3rd February, 2003 - Today is Setsubun, a traditional day in the Japanese calendar... it's supposedly meant to divide seasons, but the 3rd Feb is the traditional day that is observed. It's also known for the bean throwing... but more on that later. We came to Asakusa, an older district in Tokyo, to see Setsubun at Senso-ji (a large ancient Buddhist temple). The first temple was reportedly built around 645 AD, and as such was the oldest in Tokyo. Buddhism came to Japan from China around the mid sixth century, an flourished there.

At the start of the approaching road sits the Kaminari-mon (or Thunder Gate). On either side of the gate with it's huge paper lantern, sit the Gods Fujin (God of wind) and Raijin (God of Thunder and Lightning). On the reverse side of the gate sit two more gods, Tenryu and Kinryu. Beyond this gate, a road (Nakamise Dori) leads to the temple proper. Like many temples in Japan, this one is surrounded by vendors selling all sorts of crap that would make even the Buddha cringe.


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