After Mount Fuji, I traveled back to Tokyo city to the Setagaya where I AirBnB’d it with Remi. Her home was so perfect and I had a bedroom and sitting area to myself! If you’re ever in Tokyo, I recommend you stay at Remi’s.
After getting to Remi’s I changed and headed straight back out into Tokyo. It was my last day in the city and I wanted to definitely see Senso-Ji and possibly see the Imperial Palace.
I was feeling a bit more confident on the trains on day two. I had traveled by train before in the cities that I have lived: Boston, Washington, DC, Chicago, but Indianapolis (where I just moved from) has no train system so I was a little out of practice.
I traveled for about 30 minutes to Asakusa. Sometimes it’s hard to get your bearings when you step off a train or come up from underground, but my recommendation is to just follow the crowd.
It was remarkable in both size, beauty and sensation. Imagine you are walking down a modern and crowded street and suddenly, right before your eyes, you see a towering red gate with enormous red paper lanterns. You think you have arrived, but just passed the gate, you are overcome with a five-story pagoda. The pagoda was built in 628 and it looks likes it was just built yesterday. It is in tremendous condition.
Opportunities for blessings
1. For just 100 yen you can shake a canister and take out a stick with a number on it. Match the number to a drawer in a card catalog-like structure and you have chosen your fortune. There are good fortunes, regular fortunes, and bad fortunes. If you get a fortune you don’t like you can tie it to a nearby wire rack and select again. But remember, in bad fortune there are good things too.
2. In the center of the walkway there is a sort of pit that has smoke coming out of it. People walk up to this pit and wash themselves with the smoke.
3. Nearby is a fountain where you can rinse your hands and face with the water. I saw many people filling little cups and rinsing their hands. They would also rinse their mouths with the water. I suppose it is like holy water.
4. In the pagoda you can buy candles (100 yen) and light them for blessings or prayers and put them in a sort of chandelier-esque candle holder. It looks really pretty with all the candles people have put in there.
5. People would also toss coins in a grate-looking table. The coins would fall through the grate and people would pray at the “tables.” There is a specific way to pray that involves bowing and clapping, but I can’t tell you exactly how to do it.
All of these things I did and it was awesome. The shrine itself was closed to non-members because it was a holiday so I walked around and did some shopping and ate some sushi. I spent all day there and returned to Remi’s without visiting the Imperial Palace. Obviously, two days in Japan is not nearly enough so I kinda expected that I wouldn’t be able to make it to the Imperial Palace. It’s fine, you don’t want to rush Senso-ji.
In the end, I’ll just have to return to Japan. What a disaster. ;P
To read about day one click here.