Getting lost in Tokyo (Senso-ji)

Japan’s capital city is the busiest city I have been to. Residents and foreigners can easily get lost in the city. The place is a mixture of old and new and a day or two in this city is not enough to cover all the spots and activities you want to do so that’s why foreigners always come back to this place for more.

The view from our hotel taken around 5:30 am

In my case, I only spent a day there so I was only able to try out a few things but at least I did my research before going there.

Of course, before heading out to our adventure, we fueled our bodies with a big breakfast from a cafe called “Royal coffee shop” which was a few walks away from our hotel in Asakusa. After eating a lot of traditional Japanese meals in Aomori, we opted for a more Western-ish food. Since Asakusa is a popular place in Japan, you need to keep your eyes peeled for things that might surprise you. In my case, I saw a poster of “Rorouni Kenshin” somewhere along the street.

The Royal Coffee shop

Our first destination was the oldest temple in Tokyo – Sensoji (Asakusa Kannon Temple). This temple has a very cool history. The place was teeming with tourists and locals alike but the first thing you’ll see is the temple’s main gate or outer gate “Kaminarimon”. Before entering the main temple hall, a long line of souvenir and food shops (Nakamise) can be seen. I somehow regret not buying anything from here. The prices of the souvenirs here are more affordable than the ones I saw in Kyoto.

Kaminarimon gate
5-storey pagoda

Main temple hall

Before entering the temple, various rituals should be done like the washing of hands and smoking yourself in incense (I really don’t know how to describe this!). In the hall, you’ll see people praying in front of the shrine. First, they toss 5 yen (or any coin with the number 5) to a wooden box in front of the shrine. Then, they ring a bell twice or thrice. Next, clap twice and bow (two times?). After this, you can start your prayer. Finally, clap once and end with another bow (once).

Usually, people also try to know their fortunes by getting an “omikuji” (fortune telling strip of paper) for 100 Yen. In some places, the omikujis have English translations at the back. The Sensoji is one of those temples with English translated omikujis. To get an omikuji, you need to pay 100 yen first by dropping your coin to the designated box. You then need to get the metal box with wooden sticks inside. Gently shake the metal box until one wooden stick goes out from the small hole. Get the number written on the stick and return the stick in the metal box. You can then look for your fortune paper according to the number written in the stick. In my case, my fortune was terrible so I had to tie my paper strip to a designated place just so the fortune won’t happen!

English translation

You have to keep in mind that these are merely a representation or a warning of the gods to you. This does not mean everything written on this piece of paper will definitely happen to you. It is always up to us on how we navigate our lives.

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