Shiba Koen, Zojoji Temple and Stood at the Foot of a Giant
Shiba Koen and Zojoji
Yesterday I had to pick up my foreign resident ‘Gaijin’ card. I’m told to keep it on me at all times so that people can identify me as such. I think they used to make us wear a badge but then compromised…
Anyway, the district office that I had to go to just so happened to be in Shiba Koen. Since the weather wasn’t too bad, I decided to have a walk around the little shrine and the sizeable Zojoji temple near-by. A couple of interesting things about this temple are: (i) 15 of the Tokugawa Shoguns are buried here (ii) It was damaged in WWII and many of the graves were burnt, including that of Tokugawa Hidetada’s, the second ever Shogun, inheriting the title from Ieyasu after the first in line was executed by Ieyasu to prove his loyalty to Oda Nobunaga and the second was adopted by Hideyoshi Toyotomi (Nobunaga and Toyotomi both being ruthless men and Christian burners).
The interesting thing about the temple and the grand gate leading up to it, is that they seem to have been totally integrated into the city. Many business men pass under the gate on the way to work. From many angles the temple itself is crowned by Tokyo Tower, giving visitors a very good idea of the clash of culture and modernisation in Japanese society today.
Anyway, now the heavy stuff is out of the way, I’ll show you a few photos.
Much like Greek/Roman Mythology, Shinto – Japan’s only indigenous religion – has several ‘Kami’ (Gods), each associated to certain aspects of nature. Inari for example represents rice growth, fertility, and foxes to name a few.
In Japan, Jizō is the protector of children who die before their parents. Unable to accumulate enough good deeds in their life, they are condemned to pile stones eternally on the Sanzu River (the equivelant of the River Stix I guess). Jizō protects these children by concealing them in his robe. Many Japanese thank Jizō after their child has recovered from a serious illness. You can probably tell from the good deeds part that this Deity is derived from Buddhism.
Also I’m not sure of the significance – maybe someone can enlighten me – but there were also several naked pig figures. When I say naked, I mean the pigs had been anthropomorphised so that they had a female human body. A little strange.
The Foot of a Giant
After the temple, I called at Akabanebashi station and walked to Tokyo Tower, a building that I assume will lose some of it’s prominence when the Sky Tree – the second tallest structure in the World – opens commercially.
We had a trial lesson for the forthcoming Japanese tuition we are to receive. Our teacher mentioned that many Japanese people now use English words in business conversation to sound intelligent, which I found pretty amusing. He also said that after 4 months we would be comfortable in general conversation, which is pretty impressive, and also terrifying!
I had to share this video. I can’t take credit for the video or for finding the site. I actually found out about the artist from another blogger. I’ve been a Blade Runner fan for a long time and it’s one of the few things I come close to being fanatical about. In this video it serves as the backing track to an amazing time lapse video.
Hope you enjoy it. Have a better one!