Sunday, October 29, 2006

Auspicious Asakusa

As usual the weekend excited me to roam around the near by places to discover some new things about the Japan. I like to visit some long distance in the Shinkansen unfortunately the train fare is really high stopping me to think about it. Hence finally declared my visit to Asakusa a old Tokyo entertainment and auspicious location hosting a Kannon [Goddess of Mercy] which is also the oldest temple in Tokyo. It said to be build around year 628 and also known as Sensoji Temple.

I have reached the Asakusa through Asakusa line subway, As soon as reached the A4 exit I could easily identify the difference of Asakusa from rest of Tokyo. The first attraction came in to my sight was the rickshaw. Man powered hire vehicle which is a common thing some times back in India. These rickshaws are replaced with the three wheeled auto rickshaws in India. However today there are no such rickshaws found in my country, very long time back those man powered rickshaws were replaced with cycle rickshaw to reduce the human efforts with gears and chains in the rickshaws of India. There are plenty of these man powered rickshaws [Let me call as man cart] were in Asakusa, these rickshaws could accommodate 2 adult with a child on board while a person pulls them to show around the Asakusa area. These rickshaw had huge two wheels in the back and a bulling road in the front where the person who pulls the rickshaw to roam around. The word "rickshaw" originates from the Japanese word jinrikisha (jin = human, riki = force, sha = vehicle), which literally means "human-powered vehicle." They looked slavery to my eyes pulling the vehicle, however I hate people allowing or encouraging such vehicles even in the modern world, because for no reason we need to making a man acts like a buffalo in a cart.

I headed towards the direction which stated the Sensoji Temple and found the main entrance gate called Kaminarimon Gate, The gate they actually hang a red paper lantern. Actually the Kaminarimon Gate was build during 1651 and got damaged in the B29 air raids of United States of America during the World War II; later the Japanese re-constructed the gate with the same Edo style in 1958 post World War II. Before the entrance I have seen the Information center which provides lots of English information flyers. Both the sides of this gate have God of thunder and God of wind crafted in netted rooms. Once entered into the main gate looking at the other side of this gate was pushed me back to very old days, and seems to be I was in an ancient time of Japan. The shops selling souvenirs, sweets and other arms are all about the old days. There were one or two modern toys shops otherwise all of the hundred of shops selling those of old days. However as I read from the internet the souvenirs and other articles are not cheap in Asakusa, Hence visitors please don’t expect a lower price in the Asakusa rather look around the small shops in Akihabara selling much cheaper of the same souvenirs. A small key chain sized paper lantern may cost you 500yens in Asakusa where in a slightly larger sized one could be purchased in 100yen gift shop near Akihabara electronic exit for just 100yens.

After crossing the shopping street I found some Buddha statues in the right side along with some other statues of human kind a woman with a kid etc. Along side of the street there were several Japanese style temples, some were closed for public visit. The straight shopping street landed exactly in front of the actual Kannon Temple, just opposite to the temple there was a large sized incense burner were many people lit incense stick as part of their devotional activity. I was surprised by the Japanese cultural attraction almost it looked to me like an Indian Hindu way of devotional activities with minimal changes. In the left hand side there was a five storied pagoda gives a greater look to the tourist.

Slowly I moved towards to step into the temple; there was a prayer happening inside the temple, some people were sitting and one priest heading them all. The ceiling of Sensoji temple was having some colorful drawing and had three directional outlets to the temple. After spending couple of minutes looking at their devotional activities I have moved in the left side gate, there are lots smaller and bigger sized temple everywhere near the Sensoji temple. Lots of good landscaping was done for each temple in a different way. Some of the Japanese were come to the temple wearing their traditional Kimono costume; I couldn’t control myself not taking photos of those people. Some of them greatly accepted my wish to take their picture and pose to my camera with a smile. Almost the whole day I was in Asakusa enjoying the old Japan life in the modern days. There was also a river runs along side of the the Asakusa temple area called Sumida River, the other side of the river had the Asahi Building, which is the beer company corporate office and has also considered as a landmark in the area due to the golden flame design of the building top. In some places I really felt the change as if I was in a time craft visiting back to the age.

Asakusa is best place for a tourist the see the old age Japan but strictly not good for shopping as it extracts money.

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