We saw beautiful holy plaques at Kencho-ji Buddhist temple after a hike in the forest of Kamakura during the Golden Week. Our photo below shows plaques decorated with Jizo (Buddhist protector of travellers and children) on the left and a tengu (protector from Japanese folk religion) on the right:
Our travel manager made many lovely 1-day trips to Kamakura from Tokyo with small groups. Contact us if you wish to visit or hike in Kamakura during your stay in Tokyo this Spring; we can organize a personalized 1-day tour or 2-day tour with hotel in Kamakura.
Would you buy a wooden plaque as souvenir or suspend it at the temple after writing a prayer on it during your travel in Japan?
- Kencho-ji = 建長寺, Kamakura = 鎌倉.
Our most popular Yes in Japan walk since 2013 is “Insight Into Art: Origami? Shinto?” in Tokyo (walk W14B)! From France, Israel, Mexico, South Korea, Sweden, the Philippines and the USA… everybody looked happy 🙂 If you are interested in Japanese art, traditions and religion, you can join this walk in English 3 mornings/evenings every week in April, and probably every week of 2014/2015.
We typically see many types of Washi handmade paper, origami, Japanese paper dolls, lucky charms, prayer plaques, statues of gods such as Ebisu, golden lanterns (wonderful when lit up at night), holy trees, a holy rock, and the inside of a colourful Shinto shrine… If you are lucky, you may also see a very cute holy horse, see a paper folding demonstration by a cheerful Japanese master, and meet artists! One of our American customers could even try a gorgeous samurai helmet made from paper at the workshop of the origami centre; this was a great sight 🙂
Unexpectedly, most participants do shopping during this walk, buying beautiful Japanese paper, cute prayer plaques or unique lucky charms! This walk is really nice in any season, with a blue sky, rain or snow. When you stay in Tokyo, consider joining this walk starting at Hotel Niwa Tokyo (near Suidobashi station).
- Art of paper folding = 折り紙 (Origami), Japanese paper = 和紙 (Washi).
- Shinto shrine = 神社 (jinja).
- Suidobashi station = 水道橋駅 (Suidobashi-eki), Tokyo = 東京.
- Hotel Niwa Tokyo = 庭のホテル東京 (Niwa-no-hotelu-Tokyo).
Natural and mystic island in a modern district of Tokyo, Tokyo-daijingu is reputedly the shrine where the first Shinto wedding occurred. We arrived there under a blue sky this warm afternoon (15℃) to celebrate Spring (traditionally starting today in Japan) and the Year of the Horse!
Among the trees near the entrance, a pink-blue-green dragon greeted us for the purification ritual, providing holy water to cleanse our hands and mouth. Next, we glanced at the red and purple flags, climbed a few steps then stepped through wooden-golden gates. The wooden roof immediately caught our attention with its characteristic shape and golden ornaments shining over the blue sky.
Quietly queueing behind numerous Japanese girls come to pray to find true love, we had the time to examine votive plaques decorated with horses; some beautifully reflected the sunlight!
Approaching the main hall, we could hear coins thrown into wooden boxes as offerings and hand claps preceding or following silent prayers. Our turn came, we glimpsed a few Japanese attending a Shinto ceremony in the hall, bowed, clapped our hands, prayed, clapped and bowed again…
Afterwards, we joined a crowd of Japanese girls gathered around diverse colourful lucky charms (local speciality: find true love) and fortune slips. Sébastien left Tokyo-daijingu shrine with a light transparent lucky charm featuring a 3D horse; may it protect him well in 2014 🙂
- Tokyo = 東京, Tokyo-daijingu = 東京大神宮.