Tokyo’s Sensoji Temple
Sensoji Temple is where Tessa and Toshiro spend a lot of time together. As for me, I wasn’t as lucky as my characters. I wanted to be here sooner but earlier on the day, I was looking for my international driver’s license everywhere which pushed me to have a very late start when my guide arrived. Because of time restraint, some of the photos in this blog are from other temples. I wanted to share all the things you can do when you arrive at a large temple.
Most people visit the temple during the day but as you can see, the temple and the pagoda are beautiful at night and the place is less crowded.
You can purify and cleanse at a large water vessel, chōzubachi, before making a wish at a temple. You use a ladle to rinse your left hand, then the right, then cup your hand, pour water in it, drink and swish it around your mouth before you spit it out. Some people do this wrong and drink out of the ladle! Once you’re done, hold the ladle upright to rinse it with the leftover water.
Here is my guide making a wish.
This was a Torinoichi festival, a traditional festival wishing for luck and good fortune. At the time, I did not know what it was, but I later found out that it takes place in early November. The entire thing was a surprise. I was just standing at a corner, trying to figure out how to get to my hotel, when they paraded in front of me and I had a perfect view to film it. The Japanese drums are called Taiko drums. A tall tourist came to push me out of my spot, but he did not succeed! The rest of the pictures are from other temples.
To make a wish, especially for good health, You must first light up your incense stick in a burner.
Then you go to a Jokoro, an urn filled with ashes, make a wish, put your incense stick in, and waft the smoke from your stick toward you.
You can also get your Omikuji, fortune, on a piece of paper by going through a few steps such as making donation, shaking this hexagon-shaped container for a wooden stick to come out, and matching the symbols on it to one of the writings on a series of drawers. I talk about this more in my book.
If you don’t like your fortune, you can tie it to a wire rack like this and the gods will take away your bad fortune.
Before you visit a temple, you may want to purchase
a goshuin-chou, a stamp book. Sometimes, you can buy it where you get your
stamp. Each temple has their own goshuin, stamp. The above pix is my stamp book. It’s plain because I didn’t like the other ones. But if you plan ahead, you can look for something pretty. Each temple has their own special stamp, the writing has the name of the shrine, the date of your visit, and houhai which means worship.
I took every opportunity to watch an assistant monk sign my book. The writing is so beautiful. I wish I could write like that. I actually did try writing Japanese once by copying a word. It's like trying to paint and takes a lot of effort, especially if you're like me and are not great at drawing.
Here is a sample of the stamps I collected. The book opens and closes like an accordion.