For this trip, I brought with me my iPad (the one that I luckily won during one media event) and bluetooth keyboard. I have just recently discovered working and writing on the blog via this setup and I thought it was perfectly timed for this trip. I realized that really, writing is my method of therapy. Since I knew I would be doing a lot of self-reflection during this trip, I needed some kind of outlet, and thus having this portable writing setup would very much capture my ideas and thoughts while they are fresh and raw.
Each day of the trip, I arrived at my room at the hostel so exhausted (because of all the walking!) but my thoughts were overflowing with all the new experiences that I had for that day. It became my habit to do some writing as part of the process of wrapping up for the day, and this is one of my self-discoveries during this trip because I never thought writing can do great things for my over-all mental health, especially when traveling alone.
The first spot that I was visiting for my first day of sight-seeing in Tokyo was the Sensoji Temple. This is actually not my original itinerary for the day, but because I discovered that April 7 was the last day of cherry blossom night viewing in Sumida park, I switched up my itinerary so I could accommodate going to this event. Aaah, the perks of having a DIY itinerary. ^^
The temple was just a few minutes walk away from Asakusa station. I arrived around 8AM, and thankfully, not much tourists were already there at the temple.
I saw this one shop with Ghibli merch, but I just made a mental note that I would just get back there later on.
I just walked along the stores along Nakamise Dori. There were lots of souvenir stuff that can be bought here. Maybe because it was still early, there were shops that were still not open when I passed by.
After scanning the stores, I went to the second gate called Hozomon. This is where visitors would do their praying routine to honor the deities enshrined in the temple. Based on my research, there is a proper way of doing this based on Buddhist tradition:
1) Purify yourself by washing your hands and mouth at the Chozuya.
2) Cleanse yourself by being passed by smoke at the Jokoro, which is a large incense burner.
3) Go to the main hall. It is customary (but only optional) to throw coins into that wooden box as money offer to the shrine. Bow twice, clap twice, then bow again twice.
I was able to visit a number of temples during my stay in Tokyo, and it was just in the latter stage that I was able to “master” the proper way of doing things in the temple. It really pays to be observant with how other people were doing it + reading instructions put up around the temple grounds (lucky if there are English translations available!).
After doing the prayer routine (which at this specific temple also involved lighting up of a candle), I searched for those fortune papers called “omikuji”. I took one that was inside the temple. There were no tourists using it during that time and I felt like this section of the temple is saying to me “Here, let me read your fortune, find your fortune here in me.” I have initially noticed this area when I first entered the main hall, but I felt like I wanted to pay respects first to this place before being a tourist (of which I would be doing for every temple that I visited during this trip).
After giving my respects to the main hall, I felt that I can be now on tourist mode. I proceeded with getting my fortune.
When I got my omikuji, I inserted a 100 JPY into the coin slot. Then I started shaking this metal container containing the wooden sticks with numbers that correspond to the boxes. I had to shake the container several times before a wooden stick finally came out (I was close to giving up lol) Since the number was in Japanese, I had to double check the characters multiple times if it matched that of the label of one of the boxes (I think I checked more than 5 times).
The piece of paper had different languages written on it. For the English part, the fortune consisted of several sentences stating fortunes for different aspects of one’s life (love, health, career). Most of the elements were actually related to things that I was praying for during that time, so I felt really thankful for that fortune that was given to me. There were parts of the fortune that I didn’t understand initially, but only later did I finally realize what it meant for my situation. As of this writing, one of the things I was praying for didn’t turn out to be that of my expected outcome. Despite that, I know the Universe has a different plan for all of the people involved.
Then I walked out of the main hall then whipped up my camera and took photos of the surrounding temples and areas. At this point, more tourists were in the area. The view was perfect for a lot of artsy shots. No wonder there were several people with professional DSLR camera there.
As I walked back to the Nakamise Shopping street, I bought some souvenirs to bring back home. I also got to eat on one dessert place that I noticed had a long line in front of it (which was of course a giveaway sign that what they have is really good!)
I actually went back to the Ghibli shop that I saw earlier. It was a correct decision as apparently they had some great stuff there. Photos were not allowed inside the store, unfortunately. I bought even more souvenirs in there.
With a heart full of gratitude and well-wishes, I walked to my next destination, Sumida Park, to do some cherry blossom viewing! More details on that on my next post!