Thursday, 30 April 2015

JVlog #16: Tokyo Tower & Zojoji Temple

Good Day Everyone,

On Saturday Hubby had an early appointment in Tokyo and it turned out to be very close to Tokyo Tower so we decided to make a day of it. To get to Tokyo Tower we got on the Minato Mirai Line from near our home to Naka-meguro, and then changed onto the Hibiya Line to Kamiyacho station. From Kamiyacho station we took exit 1 and once we got to street level we turned left and followed the road up a slight hill. As we approached the traffic junction we could see Tokyo Tower to our left on top of a small hill.

By the time hubby finished from his appointment it was lunchtime and we'd not even had breakfast as we'd left home in such a rush. So we headed down the hill from Tokyo Tower to behind the Prince Hotel to a place called Le Pain for some lovely brunch. Along the way to Le Pain we noticed something that looked like a temple or shrine and so we went to explore once we'd refueled our bellies.
Sangedatsumon Gate as viewed from inside the temple grounds
Zojoji Temple is the head temple of the Jodo sect of Japanese Buddhism. The temple was built in 1393 and moved to this current location in 1598. Most of the buildings on the grounds are reconstructions except for the main entrance gate which dates from 1622, and has survived many earthquakes and fires. The main temple gate, known as Sangedatsumon, which means a gate (mon) for getting delivered (gedatsu) from three (san) earthly states of mind - greed, anger and stupidity, is very imposing and quite magnificent to look at. The Zojoji Temple and surrounding grounds are open all year round from 9-5pm and admission is free. You can watch our day out to Tokyo Tower and the Zojoji Temple in the video below.
Daibonsho (Big Bell)
There is a giant bell within the temple grounds that was completed in 1673 and is renowned as one of the Big Three Bells of the Edo Period. The bell is tolled twice a day and weighs a whopping 15 tonnes. We spent quite a while walking around the temple grounds as there was quite a lot to see.
The main hall Daiden (Hondo)
Enshrined in the main hall, Daiden, are three images which are greatly revered by people who worship at Zojoji. There is a large main image of Amida Buddha with an image of Great Teacher Shan-tao at its right and an image of Honen Shonin at its left. There was a Japanese wedding whilst we were there and the bridal party were having their wedding photos taken. They were happy for visitors to take photographs of them. Below is the bride in white with a female friend/relative in blue. It was really interesting to see what a traditional Japanese wedding dress looks like.

Within the temple grounds there was an area, kind of like a memorial garden, with lots of Jizo statues. Jizobosatusu is the protector of children, and people who have lost an unborn child can dedicate a statue of Jizo and decorate it with toys and baby clothes. At the time that we were there I recognised these as being Jizo statues, the protector of children, but it was only whilst I was researching for this blog post that I discovered that each statue represents an unborn child. It is very heartbreaking and sad.
Jizo statues of unborn children

After walking around Zojoji Temple we headed back up the hill towards Tokyo Tower. The small road that runs between the temple and the Prince Hotel is an ideal photo opportunity with Tokyo Tower in the back ground.
Tokyo Tower stands at a height of 333m and has not one but two observatories. The main observatory is up at 150m and is a two storey deck with a cafe on the lower floor, as well as a small performance stage known as Club 333. Whilst we were there we saw a female Japanese singer and a boy band perform. I've no idea as to how famous these singers are but the predominantly Japanese crowd seemed to love them and were bopping along, as you can see in the video above. A ticket to the main observatory costs ¥900.  Whilst it wasn't a particularly clear day, the view over Tokyo was still impressive nonetheless. On a clear day you can even see Mount Fuji in the distance.
Tokyo Bay and Rainbow Bridge
Once at the main observatory you can then purchase a ticket to the special observatory which is 250m high for an additional ¥700, which we did. Tokyo Tower is open from 9am - 11pm and the tower lights up at sunset. 
In hindsight, we should have gone up Tokyo Tower a couple of hours later than we did because whilst there, we decided that it would be cool to watch the sunset from the special observatory and watch the night lights come on. However, that meant that we had to hang around for quite a few hours. 
The tall building is the Tokyo Skytree
In my opinion, the best time to go up Tokyo Tower would be an hour before sunset. This way you can see all of Tokyo in the daytime, and watch the sunset and night lights without having to spend hours hanging around like we did.
Currently, at the ground floor entrance to Tokyo Tower, there are 333 koinobori (carp streamers) adorning the entrance. This is in celebration of Children's Day which is on May 5th. On this day, it is tradition for people to display carp shaped streamers in their gardens as a wish for their boys to grow up healthy. This is based on the legend about a carp that swam up a waterfall and turned into a dragon. Families wish for their boys to grow up strong, just like this carp.
After several hours at Tokyo Tower we were well and truly ready for some dinner. As we were both feeling really tired, not surprising given that we'd been up since 5.30am, we decided to head back to Le Pain for a bite to eat. The food at Le Pain was just the kind of food hubby and I like to eat, it was healthy, light, fresh and tasty. We even picked up a couple of croissants to take home with us for breakfast the next day.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post and video about our day out sight seeing in Tokyo :o).

Love Sheen xxx
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