Tokyo is full of history and interesting stories if you just know where to look and aren’t too distracted by the food, the fun and the shopping! I have passed these two statues at the famous Sensoji Temple in Japan’s number one tourist site, Asakusa, maybe over a thousand times but I only recently learned about the history of them.
In the first half of the 17th century when Edo was the trading and crafts center of Japan and the home of the ruling Shogun (Warlord) a struggling trader in rice took in a small boy from modern day Gunma prefecture and did his best to teach him about trade and commerce. Eventually the boy returned to his home town and started a very successful trading business. His old master though was not so lucky and died impoverished and destitute. The former apprentice, Takase Zembe, heard of the tragedy and ordered two huge statues of the bodhisattvas Kannon and Seishi. They were donated in 1678 to the memory of the rice merchant and his son. Both the statues miraculously survived the US fire bombings of 1945 and they are still in their original positions to the right of the second Nio gate.
But the story doesn’t end there, because almost 300 years later one of Zembe’s direct descendants, Takase Jiro who was the Japanese ambassador to Sri Lanka in 1996 developed a cultural exchange and partnership between the Sensoji Temple and the famous Isurumuniya Vihara temple in Anuradhapura, the capital of ancient Ceylon (Sri Lanka). As the Senso-ji’s pagoda was rebuilt in 1973, the temple in Sri Lanka dispatched its senior abbot to the dedication ceremony, bringing with him a granule of the physical remains of the Buddha, a massively important relic, to dedicate to the Japanese temple.
The granule remains in the pagoda to this day and I hope both it and the two statues representing the gratitude of a devoted apprentice to his former master will remain for many thousands of years to come.
I passed the statues a little while ago, and found them occupied by two birds who posed perfectly for the camera.
A sunny Saturday afternoon walking along the Sumida river near the Sensoji Temple in Asakusa and I saw a group of people feeding a lively flock of gulls. Few scenes are as much fun and easy to photograph as this!
This spot on the Sumida river is very popular with tourists, as it is where two different cruise ship operators and water taxis have their starting points, about a dozen different vessels and half as many different lines. The most popular lines go to Odaiba, a reclaimed island on in Tokyo Bay. You can read about one of these lines in a couple of posts I did in 2012, here and here. I can’t wait for spring to arrive!
It is easy to forget when you live all your life in Tokyo, that there is another Japan, a slower and in many ways more human Japan. Take this beach near Huyga city in the southern Miyazaki prefecture on the big island of Kyushu. I took these photos when I visited in September. This beach is very famous with surfers and I saw a few really good waves. Not being a surfer myself I don’t know how good it really is though. I do know that there are a few international surfing competitions here every year. It’s also not only humans, a few birds also feed of the beach, and these cute little birds got spooked when I got too close to them. I hope you like these relaxing (for me at least) photos! And by the way, this is the 1401st post!