Tokyobling's Blog

Gokokuji Temple – Tokyo

Posted in Places by tokyobling on April 8, 2015

Few temples in the Japanese capital manage what the grand Gokokuji in Bunkyo ward manages – it gives its name to a subway station: The Gokokuji Station on the Yurakucho line. Exiting from the station the temple is right in front of you and it is hard to miss either of the grand gates leading up to the main temple building. As usual with these huge temple compounds, a big part has been given over to more modern endeavors, offices and car parks, but the upper part remains impressive. The temple itself was founded in 1681 by the fifth shogun and is one of the few temple buildings in the capital that survived all earthquakes and bombing raids unscathed. The temple compound might not look like much in the winter, but come summer the whole compound looks much better with trees full of leaves and life. More images to come, and more details on what is found here.

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Hotel Chinzanso Aurora Light Show

Posted in Places by tokyobling on December 5, 2014

If you are in Tokyo until December 28th I can really recommend going to see the absolutely stunning Japanese garden and laser light show at Hotel Chinzanso in Tokyo’s Bunkyo ward. From 1800 to 2230 it runs for 10 minutes every half hour and there’s no charge to seeing it or entering one of the best traditional gardens in Tokyo.

The garden itself is worth a visit at this time of the year with the stunning foliage of red and yellow leaves, but the light show just makes it so much more interesting. It is a ten minute long set of light playing on smoke over the largest hotel garden pond, set to music. Photos really do not make it justice and even though I saw the show three times due to wind speed it changed slightly every time. In my photos it looks tiny and boring but in real life it is far better. A fun thing I discovered back at home was the weird photos you get when the light hits the camera directly. It looks like some sort of psychadelic sixties art.

To get to the hotel you can use the Mejiro station on the Yamanote line, but from the station to the hotel it is quite a walk, so some people take the bus from the station. A much better choice is the Edogawabashi station of the Yurakucho line, Exit 1a which is also much closer to the garden itself so you don’t have to walk through the main hotel lobby.

This event is not very advertised so there were very few people when I was there. Go before it get too popular!

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Nezu Shrine Festival Taiko Drummers

Posted in Japanese Traditions, People, Places by tokyobling on September 28, 2014

Like last year I went to the Nezu Shrine festival, but this time my main goal was to watch the fantastic performance by the Nezu Gongendaiko (根津権現太鼓) taiko drum group. Unfortunately rains kept them from performing for a while so they only gave a short version of their regular performance but it was still great. Taiko drumming is essentially a group effort. Team play is hugely important and also much more interesting to watch. It takes a huge amount of training to become as good as this group, but most schools have taiko groups so there are a lot of people with the potential to move forward. Taiko drumming is also very open to change. Many free groups are experimenting with the style and you never quite know what to expect when watching a performance. The future looks very bright for Taiko drumming!

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Nezu Shrine Festival 2014

Posted in Japanese Traditions, People, Places by tokyobling on September 27, 2014

The Nezu Shrine on the edge of Bunkyo Ward but very close to the neighboring Taito Ward in the old heart of Tokyo is a great setting for a summer festival. The shrine buildings are interesting enough but there’s also plenty of topography, a bridge and a few ponds. One of my favorite shrines in Tokyo the festival is also one of my favorites. I hardly had time to visit this year so I just came for one of the taiko performances but since it was delayed due to the sudden rain (taiko drums and rain does not go well together) I had time to aim my camera at other things for a few minutes. I’ll post images from the taiko performance later!

Nezu Shrine is easy to access from Nezu or Sendagi stations on the Chiyoda subway line, or you can use the Todaimae station on the Namboku line. If you want to do some sight seeing I can really recommend the nice and quiet little neighborhood to the east of the shrine down to the famous Ueno park and the nearby Ueno station. A longer but interesting walk.

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