A few years ago when the world famous Sensoji temple in Tokyo got a major face lift the the site became the undisputed tourist mecca of Japan, rivaled perhaps only by the Shibuya street crossing. Still, at least in my eyes the grand Asakusa temple wins in my book. Most tourists flock there during the day to enjoy the shops, souvenirs, eateries and throngs of people. Personally I much prefer the temple well after closing time, after the crowds are gone and the temple structures are bathed in a wonderfully warm red light. When I guide friends and relatives around Tokyo I always make sure to include a last stop at the Sensoji, before heading back home.
My visit last Friday on the last half hour of the last day of this years Hagoita market gave me a few more photos I would like to share. These hagoita they sell are just so lovely, and all hand assembled (so no two should be perfectly identical) by different traditional merchants. Some day I would like to live in such a way that having one of these on my home shrine would be completely natural.
Sensoji temple is one of (if not the most) most popular tourists attractions in Japan and as such it is constantly crowded with huge crowds of people. I actually prefer to visit late, as late as possible to see the gorgeously lit up temple grounds with fewer people to distract me. On this cold December evening it was around nine in the evening but still plenty of people around!
Last week saw the three day annual Hagoita Market at Tokyo’s famous Sensoji Temple in Asakusa. I was late this year, only arriving at the last half hour of the last of the three days, very few people and a lot of the items already gone, a little bit different from the last time I visited back in 2012. The Hagoita a flat “rackets” or boards used to play a traditional game during the New Year’s season. Over time the haogita rackets got more and more decorated and these days you can see some giant ones absolutely not suitable for playing with. There are also a few stands selling the more traditional flat and simple boards along with the feathered balls that go with them. Although too late for this year, if you are in Tokyo in December next year pleas go have a look! More photos to come!
After the big firefighter’s memorial service and exhibition is over, there remains one thing to do, the group photo! One of the teams took a prime photos spot just beneath the western exit of the huge Sensoji temple in Tokyo’s Asakusa district where a professional photographer was waiting with some very heavy duty camera equipment. I wonder if the tourists idling at the top of the stairs realize that they will probably be in a photo that will be hanging in this firefighter team club house long past the 24th century? This team has been around since the early 18th century and will most likely be around for at least as long as that again.
Allow me to go a little philosophic here: surely, isn’t one of the reasons of life, of our short existence on this planet, to be able to feel that we are part of something greater? One link in a chain stretching centuries behind us, and hopefully centuries ahead of us.