Monday, September 1, 2008

Shiba Park

The change of style of the blog is a preview of (possible ) change as I start the count-down to 60 Days. The 3rd of September is Day 1 (or -30, depends if you are a half full or half empty person) but then again I may just stay with the present format.
But this is still a general blog entry, not specifically covering my "celebration" each day.
Japan prides itself on saying it has 4 distinct seasons, but we seem to be entering the 5th of Japan's seven seasons, three of which involve rain. Winter, Spring, Tsuyu, (rain, June) Summer, Thunder,(Sept) Typhoon (Oct) Autumn.
So after a thunder and rain night, and on an overcast and humid day, I decided to visit a park and this was a good idea except part of the walk was up to a lookout-hot work. There were so many trees though, there was not a lot to see. Reminded me of when Celia and I had gone to Nikko and to see Kegon Waterfall. We trekked (admittedly by bus) up there to find there was no waterfall as a drought (a drought in this country!) had lowered the level of Lake Chuzenji so no overflow. When we got back to the hotel and asked why they didn't tell us, they said "Yes, but imagine how beautiful it is when flowing!"
So I then walked along the park until I saw the Tokyo Tower, taller than the Eiffel Tower by just thirteen meters, (313m), Tokyo Tower gets into the record books as the world's highest self-supporting iron structure. It was built in 1958, and is a relay tower for TV and radio. I read that it also houses a system for detecting earthquakes, but sure how this is put to practical purpose. I then turned down towards the station and past the Zozo-ji buddhist temple. All along the side approach are hundreds of red hat clad Jizo statues all complete with little windmills.
The Temple complex was enormous, possessing a special link with the first Tokugawa Shogun, Ieyasu, who moved the temple to its present location and made it into his family temple. Originally founded in 1393 by Shoso, of Jodo Pure Land Buddhism, it had grown into one of the head-temples of that sect. The gate is the only part still standing of the original & in the Meiji period, it lost half of its extensive lands. They were converted into Shiba Park (now not more than a few patches of green between buildings). After the war, the remaining Tokugawa graves were demolished and put together in the present small cemetery, in order to make space for the construction of Tokyo Tower. Considering these ravishes, it is a wonder the temple has managed to survive at all.
I went into the man hall to see the interior. There was a huge 'chandelier" of gold filigree metal, beautiful - and there were chairs set out. I sat at one side and a woman who was at the front was called onto the tatami in front of the shrine by a young priest in green. He spoke to her for a while then invited her to kneel and another priest in black came out to the side and started beating the Taiko drum as the priest chanted. It was a wonderful depth of sound and rhythm.
I then walked out into a blast of heat. The cloud had gone and the sun just beat down even through my umbrella. I have taken on the Japanese Parasol fashion and hope to get one to take home. At present I am just using my fold up yellow one and it's not dense enough for the sun. Much more comfy than a hot hat!
I passed out (walked that is) through the Sangedatsumon Gate and then off home to recover!

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