Friday, January 28, 2011

Asakusa & The Year of the Rabbit

Kayla, Kat, Michelle, Christy, Christina and I at the Senso-ji Temple in Asakusa

A few girls from work and I took a trip up to Asakusa to visit the Senso-ji Temple for the new year.  It's the year of the Rabbit and in Japanese tradition, you're supposed to visit a temple or shrine at the beginning of the new year if it's the year of your zodiac sign.  Now I'm not a rabbit, but a friend is, so we all decided to go along with her.  I was a little curious about my own zodiac sign and looked up what it means.  Here are the following personality traits represent the Rat (the 1st and most prominent of all the signs):

The Year of the Rabbit is everywhere in Japan
Forthright, tenacious, intense, meticulous, charismatic, sensitive, intellectual, industrious, charming, eloquent, sociable, artistic, and shrewd.  Can be manipulative, vindictive, self-destructive, envious, mendacious, venal, obstinate, critical, over-ambitious, ruthless, intolerant, and scheming.

Hmm, not sure if ALL of those traits represent me, but I can see most of them (the good ones of course)!

Locals wafting the smoke on them at the
incense burner for a healthy year
Senso-ji Temple, also known as Asakusa Kannon, is Tokyo's most sacred and spectacular temples.  The temple survived the 1923 earthquake but not World War II bombing.  It's main buildings are therefore relatively new, but follow the Edo-era layout.  While these buildings are impressive, it's the people following their daily rituals that make this place special.  The incense burner, one of the temple's focal points, is constantly surrounded by people wafting the smoke over them to keep them healthy.  The front Kaminarion Gate, "Thunder Gate", opens up to Nakamise-dori which is a long street filled with little food stands and speciality shops leading up to the temple.  My favorite food I tried that day was a fried green tea dough filled with bean paste. Actually reminded me of funnel cakes at a fair.  It was delicious!
Christina tying her "bad" fortune on the stand at the temple.
Kat was the only one out of us who got a "good" fortune.

It's also a tradition to get your fortune when visiting a temple.  Well, let's just say my fortune was NOT good at all.  It basically said that my house was going to burn down, I need to stop planning trips, I'm not going to meet the one I'm waiting for out here and I'm bound to bad health.  Well, that's just a bummer fortune isn't it!  So, I tied my fortune on the "bad fortune" stand and left every part of it at the temple.  (I finally figured out what the little white ties are at all the temples.)  You are only supposed to take the fortune with you if you want it to come true.  So hopefully in my case it didn't stay with me!

I'm a celebrity with Japanese school 
I felt really special when 3 Japanese school girls came up to me and asked, "Wir - you - take - picture - wit - us?"  (Japanese can't pronounce the L)  Apparently they really like light skinned women with either blonde or light brown hair.  They associate us with hollywood actresses.  Hey, why not!

"Thunder Gate" leading into the shops and temple

Walking through the streets with the girls
Fried dough balls... I had the green ones!!  Delicious!
Tokyo Tree and the "turd building" (Asahi headquarters) in the background
I think we should start throwing up this sign in all our pics instead of the "peace sign"!

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