<   2010年 06月 ( 4 )   > この月の画像一覧
Zeniarai Benzaiten in Kamakura
d0160582_1172693.jpgI visited Kamakura (Kanagawa prefecture, which is next to Tokyo) the other day. I’ve visited there many times before but every time I go there, it reminds me that Kamakura is one of the nicest places in Japan. Especially after getting off the train at Kita Kamakura eki (North Kamakura Station), you will notice that there is hardly any noise and you are able to breathe in clear air.

d0160582_1171182.jpgAt Kamakura station, I visited Zeniarai Benzaiten (Zeniarai Shrine) which is about a 30 minute walk from the station. I was surprised by the entrance of the shrine. Climbing up the steep slope, I saw an entrance that looked as if the cave was on a slope in the mountain. I wondered whether this was an air-raid shelter or something? Another visitor was also surprised to see the entrance and they were observing for a-while before taking pictures.
Let’s go in!
And we followed the bright light.
In the tunnel, you will find the tunnel of the torii*.

d0160582_118532.jpgNear the house for incense, there were visitors who were looking up as the smoke blew past them. It was interesting to see everyone's reaction to incense smoke as the reaction is the opposite when seeing people react to cigarette smoke.

d0160582_1182977.jpgThe former name of this shrine is Zeniarai Benzaiten Ugafuku Jinja(shrine). The story behind the shrine is that as Mr.Yoshitune Minamoto was sleeping in the day and the year of the Snake(1185), he was taught that "If you hold a mass with this special water, the whole country will be peaceful". Afterwards, Mr.Tokitune Hojo washed money with the water, after having prayed for family prosperity.

*Torii : Torii literally means "a perch for birds." It is said that there were originally perches for the roosters people offered to shrines. A torii is a symbolic Shinto shrine gate which consists of two upright pillars connected by two horizontal beams on top. It marks the entrance to a sacred area.

What is going to happen then? Please enjoy next time!

Zeniarai Benzaiten
2-25-16 Sasuke, Kamakura-shi, Kamakura
TEL: 0467-25-1081
by TOKYO_YUCa_ENG | 2010-06-21 19:34 | (Suburbs)
The Kingyo Mikoshi at Kingyo Matsuri
d0160582_8164843.jpgWhile viewing artwork being created by children, we heard the announcement, “Kingyo mikoshi* ga hajimarimasu! (A goldfish mikoshi will start!) Oatsumari kudasai---! (Come and join us!)”.

“Goldfish mikoshi?!” I was excited to join the parade. I could see some big, red object in the distance. As we approached, I wondered "Isn't that a goldfish? Yes, it is!” It’s a mikoshi (portable shrine) which is in the shape of a goldfish.
It is really big!!

d0160582_8173459.jpgLooking at the goldfish mikoshi in detail, you can see it has an open mouth. What a charming mikoshi! “Compared to the real size, how much bigger is it?” I wonder. A lot of children began to gather. Some children came by individually to carry the portable shrine, and others *especially really small children) were taken by their parents. There were also children who decided just to watch. Since it was a rainy day, the kingyo mikoshi had a transparent raincoat (means, coated vinyl bag) while the children wore colorful raincoats. It made for a beautiful color contrast!

Not only children, but the staff wore the traditional jacket, called “Hanten”, to look forward to carry the kingyo mikoshi. They taught the children how to carry the mikoshi safely and raise the morale. Dangling a bell around the neck and grasping the bridle, now it’s time to carry the kingyo mikoshi!
They look a little bit nervous, right?
Let’s go, everybody!
Wa-sshoi! Wa-sshoi!

d0160582_8191284.jpgThey started walking in a shrine, saying "Wa-sshoi! Wa-sshoi!" with an ashamed look. Under the kingyo mikoshi, there was a child who was walking with his mother. He was short enough to touch the mikoshi. He seemed to question “What is going on here? Where’s everyone heading for?", which made me really happy to see.

*mikoshi: A mikoshi is an ornate palanquin-like portable shrine in which the ghost or spirit of a Shinto shrine deity is believed to ride. During shrine festivals, scores of believers wind through the town carrying the mikoshi on their shoulders.

In spite of the rainy weather, a lot of children came to the goldfish festival. As I mentioned in my previous article, I gained many insights as a result of this event. In the future, I definitely want to be a part of these kinds of traditional festivals.

Yoyogi-hachiman Shinto shrine
For more informations, please see HP(http://www.yoyogihachimangu.or.jp/).
by TOKYO_YUCa_ENG | 2010-06-14 22:29 | -Shibuya
Kingyo Matsuri at Yoyogi-hachiman shrine
I visited the "Kingyo Matsuri (Goldfish festival) ", an annual event that takes place at the Yoyogi-hachiman shrine. This event was once cancelled at the beginning of the Taisho era, but was revived by local area residents in 2003 and has run every year since.
The path to the shrine. The atmosphere is beautiful.
In front of the main shrine, there were many people.

d0160582_1395717.jpgAlthough it was a rainy day, many children still came to visit the shrine, wearing colorful raincoats and carrying umbrellas. On the way, the garden lantern was shining. It made the atmosphere unique and memorable.

Many goldfish items were being sold at the main shrine including:lucky charms, key rings, towels, special jackets for the traditional festival called “hanten” and goldfish ornaments made of “Washi(Japanese papers)”. My favorite is the ornament of the goldfish. They are so lovely and come in many different sizes.
A pair of goldfish watch the people that visit the shrine.
How were these ornaments created?
Goldfish scooping. Everyone enjoyed this activity.
She’s got many goldfish. Big smile!
Congratulations! It’s a big catch!

The best part of the festival are the outdoor stalls. In the Yoyogi-hachiman shrine, you could find wata-ame(cotton style candy), ama-zake (sweet sake), popcorn, Barbeque chicken, Okonomiyaki (pan cake), Yakisoba (noodle) , juice and more food. There is also a flea market. The Shibuya area has some popular food called, "Hachiko source". The fruit flavor seems is recommended.
Girls are eating “wata-ame”! Looks yummy!
I tried “yaki-tori”. It was 250 yen for three sticks.
A reasonable price and delicious!

d0160582_1320095.jpgI was so surprised to learn that there were traditional festivals in the middle of Tokyo, in the Yoyogi area. Furthermore, I personally like the name itself, "Goldfish festival". Children of all ages visited there. I think that the environment that surrounds children in present day, such as the development of Personal Computers, studying at cram school on weekends, less family living with grandparents and lacking conversations with seniors, is having strong impact on them. So I originally thought that modern day children wouldn’t appreciate or enjoy these traditional events. But, seeing them, they appeared to be enjoying it a lot! Some kids chatted with the man selling stag beees. I saw another kid asking about catching goldfish. Other kids were excited as they tried to win prizes. Children will naturally grow up thriving on culture if there are such wonderful festivals and opportunities in their cities and villages. This is why I think that shrines might be one of the most important and best places to educate children.

Yoyogi –hachiman shrine
For more details, please visit its HP(http://www.yoyogihachimangu.or.jp/).
by TOKYO_YUCa_ENG | 2010-06-07 20:57 | -Shibuya
The A to Z Rooftop Wine Bar
I was at the entrance of the A to Z Café, when I noticed a message board which read, “The rooftop terrace is now open. For more details, please ask the staff!” I asked the staff immediately. I discovered that there is a Rooftop Wine Bar. This was the first time I had heard about the rooftop, although I had visited the cafe several times before. I was very curious to see what it looked like so I asked this particular staff member to be my "tour guide". After a short while, another staff member joined us and took me to the special rooftop. Having to walk through the Nara hut, I found the door to this rooftop to be in such an unexpected place.
You can see stairs when the door is opened. And …
Entrance to the rooftop terrace, and the menu presented on a blackboard.

d0160582_14123344.jpgThe menu on the blackboard is exclusive to the rooftop terrace. It was also interesting to discover that the rooftop transforms into a wine bar at night. During teatime, they serve drinks such as coffee and tea, desserts such as cake rolls and parfaits, and foods such as “Donburi(over rice)” and omelettes with rice. The rooftop offers tables that seat four, which makes you feel a part of the whole terrace.
A set consisting of the red bean roll cake with black honey and tea (850 yen)
The main building in Tokyo Midtown (left) and Roppongi Hills (right)

I think that this rooftop is a splendid location to enjoy drinking and eating with your friends this summer. Note, it can get a little windy...If it’s cold, please ask the staff to bring your party a blanket! Since it’s a place known to few people, you may be lucky enough to come across some Japanese celebrities!

〔Shop information〕
A to Z cafe -Rooftop Wine Bar-
equbo building 5 Floor, 5-8-3 Minami-Aoyama, Minato Ku, Tokyo
Business Hours: 12:00~23:30
For more details, please visit http://atozcafe.exblog.jp/ ※Japanese
by TOKYO_YUCa_ENG | 2010-06-01 20:01 | -Omotesando/Aoyama