Tokyo: Asakusa

by Mitchell on September 9, 2011

Asakusa Tower Tokyo

I recently moved to Tokyo, Japan.
I’ll be putting up a “First Impressions” post soonish
but here’s a quick write up of what I got up to yesterday.
Yesterday, I went and checked out an area called Asakusa.
It’s a very traditional district that used to be the entertainment hub of Tokyo (before WW2).

It was pretty cool and I got my first real taste/sight of traditional Japanese architecture.

The Kaminari Gate in Asakusa Tokyo

We started at the Kaminari Gate and got a few pictures before continuing through it and down a long pedestrian street that was filled with souvenir and food shops. Most of the souvenirs looked pretty cool and authentic so I will probably come back to do some Christmas shopping for the fam jam back home.

Shopping Street Asakusa Tokyo

At the end of the shopping area was this massive temple with a big tower off to the side of it as well. Before we went into the temple we did a few ceremonial rituals.

Asakusa Temple

First, we got our fortunes by putting money in a box and shaking a big piece of metal with a hole in it. Out of the hole came a piece of wood with some characters on it, the characters corresponded to one of many many little wooden drawers with the same characters on it. I found my wooden drawer, opened it and took one of the pieces of paper out of it. This piece of paper had my fortune on it. It was a pretty good fortune. We then tied these fortunes onto a metal wireframe that was hanging nearby (not sure why but apparently it’s tradition).

Fortune telling is Asakusa Tokyo

Next up was a big cauldron type thing that had a bunch of smoking incense in it. We fanned the smoke in our faces to make us good and continued on.

Next we went and washed ourselves before entering the temple. The washing area was a big fountain with dragon heads spouting water out. We had a cup on a stick type thing. We filled the cup with water then washed our left hand, our right hand, and finally our mouths. The water ran down and into a trough along the ground so we weren’t washing our mouths with other peoples dirty water.

Asakusa Temple Tokyo

We then went up to the main temple area and threw some coins into a big metal contraption.
That concluded our visit to the temple and we went and got some very delicious burgers (i had beef teriyaki) from Mos Burgers.

Apparently most Japanese people do something very similar to this process on New Years Day so I’ll be sure to come back then and hopefully understand everything a little bit better.

Have your own story about strange rituals you don’t understand? Can you help me figure out what everything meant? Leave a comment below!

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