22 January, 2006

Genkaku-ji temple / Konnyaku Enma

Genkaku-ji temple. It's a little bit far from Shige's condo, but Lee & Shige often visit there on weekend. It's located close to the Kourakuen-station of the Tokyo-Metro Marunouchi line. The principal statue of the Genkaku-ji temple is "Enma". This statue is made of wood and was carved in Kamakura-era (around 800years ago).

The Enma, a kind of Buddha, is sitting in front of the gate of Acheron as a harsh judge. His stern face says he detests evil in the world. In Japan, mothers used to say to their kids when the kids told a lie "Enma-sama will pull your tongue out!" Enma is a symbol of fear, but people have a sense of affinity and feel his benevolence behind his stern face.

This Genkaku-ji temple's Enma is very famous as the "Konnyaku Enma". Let me show you a story of the "Konnyaku Emma";
In Edo era(around 300years ago), there was an old woman who lived near this temple and had suffered from her eye disease. She was very faithful and often visited and worshipped. She had prayed to the Enma for cure her eye. Her great favorite food was "Konnyaku" but she quitted to eat it and offered it to Enma every day. Finally, the Enma felt pity her, picked his right eye out and gave her.

Photo of the statue of the Konnyaku Enma; I'm sorry this photo isn't bright/sharp enough to see the face of statue. Inside of the chamber was rather dark although outside was bright, so, it was seldom visible to the naked eye, too.
Can you see the Emma's right eye is slightly painted dark yellow?

Photo : Even now, people come here to pray to the Enma and offer "Konnyaku". There was a pile of "Konnyaku" in front of Enma's sanctum. "Konnyaku" is a Japanese traditional food. It is made from a kind of potato and has jelly-like texture. I like string type "konnyaku" in the Sukiyaki!

Photo : The name of the crossing in front of this temple is "Konnyaku-Emma mae". ("mae" means "in fromt of") From this crossing, you'll can see the "Tokyo Dome". The home ground of the professional baseball team the "Tokyo Yomiuri Giants". Someday, I'll introduce that area to you.

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08 January, 2006

Sugamo Ohtori shrine / Tori-no-Ichi (the Cock fair) - part 3

1st photo: Praying for prosperity.

2nd & 3rd photos: It's about 11pm, but bargaining has been continued.

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07 January, 2006

Sugamo Ohtori shrine / Tori-no-Ichi (the Cock fair) - part 2

On November 21st 2005, Shige visited Tori-no-Ichi at Sugamo Oh-tori shrine. He couldn't had left his office until 10pm, so he'd thought it's too late to visit there, because most of shrine festivals would be closed around 10PM.

He reached there at 10:30PM and was surprised that there were lots of people around the shrine. There were many stalls selling snacks and many people who had bought "Kumade" walked along the street. In the shrine precinct, "Kumade" sellers was raising there voices, and people were looking around for good "Kumade" and try to haggle with "Kumade" seller. It was lively and filled with joyous mood.

Three hours before Shige visited there, around 7pm, Shige's wife and daughter had visited there, but they said they felt some sense of danger because there were so many people. They couldn't walk appropriate direction and couldn't even enter the shrine. They just bought a small "kumade" at a stall on the gateway and back home.

Why don't you come "Tori-no-Ichi"? You can enjoy it till midnight.

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Happy New Year!

The year 2006 is my year. Yes, year of the Dog!

Thank you very much, Kazu! He kindly gave me beautiful Kumade photos. This kumade is being displayed at Sugamo station close to Sugamo Oh-tori shrine. It's about 2m tall with beautiful decoration.

It's decorated with;
  • laughing woman's mask: Okame. Symbol of happiness.
  • oval shape gold: Koban(old currency). Symbol of wealth.
  • red fish: Tai(Proggy). Symbol of auspicious.
  • crane & turtle: Symbol of longevity.

Can you find all of these items?