30 September, 2006

Kishibojin / Zoshigaya area (2)

Several years ago, before Lee was born, we lived in east side of Mejiro, Toshima-ward. There was a calm and tiny temple near our apartment and we loved the place. My daughter and I often visited this temple yard. Even now, I sometime drop in there during the weekend walking with Lee. The name of the temple is "Kishibojin". I heard that Kishimojin was the correct pronunciation but I think many people (including me) call there Kishibojin and the name of the closest tram station is Kishibojin, too. Maybe both would be OK.

Let me introduce the story of Kishibojin.
Kishibojin is the name of a goddess of children. The guardian deity of kids.
She was originally a female demon of India. She had many children and doted on them. But she had a bad habit. Drugs? Hmm, I'm not sure if she was addicted to that kind of stuff, but that was worse than drugs. Kidnapping kids from neighbor villages and eating them up. Gee.
One day Buddha thought to warn her against the bad habit. He hid the youngest son of her who she loved the most. As she recognized her son's disappearance, she was getting mad and looking for him around in a frenzy. Then, Buddha bring the son and talked to her about the anguish of the parents who lost their children. She realized for the first time what she had been doing and shed a tear with profound penitence. Finally she became a goddes of children, Kishibojin, with the guidance of Buddha.

Please save sis,,,don't eat her up! (Lee) 

There are lots of ginkgo trees. The biggest one is about a 6oo years old tree. In late autumn, the temple yard will colored yellow with these ginkgo's leaves. 

The big festival, Oeshiki, will be held at Kishibojin from 16th to 18th Octorber. Local people will make many groups and be parading through Ikebukuro - Zoshigaya area. The last day's parade will be done until 9-10 PM or so. It's worth seeing. I recommend you to come if you can. I'll be there in the evening of the last day with my camera.(More infornation regards to Oeshiki)

The closest station is "Kishibojin-mae" of the tram Arakawa line, the next station of the "Zoshigaya" where I posted last month. You can get there from Mejiro station of Yamanote-line JR, too.

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23 September, 2006

The Nezu shrine, the 300 anniversary / Sendagi Bunkyo-ward

Shige & Lee went to Nezu on last weekend. The night before the day, Shige had found a web article which said the Nezu shrine was very quiet and peaceful place with full of green.

It was not so long walking. Around 30 min or so. When they reached to the shrine, around 8:40 AM, there was a lot of people...a lot of people? Although it was early morning, the shrine yard was packed with the people who wore the ancient costume, professional cameramen who armed with 2cameras+big camera bag+folding stepladder, and a bunch of spectators.
(please click to enlarge photos)

That was the celebration day of the 300 anniversary of the Nezu shrine.

They are preparing the parade. Can you see the beautiful Mikoshi, the gestatorial chair of god, behind the people?

They said these gorgeous gigantic Mikoshis were given to the shrine by Shogun in Edo-era.

A gentleman kindly took a photo of Shige and Lee. Thank you, daddy-o!

Chief priest perform a brief ceremony for starting the parade.

The parade is starting!

The Mikoshis are about to depart.

The float of Sarutahiko, powerful guardian deity, get out the shrine gate.

The Mikoshis are following the Sarutahiko float. Wow, there was extremely crowded!

Run! Let's go the quick route to catch a head of the parade!

Marching in the street.
Can you see the figure of Sarutahiko was moving ?
He was turning his body and waving his arm automatically. They call it "Karakuri-ningyou", Japanese old-time robot.

Shige found the drawing of the parade that held in Edo-era.

Shige visited the shrine again with Sis. Unfortunately, the weather was getting worse in the evening, but Sis seemed to enjoy the Omatsuri very much.

The dance performance was dedicated to god of the shrine. Have you seen these girls in anywhere? Yep, they were riding in the rikisha in the 11th photo which taken in the morning.

It was dark and raining, so I had to stay home again. Humph! (Lee)

Nezu Shrine: Closest station is Nezu of the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda-line.

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20 September, 2006

Nihon Ginko (The Bank of Japan) / Nihonbashi area (2)

Lee(L): What is this scary building? The haunted house?
Shige(S): It's not scary at all. This is a main building of the bank of Japan. They issue Japanese currency. This building was built in Meiji-era. This has been designated as an important national cultural asset. By the way, do you know the origin of Ginza?
L: Ginza the shopping area? Uh, I heard that the coin manufacturer was there in Edo era.
S: Exactly. Gin means silver. Silver coins were made there. Actually, in Edo era, there was Kinza, too. The place where gold (Kin) currency was manufactured. Can you imagine where the Kinza was?
L: Could it be that,,,,, here?
S: Bingo! So, Japanese currency has been issuing here over a few centuries.
L: Ah! Now I know why this place made me feel so scary. There must be a lot of ghost who ruined their life because of MONEY!
S: ...Don't scare me.

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14 September, 2006

Nihonbashi / Nihonbashi area (1)

As you well know, Nihon means Japan, and hashi (converted to bashi when some words added to the head) means bridge.
As it's name suggests, Nihonbashi is a representative bridge of Japan .
400 years ago, Tokugawa Ieyasu, 1st Shogun of Edo government, built the Nihonbashi, and he set it as a basing point of Japanese 5 main roads ( Tokaido, Nakasendo, Koshu-kaido, Nikko-kaido, Oushu-kaido ). Even now, this is the base point of the national roads. You'll can find the "Zero Milestone of Japanese Road" at foot of the bridge.

King of bridges and Lord of road (it shall reign forever... Don't you like Handel?).
It was made of wood in Edo era ( Nihonbashi drawn by Ando Hiroshige), then reconstructed with stone blocks in 1911.
Edokko (Tokyonese) were proud of this beautiful bridge.

HOWEVER, you will be shocked if you visit there now.
Ugly raised highway run over the bridge. It's one of the saddest sight I've ever seen.

In early 1960's, the period of spectacular economic growth, some politician did it. And public welcomed it as a symbol of new era.

Some culturati, economic men, people from academia have raised their voices, and now, the council of advisors to the prime minister has been discussing that how can we remove the highway from this historically important monument. They are urging to remove it away from Nihonbashi within 10 years. I'm really looking forward to seeing the bridge under the sky.

This name plate (says "Nihonbashi") was written by Tokugawa Yoshinobu, the last Shogun of Edo government.

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04 September, 2006

The international Library of Children's Literature --Kokusai Kodomo Toshokan / the Ueno park

Yesterday, September 3rd was the last Sunday of summer vacation, so Sis and Shige had wanted to go to the sea or somewhere fun place to do outdoor activity. But Sis had been knocked down by the flu till last Tuesday, so Shige decided to do a "quiet", "indoor" and "intelligent" activity for the last day of Summer.

The Internatinal Library of Children's Literature (ILCL) is a branch of the National Diet Library. There are bunch of books and audio visuals for Kid's. The audio visuals include the DVDs of the Nationak Geographic, CD-ROMs of old-time picture books, etc. Sis and Shige spent most of the afternoon of the day in there. It was a great time.

Interesting thing is the origin of the building of ILCL. It was founded as the Imperial Library in Meiji-era (1906). This building was modeled after the Newberry Library of Chicago (but finally 3/4 of building couldn't be built because of budgetary reasons. Meiji government had spent a lot of money for the war with Russia).
It has been designated as an important historical architecture by the Tokyo metropolitan government. In the year 2000, this library was reformed and reopened as a children's library.

Old style interiors are remaining.

The sign of door says "push then open".

According to the original plan, this building was the one side of the qudrate.

ILCL is located in the north end of the Ueno Park. In this park, There are many famous museum or art gallery like the National Science Museum, the Natinal Museum of Western Art, the Tokyo Natinal Museum.... but ILCL is not so popular. No crowd, clean, and calm. If you feel tired the crowd of the Ueno park, you'd better visit there.

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