Sunday, June 3
On Sunday, Chris and I woke up and head to the Meiji Shrine. The Meiji Shrine is dedicated to Emperor Meiji, who ascended to the throne in 1867, and dedicated his life to modernizing Japan while still keeping the traditional Japan sacred. He began by throwing out the traditional Emperor’s wardrobe and wearing an English suit instead. We walked around the shrine and found a traditional wedding in progress! The bride was beautiful in her white kimono. We also saw traditional priestesses in orange and white. When we were done with the main shrine, we walked to the Meiji Treasury to view the museum of the Emperor’s things. They did not let us take pictures inside the museum though. 🙁
After the Meiji Shrine, Chris and I walked to the Inari Shrine, which is a shrine dedicated to fox spirits. There were fox statues everywhere! So let’s talk about shrine worship. If you wanted to honor the fox spirits, you would first go to a cleansing fountain and rinse your hands with the wooden ladles of water. You then use your left hand to lift water to your mouth to rinse your mouth so only pure prayers come out. Then you go to the shrine that you want. Some have ropes with giant bells attached. If this is the case, you ring the bell, bow, pray, and then bow. If there is no bell, you bow, clap to get the spirit’s attention, and then bow again after praying. Some of the shrines had incense you could burn. It only costs about 50 yen (50ish cents). On a few of the other shrines, you could leave food offerings. At the Inari Shrine, Chris and I saw whole eggs, bits of bread, pieces of candy, and sake bottles. You may also leave offerings of Yen. Some of the shrines were big enough to walk inside. To walk inside, you had to take your shoes off first and go in socks. The one we went in was carpeted and had intricate wood carvings. There is a box to throw your coin into and then you pray. There was a change machine and a guy selling offerings INSIDE the shrine. It kind of reminded me of Jesus and the merchants at the Jewish temple who sold the offerings.
After the fox shrine, we went to New Hotel Otani. They have a 10-acre garden on the 5th floor that was 400 years old. Chris and I figured that the garden was built on a hill and the hotel was built around it. It had red bridges and stone lanterns and huge Koi. After walking through the garden, Chris and I found a soba noodle shop in Akasaka. We had amazing Udon noodles in a savory broth. When you go to a noodle shop in Japan, there is a machine by the door. You insert your yen and press the buttons for the meals that you want and it prints out tickets. You take your tickets to the counter and they make your meal for you. After this we walked home.
Our internet has not been consistent. I am trying to upload all of our pictures and I am being thwarted. Hopefully they will be uploaded soon.