Shinto Shrine

Before I dive into Day 2 in Tokyo, I realized I still need to explain the Shinto Festival pictures from my first post. As it turns out, the first night we were destined for adventure. As we entered the lobby, the hotel staff explained to us in broken English that there was an important religious festival going on across the street, so we decided to check it out. We were escorted outside to a very wide stone staircase, lined on either side by bright red lanterns. We climbed the stone steps, following the path of the glowing lanterns. At the top of the steps there stood a huge (~10 ft tall, 10 ft wide) circle made of thick straw. Past this circle, a large temple stood across from us with four thick ropes hanging from its ceiling. We watched people walk through the huge circle three times, each time turning to the left — we learned the next day that this was meant to bring good fortune. We also watched as people pulled the thick ropes (ringing the bell), clapped twice (calling the Shinto gods), and bowed to pray in front of the temple. To the right of the temple stood the temple’s “guards,” which were statues with human bodies and monkey heads. Apparently monkeys are important for chasing away bad spirits in the Shinto religion. Past the temple, still following the red lanterns, we walked along small shops selling many different kinds of Japanese food. At the center of the festival, we watched as Japanese men and women danced to music, wearing kimonos of all shapes and sizes. We were the only tourists in sight, and we stood there for about half an hour, mesmerized by the dance. It was like a real-life musical… Everyone knew the moves. And, not gonna lie, I really wanted to join in. We learned about the significance of this celebration the next day from Sue-san. Shintoism is the indigenous spirituality of Japan, and celebrations like these are meant to establish and maintain a connection between present-day Japan and its ancient past. The Shinto religion consists of many different gods, some human-like, some animistic, and others that are associated with more abstract natural forces in the world (mountain, lightning, rivers, etc.). There is basically a Shinto god for everything, even technology. After our unexpected adventure, my dad and I walked back to the hotel for a sushi dinner. Yum. That’s all for now — Gotta go catch a train to Kyoto! I’ll blog about Day 2 in Tokyo later today… We took a TON of pictures!!


About madhall14

Recent UVa grad. born & raised Texan. love traveling, anything Spanish, & Chipotle.
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