Saturday, December 20, 2008

Ueno Park

Thursday morning we went to Ueno Park, the Central Park of Tokyo. It features lots of shrines, a temple, tons of memorials and various such items, plus a lake,  Zoo,  amusement park, and several museums. It's in the heart of Down Town Tokyo, but remarkably calm and quiet. A few vagrants dot the park, many have even set up nice little gypsy camps. It must be nice to be homeless in Japan. Mild weather, nice police, public restrooms, and it seems you can erect a tarp tent complete with clothes line and no one bothers it.Here is the first shrine we visited, the papers hanging up are bad fortunes being aired out for the spirits to see. in the back you see a rock, my Japanese failed to explain the importance of it, but there is a rock.

Here we have the water dipper and basin. The buddist are all about purification, and a chance to wash your hands is important. Note the brass dragon spitting water. The "swaztika" on the water basin is actually backwards from the german version. It's an ancient symbol, and part of the classic 4-elements theme. On maps it's the standard marking for a shrine, and most seem to have one somewhere. Furthermore, they're nearly all painted red, if they are wood. Red is Good luck.

They also nearly always include a lamp, or two, or a hundred (post to follow ^.- ). Stone, Metal, or wood they are used primarily for purifying rites, not illumination

This intricate stone lantern sits on the path to a large shrine on an island in the middle of a large lake. The path was lined with small memorials of various sorts (a large stone with a pair of glasses carved into it, for example). The lake is usually more lush, in the summer it is full of large lotus plants. Now however, the leaves have wilted and the heavy seed pods droop down into the lake. 

There are in fact several buildings on the island, each with it's own place to toss coins, and a souvenir stand.


Here's a nice metal model of a traditional string instrument, complete with metal wires. Yes it has a name, and I can't remember right now...

Here are the panels to either side of the main shrine, beautiful gilt and laquer work.

The lovely thing about the climate here, is that the fall colors hang around. Some trees change and shed their leaves, some change and hang around, and some remain green. The colors looking across the lake, and the temple on the island from a far.

The colors, here a Japanese Maple continued around the park. The other red was rows of temple gates, leading to the entrance. The gates and doors often also have Fu Dogs. ( I suppose they must not be called that here, I'll have to ask about it...) 

A lovely day to visit a lovely area, this is only the forst half, the major temple will be in another post. For now, I'm off to bed!

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