Wabi-Sabi Sole

Finding Beauty with Imperfection

Category: Temple (Page 1 of 3)

Buddha & Brews

The weather on Tuesday was beautiful. I decided to mix up my day trips and use the lovely day to explore Fukuoka. The Midori-Huis Ten Bosch Limited Express train makes the trip to Fukuoka from Sasebo in about two hours.

I arrived at the Sasebo train station with plenty of time to spare before catching the 8:06 train. I’m glad I did. I’ve learned in Japan that trains with special names require a special ticket at a special price. Such was the case with the Limited Express. I needed two tickets. One ticket for the train and one for Express Train! Yikes! And that is only one way! I needed to make the most of my day!

Once arriving at Hakata Station, I switched to the JR lines and took a local train to Nanzō-in Temple. I first learned about this Temple from my friend, Paula. She and her husband were stationed in Sasebo and went to visit the Temple. Her pictures were so cool, I knew I had to add this to my list. The Nanzō-in Temple is known for its large bronze Reclining Buddha statue said to be the largest bronze statue in the world.

The statue is about 134 feet long, 36 feet tall, and weighs 300 tons. It was spectacular. Better in fact than I anticipated. I thought I would stop by really quickly, snap some pictures and leave. Instead, I lingered and enjoyed the serenity and harmony I felt during my visit. The long cord from his hand is connected to the prayer area so visitors can “touch” Buddha as they pray. His feet are decorated with symbols to represent healing powers.

The statue is reclining because it represents Buddha at the moment of death or as he enters nirvana.

Besides my feeling of serenity, I also wasn’t expecting fall foliage to decorate the beautiful temple.

These two might be my favorite.

But, then there’s the one with the waterfall and bridge.

Like I said, I spent way more time here enjoying a sort of fall foliage meditation. I’m so glad I decided to visit today while the skies were clear.

I returned to the train station and caught he 12:02 train back to Hakata Station. I wanted to take the 15:32 Limited Express back to Sasebo so I could meet Dave for dinner. The 15:32 put me back at 17:24. So, I had about 3 hours to kill before my train. On my way to Fukuoka, I researched different options. Parks, foliage, “Fukuoka” ramen, and/or shopping were all viable options. As I was on the train after my visit to the Temple, I was ready for a beer. One divine search for zen leads to another. I searched “breweries” in Google Maps and the Asahi Brewery popped up. It was only one stop from Hakata – 4 minutes. Perfect. I arrived at the Brewery around 12:40.

The receptionist was so welcoming and asked if I had a reservation. No. Ok, then how about 1:00 tour? Hai! Arigatōgozaimas! She gave me a set of headphones so I could enjoy the tour in English.

The tour took an hour. It was really fun despite the language barrier. Oh, and did I mention – FREE! The hops were not edible but the barley in the canister was available for sampling.

A couple more pictures of the packaging process. Did you know the only place in North America that brews and packages Asahi is the Molson Coors Plant in Canada!

A couple pictures to help you understand the volume of beer brewed and packaged at this plant. This is where cans are filled with Asahi. It fills 1500 cans per minute.

This is a picture of the bottle filler. It only fills 600 bottles per minute.

After our tour, we were given the opportunity to sample Asahi beer. Asahi encourages consuming alcoholic beverages in moderation. Therefore, you only have three FREE samples to consume in 20 minutes with your bag of beer snacks. Moderation is the Wabi-Sabi of life. I think so.

Just in case you were wondering what it was like to be a blonde American traveling alone today, I felt like a rockstar. I railway staff helping me buys tickets, use my PASMO, and find my correct track. At the Brewery, the tour guide checked on me throughout the tour and sat me at my own table. It went above and beyond excellent customer service. My third sample and my fellow tour members.

I purchased some of the beer snacks for Dave as a little present. I would bring him beer, but there is an alcohol restriction on American service members stationed in Japan after a Marine killed a Japanese man in a drinking and driving accident Sunday morning in Okinawa. The incident is very sad, preventable, and unfortunate.

As the sun sets on my day trip and I reflect on how I spent my time, it was pretty perfect – for me. I didn’t see the amazing shopping mall or sample Fukuoka ramen. But, I was able to enjoy Buddha, fall foliage, and a beer (or three). My take away from this outing was – you can’t do everything, you can’t please everyone. So, do what you love and make sure you have fun doing it!

Nara

We took a quick trip on Friday from Kyoto to Nara. We expedited the trip by traveling on a Limited Express Train. The typical hour trip only took 35 minutes! 

Not only is the route orange in Google Maps, so was the actual train!

Once in Nara, we made our way towards Nara Park. Within Nara Park are several famous Shrines, Temples, and deer!! The deer are a sacred part of Nara Park and considered “messengers of the gods”.

For ¥150, you could buy deer crackers from street vendors. The deer started early begging for crackers from this vendor. Look at the first picture- the deer in front is sticking his tongue out at me! 


We didn’t buy any crackers. Instead, we enjoyed watching other visitors feed them. 


The deer weren’t shy. They walked right up looking for a snack. 


Our first Temple we visited was Kofuku-ji Temple. Pictured here are the Temple’s Golden Hall and five-story pagoda are a National Treasure and date to 1425. The Eastern Golden Hall was built by Emperor Shōmu and the pagoda by his wife, Empress Kōmyō. The pair of buildings represent the ideal of marital harmony. 


Other beautiful buildings were also on the Temple’s grounds. 


As we continued through Nara Park, we saw even more deer. My favorite was watching people take selfies or pose with the deer and the deer would poop or pee and the tourists didn’t notice! Ha! 

The first Shrine we visited was Kasuga Taisha Shrine. The walkway to the Shrine has over 3,000 stone lanterns. No worries, I didn’t take a picture of them all. Although I tried! They were really impressive and unique. 

In keeping with my tree theme of the summer, look at the tree growing inside the remains of an old tree! 


After visiting the Kasuga Taisha Shrine, we were ready for lunch. It was approaching 11am and starting to really heat up. We doubled back to the area around the train station where there was a conveyor sushi restaurant. It was well air conditioned, served cold beer and delicious sushi. For those reasons, I could have stayed all afternoon. 


But, we had the Todai-ji Temple to visit. The Todai-ji Temple is also a World Heritage Site. The current structure was completed in 1709. The Great Buddha Hall is the largest wooden building in the world and houses the largest bronze image of Buddha dating back to 752 (the head however has been replaced and only dates to 1692).  

Now that’s a Big Buddha! 


My favorite spot in the Great Buddha Hall was behind the Great Buddha. There was a lattice door allowing a delightful breeze to come through. Plus, as Bill would say, we got a chance to see Buddha’s pooper. Can you tell how hot it is!?! The breeze felt amazing! 

Buddha’s Gold Pooper. 


We continued around enjoying the great hall. 

The fierce warriors are guardians to protect Buddha from evil. 


And how about this guy? If you rub the corresponding body part on him as the part that ails you, you will be healed. I rubbed his knees and gave him a high-five! 


We started to make our way back to the station to head back to Kyoto. We chased the shade the entire 20 minute walk. We purchased our train tickets for the 1400 train to Nara. While waiting to depart, I checked the weather. No wonder we were so hot! Heat index of 119!!!! Wow! 


Returning back to our hotel, we enjoyed a siesta that we earned from enduring the days heat and humidity! Plus, as Dave continues to remind me, we are on vacation and naps are always ok! 

Meigetsu-in Temple 

One last stop on my 2017 hydrangea temple tour was at the Meigetsu-in Temple in Kita-Kamakura. The temple is known for having beautiful blue hydrangeas. 


Despite the humidity and mostly overcast skies, it was enjoyable walking around the temple seeing all the beautiful hydrangeas. 


So much blue! 


The bamboo made a stunning backdrop. 


The temple had unique aspects and they were also highlighted with hydrangeas. 


I couldn’t help but giggle to myself when I saw the random off color hydrangea. Each time I thought about the monk who planted the hydrangea. “You had one job – plant the blue ones!” Perhaps, he was colorblind. 

The other funny encounter of the day occurred shortly after I paid to enter the temple. A worker approached me quickly and said a bunch of Japanese and then said, “shawl” in perfect English. Excuse, me? She motions for me to put on a shawl over my shoulders (I’m wearing a tank top). I don’t have one. Because it’s summer in Japan and it’s humid. The worker left as quickly as she had approached. Seeing the very confused look on my face, a nice person who witnessed the exchange explains that she would like me to put on a shawl if I had one. I don’t, is it ok if I still visit? Hai, he said. Ok, arigatōgozaimas. Hmmmm. As I’m walking around feeling very self-conscious about my bare shoulders, I see several other ladies in tank tops. I use a little deductive reasoning to determine it wasn’t my shoulders that bothered her. It was my tattoo. My very taboo tattoo to the Japanese. The Japanese associate tattoos with the Japanese mafia. I laugh / roll my eyes every time I think of the possibility someone confusing me with Japanese mafia. Regardless, I learned another lesson. To be respectful of my host nation’s preferences, it is best cover tattoos when visiting temples. 

Dina’s Birthday 

Today is Dina’s birthday. To help celebrate the day, Dina, Katie, Andrea, and I decided to visit one of the few temples in Kamakura (Hase) we had not been to yet. Hasedera Temple is very famous for hydrangeas. The temple and surrounding gardens were beautiful. I enjoyed the visit so much that I’m going to add it to my Julia tour of Kamakura. Today, the Temple was especially crowded because it is the beginning of hydrangea season. Even though the hydrangeas weren’t quite in full bloom and despite the crowds, the Temple was beautiful and well worth this visit and many more. There was a steady stream of people on the street to visit the temple. 


The hydrangeas were beautiful. So many picture opportunities. 


There was a hydrangea route to follow to keep traffic moving in one direction. The route went past several potted hydrangeas and then up the hillside. 


The view from the first level was lovely and perfect for a group selfie. 


We continued to climb up more steps and the hydrangeas and views only got better! 


After reaching the top of the hill, the path went back down the hill. At one point, Dina and Andrea were above Katie and me. Perfect opportunity for another group selfie! 


A few close up hydrangea pictures. The different colors were so beautiful. 


There were also several kawaii statues. 


Another part of the Temple was a cave dedicated to the Goddess Benzaiten. There were many statues and it was definitely a cave. Check out the low ceilings. Dina and I had to walk like a duck to make it through! 


The oyster prayer cards were also interesting. According to the temple brochure, the statue appeared floating on the sea and drifting with the guidance of oysters attached to the statue. As a result, the shrine was established. 


After our visit at the temple, we went to lunch in Kamakura. To you, my friend! Cheers, to another good beer! Happy Birthday!! 

Mt. Nokogiri

Dave and I took an ITT trip with Sonia and her husband, John, to Mt. Nokogiri on Sunday. Mt. Nokogiri is located on the Chiba Peninsula. The Chiba Peninsula is on the other side of the Tokyo Bay from where we are on the Miura Peninsula. The bus ride on the way there took us through the Aqualine. 


The Aqualine is a tunnel that goes beneath the Tokyo Bay. I timed our transit. It took us a little over eight minutes with no traffic. Once we were through the tunnel, we stopped at the rest stop to purchase snacks for our hike. The views were incredible. 

It reminded us of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. But, in Japan, not quite as long, and with a better rest stop! 

Dave & Julia Sashimi

Taking the helm

Tokyo skyline – Tokyo Skytree is on the right. 


Here was a cool illustration of the Aqualine. 


Once we arrived at Mt. Nokogiri, we took a cable car to the top of the mountain. The views were spectacular throughout the day. We all agreed, this tour is worth doing again in the fall when the leaves are changing. 

One of the scenic lookouts was beautiful. Sonia and I waited in line for 35 minutes for these pictures! First, the line… 


And then the views! 


We walked up and down so many stairs on the mountain. Along the way, we observed 1,500 stone figures of different Arhats (Buddhist Saints). I captured a lot of them and only will share a few pictures of them! Many of the statues are in poor condition as a result of an anti-Buddhist movement during the Meiji Era (1868-1912). The statues have been under repair during recent years. 

His green head looks a bit alien-like!

Watch your head… the statues are missing theirs!


The highlight of Mt. Nokogiri is the stone Buddha (Daibutsu). The stone Buddha is the largest in Japan. It measures 28 meters high. It was built by Jingorō Eirei Ōno and his 27 apprentices. They completed the structure in 1783. It was recently restored between 1966-1969. The Daibutsu was constructed to symbolize world peace and tranquility. It was ahh-mazing. 


Dave, me, and Buddha! 


And a selfie, of course – the filters were a bonus. 


The shrines around the temple included thousands of small Buddhas. 


Just a few pictures of the flowers on the mountain before we head home.  


To return home, we took a ferry across the Tokyo Bay to Kurihama. This is the alternative route to get across Tokyo Bay. 


The ferry ride was the perfect end to a great day. Enjoying time underway with friends and adult beverages. Kanpie! 

Buddha’s Pooper

Bill’s visit was work related and only provided for a small amount of time for me to give him a Julia Tour. Between the jet lag and his work schedule, it was tough to find too much spare time. We did squeeze in a few traditional Japanese experiences. Starting with ramen.


Tuesday night, I met Dave and Bill in Yokosuka after work. After a brief pit stop at the O’Club for an informal Navy happy hour, we went to the “Red Door” ramen shop in Yokosuka. This is actually the first place Dave and I had dinner when we arrived in July. It was just as delicious! Dave ordered the spicy ramen and Bill and I both ordered the salt ramen – mine with extra nori (seaweed sheets) – remember, seaweed is the pickle bite of the burger. I think Bill would have this chopstick thing down if he was here another couple days!


Bill’s flight left Wednesday evening giving us a few hours to explore Kamakura. The first stop was the Great Buddha. My favorite.


There wasn’t a line to go inside Buddha, so, we ventured in for ¥20 (16 cents). The best part, was Bill referring to this opportunity as “going into the Buddha’s pooper.” Haha! I snapped this quick picture of Bill looking in the same direction as the Japanese ladies were pointing. No, he has no idea what they are saying.


As we returned back to Hase Station, I snapped one more picture of the last remaining Sakura and the wisteria starting to bloom. Considering the wisteria photo foreshadowing for next week!


We returned to Kamakura and walked to the Hachiman-gū Shrine.


We walked up behind the main shrine and found this quiet sanctuary and shrine.


It was a beautiful morning and I was happy to share a couple of my favorite spots in Japan with Bill before he headed back to America.

After I dropped Bill off in Yokosuka to catch his shuttle to Narita, I stopped by the post office to pick up a package. The Chick-Fil-A fairy delivered again! This time from Germantown, TN and with a few other essentials to kick off grilling and smoking season! Thank you, Layla, Nick, Nina, and Noah for going to several Chick-Fil-A stores to gather yummy sauce for us. I truly appreciate your friendship, love, and support to help us taste TN in Japan. Watch out for a few Neko Atsume surprises coming your way!

All Day Scavenger Hunt

I took the Cummings on a tour around the west area of Tokyo on Monday. Dave called on Sunday and was able to reserve two rooms for us at the New Sanno Hotel. This would enable us to spend the entire day exploring and not having to take the train all the way home. 

The first stop on our scavenger hunt was at The International House of Japan. Or as we quickly named it “The International House of Ja-pancake.” 


Here, Sara was able to deliver a book her father published of his notes and recordings from a conference he attended during the 1960s. Fortunately, one of the receptionist spoke very good English. Sara left the book with the receptionist and she in return gave Sara an email for her father to use to contact the library. Mission complete. 


Our next order of business was to drop off our bags at the hotel. As we walked through Roppongi, we could see Tokyo Tower. 


At the hotel, we registered for our rooms and left our bags with the bellhop. Back to the train station we went! This time our destination was lunch! The Vernal Equinox is a holiday in Japan making it difficult to find a place not too crowded at lunch. Outside of Shinjuku station, we found a cute little back alley filled with different ramen shops. 


It was the perfect spot to fuel our Seven Lucky Gods pilgrimage. Lucky us, there were five seats available! 

With our lunch mission complete, we set out on the Shinjuku Seven Lucky Gods pilgrimage. Seven temples to find! 


At our first temple, Taiso-ji, we collected Hotei and purchased the boat the Gods would rest upon. Hotei: God of happiness, family, peace and protection from illness and disaster.


The second stop was at the Hozen-ji Temple. Here we collected Jurojin. Jurojin: God of long life and protection from illness.


I knew our next stop was a tricky one to find and I took us down a couple dead end streets before finding the path to the temple. Without too much delay, we arrived at the Itsukushima Temple. Here we collected Benzai-ten. Benzai-ten: Goddess of music, arts, and speech.


Our fourth stop was around the corner. We walked over to the Eifuku-ji Temple. The Eifuku-ji Temple is dedicated to Fukurokuju. Fukurokuji: God of health, happiness, and long life. 


The fifth temple was a bit of a walk and required a little refueling. A short stop at the Family Mart for ice cream and we were on our way! About 15 minutes later we arrived at the Kyo-o-ji Temple. Here we collected Daikoku-ten. Daikoku-ten: God of grain harvest and wealth. Everyone also had a chance to shake the lucky mallet for wealth! 


To reach the sixth temple we took a quick train ride to the Zentoku-ji Temple. This temple is dedicated to Bishamon-ten. Bisamon-ten: God of protection from disaster and evil.


As we were leaving the temple, we realized we needed to pick up the pace in order to ensure we made it to the last temple on time. Everyone stepped it out! I was so proud of everyone! We made it to Ushi Kitano a Shinto Shrine. 

But, guess what – it was the wrong one! Yep, I messed that one up! Gah! It was 1600. Hopefully, the temple we wanted to visit stayed open until 1700. Back to the train we went!! Our final God awaited at the Inari Kio-jinja Shrine. Here we collected Ebisu-jin. Ebisu-jin: God of prosperous business. 


I consider us extra lucky after this pilgrimage- we found all seven plus one additional temple!! 

After completing our pilgrimage, we went to Harajuku for the reward I promised – cotton candy. And not just any cotton candy… a mountain of cotton candy! But first, we needed a family picture at Takeshita Dori! 


This part of the scavenger hunt was pretty easy. The cotton candy was everywhere! 


We enjoyed walking around Harajuku and seeing so much “kawaii!” Next up- finding  Shibuya Crossing and a snapping a picture with Hachiko statue. 


Done and done! Time to eat dinner. Oh, boy… always a bit of a scavenger hunt and with two kids it can be tricky. If James had his pick, we would eat ramen again. While walking around Shibuya we turned the corner and saw Outback Steakhouse. Seriously. Our search was over. The American mothership called us home. 


We all agreed, this was much better than the sea urchin pretzels Delaney picked up earlier in the day! 


This massive burger with blooming onions on top made my scavenger hunt complete. 


The day was quite an adventure. I lost track of how many trains we rode. Apple steps told me we walked over 10 miles. Even after a full day of walking and occasional wrong turns, I’m the lucky one. I was able to spend the day with friends doing what I love – exploring! 

PS. Sara snapped this picture in one of the many train stations. Me, wiping my ever runny nose. Yep, that’s about my normal look! Haha

Owls

Anticipating the jet lag and culture shock our friends would experience, I planned a very low key and local day. We had an early start, walked a lot, rode several trains and tried to blend in like locals. 


One of our goals for the day included finding a temple book and acquiring stamps. We were able to get five stamps in The Cummings’ family temple book. Pretty impressive for our first day! We went to visit:

Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū


Kōtoku-in (Great Buddha) 


My favorite picture from the Great Buddha. Dave is worried about the guy walking up the steps into our picture. Little did he know about Sara’s photo bomb!! Haha


Jōchi-ji Temple (Happiness Temple – my favorite) 


Shokozantokeiji 

Time became a factor at this point and I didn’t take a picture of the family before we left. I did however take a picture of the small Buddha and daffodils. 


Engaku-ji (The fifth temple of the day)


It was a fun day sharing my favorite places in Kamakura. Plus, we went to a new place. The Owl Forest! It has been on list and I was so excited to have saved the experience to be able to share it with friends! It did not disappoint! You were permitted to pet the owls with the back of your hand on the back of their head and take pictures. Keep in mind, their heads move… quickly! 


Hoot Hoot! Our first full day was a success! 

Mt. Takao

The ITT trip we took on Sunday dropped us off at the base on Mt. Takao around 8:30am. We had about 3.5 hours to walk around and explore the mountain before we needed to find our spots for the fire-walking ceremony. We posed for a couple pictures with the map of the trails on the mountain.

We were given tickets to ride the chair lift up and down the mountain. The ride on the chair lift took about 12 minutes. Once we arrived at the top of the chair lift, we had about a 45 minute walk to the summit. In true Japanese fashion, there were directions for how to enter and exit the chair lift.

The ride up the mountain on the chair lift was breathtaking. Literally and not because of the views. I didn’t realize how steep the chair lift would be and how far off the ground we would be at times. Please keep in mind also, there were no seat belts.

The chair lift took us up the steep mountain!

Don’t look down!

I did have to breathe a little deeper and remind myself not to look down!! Once we were on solid ground, I was much happier!

The walk to the summit included a couple of highlights. The first was the monkey park. Unfortunately, it wasn’t open and we didn’t have time to stop. Maybe next time! Fortunately, we brought our own monkey! The picture of Dina’s youngest daughter photo bombing is one of my favorites. Talk about monkey business.

Next we passed the octopus tree. The “octopus cedar” is a 450-year-old tree given its name because of its unique root structure.

Continuing along the trail, we walked passed many lanterns and large wooden slats leading to the Yakuo-in Temple. We couldn’t figure out what the meaning of the wooden slats. We were really confused when we saw “Gloria.” Our best guess was, these were names of people who made donations to the temple.

The temple is dedicated to Yakushi Nyorai, the Buddha of medicine and healing. The temple was very large with a lot of stairs between the two levels.

Dave and I walked around the corner right at the time the head priest was leaving the temple. Here they are starting their ceremonial walk to the fire-walking! Look how close we were!!

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We continued our walk up more stairs…

Until finally reaching the summit. Although it was a very hazy day, we had a small glimpse of the top of Mt. Fuji. Mt. Fuji is the small white spot in the middle of the picture.

Summit proof!

Going down the mountain was a lot faster with only a couple stops for silly pictures.

Even the chair lift seemed to go faster on the way down. Surprisingly, the chair lift wasn’t nearly as scary going down. Perhaps, because we knew what to expect.

The view was lovely. Dave and I discussed making a trip back to Mt. Takao in the fall when the leaves are turning. Now that we know we can easily arrive in two hours by train, we have a new place to see beautiful leaves and Mt. Fuji!

Asakusa Seven Lucky Gods

After visiting the Tokyo Skytree, we went to the Sensō-ji Temple where we began the Seven Lucky Gods pilgrimage around Asakusa (pronounced A-sox-sa). The Sensō-ji Temple is one of the largest and most well temples in Tokyo. There were so many tourists!


A selfie at the start of our pilgrimage, the front gate of the temple. It was such a bright and sunny day!


After crossing through the front gate, there is a street with many stores selling every imaginable souvenir. Some of the stores weren’t open yet and so I was able to get a couple pictures of the art painted on the store doors.


The temple is very large and beautiful. 

With this Seven Lucky Gods pilgrimage, we were able to collect Temple stamps and small prayer cards that hang from a branch. At Sensō-ji Temple, I purchased the branch with a rooster card (2017 is the year of the rooster) and the card for Daikokuten, the God of commerce and prosperity.



Very close to Sensō-ji Temple was our next stop at the Asakusa Shrine. This shrine is dedicated to Ebisu, the God of wealth and prosperity.

Ebisu is the patron of fisherman and is shown holding a fish on the prayer card.

Our next stop was at the Honryuin Temple where Bisyamonten is honored. Bisyamonten is the God of War. He is pictured with an angry face to defeat evil!

The temple was unique because it had daikon that could be purchased as an offering. According to the temple brochure, “the daikon represents our minds trapped in deep ignorance, emanating poison of anger, but by offering a daikon to Kangi-Ten, that poison will be purged from our body and soul.”

Also, while we were waiting for my temple book to be stamped, one of the monks encouraged us to take dust from a beautiful gold urn and rub it on our palms and all over our bodies to cure any ailments. We rubbed it into our hands and down our legs hoping for a pain free marathon next weekend.

Cleansing water.

The fourth stop was the Imado Shrine or the Lucky Cat Shrine. This one has been on my list of must visit every since we went to the Lucky Cat Temple. The legend of the Imado Shrine was about an old woman who lived in Imado (Asakusa). She was forced to sell her cat due to extreme poverty. In her sadness, she dreamt of the cat telling her to make its image in clay. She created the clay cats and sold them. They were so popular she soon became very prosperous.


Here we collected the first of two prayer cards for Fukurokuji. Fukurokuji is the God of wisdom, luck, longevity, wealth, and happiness. The Imado Shrine features cats coupled together and visiting this temple is said to bring good fortune to your marriage. Also, if searching for a spouse, this is a good temple to visit and pray.


I purchased one of these cute of course a lucky cat prayer cards! Kawaii!


Look at these watering cans!


The next stop on our pilgrimage was the Ishihama Shrine. Here we collected the card for Jurojin, the God of longevity.


I loved the mixture of the stone and red wooden Tori gates.


After this stop is when my navigation went astray. I marked all of the Temples/Shrines on Google Maps the night before. Unfortunately, I tagged two of the wrong temples. Temples often have the same name. Like saying “First Baptist” or “United Methodist” – there can be more than one in an area. I should have looked at the map I was given at Sensō-ji Temple a little closer. I would have saved us about 1.5 hours of back-tracking.


The good part, we found a delicious conveyor sushi spot to eat lunch. All was not lost!

When we finally arrived back at the Fudodin Temple where we collected the prayer card for Hoteison, the God of good fortune.


If you notice Hotei on the map, you will see this temple was very close to where we just were when we went to the Ishihama Shrine. I added a 1.5-hour detour. Fortunately, we did ride the train and eat lunch for some part of that 1.5 hours.

The Fudodin Temple was small and colorful.


Now we were back on track with two stops remaining. As we were walking towards the Yasaki Inari Shrine, we came upon a vending machine selling beer. Yes! Another new experience! Would we be able to buy a beer? Yes, yes we were! And thanks to my fabulous brother, I had a koozie to keep it cool and my hand warm! Kanpie!


I’m still confused about how this is possibly legal. Regardless, we happily drank our beer and walked to next stop, the Otori Shrine also dedicated to Jurojin. Our second Jurojin – Jurojin is the God of longevity and pictured here with a deer, a symbol of longevity. 


I am not clear why there are two Jurojin on this pilgrimage. There are also two Fukurokuju – we skipped the last one. Here is the Otori Shrine. Small and bright. 


Continuing to the last stop, the Yoshiwara Shrine, we came across a small shrine around the corner from the main Shrine. Both the main and smaller Yoshiwara Shrine are dedicated to Benzaiten, the Goddess of water and music. Check out the artwork!


We continued on to the main Yoshiwara shrine. It was just as embellished!

The main altar. Gotta love the Sake barrels!


The prayer card of Benzaiten.


I took another up close picture of the hanging offering outside the entrance.


And one last selfie at the completion of our journey.


Our branch is now complete with our cute prayer cards for each lucky God.

This is my fourth Seven Lucky Gods. I enjoy them because they take you through parts of an area you wouldn’t normally visit. Plus, I love seeing the different temples/shrines. They are all so unique. Simultaneously, I love the scavenger hunt aspect. Yesterday was the perfect setting for wandering around Asakusa gather luck!

This Seven Lucky Gods pilgrimage was a bit longer than the others I have completed. According to Dave’s Fitbit, we walked 13.30 miles on Saturday. (This also included our trip to the Tokyo SkyTree.) None the less, it was a lot of walking and my side excursion only made it longer. By the time we finished, we were ready for a cold beer to celebrate our pilgrimage. Kanpie! 

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