First of all “Happy New Year, 2014”. Never thought I’ll be in Japan this New Year, far from my loved once. Anyways, it was a nice sunny day. Took bath and thought of going to a Shrine. After shower, me and my friend – Gajanan, started of to Asakusa, where Sensoji Shrine is located.

Few words on Sensoji ShrineSensoji Shrine is a Buddhist temple located in Asakusa. It is one of Tokyo’s most colorful and popular temples. The legend says that in the year 628, two brothers fished a statue of Kannon, the goddess of mercy, out of the Sumida River, and even though they put the statue back into the river, it always returned to them. Consequently, Sensoji was built nearby for the goddess of Kannon. The temple was completed in 645, making it Tokyo’s oldest temple.

We reached Sensoji temple. It was crowded as it’s the first day of the New Year and Japanese religiously visit the temple on this day. I had visited the temple before as well, but last time, I was not able to enter inside the temple (as I was late). Today I saw how Japanese pray by clapping and bowing. They burn incense (osenko) sticks in large incense burners. They purchase a bundle, light them, let them burn for a few seconds and then extinguish the flame by waving your hand rather than by blowing it out. Finally, put the incense into the incense burner and fan some smoke towards yourself as the smoke is believed to have healing power. For example, fan some smoke towards your shoulder if you have an injured shoulder. Also, you can see people throwing coins in the offering box and praying. Also, unlike India, you don’t have to remove shoes when you are entering the temple. There is no restrictions on the kind of clothes you wear as well.

Check out some of the snaps taken from temple:

When looked around the temple, we saw the the tallest tower in Japan – Tokyo Sky Tree. So, we thought of seeing it from near by place and started walking towards it and after half an hour walk, we reached right below the Tokyo Sky Tree. There were huge crowd and I was thinking there was only a 24 days left before I return back to India and getting on top of Sky Tree and seeing the whole of Tokyo would be a breath taking moment and that too on the 1st day of the year. So, had to wait in queue for more than an hour to get the ticket and finally reached the 350th floor. It was mind blowing view from the top. I can see the whole of Tokyo. Clicked lot of snaps and spent over 2 hours within the tower seeing and feeling the beautiful creation of the surroundings. We came down the tower and had some KFC and started walking back to Asakusa Station. On the way back to the station we saw an old Shrine – Ushijima Shrine. It was really beautiful and me and my friend went inside the temple.

Few words on Ushijima Shrine:

The Ushijima Shrine is located at the northern end of the Sumida Park. You will find there a statue called Nadeushi (Touching Cow). The legend says the statue will help to heal your wounds/injuries faster. At first touch your own injury and later the same area at the Nadeushi.

After praying and taking some snaps on the temple, we went outside the temple compound and saw pond and garden and many birds near the pond. It was really beautiful and atmosphere was calm and can hear only the bird chirps and ducks quaking. I fed few birds and ducks. This is the first time I fed birds and it really felt good. It was totally a great experience on the New Year. After taking some snaps and videos, we returned back to our flat.

We faced a bit of difficulty in finding the correct train to our place and so had to change some 3 trains to reach our destination. Overall, the the first day of the Year was worth the money spent and enjoyed to the core.

Hope this year will bring lot of happiness to all of us.

Once again, Happy New Year – 2014.

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