Japan Diaries: Sightseeing Around Tokyo (National Noh Theatre, Shizen Kyōiku-en Forest, and Meiji Jingu Shrine)
Our Japan 'trip' has finally come to an end. In here, I'll take you on a mini sightseeing in some of the must- visit spots around Tokyo. We'll have a quick visit at the National Noh Theatre and the Meiji Jingu Shrine in the vast Shizen Kyōiku-en forest in the middle of Tokyo. If I had the chance to stay a little longer, I would've gone to Kyoto and visited the temples there! Ah, I can't wait to go back to Japan! :)
At East Ginza is where the National Noh Theatre lies, one of the oldest structures in the city. It has been renovated already. Noh is a thousand year old ritualistic type of Japanese play, and it's one of my favorites when I was still studying Theatre in college simply because I love the discipline: one time, me and my classmates were asked to go around in a small circle VERY SLOWLY with folded knees and arms raised to shoulder level for 30 minutes. My body hurt like hell after the session, but I love how it has improved my focus. :)
The theatre was closed because I got there around 11 p.m. One day, I'll watch a play here. :)
After visiting the theatre, my cute and funny Japanese uncle and his wife, my Filipina cousin took me to Pasela Resorts for some Karaoke! Food here is so good! Check out my review. :D
Click READ MORE and let's go to the Meiji Jingu Shrine and the forest! :)
Welcome to the Shizen Kyōiku-en Forest! The 175-acre forest is now a natural reserve, but originally, it was a garden bought by Emperor Meiji from a feudal Lord as a gift for his beloved wife, Empress Shōken. It was just a small patch of greenery and it grew into a massive forest over the years. This forest resides at the heart of Tokyo near the busy Shibuya and Harajuku districts. It's heartwarming to learn that for a country that's so modern, they still value their tradition. Oh by the way, the Japanese culture really pays great importance to nature. :)
These barrels right at the entrance of the forest are intended for advertisement. The labels feature the different Sake brands that have sponsored the restoration and preservation of the forest. By the way, the Emperor and his families' houses are located in a lush and gigantic compound near this place-we passed by it!
Here's the lake at the center of the forest where you can go and feed the fishes.
We passed by this old style Japanese house....
....and lucky us! We chanced upon an actual tea ceremony. In here, a young lady is being trained by a Tea Mentor on how to make, prepare, and serve tea in a ritualistic way. It was very solemn and we didn't want to interrupt. :)
And we also passed by a Raccoon Dog, or Tanuki in Japanese! IT'S SO CUTE I COULD DIE, and it's a baby! Our tour guide said that it's a rare sight because these cuties are normally afraid of humans so we were very, very lucky. Liz and I bombarded him with "OMG!" screams and camera flashes and he kinda' growled at us lol. Sorry! :D I was able to get a nice shot! The forest serves as a home to these animals including crows and a few other birds. FYI, Tanukis were once considered as divine beings in ancient Japan. :)
So where were we headed, really? To a small well at the far end of the forest, one of the highly visited areas in this place because it is a 'Power Spot'. Last year, there was this trend amongst young Japanese people where they find different stuff around Tokyo and declare them as 'Power Spots'-these are areas or things where they go and pray to get inner strength, guidance, and even luck from their ancestors. This well inside this forest is one of them.
This particular Power Spot rose to stardom when a famous comedian who guested in a talk show in the US said that when he displayed a photo of this well on his cellphone and laptop, he started getting numerous and endless gigs. Since then, locals and tourists alike would flock to this place, hoping to pray and take a photo of the well and start opening their channels of luck and prosperity. I don't know if you believe in these things, but I do. If you do, by all means, grab this photo and display it on your cellphones and laptops. I'm sure it wouldn't hurt to try! :)
The small praying ritual in this Power Spot goes like this: You stand very near the well, start praying and afterwards, touch the water inside the well.
Our last stop was the Meji Jingu Shrine. This Shrine was built in the 1900's as a dedication to the deified spirits of Empress Meiji and Empress Shōken. This Torii (arch) serves as the entrance to the actual shrine-it has been restored after the second world war.
And we're now here at the temple grounds!
Before entering the temple, you have to perform a mini cleansing ritual. There is a small fountain before the area nearest to the temple. You pick up a ladle, scoop some water from the fountain, sip some water and gargle, wash your hands, and with the remaining water, wash the handle of the ladle as courtesy to the next user. Awesome, right? :)
Two Cypress trees that grew as one. They don't know how it happened, but it just did. People, especially couples, go to this tree and pray for the eternality of the couple or any relationship. :)
I went to the actual temple, but picture- taking is not allowed. It's a vast open, wooden house with an altar at the middle and large brass gongs on both ends of the first floor-dunno if it has a second floor though. There are wooden barricades right at the temple doors and it's where you can pray. Praying is like this: Pat your thighs twice, clap your hands upwards twice, bow, and start praying. The clapping and patting are signs to the gods that you are happy to be in the temple.
Lastly, this area is where you hang your wishes and prayers that you have to write on a small chunk of wood. You can buy the wood in the same area for about Y500, I think. I bought two and prayed for myself and my loved ones. :)
That's it for our Japan Diaries! What a wonderful country with a very interesting culture, eh? Now I hope that through my posts, you're more excited than ever to visit this country! Until our next Wanderlust diaries. In the next posts, we'll go back to Hong Kong and explore Causeway Bay, Mongkok, their MTR System and more! :D
Click HERE for my food guide around Ginza
Click HERE for my shopping guide around Tokyo
Click HERE for my Shiseido Museum Tour in Kakegawa
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