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January 03 2013

Japanese customs and traditions - 7 Lucky Gods Pilgrimage - via A Japan Photo per Day -

Hashiba Fudo-in, Asakusa, Tokyo

As I was writing a few days ago, I attended a couple of times to the New Year’s Japanese traditions, starting with the Joya no Kane and continuing with the Hatsumode. But the most special experience was to follow, like many Japanese people, a 7 Lucky Gods New Year’s pilgrimage.

There are many versions of this pilgrimage in Japan, only in Tokyo I know of 20 such routes: groups of Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples from the same neighborhood, each dedicated to at least one of the Lucky Gods, are grouped together in a single route. Visiting all of them can take a couple of hours or more and sometimes it can be quite tricky to find all the locations, even though the area is often marked with especially made maps.
But it is a very rewarding experience if you want to feel the local touch…

Here is a photo taken at one of the temples from the most famous pilgrimage route in Tokyo, the one in Asakusa. The temple is called Hashiba Fudo-in and it is dedicated to Hotei. You can see in front of the temple votive plaques with the 7 Lucky Gods and to the left of the photo you can also see the dedicated map…

October 22 2012

Japanese customs and traditions - the Ring of Wisdom - via A Japan Photo per Day -

Wisdom lantern, Amanohashidate

There are many places in Japan where the tradition says that if you perform some unusual act, you will get something in return. Probably the most famous such place is inside the Todaiji Temple from Nara, but I recently found something similar in Amanohashidate.

An old Buddhist teaching says that “Out of the counsel of three comes the wisdom of Monju”, Monju being the Bodhisattva of wisdom. The meaning of this saying is that three heads think better than one, but related to this, a strange belief appeared here, according to which if you will pass 3 times through a “wisdom lantern” - a ring of stone called Chienowa Tourou, Monju will grant you wisdom. But since the ring is placed quite high, I guess not many people are trying…

September 30 2012

Japanese customs and traditions - Moon-viewing festival - via A Japan Photo per Day -

Umeda Sky Building, Osaka

Today in Japan takes place Tsukimi, the Moon-viewing festival. According to the Japanese tradition, this is the best moment to admire the moon, because during this period of the year the full moon is brighter and prettier than usual.

To admire the full moon in Japan, you can visit a shrine or a temple or, why not, you can enjoy the view next to a spectacular skyscraper, like I did near the Umeda Sky Building from Osaka, which I think is the most beautiful skyscraper from Japan.

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