Thursday, September 16, 2010

Chapter 8: Meiji Shrine Visit: Niko Gets A Dose of Culture

Few 9 yr olds really like trekking to museums, but I knew that Niko would love going to Meiji Shrine which abuts Yoyogi Koen and is an incredibly beautiful wooden shrine with huge wooden gates tucked into a dense wood. This place has many paths to meander and structures to contemplate.

First, the gates are enormously tall, and the curved wooden features are dramatic, and you wonder how they did this. Looks Vulcan for those Star Trek fans.

No 9 yr old can resist the charms of a huge wooden gate that leads into a dense, dark woods. Too much
adventure beckons. I could barely keep up with Niko who took off running. (He did not get a batsu). 

Along the way are these  beautiful lamps in which the top part is wooden with shoji style windows. Would love to recreate this for the Vermont home. Much of this was created in the 1920s. 
We passed this structure, beautiful in its symmetry, and i am not certain of the significance of the white things which are hanging downwards.  It, too, has a carved wooden roof with a curve upwards at its ends. It is mid-afternoon but the densely wooded area creates dark shadow. Niko liked that best of all. Mysterious or fushigi in Japanese (nihongo).

These are all big colorful containers of sake, rice wine. This is a close-up and what follows is the long view.

Once past here, you get to the central area where this is a square, wooden structures on the sides but your gaze is directed ahead.
As you walk forward, there is this area for ritual cleansing of hands, and most people drank from here using these small bamboo ladles with cup.

This is just a beautiful wooden doorway leading to major shrine area. The chrysanthemum is a major motif in much Japanese artwork and is associated with the royal family and emperor, who was considered a deity up until the second world war.
Through here, you exit, and one is not allowed to take pictures of the most important part of the shrine where you clap your hands twice, after small coin monetary donation, and pay.  Niko remembered this all from Shichigosan and prayed for quite a bit. 
Here Niko is ready to leave. We ran or speed walked through this rather quickly, as Niko wanted to go to Kiddyland off Omotesando, and I made that promise. A bit of culture first before crass consumerism. As we exited, more bamboo forest, so beautiful these shades of bluish green.

And again, although not visible in this photo, huge bamboo spiders. i do not know what they are called, but if any of you in the blogosphere can successfully identify this with google, i owe you a Guinness.  Niko and I randomly asked several Japanese exiting with us. And, not surprising to me, as i have experienced this before in Japan, i get this response, "there are no bamboo spiders. no, there are never spiders in the bamboo forests." so i point to one. and they say "those spiders are not from here".  and i politely thank them but what i want desperately to do is to get right into their face and say "well then where did they come from. they did not just parachute from a plane, what, did they crawl from china, head to Korea, and hop on a log to get here?" Do not laugh. One respondent said that these come from Korea.

Stay tuned next time for Chapter 9: Ignorance is NOT Bliss: Risto's Struggles with Illiteracy.

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