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Tokyo trip 東京の旅行

January 7, 2009

Despite the fact that my original plan had been to go to Southern India for New Year, my trip to Tokyo was great.  It was a fabulous adventure of finally going to and seeing places I’d heard or read about but had yet to visit.  I definitely made the most of the trip as more often than not, my day began around 6:00am.  While I did a lot, there are still many things I had a mind to do that I just didn’t get to.  I guess that means I’ll have to go back.


I timed the trip quite well as the day after I arrived, Dec. 23rd, was the Emperor’s birthday.  This is only one of two days in the year when the general public are allowed into the inner precincts of the Imperial palace (the other day is Jan. 2nd).  So I lined up with the throngs of other folk to see the royal family come out for a quick, three-minute speech and wave session before being ushered out so the next group of admirers could come through.


As it’s so close, I finished walking the perimeter of the palace and headed up to Yasukuni shrine.  For those who don’t know about it, Yasukuni is an extremely controversial shrine particularly as far as Japan’s Asian neighbours are concerned.  It’s seen as a reminder of Japan’s militaristic past as the kami or spirits of over two million war dead, including 14 Class A war criminals are interred there.  Unfortunately, it’s also a magnet for the right-wing nationalists in Japan.


After seeing the sights at Yasukuni, I still had a few hours of daylight left so I headed south to the temple of Sengaku-ji.  The reason for heading there was to see the graves of the 47 ronin.  This tale is extremely famous in Japan as it is the epitome of examples of loyalty, sacrifice, persistence and honour – ideas emphasized in Japanese culture.  The story has been made into plays, tv shows and movies.  For those of you who don’t know the story, click here.


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