Temple and Tower

Trip Start Mar 12, 2010
Trip End Nov 18, 2010

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Flag of Japan  , Tōkyō,
Thursday, April 1, 2010

I had some errands to run in Tokyo, and I usually liked to do some sightseeing when I was in town, so I stopped by Zojoji Temple. The temple grounds were relatively small, maybe a block or two, but that was pretty common inside the big city. Despite the modest grounds, Zojoji was the head temple of the Jodo (Pure Land) sect of Buddhism and the burial place of six Tokugawa shoguns. Most days, the shoguns' burial ground was closed, but this week it was open for, I believe, the birthday of Honen, founder of the Jodo sect.

The most striking feature of the temple was the largest collection of Jizo statues I had seen in Tokyo. In some forms of Buddhism, babies who die haven't had time to accumulate good karma, so they go to hell and spend their time piling up rocks. Jizo is the Buddha who goes into hell to rescue them, making him the patron Buddha of dead children. He also rescues criminals, but I haven't seen any temples setup for criminals. Parents who lose young children donate to the temple and usually decorate a statue for their child.

Across from the Zojoji was Tokyo Tower. It was rainy and overcast so I didn't go up. They're building a bigger tower, the Tokyo Sky Tree, near Asakusa so the glory days of Tokyo Tower may be numbered. I got a few pictures of the confusingly-shaped mascots. It sounds weird to translate it to English, but their names were Noppon Younger Brother and Noppon Older Brother. You can just call either of them Noppon, though. They've got their own section of the Tokyo Tower website, complete with theme song. They're not very diligent about updating their blog, but they do have plenty of pictures with their mascot friends in the gallery. (http://www.tokyotower.co.jp/333/06_noppon/index.html)
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