Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Postcard from Japan: Asakusa, Part One -Sunday, November 6, 2016

View of the tall tower of the Tokyo SkyTree and some odd golden
turnip-topped building from the corner outside the Asakusa station.

Amy-san at Blue and White told me about two different exhibits that she highly recommended so I'm off this late morning to Asakusa.  It's a very famous place from long, long ago because of the extremely famous huge Buddhist shrine, Sensou-ji, that draws crowds every day of the year.  Today is Sunday so the shrine's environs are packed with people, both Japanese and obviously foreigners like me.  I'm finally rewarded with kimono-clad girls and women in brightly colored and patterned kimono.

My mother-in-law has warned me that there are innumberable  little shops along the way to the shrine, Sensou-Ji, so I'm prepared for the incredible variety of every kind of item that anyone visiting a Buddhist shrine in Japan would want:
Hiroshige prints, yukata (the cotton printed kimono for summer), shrine paper lanterns, masks, shibori-stitched and indigo-dyed fabrics, and so many more fascinating things.

My mother-in-law also mentioned the guardian figures that would be on either side of the many gate entrances, one male and one female.  In her experience, the male figure always has his mouth open growling.  The female figure has her mouth closed and keeps her thoughts to herself, but is smarter than the male.

More young women wearing colorful kimono filled the entrance.  I'm sure they knew that everyone was taking their picture.

The huge lantern that hangs in the middle
of the entrance gate to Sensou-Ji.
I'm trying to make my way to the Amuse Museum to a special exhibit on "Boro," mended work clothing that Amy-san has recommended.  I pass a lot of fascinating places like the shopping arcade.
Female guardian figure at entrance gates.

Shibori-stitched and indigo-dyed fabric.
Again, the golden turnip-topped building.
I round a corner and there's another surprising view of the golden turnip-topped building!
This yukata costs about $35.  A good deal!

There's also an extremely old and huge gingko tree to the right of the temple complex.  Below it, someone is being loud and "urusai," a very unusual thing in Japan.  When I get closer, it's a woman who is smoking (unusual) and is talking loudly and gesticulating.  Maybe high on something?  The Japanese government is currently on high alert at all the airports and train stations for drugs and illegal substances.  I'm amazed that the woman is in the midst of the crowd without the police being called.  But, I'm soon on my way past her and looking carefully for a sign or building that says "Amuse."  Finally, I go through another red gate and there on the left is a sign "Amuse Museum" and pictures of kimono and textiles.  The front glassed area is the gift shop with a myriad of wonderful and fascinating items that illustrate Japan's traditional crafts.  Part Two will describe the Boro exhibit and the other exhibits at Amuse Museum.
Also, walking back to the shrine I find another view of the main temple of Sensou-ji.

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