For our second full day in Tokyo, Adam (generously) gave me free rein—so naturally I chose to visit Tokyo DisneySea! We woke up extra early so we could eat breakfast at the hotel and then get to the park before it opened at 8:30am. Today we ate outside even though it was slightly chilly. During breakfast I tried a strange new food that I later learned was a lychee. It was sweet and a bit slimy. I definitely won’t go out and buy them at the grocery store, but I was proud of myself for trying a new food—which can be challenging if you’re a vegetarian.
On our way to the subway station, we decided to quickly walk past an interesting looking Japanese building that we could partially see from our hotel. Lo and behold, a gorgeous temple! We then made the decision to spend a bit of time exploring the ancient building before heading to Disney. (Ah, I can practically hear the Disney fanatics crying out in dismay! It’s my hope that once you see the photos, you’ll understand our desire to explore the temple first.) The top part was what we could see from our hotel. We didn’t realize how big this temple was until we actually walked up.
We learned that this is called Sensoji Temple, one of the oldest temples in Japan. Below is the main hall of the temple.
We weren’t allowed to take photos inside the temple, but we did take part in an interesting ritual. Behind a large barrier, somewhat like a chain link fence, were rows of seats and a large alter. In front there were rows of bureau-like structures with tiny drawers and several counters with wine bottle-sized cylinders. (There were similar stands outside where we were allowed to take photos.)
After silently observing a few people, we figured out what we needed to do. First, we went up to the counter and made a donation, then picked up a cylinder and gently shook it horizontally a few times before pouring out a skinny wooden stick—much like an incense reed. Each stick contained a few hand-written Japanese characters that corresponded to the characters written on one of the drawers. After we finally found the matching drawer, we opened it and pulled out a piece of paper containing a fortune. The papers were written in Japanese and English so we could read them. Adam and I both got “bad fortunes,” but at the bottom of the page it said in bold something along the lines of “don’t worry because you can make your own luck.” Even though you’re supposed to keep it, I put my fortune back in the drawer. (I definitely don’t need to go around carrying something that says “bad fortune” on it!)
Afterwards we went back outside and explored the surrounding area. There was a beautiful fountain with ladles for cleansing your hands (probably something we were supposed to do before we went inside the temple) and a sand-filled well with burning incense.
The was a giant arch leading up to the temple, and a few other small temples in the area.
We enjoyed walking around and exploring the area. I still can’t believe how close this all was to our hotel and how we almost missed it! After about a half hour or so we left the temples behind and walked to the subway for our day at Tokyo DisneySea!
Stay tuned for Part 2 where I recap our day at Disney!