Magic Puddles at Meji

Japanese garden

Tokyo’s Meji Shrine is not that far from the Gyoen’s (The National Garden in Shinjuku), Sendegaya gate, but heavy rain might hamper your ability to navigate there correctly on foot. It will be particularly difficult if you’re holding a tiny Japanese umbrella over two people, and trying to navigate using your smartphone’s apps at the same time.

You have had fair warning.

9:00 am: We had begun the day at the Gyoen National Garden, a photographer’s dream, well before any rain started.

If you want to know more about visiting that spectacular Garden, click here.

We worked out that taking a wrong turn isn’t always a bad thing, in Japan. Some of the streets are really quite interesting and surprisingly devoid of traffic. Which is really unexpected in a city of 38 million people.

Going to the wrong way out of Meji

1pm: After the wrong turn or two, we spotted the enormous Torii gate which signals the entrance to the Meji shrine. Having advanced knowledge that the Shinto shrine is located well inside Yoyogi Park, and given it was raining heavily, we looked for temporary cover before entering in the hopes the rain would abate.

It didn’t.

Shinto shrine Torii gate Japan
The Torii Gate – or entrance, to Meji Shrine in Tokyo

Our vain attempt to shelter under the eave of the guard’s box at the entrance was met with howls of protest from the guard himself, that I interpreted as, “No standing here, – you must keep moving.”

And move we did, passing through the Torii gate and taking the long, now dismal, walk up to Meji. This is normally a pleasant ten minute stroll through Yoyogi park when the sun is shining, but can be a miserably cold trot if it is teeming with rain, and it was teeming with rain.

Despite the inclement weather, I noted that the gardeners was highly focused on the task at hand, which was commendable, but I pondered if it might have been a religious penance of sorts to continue sweeping the leaves with a primitive straw broom amidst a torrential downpour?

Just keep sweeping..

In any case, I admired his resilience and fearless immunity to discomfort, despite the heavens opening up. No down time for outdoor workers in rainy Japan, it seems. And we complain about poor working conditions here…. gulp.

history

The Meji Shrine, itself, dates from 1920 and being a Shinto shrine it is considered the resting place of the souls, but not the earthly remains, of Emperor Meiji, and his empress.

The Meji period marked the beginning of Modern Japan, transitioning as it did, from a feudal power to centralized control under the Emperor, and therefore this shrine is significant, in Japanese history.

It is also worth mentioning the surrounding Yoyogi park contains over 100,000 trees that originated from donations from throughout the whole of Japan.

tips on visiting Meji Shinto Shrine in Japan

We were later to learn that it is customary to purify your hands and face prior to entering a Shinto shrine.

What every tourist needs to know:

After washing your hands and face, be sure to let the dirty water drain outside of the stone basin and tip the blessing bucket up so that clean water runs down the handle, so that it is clean for the next person.

This is Japanese custom but also altruism and thoughtfulness.

Respect for others. I like that.

shinto shrine cleansing fountain

You do not want to pollute the clean water in the vessel…….

How to Purify Yourself at a shinto shrine

  1. Take the wodden dipper in your right hand and scoop up some water. …
  2. Wash your left hand. …
  3. Change the dipper to your left hand, and wash your right hand. …
  4. Change the dipper into your right hand again, and rinse your mouth with your left hand. …
  5. Wash the handle of the dipper. …
  6. Put the dipper back on the basin, scoop side down.

Meji Shrine 1:30 pm:

Like the many other tourists caught in the downpour with or without umbrella, we sat for over 60 minutes, waiting again for the rain to abate, as we were sure it would. It didn’t.

We sat meditating;, watching the cleaner; watching the white zig zag shaped streamers fluttering in the breeze wondering of their significance; watching the rain; watching a wedding couple posing for pictures; watching the rain; watching the other tourists sitting and waiting for the rain to stop. We were patient. We watched and meditated 🙂

The rain Gods were not happy with us.

The deluge became heavier.

Another tip: There’ s not a whole lot to do at Meji Shrine, once you have taken some happy snaps and checked out the shrine. No cafe on site, No souvenir shops. That is a good thing, I think, however not such a fortuitous thing, if you are waiting for rain to stop.

A roving street vendor would have made a killing that day.

shinto shrines

Meji Shrine 2.25 pm:

There were some beautiful blossoms to admire whilst the rain fell. I got some great pictures.

We also got up close and personal with the cleaner going about his sweeping.

I noted he had updated his broom – a modern design, this time.

Meji Japan

An hour and a half later, we decided the rain wasn’t going to stop.

Meji Shrine 2.45pm:

The rain continued. We decided to make a run for it.

It rained all the way back home to the hotel. About 3 kilometres.

Later than night, I researched the Shinto zig zag streamers that we had seen hanging at the Shrines. Their purpose was to encourage the Shinto Nature spirits to, of all things, bring a plentiful rainfall to ensure a good rice harvest. Rice needs so much rain….

No wonder it was raining at Meji. The Zig zag streamers were hanging everywhere.

At least the shinto gods were swiftly responsive. After that day, there was one thing I was sure about – there’ll be no shortage of rice this year in Japan.

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Something to Ponder About

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Heavenly Gardens of Shinjuku Gyoen – Japan

Bolstered by the large and eventful breakfast, which I wrote about here, and visiting Tokyo in Crimson Leaves Season, we were keen to explore a traditional garden, on our first day in Japan. At the top of our list was the Gyoen National Garden, a green oasis that is completely amidst the busiest commercial district in Shinjuku, Tokyo.

Garden
Gyoen National Garden, Shinjuku, Tokyo

Background

Originally a residence for one of Japan’s feudal Lord during the Edo period, the Gyoen National Garden fell under the control of the Imperial family in the twentieth century. Although much of the garden was then destroyed during World War II; you would never know it, as Gyoen is nothing short of a tranquil, well tended masterpiece of Japanese horticulture.

Traditional Japanese Garden Design at Gyoen

With the NTT Docomo building towering stoically above Gyoen’s tree line like an old world Imperial Guard, it is easy to remember the Shinjuku-Shibuya metropolis is never far away. However, the hard concrete lines of modernity are significantly softened by the more natural lines of the leafy foliage and traditional Japanese garden fixtures.

Very photogenic.

NTT Docomo Building from Gyoen

The Gyoen Guide Map offers us the chance to fully comprehend the scale of the park and orientates ourselves to ensure we see all the individual gardens and differing botanical features contained therein. Entrance, (with guide map in English), costs 200 Japanese Yen.

We don’t want to miss anything!

Gyoen’s Shinjuku Entrance Gate

chrysanthemum shows

The small fee we pay to enter the garden is truly value for money, as the day we visit there is also a special floral display of cultivated chrysanthemums, which attracts the attention of many Japanese citizens.

How glorious are these?

Light rain only enhances the organic beauty around us, as the raindrops linger on the leaves. This delights my daughter as it makes for excellent photographic opportunities.

And we have the ubiquitous, clear-plastic umbrella to shield us. Very Japanese.


“Maple trees can be seen in large numbers around the Japanese garden and Momijiyama (maple mountain) on the [Gyoen] park’s eastern side. The colors typically appear from mid November to mid December. “

Tokyo Tourist Guide
One small Maple tree showed its Crimson coat. In a few weeks time, the others would too.

Our arrival is a week or so early to see the majority of crimson leaves in Tokyo, for the temperatures are unusually warm. Despite this, I find the trees are magical and remind me of a medieval Northern forest, or a scene from a Lord of the Rings novel.

The leaves are still golden and green, but soon to be crimson red.

Pavilion

Each path within the garden invites in us, a different mood, vista and experience.
You can see hanging bouquets of chrysanthemums in the display in the background.
Despite the overcast conditions, the Pavilion was a place of tranquility and reflection, in more ways than one.

The carp pond

No Japanese garden could be complete without a Carp pond – and Gyoen has one.

Again the city reminds you it’s not far too away.

Carp pond – Gyoen National Garden
A serene spot to reflect, meditate and rejuvenate in Gyoen. Lucky Carp fish.

Autumn avenue awesomeness

However, for this sub-tropical Australian resident, the ultimate heavenly experience is yet to come when I discover the avenue of Sycamore trees, a feast for local photographers. It is such a delight for me. I truly am in awe of these trees and their burst of colour.

Photography
What photographer wouldn’t want to capture this?

This is Autumnal earth, resplendent in shades of sienna, brown, rust, bright yellow and green, all coalescing in an intense and harmonious collection of wholesome organic beauty.

The child in me wanted to run and kick up the fallen leaves, throw them in the air, rake them into a pile and jump on top of them. An Autumnal experience that exists only in my dreams.

Gyoen national park is a Japanese treasure, particularly if you visit at Crimson Leaf Season
Stunningly picturesque

Never before had I seen an avenue of trees that captivated me in such a way and I didn’t want to leave. [You have to remember we don’t have such deciduous trees in my home zone, so I’m super excited.]

sendagaya gate

Reluctantly, after several hours exploring and a gazillion photographs taken, we walk towards the park’s Sendagaya gate and find yet another magical path through the trees.

There is a special light through here. It is hard to define and see in the photo, but it is there.

Gyoen National Garden – A perfect spot to sit and ‘Ponder About Something.’

Linking to Friendly friday photo walk a challenge hosted by me and Snowmeltssomewhere

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 #aroundtheworldWP

Sunday Sayings -Nature

lizard

Inspired by Marie’s post about the restorative effect of nature, and Peggy’s post referring to an article, in the Guardian, about nature being loved to death in some National Park areas of the world, I found these wise words:

lizard
Bearded Dragon at Coolangatta Beach, Australia

“When one tugs at a single thing in nature,

he finds it attached to the rest of the world “

– John Muir

Planet earth is large, yet the systems we depend on, and everything within, is connected in some way – through the water we drink, the air we breathe, or the soil in which we grow our food.

Rainforest

“The proper use of science is not to conquer nature, but to live in it”

– Barry Commoner

Damage to one area can have an unanticipated implication for another system. That might be beneficial, or it might be detrimental. It might help in the short term, but be harmful to diversity long term. The ecosystems are complex, mostly resilient, but also sometimes very fragile.

Weekly Proverb

“When someone points at the moon, don’t look at the finger.”

– Ancient Buddhist proverb

Worth remembering is the sageful advice of the Ancient Buddhist proverb, written at a time when the environmental concerns we face today, could never have been contemplated. Yet the words seem just as applicable today.

Sunday Sayings

I find there to be profound wisdom in proverbs, sayings and quotes and I marvel at the way they are so succinct in communicating messages to the reader.

Mostly anonymous, they come to us from past generations and from across cultures. They speak of the experiences of lives lived and lessons learned.

Normally I would invite your comment and discussion on the various interpretations and intentions, of the weekly sayings and proverbs.

This week, I am inspired by Manja, and appreciate any comments or opinions you feel moved to offer, of your own volition.

As always, everyone’s opinion is important and should be respected.

Sunday Sayings – Wise Words

Weekly Proverb –

On Rejection or Abandonment

Ron Mueck
Ron Mueck Statues

“A false friend’s tongue is sharper than a knife.” – Argentine Proverb

How many times do we voice our disagreement with the boss, our friends or with our family? Do we hold back on arguing, and avoid it at all cost for fear of rejection? Or, do we feel able to voice it, but only in an environment where we can be certain of our own security and status?

When it comes down to it – who can really agree with everyone, anyways? Do you know of someone who can? I don’t.

We might fear being rejected or even abandoned and sometimes compensate in order to overtly agree with someone else’s opinion, even if it is contrary to ours!!

Why do we do this? Is it due to politeness, insecurity, or fear of negative judgement?

“I think that every new person I meet, will automatically like me.”

If you firmly believe this, you will most likely suffer with a lot of rejection and disappointment in life. Just ask yourself: Do you like every person that you meet? It is natural to be drawn to some folk, more than others.


bird

Alle fuglar er ikkje haukar (somme er berre gaukar)

” All birds cannot be hawks (some are just cuckoos). “

– Scandinavian saying

Everyone experiences some kind of rejection in their life. It is impossible to eradicate all rejection completely, and as much as folks think they understand that not everyone, is going to love or accept you, rejection is still difficult for most of us, to hear.

Acceptance that rejection is just another normal facet of life, is preferable.

Perhaps we should keep the following saying in mind:

Ivar Aasen, the father of New Norwegian language, summed it up succinctly:

Til lågs åt alle kan ingen gjera – “No one can please everyone”


Trying to please everyone else can be a health hazard

Weekly Quote- Confucius

Finally, Confucius gets right to the point, bringing a dose of reality with his advice on our deep seated fears:

“When you have faults,

do not fear to abandon them

― Confucius
Akaroa

Proverbial Thursday

Several years ago, I created ‘Proverbial Thursday’ on my blog, which quickly morphed into Proverbial Friday. Now due to a new Photographic Blog Challenge commencing soon on Fridays, I have created Sunday Sayings.

Sunday Sayings give more time for deeper contemplation on the words and serious discussion on their deeper, sometimes metaphorical, meanings.



Mostly anonymous, sayings come to us from past generations and from across cultures. They speak of the experiences of lives lived and lessons learned.

Do you have thoughts on handling rejection?

Did you find anything worked well for you in dealing with rejection?

I invite you to join in the discussion by leaving a comment on the sayings from this week


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Proverbial Friday – Judging

Weekly Quote

Peace of Mind comes from a change in Attitude, NOT a change in circumstances
- Anon


When we judge or criticize others, we create distance between us, but if we stop judging and analyzing people, we get closer to them.

The Taoists say, ” it is possible to appreciate people for their uniqueness – like you might enjoy a certain song.

You don’t have to analyse and pull it apart.”

Criticism and judging is hammered into us at school, and is particularly good for analyzing literature and scientific thought; however, is much less useful in our everyday life and creates unwanted tension.

If we judge people and situations and complain about others, we sabotage our own peace of mind in that we allow ourselves to be disturbed that things are not as they “should be.” The resultant tension often means we search for a way to control external uncontrollable circumstances. Nurturing  flexibility and acceptance makes it easier to just let things be.

Dalahest - Traditional horses
Traditional painted horses from Dalarna in Sweden

Weekly Proverb – Sweden

sweden snow
sweden snow

När man talar om trollen!… (så står de i farstun)

– Swedish Proverb

Translation: When you talk about trolls!… (they stand in the hall).

(When the subject of a conversation unexpectedly shows up/happens.)

What do you think about critical opinion and the Swedish proverb.

Is it relevant to our daily life?

Join in the discussion by leaving a comment below.

Everyone’s opinion is valid.

What is yours?


Proverbial Friday – always Something to Ponder About