With some time leftover after Shanna and Jeff’s return to the States, we planned to do a bunch of day trips and stuff. Instead, we did a few day trips and relaxed a bunch; it was awesome and much needed, especially considering the last two vacations I had before this past one were filled with taking a big ol’ test (on the last day, so it loomed quite a bit) and moving to another city (Super fun! That one included taking the bus loads of times to go for interviews! YAY!).
One of the few day trips we took was to a place called Kawagoe, which is north of Tokyo in Saitama prefecture. This city is a little under 2 hours away by train and is known for their Edo style architecture, the latter being why we went there in the first place. It also has some nice shrines, temples, stores, and more. The area is famous for their daruma dolls, which are used as a form of goal setting in Japan (you fill-in one eye when you set the goal and wait to fill-in the second until you’ve reached that goal).
Here are some pictures we took at the various places we went to:
We stopped at a small temple along one of the shopping streets as we made our way to some of the other attractions we came for.
An incense burning area.
Said incense burning area was well-used.
A well-balanced alter shadowed by a parking garage. It might seem to cheapen it, but I find the the thin barrier between the modern world and historic or culturally significant areas makes Japan unique.
Sam drags me to graveyards a bunch, which I don’t mind unless I can’t read the epitaphs… It’s a bit detached for me when in Japan, but it can be interesting.
Here is a different incense area at that same temple.
Here is the inner sanctum of this temple.
The first shrine we went to was a big place for people to go around the beginning of the new year. We gave it an extra day, in attempts to avoid that, but it was still pretty people-heavy; it had booths and everything.
This is the matsuri/festival side of that first shrine. There was a large focus on daruma dolls, which are associated with goal setting around the new year.
We went to a different shrine and found this. Check these little guys out! This was behind the childrens’ alter.
Here is the lead-up to said childrens’ area.
The pond near the childrens’ area had loads of turtles.
We briefly visited a shrine that had a very strong money focus. This was a pool where you were supplied with a net and you would rinse your money in the water. We didn’t take part since we couldn’t totally make out what and why, but it was interesting to watch.
At that shrine there was a little alter with snakes. I assume they have a strong connection to money?
There was a very new temple that had these walkways on either-side of the entrance. The cemented rocks were meant to be walked on with bare/sock-covered feet as a sort of accupressure activity. We did it and it hurt like hell, but afterwards our feet did feel a bunch better!
Here is another shot of the “footpath”!
Yuk! Yuk! Yuk!
I don’t remember where exactly we took this, but this is a new take on a Buddha that I hadn’t seen before. I mean, not chubby is one thing, but this is a bit intense.
Many cities in Japan have their own custom manhole lids. This is Kawagoe’s.
We went to a few shops, but mainly an old-style candy shoppe (you gotta check that sort of thing out to really understand a culture, in my opinion), a bagel cafe (Vanitoy Bagel. It was good!), and some tea stores.
there was a small shop where they sold carved charcoal statues.
Sam and I enjoyed a double potato (sweet and purple) soft-serve. We had to wait a bit before buying it since the stand was being interviewed for TV when we first arrived.
Check out that Edo style architecture! Oof!
Work it, building!
Kawagoe was a bit touristy, but it had some cool displays of automation in conjunction with traditional Japanese culture: