Monday, September 12, 2011

Sensoji Temple and Carving Out Your Own Fortune


For some reason, Senso-ji, the major Buddhist temple in Tokyo, was closed when I visited it in early August.


Luckily, my visit to Asakusa, the neighborhood around Senso-ji, was not a complete waste. Not far from the temple is the kitchenwares district, with shops upon shops selling all sorts of food-related implements. Including those awesome plastic food models found outside many a restaurant. I was actually hoping to come away with some kind of plastic food as a souvenir (how cool would it be to have a bowl of udon on my desk, ALWAYS), but the prices seemed exorbitantly high for this unemployed vagabond (USD$20 for a keychain with a plasticized crepe at the end of it at one store!).

There is also a shopping street, the Nakamise, leading up to the temple that was bustling despite the temple’s closure.


In addition to the usual knickknack and souvenir stores selling fans, ninja costumes, and perpetually waving cats, were snack stands selling freshly made rice crackers:


I chose to indulge in a deep fried cake filled with a green tea paste:


Though I didn't get to actually enter the Senso-ji temple, I did participate in one of its popular rituals.


How to get your fortune told at Senso-ji temple:


(My favorite part is the warning at the end against being arrogant or fearful based on your fortune.)

Step 1: Shake the canister (politely!) while thinking of your wish.
[insert picture of tall hexagonal silver canister with a small hole at the top here. I tried to take a picture, but just couldn't get a good photograph out of it.]

Step 2: Note the number on the stick and find the corresponding drawer:


Step 3: Open the drawer to reveal your fortune:


If you get a bad fortune, you might want to do this so as to leave the bad luck behind:


But if you are destined for awesomeness, like me, and draw stick number 78, feel free to carry your fortune with you and go on to rock out in life. Of course, in case you have doubts about your proverb-interpretation skills, you can always consult the handy breakdown of what this all means in layman's terms at the bottom:


No matter what you draw, though, don't forget the final takeaway from those initial instructions: "You can carve out your own fortune."

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