Sunday, September 8, 2013

Tokyo: Churches, Gardens and Shrines

Yesterday started off with us going to attend church at Mark's old church, i.e., the one his dad pastored back in the early 60's. We thought it might be possible that there might be some people there that remember his dad, but it didn't turn out that way. The congregation was English speaking and had been founded right after Mark's family came back to the States for good. But it was an opportunity to Mark to experience more memories.

From the Lutheran Center, we headed down the street to Iiadabashi railway station, where Mark and his siblings would catch the train to the American School every day.

We also passed the little police station right night to the train station that Mark said was unchanged from the way it was 50 years ago. A memory came to his about that station that I'll let him relate to his family if he chooses. ;-)

Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens

From there, we walked to Koishikawa Korakuen gardens, which were originally established by relatives of the Shogun back in the 1600's. Although it was off-peak season, the place was still stunning; and even though surrounded by large office buildings and a sports complex, it was yet a remarkably peaceful place. The pictures below alternate between some I took that I converted to black and white and some of Mark's pictures in color that came out much better than mine and captured the color and lighting much better.

Toshugo Shrine

From the gardens, we took the subway back to our hotel, then went back into Ueno Park to visit Toshugo Shrine, which had been built in the 1600's to enshrine the memory of several early Tokogawa Shoguns. 

The most moving - and unexpected - thing that happened while we were at this shrine was coming upon this monument, the explanation of which appears below:

Prayers inscribed on wooden plaques

Purification Dippers

Prayers written on paper and hung in rows

On our walk back to the hotel, we encountered a children's festival. It was an unexpected delight for Mark to see some of the children playing the same "goldfish game" that he used to play at festivals up at Yasakuni Shrine when he was a boy.

Today we leave Tokyo and head up into the mountains to some hot springs in Yakone. On a clear day, there is a wonderful view of Mount Fuji from there, but the weather continues to be overcast and rainy at times. Overall, however, we've been very fortunate with the weather so far, humidity notwithstanding. It's been a great few days, but we're both ready to head on to new adventures.

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