Get ready for a long post!
Every weekend that I have a culture class trip, I am surprised by what we are shown. As you’ll see from the photographs and video, Asakusa is very much where old meets new. The political hub of Tokyo is right next to an Edo period castle and the Imperial Palace. We weren’t able to go to where the main buildings are, but we saw the gates, and the moat surrounding the vast area housing the Imperial Palace. As it is said in the video, there used to be two large moats surrounding this castle, but the one furthest from the center was filled in. As you can see, I was pretty psyched to see all of this up close, as was the group! If you go to MSU, you can earn credit by attending the lecture beforehand, and writing a paper on your experience in English.
If I need to be perfectly honest, watching the video play back and post these photos brings some tears to my eyes because I’m constantly reminded how much my hard work at university has paid off. Every time I see something new, or something that I have only heard about or seen pictures of before, I get really overwhelmed with gratitude. Especially for the Gilman Scholarship which I am so grateful to have received.
This area was a really popular place for joggers, and there was even a marathon taking place as we walked through the beautiful scenery. I really enjoyed a break from the bustling city life I experience during the week with my classes, and liked just strolling along looking at all the interestingly shaped trees and of course capturing some 木漏れ日(komorebi). Or the light that filters through trees. Everything we discussed in the lecture, and the pre-departure meeting, we got to see and experience hands on!
Seeing the wide open spaces within a city was refreshing, and the air smelled really nice amongst the trees. There were many people enjoying the lovely warm air that day.
From this statue, we took the metro train and traveled Sensoji Shrine. It’s a Buddhist shrine, and I had studied Buddhism and Japanese religion in the states so I was very excited! I did my videos in two parts because the shrine was too beautiful and I wanted to show you guys everything! (Note: I posted the wrong shrine in the opening title of the video. It’s actually Sensoji Shrine)
The smells were of incense and smoke, food and excitement. The sounds were old music, and coins clanging as they were dropped into the donation area and prayed over. I caught many people in sincere worship, and it was an interesting thing to see and secretly capture. Can you see when I find them in the video? One couple was sincerely holding incense and praying, and another, praying and wishing over a donation.
Of course no trip to a temple is complete without a fortune! I got a bad fortune, but I kept it as a souvenir! Is that bad luck? Of course, but my new friend I’ve made through KCP tied hers up in traditional Japanese fashion so it would be blown away. I enjoyed walking around and asking things in Japanese for practice. It’s insane how fast you pick up Japanese, not just at KCP, but just constantly being surrounded by it, makes a world of difference! I highly recommend attending KCP if you are willing to work hard and improve your Japanese Language proficiency.
Lastly, we spent a calm evening by the water, and viewed Tokyo Skytree, Asahi Beer Building, and the fire spirit building! I hope you watch the video and feel the same feelings of peace that I felt. It felt very surreal.
I want these videos show you just how beautiful this place really is, and inspires you to visit one day! I want to go back and sit, enjoy the sounds, and have some food next time.
Thanks for listening! And as always, if you have any questions, stop by the study away office at MSU and tell them Brittany sent you, or leave them in the comments!