There are multiple feeds I have subscribed to on Facebook and for a while now they all shared pictures of the tourism bureau of Ota city. Since I am always on the hunt for new locations to visit, it was only a matter of time that I would make a trip.
Located in the south of Tokyo, Ota city is probably most famous for Haneda airport. When arriving at Tokyo station, it takes about half an hour to go there via the Keihin-Tōhoku Line. First stop is the Kamatahachiman Jinja (蒲田八幡神社, かまたはちまんじんじゃ). The shrine is small and you can easily miss it in the big city jungle. The gate is in its usual red with golden applications.
It is quite unusual, that when I get my Goshuin I am greeted with English. It happened here though and I was a little surprised. A little bit startled, too. Usually I have to get all my Japanese together to answer a few questions about myself, like where I’m from, what I’m doing here, where I live. It has been the same conversation, this time in English. It often is quite amusing how the people I encounter are curious, even if it just is superficial.
I guess other than the places we were still about to go, this one really sees not much business, at least a lot less tourism.
Next to the main building is a small white shrine. I only very rarely encounter a change in colour palette, so this was a nice little surprise. Around the path to it is a beautiful little garden, which must be beautiful a little later in the year.
It is not a proper trip to Tokyo if you not get lost at least once. While we were on the way to or next destination I did something I should have learned by now: I questioned Google. While we made it to the station in no time, we got on the wrong train; instead of the local one we were supposed to take, we ended up on the express heading straight for Haneda airport. Unfortunately there was no point to cross over to go back, so we needed to leave the station and decided to take the monorail instead. Something learned, again.
When you make detours like that, you are sometimes lucky enough to end up in extraordinary places. Today’s edition included a torii in a quite remote place. Looking through it, you can see the airport in the distance. Cassandra told me, that the inscription reads peace (平和, へいわ).
According to Google, it’s name is Shirauoinari Shrine. Right at the moment I have no other means to check it. However, it is always a nice, little, random experience that ever so often happens, completely out of the blue. It is very small, quite like the side shrines you find at the bigger sites.
After that brief encounter we made it to our next destination. Another Shinto shrine, as there are so many around. The place is called Anamori Inari Jinja (穴守稲荷神社, あなもりいなりじんじゃ). Made me think of the delicious tofu wrapped and fried rice – delicious. Anyway, the place is a lot bigger than the previously visited. Very bright red colours and quite a big open place in front of it. I think it is safe to assume, that quite a few festivals are held here throughout the year.
There are multiple entrances to the yard, each marked with a torii. In the next picture you’ll also see one of the rare occasions with people that I know in the picture. Cassandra accompanied me on today’s trip, and she also agreed that I can put this picture up on the blog.
I have to admit, I’m not a very good photographer, but as long as it transports the message, I guess that’s quite okay.
Of course there are again a couple of smaller shrines on the grounds. This one has quite a large number actually.
Some of them are really small, so I did not take pictures. The only larger one was part of an ongoing ceremony and I did not want to intrude. Later, when we left a girl and her (grand) father were playing street badminton. (I still have a hard time judging the age of Japanese people, usually they look a lot younger to me than they probably are.)
The sight that actually peaked my interest while researching the area were the red gates lined up like the ones at Fushimi Inari Jinja in Kyoto. Of course, since it is in the city, where there is no mountain to climb, it is much smaller. However, it is still as beautiful and it reminded me a lot about my trip last year. Yes, these are the hidden treasures of Tokyo.
The weather truly was excellent today, the sun was shining and there was no need for a jacket. Tokyo is a lot warmer than Mito this time of year, so here you can already enjoy the early spring. Next to the gates you can see what I mentioned earlier with quite a few shrines. Maybe to many to properly count them.
At the end of the gates you can find a building, that has at first glance the appearance of a shed. Many miniature versions of the gates are randomly stashed or stockpiled on each other. I have seen those tiny gates at the before mentioned shrine in Kyoto and I am still uncertain about what kind of wishes they represent.
The Shinto religion is something I never was taught about in school, so there is still a lot that I can learn. Unfortunately none of my friend practise this believe, most of them are atheists, so I will have to read about it later on. (As I am struggling with keeping the blog alive the second time around, you can imagine that I am a little too busy to actually do the reading.)
Our next destination changes religion, it is a buddhist temple. Quite a big one and probably the biggest attraction in Ota ward of Tokyo. It had a five storied pagoda, but more about that in the pictures sections. The name of the temple is Ikegami Honmon-ji (池上本門寺, いけがみほんもんじ) and it is huge. Adjacent to it is a big park with even more, slightly smaller temples. It is surrounded by one of the biggest graveyards I have been to in Japan.
I took so many pictures here, so that I will change the presentation to a gallery. That is also necessary since I have a feeling, that otherwise I’ll never finish this post. It is already taking me almost a week now and with upcoming events, it seems that progress will be even slower.
Our final destination is an opposite ward of Tokyo, Taitō-ku, where our friends moved to. We had a nice little get together there celebrating their move to the big city.