Several of my companions came 2 or 3 days early and I am sorry that I didn’t do likewise. One day is not enough to see Tokyo. But we did our best!
We began with a walk through the backstreets of Asakusa, and eventually arrived at the river where we boarded a boat that took us down to the Sumida river to Hamarikya park/ garden. Typical Japanese landscaping, formal lakes, rocks carefully placed, extraordinary trees and a tea house in the middle of a lake. The whole thing completely surrounded by gleaming modern skyscrapers!
In the tea house we were served a tiny bean cake and frothy green tea. Very different from Chinese green tea.
We took taxis for a short distance to the metro station and took a train to the next interesting area of Tokyo, Ameyoko Market. Yes the train was full! No, we were not pushed in physically!
We were separated from our leader on the train so it was a relief to everyone when we all got off at the right stop, which turned out to be a busy market area.
The only thing I bought was an adaptor as the adaptor bought at Dixons that was supposed to be suitable for Japan turned out not to be!
After a sandwich lunch, we were collected by a coach with a local guide and we spent the afternoon at Harajuku Buddhist Temple and Meiji Shinto Shrine. 60% or more Japanese are both Shinto and Buddhist. Shintoism is the original centuries old religion. It is big on nature. Rivers, plants and especially trees. The Shinto Shrine is where observers get married, bring their newborns to be blessed and their 5 year olds to give thanks for their healthy children. Shinto is about life! Before entering the Shrine one washes ones hands ritually, first the left, then the right using a special cup filled from a running tap. A strangely familiar ritual!
However a still born child or one miscarried cannot find his way toward enlightenment so the grieving mother buys a miniature Buddha to lead the child on his way. She leaves the Buddha at the Temple carefully dressed and surrounded by flowers and toys to keep it content.
There were hundreds of these miniature Buddhas, each one representing a child that never lived and a grieving mother!
One mother saw fit to dress traditionally for her visit to Temple. There are still some kimonos to be seen amongst the jeans, leggings and sneakers!