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“Nikai te wo Tataite”

Hello fellow JapanesePod101.com Users!

Today’s title means, “clap your hands twice!” (thanks for your help with that Ben!) This is a reference to practices performed at a Buddhist jinja, or shrine. This should give you a hint for today’s topic.

Ueno Koen Shrine

Meiji Shrine

At the top is a photo of one of the many shrines found in Ueno Park. Below is a photo of the Meiji Shrine. The Honden is visible just through the large entryway. [Photos by Emily Carsch]

I did quite a few podcasts this morning! Covered in JapanesePod101.com’s Survival Phrases were lessons 37-40 and in SurvivalPhrases.com Japanese I covered lessons 35-38. While these podcasts touched on many subjects, the one I’m going to address today is shrines.

Here in Tokyo, there are shrines and temples everywhere! On my first day in Japan, I went to Harajuku to see the Meiji-Jinga, or Meiji Shrine. It’s a huge area filled with gardens, walkways, streams, and areas for different activities and events.

Because it was already close to night, I didn’t have much time to spend, so I went straight to the shrine itself. It was really beautiful and looked exactly like it was from a Japanese postcard or travel book. We walked around the perimeter a bit before actually approaching the main building of the shrine, or the honden.

The small group I had gone with approached with me. We were all cautious, not really knowing what to do, as none of us are Buddhist, or so I thought. One of the girls in my program started whispering to us exactly what was going on with the clapping and bowing. She told us she was Buddhist and taught us the entire premise of the actions we saw happening before us.

Once she told us about it, one guy in my group even had the courage to go up and bow, clap, bow, throw in money, and pray, as if he were a local. It is a wonderful thing to not be afraid to immerse yourself in the culture the way he did. If there is any question, no one looked at him funny or even took notice.

Since having visited the Meiji Shrine, I have seen many others, and am looking forward to seeing more. One particularly beautiful shrine is located literally across the street from the JapanesePod101.com office. It’s called the Hie Shrine and is full of tradition and detail.

Another great shrine to see should you travel to Tokyo is one in Ueno-Koen, or Ueno park. There are actually several there, all with different histories, but they are well preserved and beautifully kept. One of them has a giant golden dragon painted into the ceiling. Also in Ueno are museums, a zoo, and the gorgeous park itself, which is huge. This is definitely a must see place for Tokyo.

For those readers that have already been here and have seen some other amazing shrines, I’d love to read about them. Please share your stories!