Rachel in Tokyo

This is a blog about an American law school student studying in Tokyo for the semester.

Monday, March 20, 2006

You can take it with you

Those of you who know me, and how I grew up, know that I grew up in an extremely religious household (the ultra-conservative "pentecostal" sect). I sprung from the right end of the religious spectrum to the left end in a matter of months in my early 20s. Now, I have been slowly making my way more towards the middle, but have yet to commit to one definative religion.

As a result, I appreciate other faiths, beliefs and cultures. I have been soaking in Japanese Shintoism, Buddhism and Confuscianism like a sponge. Although Shintoism is not practised as much as Buddhism, it still has its followers. But the culture aspect of Japan seems to be all-embracing.

For example, it is against the law in Tokyo and in the more populous cities in Japan, to bury an actual body. Cremation is mandated by law. Once a body has been cremated, its ashes are laid to rest in a beautiful gravesite like the one pictured here. When Jared and I stumbled upon this grave site, we thought that rude people had left litter on the graves! And litter is not something you see in Japan! When we looked more closely, we realized that the coke bottles, half-consumed green teas, beers and other drinks were actually purposefully brought to the graves and left there. The Japanese believe that their ancestors may enjoy these things in their afterlife. The things that pleasured them on earth may be brought to their grave for them to enjoy after.

So when I die, I expect a nice bottle of Cabernet! Maybe a Caymus Special Select or Silver Oak! Twomey Merlot perhaps? How about some Turley Zin!!! And my MP3 player! I need some things to bargain with up there! (don't forget the limes if you're planning on leaving that bombay sapphire...)

Here is a board full of paper. You can see these at many temples. For a small fee, you can buy one of these and put it on the wall yourself. More details later, when I figure out what it's all about...

This grave site was very pretty with the flowers. We do that in the States too, but I think it's just to pay respect.

Here is one of the "taxi-drivers" in Kamakuro. He actually walks people around town! He has a seat on wheels that he hoists up like a wheelbarrow and runs around. It sounds crazy, but it's extremely fuel-efficient.

Sake Barrels! Awe, shucks...they're empty!!!

Jared is quite the photographer! He enjoyed meeting Big Buddha and asked him for some guidance while he was there!

A guardian Samurai keeping watch over the temple! Don't make him mad!!!

Cherry Blossoms!


Anonymous Mandie said...

I love all the pictures. What district in Tokyo are you staying in?

11:51 PM  
Blogger Rachel in Tokyo said...

I am staying in Minami-Azabu, the Minato-Ku district of Tokyo! I'm within walking distance of the Tokyo Tower, and am living in the "Embassy District" of Tokyo. I'm nearest to the Azabu-Juban metro station!

12:50 PM  

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