Tokyo (2015) Day 1 – Sensoji (Asakusa Kannon) Buddhist Temple

NOTE: This is part of a serialized narrative of a 2015 Japanese vacation. Please see below for links to previous postings.

Sensoji is an ancient Buddhist temple located in Asakusa district of Tokyo. It is Tokyo’s oldest temple completed in 645 and one of its most significant. It is often used as the site for special seasonal events and serves as the headquarters of the Sho-Kannon sect.

The Senso-ji (Asakusa Kannon Buddhist Temple) appeared shortly after we entered the grounds from the bus parking area.

First view of Sensoji  Temple

This is a side view of the entrance to the temple.

Side view of Entrance to the Temple

Along the way, we passed a Zen garden with a statue of Buddha

Zen Garden with Buddha statue

A Five-story pagoda tower (Goju-No-To) which, among other things, houses the relics of the Buddha on the top floor is situated near the temple.

Five-story pagoda tower

This is a close up view of the massive red chochin (paper lantern) hanging inside one of the gates.

large, red paper lantern

The swastika is an ancient symbol used in many areas of the world. Ironically, it refers to a sense of well-being in sanskrit. In Buddhism it symbolizes good fortune. You can read more about the various religious connotations behind the swastika at ReligionFacts.

Swastika is a Buddhist symbol of good fortune

An incense burner is maintained outside the shrine. Bathing in the smoke is reputed to ward off illness and is often done before entering the temple grounds for prayers.

Incense burner to ward off illness

An altar area is reserved for prayer and is cordoned off from general public attendance.

Altar area for prayer and not for the general public

The ceilings inside the temple were painted with beautiful artwork. Visitors have to look up, down and all around to appreciate the entire experience.

Beautiful artwork everywhere: ceiling detail

Inside the temple, there is a fortune telling ritual for those who wish to indulge. In the photo below, our guide) describes the process.

Fortune papers can be had for a donation

Here is a quote about omikuji (paper) fortunes from the Scenes from Nadine website:

“If you get a good fortune, you should bring it home and put it under your pillow when you sleep. Also, you can’t look too triumphant because boasting about it is bad luck. Apparently, how you react to your fortune matters! You must keep a poker face, regardless of your fate.

So what if you get a bad fortune? Maintain a straight face and leave it behind! It is believed that you should leave your bad fortune where you found it, which happens to be at the temple. Visitors end up tying their bad fortunes on this rod.”

Leaving the fortune behind requires the seeker to leave it tied to one of the metal rods set out for that purpose.

Metal fords for posting poor fortunes

This is another area of prayer sectioned off from the general visiting area by wire mesh.

Additional prayer area for serious worshippers

A distant view of the temple entrance from Nakamise Street lined with vendors.

View of the gate in the distance taken from Nakamise Street

Yukatas are lightweight Japanese robes which serve as casual wear during the warmer weather and are technically different than Kimonos. This group of girls/women in their Yukatas enjoyed posing for their picture on the temple steps.

Women dressed in traditional Japanese garb, Yukatas

An interesting and rather large decorative structure was situated to one side of the temple gate.

Decorative structure outside the shrine

Another lantern outside the temple which wasn’t nearly as large as the previous red example above is created in a different style.

Black and Gold Lantern outside the temple

A family out for a fun day at this famous tourist site is wearing Disney shirts.

A family dressed in Disney garb out for the day

A crowd of tourists strolls along Nakamise Street as this view taken from the temple area shows.

Another view of Nakamise Street

The Tokyo Skytree seems ubiquitous when moving around the city as it crops up from time-to-time.
Tokyo Skytree viewed from the temple area

This was a very busy first day in Tokyo and we weren’t quite done!

Tokyo (2015) Day 1 – Meiji Shrine

Tokyo (2015) Day 1 – Imperial Palace East Gardens originally published this post

STATUS QUOtes — 20160224

“O the idea was childish, but divinely beautiful.” — Friedrich Schiller

“The marvels of daily life are exciting; no movie director can arrange the unexpected that you find in the street.” — Robert Doisneau

“I believe that what we become depends on what our parents teach us at odd moments, when they aren’t trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.[ed]” — Umberto Eco

“He is at his wit’s end – it is true that he had not far to go.” — George (Lord) Byron originally published this post

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A Hike in the Agua Fria National Monument – Valentine’s Day

This may not sound like a very romantic Valentine’s Day, but for my wife and me, it was exactly the type of day we like. We took a hike in the Agua Fria National Monument in Arizona near Cordes Lakes just 40 miles or so North of Phoenix.

Agua Fria Nat'l Monumnet Sign

The area is a diverse riparian habitat which has been described as a “perennial river” meaning that there is water flowing in the area nearly all year long even though it is a semi-desert grassland.

This is what the trail looks like at the start. It hadn’t rained in a number of days so the river bed was dry and rocky.

Beginning of the Sandy Trail

As you can see many other people have been on this trail which follows the river bed and can be quite wet at times so be prepared. There are higher trails alongside most of the riverbed that can offer some drier terrain along parts of the hike if needed.

Many footprints in the sand

This was a perfect day for hiking. The weather was cool and the sky was clear and beautiful.

Boulders and vegetation appear in the river bed

This is a noted birding environment and while we saw some cardinals and a phainopepla, this curve-billed thrasher was the only picture I was able to take of the avian denizens on this day. While this isn’t the most flattering side of the bird, it does show how it got its name.

Profile of a cruve-billed thrasher

Along this stretch the stream was more pronounced.

The stream begins to run more abundantly

After hiking a bit in an easterly direction, the stream bed opens up to a river area which is more north and south in orientation. The boulders and hills form a picturesque setting even when the foliage of the landscape is not full.

picturesque area where the river is quite substantial as well as the boulder fields

Canyon walls and boulders along the banks

The nearby cliffs create a canyon wall on one side.

Cliffs around the the river bed

Detail of cliffs

On the cliff pictured above, we found this artifact which was probably used to support a cable or pipe of some sort.

An artifact of sorts for able or pipe

After continuing past this point we had to scramble across the boulder fields to continue to seek the path which would appear from amid the rocks at intervals.

More river and boulders of the Agua Fria

One challenge was finding a way to cross the river. People would seek their own “stepping stone” path hoping to make it to the other side.

Crossing the Agua Fria via boulders

While crossing the rocky terrain there would be fast running areas where the rocks would create eddys or small waterfalls.

waterfalls and eddys

Some of the literature notes that on warm summer days, pools will form where people can take a dip in the shallow water held by the circles of rocks.

Pools form amid the boulders

There was a group of hikers making their way into the canyon on this pleasant hiking day.

hiking group along the trail

Other visitors took time to sit and enjoy the tranquil setting.

Woman resting on a large section or rocks

Generally speaking, saguaro cactus do not grow in this area primarily because of the elevation, but this somewhat protected environment was well-enough suited for some to grow on the south-facing hillside.

Saguaros along the top of the cliff; unusual for this area

A number of rocks had curious patterns which I am sure geologists would be able to explain and perhaps find even more interesting than I did.

Darker gray pattern cover the rock

Butteflies were making their first forays into the field and here we see a slightly tattered Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa) upside down most likely looking for a place to lay some eggs.

Mourning Cloak Butterfly

Here is another picture with the wings slightly closed, but in a more appropriate and customary orientation.

Mourning Cloak Butterfly

The unusually warm days were probably responsible for this Ashen Milkvetch (Astragalus Tephrodes) to put forth its floral display. I like the detailed leaf formation of this particular plant.

Ashen Milkvetch plant with interesting leaf pattern

It was time to head home after a super hike!

Click HERE for more information about the Agua Fria originally published this post

See more JBRish hiking posts here HERE

STATUS QUOtes — 20160223

“A groundless rumor often covers a lot of ground.” — Unknown

“Jealousy is the tribute mediocrity pays to genius.” — Fulton J. Sheen

“The artist is not a special kind of person; rather each person is a special kind of artist.” — Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy

“Sometimes I lie awake at night, and I ask, “‘Where have I gone wrong?'” Then a voice says to me, “‘This is going to take more than one night.'” — Charles M. Schulz originally published this post

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PL8ATUDES – February 22, 2016


We continue our series of personalized (vanity) license plates in Arizona. To maintain individual privacy, we try to show as little information about particular cars as possible as long as we can reveal the license plate.

NOTE – License plate photos may have been archived for quite some time. The years indicated on the registration stickers DO NOT necessarily reflect the current status of any given plate!

We hope you enjoy these PL8ATUDES!


Everyone knows that the


Likes his

Well appointed! originally published this post

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STATUS QUOtes — 20160222

“The person who can’t dance thinks the band is no good.” — Polish proverb

“I have Dalinian thought: the one thing the world will never have enough of is the outrageous.” — Salvador Dali

“If you are lonely when you’re alone, you are in bad company.” — Jean-Paul Sartre

“It’s all right to hold a conversation, but you should let go of it now and then.” — Richard Willard Armour originally published this post

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STATUS QUOtes — 20160221

“It’s clever, but is it art?” — Rudyard Kipling

“Come, pluck up a good heart; speak the truth and shame the devil.” — François Rabelais

“Anyone who has ever struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor.” — James Baldwin

“The problem with people who have no vices is that generally you can be pretty sure they’re going to have some pretty annoying virtues.” — Elizabeth Taylor originally published this post

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STATUS QUOtes — 20160220

“As scarce as truth is, the supply has always been in excess of the demand.” — Josh Billings

“Big doesn’t necessarily mean better. Sunflowers aren’t better than violets.” — Edna Ferber

“A lot of people seeking new beginnings have never finished with the past.” — Byron Pulsifer

“My coach said I ran like a girl, I said if he could run a little faster he could too.” — Mia Hamm originally published this post

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