Japan Week: Day Five

Hello again everyone! We took a little break yesterday, it being Sunday and all, but we're back on track with Day 5 of Japan Week today. Let's get cracking shall we?

9. Castles, Temples and Shrines

Photo - It's a Beautiful World

I think it's fair to say that when we in the West think of Japan, we think of an image like the one above right? Japan has thousands of beautiful temples, castles and shinto shrines just like this - often nestled within busy cities. 

Photo - Jiji

You'd be forgiven for thinking that in this day and age, the shrines would be largely for tourism - but in actual fact, they are active sites of prayer, blessing and worship. Locals visit them to pay respect to their ancestors (Shinto is based on respect for nature and forefathers) and to pray for blessings in specific areas of their lives. There are strict rules to obey when visiting these sites - there's a great list here.

Photo - 8Tokyo

When visiting a shrine, many people acquire an 'omamori' or charm to be blessed in the temple - this is then taken away to bring good luck to a specific area of the person's life ie. work, family or safe travel. The luck given by an omamori only lasts for one year so it must be returned to the temple and renewed if you wish the luck to continue!

10 - Feasts and Festivals

Photo - 8Tokyo

Regular readers will know that I find any kind of festival absolutely irresistible - and Japan has its fair share of amazing festivities! Were I ever lucky enough to visit the country during one of them, you know I'd have myself a front row seat. Here are a couple of my favourites:

Photo - Lami Japan

Hinamatsuri - The Doll Festival: Held on March 3rd, traditional dolls are displayed in beautiful period dress, representing the Emperor, Empress and their court. Any country that has a whole day devoted to dolls is just fine by me.

Photo - Purple's Note

Hanami - Cherry Blossom Festival: Held between March and May (whenever the blossoms appear), this ancient tradition celebrates Japan's most famous flora - the sakura. When the flowers bloom, large groups gather to appreciate their beauty, settling underneath the trees for picnics and parties. Truly a nationwide cause for celebration!

Just us again tomorrow as Japan Week comes to an end - see y'all then!

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