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Sensoji Temple, Coming of Age Day, and my Small Fortune: Tokyo, Japan

Today started with ramen, included a visit to Sensoji Temple where I observed celebrations of “Coming of Age Day” and ended with a small fortune.


Ramen Slurping

I slept 14 hours last night due to jet lag. After a late start, I stumble onto rainy streets with a growling stomach.  A sign with a small notation about vegetarian ramen persuades me to overcome opening-the-restaurant-door-and-don’t-know-what’s-on-the-other-side-fear (“OTRDADKWOTOS” for short).  Inside, a room with four tables.  The waiter points to a machine.  Confused, I ask “vegetarian ramen?” and he shows me which button on the machine to push.  I quickly figure out the ramen routine: Walk in the door, feed your money into the machine, hit the button corresponding to the type of ramen you want, and present the ticket printed from said machine to the waiter.  Then sit down.  While waiting, listen to slurping.  In Japan, slurping is considered a compliment showing that the food is enjoyable.  Not slurping is rude.


My bowl of piping hot ramen is delivered and while it contained no obvious meat, the broth was definitely not vegetarian, but, when in Rome…or Tokyo…eat the ramen, while slurping.  For five bucks it did its job of filling my stomach but I can’t say it was extraordinary.  Though the slurping symphony alone was worth $5.


Outside a temple

Prayer lanterns near Sensoji Temple


Sensoji Temple and Coming of Age Day

I walk on towards Sensoji Temple, a Tokyo landmark and Buddhist temple reputed to be Tokyo’s oldest temple (founded in 645 A.D.).  Although destroyed during World War II bombings, the temple has been rebuilt and has a special place in the heart of Tokyo residents.


What good luck I had that it was Coming of Age Day, a national holiday celebrating people who have turned twenty years old (the age of adulthood in Japan) in the past year.  Young men in dapper suits or traditional Japanese clothing and young women in ornate kimonos walk the temple grounds with friends and family.


There are hundreds of shops surrounding the temple which makes for great people-watching as well as window-shopping. Anything you can think of, from the junky to the most refined, can be found here.  Food stalls offer traditional foods and treats and it would be easy to spend the whole day sampling the offerings in this district of Asakusa.


The spectacle of the temple and the crowds is splendid enough but seeing so many young people dressed in traditional Japanese clothing is really cool.  Kimonos are so beautiful and so are gleeful twenty-year-old faces!




Getting My Fortune at Sensoji Temple

Approaching the temple there is an area to get your fortune. You shake a hexagonal metal canister which contains sticks, each with a number on it.  A small hole in the container releases one stick and you find the corresponding numbered drawer (1-99) to find your fortune.  I found my fortune to be a real downer but was later informed by a local that most of them are sad and mine was relatively pretty good.  So I turned my frown upside down.  My fortune read:



Though you want climb up to a height or a dangerous peak, it bring you big trouble and hard work to go up there.  You can be safe all through your life wherever you stay on the flat place. So far as you keep the right way, a fortune may meet you sometime.  It is sure that a certain fortune will help you to get a happiness. *If your mind is always right, your request will be granted. *The patient keeps bed long. *The lost article is hard to find out. *The person you wait for will not come. *Building a new house and removal are both bad.  *To start a trip will bring you a half fortune. *Marriage and new employment are both half fortune.


Closer to the temple, incense smoke fills the air.  I join the mass of people moving up the stairs and inside and watch as hundreds toss coins into a grate-covered void, creating a clingy-clangy racket.  I join in.  Beyond the void is the inner temple, dripping with gold-covered everything.  Monks inside perform a service and hypnotically chant over loudspeakers.  The air is filled with hope and celebration.  A splendid day.


Book a hotel, hostel or cube in Tokyo, Japan.


Photos of the Asakusa District, Sensoji Temple and Coming of Age Day:


  1. I want a kimono and an occasion to wear it!

    • Why wait?! Breakfast seems like a good occasion.

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