Yasukini Jinja - Lantern Festival

Trip Start Jul 13, 2006
Trip End Jul 30, 2006

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Sunday, July 16, 2006

Made it to Yotsukaido and then had a 15 minute walk to Nick's house. I was actually holding up fairly well..all things considered. I got quite a bit of sleep combined on both flights. Got to the house, showered and then headed off with Nick to get a short lesson on Japanese train/rail systems while making our way to Yasukini Jinja for the lantern festival.

Lesson #1: Japanese terminals can be a nightmare. One train station can have up to three train lines and be as deep as 6 levels underground. There are multiple gates, exits and other confusing features. Maps can be sometimes helpful...but it's hard to ask for/get directions if you don't speak Japanese and you can't find anyone that speaks English. Everything seems so confusing. Definitely not a system that one can master in a short period of time.
Lesson #2: Japanese trains are SEREVELY puctual. You best be on that train before it leaves, cuz once the time comes...the doors shut and no one can get in or out until the next station.
Lesson #3: Japanese people like to sit down on the train. The doors open...people come walking out and a wave of people rushing in...snapping up any available seat. If you're not quick, you'll be left standing
Lesson #4: Japanese people are quiet. The train could be packed...and there would be complete and utter silence. The only people that usually talk on a train are...foreigners. LOL.

We took some two different trains to get where we needed to be (can't remember the name of the city right now) and made it to this shrine. The deal with this shrine is that there are war heroes from WWII entombed there. BUT, the BIG controversy lies with the war criminals that are als buried there. The Japanese head honcho of the country guy goes to visit the shrine twice a year...and each time he does he gets reamed on by the Koreans ad Chinese...because those said war criminals affected their country.

Nick told me why those criminals were buried on the same holy ground as the heroes. Japanese people believe that once you die, your body is not to be held responsible for the sins it may have committed during its lifetime as the soul is the essence of a human being and ultimately the thing that gets judged. So, the body left behind deserves a good/decent burial just like anyone else's.

We walked into the shrine and were greeted by bright lights and tons of yellow lanterns. There are 29,000 lanterns spread out about the shrine. There were all sorts of snack stands open selling items I recogized, didn't recognize and some I wouldn't touch with a 10 foot pole (seafood). There were some beautiful decorations and art work as well as some incredible lanterns. It was also neat to see women walking around in kimonos and men walking around in yukata (male version of the kimono - made of cotton and not silk). If there was anything that made it sink in that I was really in Japan...it was the people walking around like that. We got kicked out of the temple some 30 minutes later...as it was closing time.

I was feelin pretty hungry by that time (it was close to 10:30 pm by now) and so we stopped at a "Mos Burger" and got some food for "eat out". We took it with us to eat on the train.

Lesson #5: it is rude to take into a train anything that is bigger than your hand (bigger than you can hold in your hand) to eat. Walking and eating is also rude.
Lesson #6: if you don't time things just right...and miss the last train (11 PM for some, 12 AM for others)...you are screwed. Trains don't run again til 5:30 AM. Made it home okay and had a fantastic night's sleep.
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