Tokyo Day 2 – 47 Ronin and Sake

Sengaku-ji

One of the effects of jet lag is really abnormal sleep patterns. We were wide awake around 6am – which is nice to make the most of your days, but it leaves you primed for a mid-afternoon crash later on. We hopped on the JR Yamanote train that makes a loop around Tokyo and made our way to Sengaku-ji, a temple that has a strong reverence among the Japanese.

This temple is the burial site of the 47 Ronin or master-less Samurai. In 1701, a dispute at the emperor’s palace resulted in a Daimyo (a landed leader in Japan) having to commit suicide. His loyal samurai (now ronin because they lacked a master) plotted for 2 years before finally avenging his death. They stormed the compound of his adversary, killed him and took his head back to this Sengaku temple. They then all committed suicide and are all buried here. These 47 Ronin are seen are representatives of Bushido, the Samurai’s code that they live by. This story has been made into a movie with Keanu Reeves and a book, which I bought from a gift shop just outside the entrance.

There was also a small museum on the grounds and they attendant put on a 10 minute video about the incident (in English) when he saw me. As we were leaving a tour bus was pulling up. This temple is a popular tour spot for Japanese. They purchase incense and light it at each of the ronin’s individual grave sites.

Just a random cart of cute Japanese kids
Just a random cart of cute Japanese kids

We took the subway to the Japan Sake Center. Here, there is a menu of about 40 sakes from around Japan and for 500 Yen ($5) you can try a sample of 5 different ones.

This is a nice way to try different sakes before committing to buying an entire bottle. We really liked a yogurt type and a citrus-flavored one – unusual flavors of sake that we would probably never commit to buying a bottle without knowing the taste. We ended up buying a bottle of each to bring back to America with us.

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After a little sake buzz, we went to the Shinjuku government office building out west. It has a free observation deck and we thought we might be able to see Mt. Fuji again like the day before. Unfortunately, we couldn’t see it. After this, we walked around the incredibly crowded and touristy Harajuku area. I’ve heard this area is neat on the weekend when loads of Japanese dress up in wild costumes – but when we were here it was mostly tourists packed in.

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