Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Tokyo Part 2 - tradition

Yep, yogis' favourite flower, the beautiful lotus

Not only did we see the "bright lights, big city" that Tokyo is, we also got to see some older gems embedded between the tall buildings and the public transportation network.

The purification fountain, important step not to be missed before going further in the Meiji Jingu sanctuary
First the Meiji Jingu sanctuary, dedicated to Emperor Meiji, and a Shinto shrine. Shinto is the oldest religious tradition in Japan, in which there is no one God but a myriad of spirits, nature-related, called Kami.

"Prayer tree" at Meiji Jingu
The most important Kami is Sun Goddess Amaterasu. Fellow yogis and yoginis, when you salute the sun, send a prayer to Amaterasu, can't hurt ;-)

Shinto is the most important religion in Japan, along with, of course, Buddhism.

"Red Lantern" shrine in Asakusa

Buddhism, contrary to Shinto, was imported to Japan. It appeared in the 6th century via China and Korea, and despite small conflicts at the beginning between the two traditions, they have been "countrymates" for centuries now.

The Great Buddha of Kamakura, 13,35 meters tall, impressive and so peaceful!

A vast majority of Japanese people believe and happily mix the two traditions. Our guide Eri, a middle-aged Japanese woman who spoke a verey good French, prayed in all the shrines and temples we visited. After all, the more you believe, the more your are protected right?

Onto a whole different subject but it belongs to tradition to:

Traditional meal in Kamakura
Now, confession time: you see this lovely bowl of sashimi, with all kinds of fish and fixings? I ate it all. And I had even more fish during our stay.
It doesn't sound like a big deal, but it was to me, as I am a vegetarian and have been for about a year and a half. I know finding the right food for us would be difficult, especially as we went to traditional restaurants with our guide, so we decided to just let go and adapt.
I didn't go vegetarian because of yoga, but I think it fits in the way I practice yoga, this is part of my way of respecting ahimsa. That said, what also fits in my way of practicing yoga is to be alive and not die from starvation. Food was offered to me, it would have been plain rude to turn it down, not to mention how hungry I was after all the walking, and I ate it. And to be completely honest, it was the best fish I've ever had. Ever. Melt-in-your-mouth fish. I figured that if I was to have fish for the last time, it would have to be in Japan, of all places. The only thing I couldn't bring myself to eat was meat. The mere sight of meat made my stomach pull an ice-skating programme, triple axels and all.
I don't feel guilty, I feel ok, and now that I overdosed on fish I'm back to vegetarianism.  And it suits me fine.

Other confession: I stayed off the mat most of the time. Easy, given that technically I didn't have a yoga mat, but the carpet of the room floor at the hotel. My practice consisted in enjoying, seeing, feeling, spending quality time with Lovely Boyfriend and just taking care. Great practice if you ask me :-)


  1. Oh, it looks beautiful! I'd love to go to Japan one day.

    Traveling is it's own form of yoga, in my opinion... :)

  2. love how you've captured the seamless blend between modernity and tradition in japan. it's such a fascinating culture. i lived there for 2 years and discovered new things every day. even in my last weeks, i was trying new foods that i had no idea existed.

    i also abandon my practice when i travel ~ it's too much pressure. i find that travel situations give me space to apply what i've learned in my practice. although it's too bad you didn't get to check out a japanese yoga studio. i'm very curious about how japan has embraced yoga... when i lived there 10 years ago, there wasn't a yoga studio anywhere.