Sunday, March 02, 2008
Kawasaki is so close yet I so rarely go there. It was only a few stations away from my old stomping grounds at Tama Plaza, and now it's about half an hour by train, closer as the crow flies.
There's a big famous temple there, called Kawasaki Daishi. Had a day off so thought I'd check it out. Exiting Kawasaki Daishi station, you follow an old fashioned shopping street lined with noodle shops and trinket peddlers of the mostly Buddhist varieties: shops dedicated to daruma dolls, incense, altar supplies...
From a few blocks away, you can see the spire on the top of the five-tiered pagoda peeking up from the grounds. Rounding the corner, there's a gauntlet of temple-related shops before the entrance. The specialty here seems to be taffy, similar to the salt-water variety, made of rice and malt syrups, and flour. There are big taffy pulling machines on display, and the candy makers tap out an infectious beat on the cutting board with their knives. Two guys were making music this way at one stand and totally reeled me in, especially after sampling the taffy and some ginger candy.
Inside the temple grounds, there was a small festival. The paths were laced with food booths: yakisoba, takoyaki, crepes, and my favorite, cotton candy. I got an overpriced bag printed with the bottom-biting-bug.
The temple itself is quite large, and you can take off your shoes and enter and be dazzled by the shiny objects on the dais. Some monks chatted in the anteroom while I offered a few yen and said hello to my ancestors.
Outside, there are some beautiful golden statues that look almost like angels in their postures. I usually find gods and priests depicted in a more solid manner on temple grounds, so it was lovely to see some that were more ethereal...
Toward the back of the compound is a white building that looks curiously mosque-like - this is the prayer hall for safe driving.
There's also a tiny shrine building on the premises, where I was able to deposit a Shinto New Year wreath for holy burning. These kinds of objects can't simply be thrown out, but must be ritually disposed of, much like they do, I guess, in the Catholic church.
Kawasaki Daishi: locals only, but worth your while if'n you're in the neighborhood.