One of the things I enjoy doing in Tokyo is browsing Google Maps for the Buddhist swastika symbol (卐) – not to be confused with the Nazi version – which shows where temples and shrines are located. Since many of them can be hidden away down small streets and alleys it’s a great way to explore the neighbourhood.
Close to where I live I came across Gokoku-ji (護国寺) – an impressive temple built in 1681 that is notable for surviving the American air raids during World War II, whereas most other historical sites in Tokyo were turned into rubble.
The stone stairway approach, under an avenue of trees, is gorgeous on a sunny day.
It’s a beautifully tranquil spot which doesn’t get many visitors so most of the time you’ll have the grounds to yourself.
The only other inhabitants you might run into are the many cats with live there!
Attached to the temple grounds is a large cemetery in typical Japanese style.
The perfect spot to clear your mind and get a bit of perspective.
On my way back home I passed an old lady with no less than four dogs on leashes!
It never ceases to amaze me how efficient the recycling system is here – forget to properly separate your trash and you’ll be in big trouble (something I’ll save for another post).