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 show 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.

Gokoku-ji Entrance

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.

Gokoku-ji Temple

The stone stairway approach, under an avenue of trees, is gorgeous on a sunny day.

Temple Grounds

It’s a beautifully tranquil spot which doesn’t get many visitors so most of the time you’ll have the grounds to yourself.

Colourful Gokoku-ji

Temple Cats

The only other inhabitants you might run into are the many cats with live there!

Gokoku-ji Cemetery

Attached to the temple grounds is a large cemetery in typical Japanese style.


Peaceful Graveyard

The perfect spot to clear your mind and get a bit of perspective.


Dog Lady

On my way back home I passed an old lady with no less than four dogs on leashes!

Carp Streamer

To celebrate Tango no Sekku (端午の節句) or Children’s Day, carp-shaped wind socks known as Koinobori (鯉幟) are traditionally flown across rivers.

PET Bottle Recycling

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).


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