Jul 12, 2014

Japan: Takasaki

Takasaki, Japan was added to our trip itinerary at the last minute. Takasaki has a population of approximately 379,000 people and is considerably more "small town" than Tokyo, Japan. It's a city in the Gunma prefecture famous for being the origin of the Japanese Daruma Dolls.

Daruma Dolls

Daruma Dolls are a a famous traditional Japanese doll that originate from Takasaki. The original colour is red, but now come in a variety of colours and characters (there's even a Hello Kitty Daruma Doll you can buy). They're very symbolic and act as a talisman of good luck. 

When you get a Daruma, the eyes are blank. You colour in the left eye when you set a goal or make a wish, and then colour in the right eye when it comes true. This motivates Daruma-san to grant your wish once you provide him full eyesight. 

We got the opportunity to spend time with my dad's friend in Takasaki. They met in 1971, she was 17 in high school and he was 20 in Japanese school close by. They soon became good friends and stayed in touch over the years.

Together we toured the city. First we visited her father's grave site. Witnessing some of the rituals, first cleaning, putting fresh flowers and burning incense were very similar to what I saw at my grandfathers grave when we visited in Vietnam. The tomb had a couple of things personalized to her father - picture of mountains since he loved hiking, inscription of beethovens "Ode to Joy" his favourite song.

We then toured city hall and viewed the city from the 21st floor.

We had dinner with takeout sushi and yakisoba noodles. It's always so fascinating to hear my dad converse in fluent Japanese.

Byakue Kannon - Goddess of Mercy

We also visited a beautiful shrine in Taksaki

The shrine cat!

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