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A Guy's Moleskine Notebook

Thoughts and reflections on works of fiction and literature. Pondering of life through pictures and words. Babbling about gay rights. Travelogues and anecdotes.

  • [1] Annie Proulx: Brokeback Mountain
  • [2] Arthur Golden: Memoirs of a Geisha
  • [3] Yu Hua: To Live
  • [4] Alan Hollinghurst: The Line of Beauty
  • [5] Colm Toibin: The Master
  • [6] Carlos Ruiz Zafon: The Shadow of the Wind
  • [7] William James: The Varieties of Religious Experience
  • [8] Charles Higham: The Civilization of Angkor
  • [9] Graham Greene: A Burnt-Out Case
  • [10] Dai Sijie: Mr. Muo's Travelling Couch
  • [11] Alan Hollinghurst: The Swimming-Pool Library
  • [12] Mikhail Bulgakov: The Master and Margarita
  • [13] Colm Toibin: The Blackwater Lightship
  • [14] Alan Hollinghurst: The Folding Star
  • [15] Ross King: Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling
  • [16] Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Brothers Karamazov
  • [17] Jonathan Franzen: The Corrections
  • [18] Colm Toibin: The Story of the Night
  • [19] John Banville: Shroud
  • [20] Leo Tolstoy: Resurrection
  • [21] Peter Hessler: River Town, Two Years on the Yangtze
  • [22] Ian McEwan: The Atonement
  • [24] Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Love in the Time of Cholera
  • [25] Ignacio Padilla: Shadow without a Name
  • [26] Umberto Eco: The Name of the Rose
  • [27] Richard Russo: Straight Man
  • [28] Fyodor Dostoevsky: Notes from Underground
  • [29] Alan Hollinghurst: The Spell
  • [30] Hermann Broch: The Death of Virgil
  • [31] James Baldwin: Giovanni's Room
  • [32] Ken Kesey: One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest
  • [33] Xingjian Gao: One Man's Bible
  • [34] C. Jay Cox: Latter Days
  • [35] Harper Lee: To Kill A Mockingbird
  • [36] William Shakespeare: The Taming of the Shrew
  • [37] Daniel A. Helminiak: What The Bible Really Says about Homosexuality
  • [38] James Baldwin: Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone
  • [39] Kenji Yoshino: Covering - The Hidden Assault of Civil Rights
  • [40] Italo Calvino: If, On a Winter's Night A Traveler
  • [41] Arthur Phillips: The Egyptologist
  • [42] George Orwell: 1984
  • [43] Michael Warner: The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and Ethics of Queer Life
  • [44] Andrew Sullivan: Virtually Normal
  • [45] Henry James: The Wings of the Dove
  • [46] Jose Saramago: Blindness
  • [47] Umberto Eco: The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana
  • [48] Dan Brown: Da Vinci Code
  • [49] Kazuo Ishiguro: Never Let Me Go
  • [50] Ken Follett: The Pillars of Earth
  • [51] Leo Tolstoy: War and Peace
  • [52] Michael Thomas Ford: Alec Baldwin Doesn't Like Me
  • [53] Jonathan Franzen: How To Be Alone
  • [54] Jonathan Lethem: The Fortress of Solitude
  • [55] Matthew Pearl: The Dante Club
  • [56] Zadie Smith: White Teeth
  • [57] Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Double
  • [58] Jose Saramago: The Double
  • [59] Andrew Holleran: Dancer from the Dance
  • [60] Heinrich von Kleist: The Marquise of O & Other Stories
  • [61] Andrew Holleran: In September, the Light Changes
  • [62] Tom Perrotta: Little Children
  • November 05, 2006

     

    Reminiscing Tokyo Part 2: Asakusa (10/31/06)

    Click here for Part 1 of Reminiscing Tokyo.

    Got up at the crack of dawn. After a quick bite of breakfast, I arrived at Shinjuku Metro station early in the morning, at around 7, to evade the notorious morning rush hour commute which usually packed all the trains with people like sardines. The ride to Asakusa, the inaugural destination of my Tokyo adventure, required a transfer at Ginza.

    Asakusa is the home of Sensoji Temple, one of the most worshipped after and revere in not only Tokyo but also in Japan. Both locals and tourists pay tribute to this temple which can be reached via subway. The splendid Kaminarimon Gate, which is one of the three main entrances of the temple, greeted me shortly after I sauntered off the subway exit. I stood in awe of the red-painted portal from which hung a gigantic lantern with the kanji (Chinese characters) lei moon (door of thunder) printed on it. The original gate was destroyed in the air raids of 1945, so this is a reconstruction built in 1960. On the right of the gate stands God of the Wind and on the left, the God of Thunder. The gate is a prime spot for a kodak moment so I waited patiently until the crowd thinned out a bit.

    Once through the gate I was in Nakamise Shopping Arcade. The street is lined with colorful, lively stalls selling traditional knick-knacks, festival foods and rice crackers. Wafting aroma of made-to-order pastries filled the busy roofed promenade. Hanzomon Gate marks the end of the street. Reconstructed in 1964, the treasures of Sensoji are stored inside. Aligned on both sides along the area in front of the Hazomon Gate are giant billboards of white lanterns that record dedications to the temple.

    As I walked nearer the temple I noted some large incense burners. Incense is wafted over the body as an act of purification so many guests and worshippers gather around these burners to begin their visit. After conducting the formality, I found what I came for--the large wooden fortune telling stand. To use it, first shuffle the metal cylindrical tin until a wooden stick is sped out of the contain. Then I located a slip of paper from a chest of drawers that deciphered the message of the stick. For those who can't read kanji, give the stick to the temple official who, in return, will issue you with a slip of paper. If the paper says you have bad luck, by then tying it to the branch of a tree or the special rack provided, it will apparently blow away.

    I got stick #55, which is a stick of regular fortune. The slip of paper says what I have lost will be found. Sickness might be healed. As for love, I have to be patient as the person whom I am waiting (or looking for) will come late. That's not too bad eh? At least I know he is out there, somewhere, maybe it's not time yet; or maybe he is someone I know with whom I have yet to cultivate a deeper relationship. After Sensoji Temple, I was scouring the stalls for souvenirs and gifts but only to realize that they might be over-priced so I decided to wait.

    Although I didn't spend any money at the shopping arcade, I spotted a Japanese woman donning a traditional kimono, whom I tried to follow and of whom I took pictures. Then I lingered in front of the cookie shop and watched raptly at the making of puffs. After saying goodbye to Asakusa, I hopped back into the subway for Ueno for some bargain on rice crackers and fruit.

    3 Comments:

    Blogger johnNokc said...

    Awesome. Just awesome. Oh, and the scenery's nice, too.

    11/06/2006 7:59 PM  
    Anonymous Greg said...

    Welcome back! From your posts it sounds like you ad a wonderful time.
    Now, get out there and vote!!!

    11/07/2006 2:29 PM  
    Blogger matty said...

    You have had more adventure in a few weeks than I've had in a lifetime!

    Great pix!!!!

    11/15/2006 3:36 PM  

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