雷門 kaminari-mon—thunder gate

On Monday morning we had a chance to do some sightseeing in Tokyo. It was our first time to see the new Tokyo Skytree, which at 634 meters is the tallest building in Japan. (In fact it is currently the second-tallest structure in the world.)

It is beautifully illuminated at night with moving patterns of coloured lights. Unfortunately we didn’t get a very good picture of it.

One of the biggest tourist attractions in Tokyo is the 雷門 kaminarimon (thunder gate) in Asakusa.

When we visited, even though it was a Monday morning it was absolutely thronged with tourists.

The kaminarimon has the biggest chouchin paper lantern in the world, weighing 670 kg. That’s two-thirds of a tonne. Written on the front of the lantern are the characters 風雷神門 furajinmon—wind thunder shrine gate, as well as the date  the lantern was made: August of Heisei 15 (2003).

The rear of the lantern just has two huge characters 雷門 kaminari mon.

Here’s a detail from the base, a wooden carving depicting a dragon.

On the left of the gate stands the goddess Kinryuu, looking terribly austere:

while on the right side is the god Tenryuu, looking very pleased:

Walking along the Sumida river in the sunshine, we saw this exciting cruise boat that looked like the Nautilus:

Right beside our hotel was a traditional old-fashioned tofu shop. The lady inside is making age.

And under the girders of a nearby bridge we spotted this old-style tea house:

Note on the word of the day:

The top half of the character 雷 kaminari, meaning thunder, is the character for rain: 雨. This element is also found in characters for cloud 雲, snow 雪, and electricity 電. It’s relatively unusual for a character to have a 4-syllable pronunciation, and I haven’t yet come across a 5-syllable character.

It is said that the thunder god kaminari-sama or raijin will steal your navel, so Japanese children are warned to cover their belly-buttons if they hear thunder. The raijin carries a circle of drums with the tomoe symbol on them (the round symbol I mentioned in a previous blog entry on roof-tiles), and makes the thunder sound by banging on the drums.

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3 thoughts on “雷門 kaminari-mon—thunder gate

  1. I like this post! I missed my time in Japan. I have visited Asakusa and saw the Kaminarimon’s lantern and the temple. How I wish I could go back!

  2. Ah, you visited Tokyo Dara, good stuff. The Sky Tree is something else isn’t it? I was lucky enough to go up there as we won tickets in the lottery (although general admission will begin soon) the views are incredible, on a clear day you could probably see Osaka! Great blog, as always.

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