Incense burner, Senso-ji temple

Sunday 26th March 2017, 10.55am (day 2,040)

Incense burner, 26/3/17

On a Sunday of, frankly, foul, revolting weather, my friend Mariam took me on a sightseeing tour of Tokyo, including the Senso-ji Buddhist temple, the city’s oldest place of worship dating from 645AD. Here, visitors purify themselves at this massive bowl of incense sticks, wafting the ‘breath of God’ over themselves before entering the shrine.

I post this pic partly because of the odd added detail, odd to us sensitive Westerners anyway; I know, I know, it’s an Eastern symbol of the sun, good fortune, life itself even. It’s found carved into church windows in Ethiopia, Bronze Age stonework in Yorkshire, prehistoric pottery in Bulgaria. Its name, translated from the Sanskrit, means “it is good”. But still, you wouldn’t find it easy to litter your holy places with swastikas in Europe. I dunno, probably we’re the ones who’ve lost out.

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