Sunday, April 23, 2006

Fleamarket at Nittai-ji

Since Caitlin was sick in bed yesterday, I went to a big flea-market sort of thing that’s held once a month at one of the biggest temples in the city called Nittaiji. It was built in 1904 when the king of Thailand donated to Japan some of the ashes of the original Buddha (reportedly including the thumb bone—which is enshrined in the big pagoda above). So that’s why it’s Nittaiji—NI for Nippon (Japan), TAI for Thailand, & JI for temple. This shot is from standing in the big front gate looking in towards the main hall and pagoda.
There were hundreds of booths and droves of people (mostly elderly) despite the blustery spring weather. It was really cool seeing the whole market scene laid out as it probably was 50 or even 250 years ago. There was every kind of fruit and vegetable imaginable, pickles and sweets, clothes for old ladies, yarn, garden tools, caps, watches, toys—everything, you name it. I got two of these things which are waffles shaped like leaping fish that are stuffed with sweet red beans, toasted in front of your eyes and served up piping hot (forgot to get a picture as I was too busy eating them)—Yum!
We put this picture into sepia tone to give it that old-timey feel.
This is just inside the main gate looking back at it. If you look closely in the right-hand side of the gate opening, you’ll see a monk silhouetted in his big umbrella hat (kasa) collecting alms. The woman in the foreground is wearing a little white doctor’s type mask that you see people wearing a lot here—it’s to protect against germs or allergies or both, I think.
Here’s a shot of the entrance of the street that leads to Nittaiji on fair day. It’s about a quarter of a mile lined with booths the whole way, plus almost that many booths again inside the temple grounds! I liked this picture because on the right you can see the sign for the Starbucks on the corner. For more info on the Nittai-ji temple fair click here.