Many thanks for joining our tour in Asakusa on October 28. We met 12 wonderful people from Australia, Finland, Philippine, Sweden and USA.
In addition to the well-known a big red lantern of Kaminari-mon Gate, Senso-ji Temple has another massive ornament of the giant straw sandals hanging on Hozo-mon Gate on the way to the main hall. The enormous sandals are called “O-waraji”.
“O-waraji” is one of the largest in Japan, 4.5m in length, 1.5m wide and weighing almost 500kg, made of rice straw ropes.
The first pair of “O-waraji” was donated to Senso-ji Temple by the volunteering group in the Murayama City, Yamagata prefecture in 1941. Mr. Toshizo Matsuoka, who is a House of representatives from Murayama City, took an initiative in developing the enormous sandals to Senso-ji Temple. Having strong faith in Senso-ji Temple and contributing to the political solution of the snow damage of the city. Mr. Matsuoka offered sandals to Senso-ji Temple with thanks.
However, they had been burned together with the temple, during the WW II air raids in 1945. After that, the second “O-waraji” was donated in 1964 again, and replaced roughly every 10 years since. Special rice seedlings are planted over a year ago and cultivated for “O-waraji”. 1100 people are involved in production and 2500kg of rice straw are used.
“O-waraji” is known as a charm against evils, because they are symbolized the power of the Nio guardians (deities who guard Hozo-mon Gate, as well as Senso-ji Temple) whose statues sit on the other side of Hozo-mon Gate.
In the past, people brought straw sandals as offerings to temples, hoping to have healthy feet and to receive travel protection. However people don’t use waraji anymore today, many people try to touch “O-waraji” in hopes of gaining powerful walking skills and the ability to walk long distance without tiring. Lately, the bottom part of “O-waraji” had been worn-out and color changed because many visitors had been tried to touch there.
But now, “O-waraji” has been renewal to the eighth “O-waraji” just 1 week ago!!!. The eighth “O-waraji” looks exactly similar to the previous one (except color) because it was made with the same rice straw ropes and the same technique.
Why don’t you visit Senso-ji temple for touching the brand-new “O-waraji” to wish for being good walkers? Senso-ji Temple has a lot of fun and a new discovery. We look forward to welcoming you at our tour in Asakusa.
(posted by Yoshiko)