Visiting Shrines in Ise, Japan
Since our business meeting was rescheduled for Saturday, we set out to visit some local shrines in Ise, which is approximately an hour and a half away. All together we went to three different places and walked through lush green gardens that have over a thousand years of history. The crown prince of Japan was set to visit the following day so the shrines were exceptionally clean and in order.
The first place was hidden within the city and appeared to be well kept. Naoki informed me that they move and rebuild the shrines at the particular place every 20 years as the gods tend to get bored of staying in one place. To me, I guess any change after two decades in one place would be good.
The second location we went to next was my favorite. It was so vast and had a river running through it. To enter, a long wide wooden bridge needs to be crossed and lengthy pebbled walkways surrounded by trees and foliage of various hues of green shaded lead you to each god's shrine. When you approach, you make an offering (a coin or paper money will do), bow two times, clap twice, then give your thanks. Oh, I almost forgot. Every entrance to a shrine has a well or fountain with ladles to cleanse your hands (some people also use the water to rinse their mouths) before entering. Aside from the amazing scenery, I loved that this place was next to a shopping area. We had a delicious lunch (see photo) of marinated tuna over rice, a smoky flavored miso, cold noodle w/ half cooked egg (somen), pickled daikon, and a tiny seasoned tofu patty, scallop, and what appeared to be a small purse of tofu stuffed with mushrooms and vegetables. Yes, all of it was super delicious!
Our third place to visit was a shrine for a moon god. I'm not sure what that exactly means, but this was a very hidden location. Due to the overcast weather conditions, it was really dark and difficult to see. Four shrines in a row were set up. After Naoki and my in-laws attended each one, we left for home.
Later in the evening, Naoki, Mayumi (Naoki's sister) and I stopped by Lawson's convenience store and I purchased fireworks! Can you imagine buying them at your local 7-11? Well it isn't permitted to play with them in Tokyo and I hope it clears up to play with them. Will definitely be careful not to lose any digits or injure anyone. Photos to follow soon...