Wabi-Sabi Sole

Finding Beauty with Imperfection

Category: Shrine (Page 1 of 3)

Miyajima Day Trip

Our second day in Hiroshima was spent on Miyajima Island. When Dave and I visited last May, we didn’t have much time to explore the island. We only had time to visit the Itsukushima Shrine and enjoy lunch.

As I planned the Thompson’s visit, I wanted to include time to explore the entire island and see the giant Torii at both high and low tide. We took a couple trains to Miyajimaguchi Station to catch the ferry to the island. Inevitably, with every Julia tour, sooner or later we will hop on the wrong train. It happened yesterday. We got on the street car instead of the subway.

Fortunately, I noticed after the first stop and we exited at the second. While on the crowded streetcar, Chase snapped a selfie. I guess being on the wrong train wasn’t a complete waste.

The rest of the trip to the island was smooth sailing. We found the right trains and boarded the ferry.

We arrived on the island at high tide. As we walked to the Itsukushima Shrine, we stopped for a few tourist photos.

The Torii at high tide is beautiful. The Shrine and Torii both appear to be floating.

After our visit to the Shrine, we began our walk up to Mt. Misen. The walk was enjoyable and we felt lucky to see even more Sakura.

Along the way, we stopped at a nice restaurant for lunch. It was delicious Japanese cuisine.

We continued our walk and came to an area with a few Sakura trees. As the wind blew, the Sakura petals scattered. It was definitely a highlight.

Our favorite part of this little park was the opportunity for refreshments. Including Bears. Yes, please. I would love a Bear!

Up and up we went. No Julia Tour is complete without a hill to climb.

We made it to the Ropeway and took two trams to the overlook.

The view from the lookout was amazing!!

From the lookout point, we started our way down the mountain. It would take about an hour and we wanted to be down in time for low tide around the Torii. We thought walking down would be easy… But, everyone’s legs were shaking by the end.

We made a quick stop at the five-story pagoda as we walked past.

Our timing was perfect for catching the Torii at low tide. It was even more beautiful than I expected.

We made one last stop for ice cream before leaving the island.

We crossed back on the ferry and took a train back to our hotel. We were all pretty tired from a fun day exploring and hiking.

Nara Day Trip

Tuesday morning we set out for the day to visit Nara. Along the way, we stopped at the Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine. This is one of my favorite Shrines. Fushimi Inari Taisha has many parallel rows of Torii know as Senbon Torii or thousands of Torii gates.

The grounds are so expansive. There are multiple shrines of all different sizes. This was one of the larger ones. Many people were making their wish.

This large Torii near the center of the main shrine leads the way to the Torii paths.

As we walked up, we saw a cute lucky cat on the Shrine. He was there during our entire visit!

The passageways with all the Torii are really unique to walk through. The Torii were donated by local businesses. The writing on the Torii identifies the donor. The smaller Torii cost about ¥400,000 or ($4,000). The larger ones cost well over ¥1,000,000!

We waited patiently to take a few pictures without people. Well, almost with no people. The sweet lady in the last one waited while our picture was being taken.

The Shrine is dedicated to the God Inari, the Shinto God of rice. I also love the foxes serving messengers and sent to protect the shrine.

We left Fushimi Inari Shrine and caught a local train to Nara.

The first stop in Nara was at the Kofukuda-ji Temple. The most prominent feature of this temple is the five story pagoda.

The main temple hall is adjacent to the pagoda. Cindy was able to obtain another temple stamp. While we were waiting for the nice man to complete the stamp, he asked where we are from. Chicago, we replied. With his limited English he replies, America and Trump. Yes, we laugh. America and Trump. 🇺🇸🙄

We worked our way through Nara Park on the way to the Kasuga-Taisha Shrine. Cindy had a chance to see all the deer. Perhaps the best entertainment is watching people feed the deer. Before too long, she was ready to buy them treats.

Quickly they came running!

Oh, how funny. They start out so sweet. Before long they are aggressive and nipping your butt!

The deer were hilarious. Check out this one. He’s sticking his tongue out at Cindy.

Eventually, we found a sweet one.

We continued our walk through the park and worked our way towards the Kasuga-Taisha Shrine. This shrine has many lanterns along the path as you approach. They are so cool with the moss covering them. Occasionally, you will spot a deer with the lanterns.

I loved this picture. I was able to capture Cindy in the middle of so much Japan. The deer, the lanterns, the couple in the Kimonos, and the Torii gate.

The deer fountain to cleanse before visiting the shrine.

After our visit, we walked across the park again to the last temple on our Nara tour. The Tōdai-ji Temple is home to a large bronze statue of Buddha Vairocana. The building is 157 feet high and remains one of Japan’s largest wooden buildings.

We enjoyed our walk through the temple and viewing the Buddha. As we made our way back to the train station, we decided there was one more thing on Cindy’s Japan list we needed to complete. We needed a visit to a cat cafe. With ease using Google Maps, I was able to locate a cat cafe in Nara very close to the train station. For ¥600 we spent 30 minutes pestering and playing with the cute and not so cute kitties.

This guy was asleep in the toy box!!

We caught a limited express train back to Kyoto and enjoyed a delicious pizza for dinner.

This was a great day. We saw 4 Shrines/Temples, deer, and cats. It was a fun day exploring and experiencing Japanese culture!

Local Tourists

No alarms were set in the Dwyer house Sunday morning. We all agreed that waking up at 2:30am on Saturday morning earned us late sleepers! We eventually made it out of the house mid morning and worked our way to Enoshima Island. To mix it up a little bit, we took the Shonan Monorail train to get to Enoshima. Here was our route from Zushi.

Before tackling the stairs on the island, we stopped for lunch. We were glad to have extra energy. Enoshima Island has a lot of stairs!

Check out the view as we climbed.

Cindy was able to add another stamp to her temple book. While we waited, we had ume blossoms and the fountain to enjoy.

We continued our way to the top of the island. We enjoyed all the selfie spots on the island.

The clouds prevented us from viewing Mt. Fuji. You know what they say… on a clear day…

This might be my favorite picture of the day. Those smiles!

We worked our way down the island and caught the Enoshima Electric train back to Kamakura.

On the way home, I needed to take Cindy to Hachimangū Shrine in Kamakura. This shrine is mandatory on every Julia tour. We skipped it Friday when we were in Kamakura and opted for seeing Sakura. Having a flexible schedule today, we were able to squeeze in a quick visit.

I’ll be honest. My favorite part of the Shrine are the sake barrels.

We were there towards the end of the day. The Shrine wasn’t very crowded, but the light was getting challenging with iPhone.

A few last pictures. The bridge is blocked off because it is only for the Gods to cross. The lighting wasn’t the best, but I love these shots.

As I think about our day, I can’t help but laugh at our reality. We live so incredibly close to so many really cool, beautiful, and iconic parts of Japan. We are very fortunate to have the opportunity to live here. It’s so special to be able to share our experiences and neighborhood with Cindy. Tomorrow we have traveling plans on the Shinkansen! Kyoto or bust!

Snow Monkeys II

Cindy planned her trip around the opportunity to see the snow monkeys. The snow monkeys live in Jigokudani Monkey Park. I was very excited she wanted to visit the snow monkeys because we loved the experience when we first went. I booked a tour for us with ITT. We discussed other options, but decided this was the easiest way to take a day trip. We set our alarms for 2:30 am and met the bus at 3:30 am. After a quick stop at main base, we were on our way!

Jigokudani Monkey Park is located in Nagano. It takes about 4.5 hours to get there. We were happy to have the time to sleep a little bit longer.

We were very lucky to have a clear morning. At our first rest stop, we could see Mt. Fuji!

A couple hours later, we were off the bus and ready to set out for the park!

We had a short hike through the snow to reach the actual park entrance. The snow covered hill side was beautiful.

Once we had our tickets, we set out to find snow monkeys!

We didn’t see the snow monkeys actually in the onsen today. Dave talked with one of the park rangers. He’s in the monkey business… he told Dave the monkeys don’t actually like to get wet. So, when the temperatures are warmer, they can get enough heat to stay warm from the surrounding rocks. Regardless, we enjoyed the opportunity to observe the monkeys.

One funny thing the monkeys kept doing was putting their face in the onsen to drink. To do this, their monkey butts were in the air. It made us chuckle.

We had a couple close encounters as the monkeys passed by us.

I took a couple of videos of the monkeys doing their monkey business.

http://wabisabisole.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/img_3024.mov http://wabisabisole.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/img_3022.trim_.mov http://wabisabisole.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/img_2991.mov

Having the opportunity to experience the snow monkey park again was fantastic. We truly enjoyed watching them. I thought it was extra special to be able to share the experience with Cindy.

As we enjoyed this once in a lifetime opportunity again, I reflected on how fortunate we are to have the opportunity to live in Japan. It continues to be a life changing and enhancing experience.

All too soon, we had to make our way back to the bus. Our next stop was for lunch. We all enjoyed a hot bowl of ramen.

After lunch, we went to the city of Matsumoto. Here we had a chance to visit the Matsumoto castle. It was HUGE! Cindy struck a pose with the Samurai and Princess.

We enjoyed a walk through the castle and endured the many narrow and steep staircases.

The views outside were beautiful. We even saw someone we knew!

Dave took our picture as we peeked out the veranda window.

The castle was beautiful.

We had a little more time to explore the shops in town before getting back on the bus. First stop, was at the Yahashira Shrine so Cindy could get a stamp.

I struck a pose at my favorite sign.

Soon, it was time to board the bus and start the 4 plus hour journey home. It was a long day and it was worth every minute of the long bus ride. We created a lot of unforgettable memories that I know I will cherish.

Tokyo Take Two

Thursday morning we woke up to a wintery mix. We took our time getting organized hoping the weather would break. The weather was still messy by the time we finished breakfast and checked out of our room. Oh, well. That’s one of my rules. “Don’t let the weather stop you.” Instead, we stopped at the closest Family Mart and invested in lightweight umbrellas. Perhaps, the best purchase of the day!

On our agenda today was exploring Asakusa. Asakusa is located on the NE side of Tokyo. We were in the SW corner. It took us about 40 minutes on the train to transit over.

Our first stop was to visit the Sensō-ji Temple. Sensō-ji Temple is the oldest temple in Tokyo. It is very significant and attracts 30 million visitors every year. Cindy and I accounted for two of those visitors today.

The Temple is huge. I was especially excited because I haven’t been to this temple in over a year. Last time Dave and I visited was during Tokyo marathon weekend. At that time, the pagoda was undergoing renovations. I was able to see the pagoda for the first time today!

The snow, the pagoda, and the temple made for a magical experience. Check out all the people!

http://wabisabisole.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/img_2827.mov

I’m so glad we made the trip over to see the Temple. It truly is a magnificent structure and the gardens are amazing even in the rain/ snow.

Cindy was able to have another stamp added to her book at the Senso-ji Temple and also at the Asakusa Shrine.

Since we were in the area, I wanted to take Cindy to see another of my favorite Shrines. The Imoda Shrine or Lucky Cat Shrine. It’s so cute and the coupled cats are said to bring good luck and love to marriages. Who doesn’t need a little extra of either?

My favorite thing to discover at certain Shrines is the “May Peace Prevail On Earth” signs. The sign coupled with the serenity of the Shrine and the beauty of gardens truly makes my heart happy. I can’t help but believe that every one of the wishes tied on the prayer wall are wishes of peace, goodness, and well being.

By this point in the day, we were starting to get chilly and wet from the winter mix. We worked our way back to the shopping area around Asakusa. We shopped for a few items and then worked our way to Shibuya. We had one shopping spot to visit before heading home. My favorite. Tokyu Hands.

The only thing holding us back while shopping was the reminder we still had to get back home with all of our purchases!

Today, without intention, I treated Cindy to a true wabi-sabi experience. The weather was definitely imperfect, but the opportunity to see the Temple and pagoda in a little bit of snow was pretty fun. Of the 30 million visitors, how many had a chance to experience it in snow? She was such a trooper. I teased her at one point and said I was glad she was my sister in law from Chicago – otherwise, we might not have left the hotel! To her, this was a messy winter day at home!

We worked our way home and enjoyed a cold beer and Garrett’s popcorn as an appetizer to the white bean chicken chili Dave made this morning in the crockpot. Ahhhh. After two days in Tokyo, there’s no place like home!

Tokyo Take One

After a much need night of sleep after making the long trip to Japan, Cindy and I were out the door early. We caught the 9:03am train to Tokyo Wednesday morning. Our first mission was to walk the Meguro Seven Lucky Gods pilgrimage. Before we left, I starred the 6 temples and shrines in Google Maps.

The entire walk took us about 2.5 hours. We had a couple of detours at the Daiso and Family Mart. Here are pictures of the first three temples. Cindy collected two Gods at the third temple. We also started her off with a temple book to document each temple / shrine visit.

The fourth temple is one of my favorite in Tokyo. There are so many statues.

Soon we were crossing the Meguro River and on our way to the last two temples. We found all seven Gods! Extra luck for us this year.

As we were walking, we had a few ume (plum) blossom sightings.

After our Lucky Gods adventure, we were ready for lunch. Nothing sounded more perfect on an overcast damp winter day than ramen. It hit the spot!

After lunch we worked our way to Shibuya Crossing. We saw the Hachiko Memorial and the Shibuya scramble. We decided to check it out from the second floor of Starbucks!

Dave made us reservations at the New Sanno for the night. After exploring and shopping through Shibuya, we decided to go check into the hotel and drop our stuff. After a short reprieve, we hit the streets for more adventures! We hopped the train and headed to Harajuku. The first place I needed to take my sister in law from Chicago was Garrett’s! We picked up a few samples of yummy goodness before heading to Hedgehog Harry’s, the hedgehog cafe in Harajuku.

Once I was able to get past my aversion to rodents, we enjoyed our time. We paid for 30 minutes and a snack to feed the hedgehogs. The hedgehogs were cute and sleepy.

When they finished their snacks and feel soundly asleep, we decided to make our exit. It was a fun and unique experience. We can now say we have been to the first hedgehog cafe in the world. Ha!

After visiting the hedgehogs, we stopped for a burger at Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant. The best part was sharing the experience of Japanese burger wrapper with Cindy!

After wandering around Harajuku a little more, we decided to work our way to Roppongi for one final experience. We went to Tokyo City View. It is located in the 52nd floor of the Mori Art Museum building. The night time view of the city was spectacular. Tokyo Tower is the bright building on the right. Tokyo Skytree is the faint very tall building in the background on the left.

I have never seen so many lights! This will definitely be on Julia’s nighttime Tokyo tour.

We were returning back to the room after 9 pm. We had a long day packed full of fun. Tomorrow we have even more planned to see in the city! But now, I must sleep!

Snow Beautiful

The snow on Monday caused a lot of chaos. The roads were a mess and the trains were delayed. It took Dave an extra 30 minutes to get home on the trains. One friend told us it took him 2.5 hours to drive home to Ikego from main base (usually this drive takes 25 minutes). The schools on base had a snow day Tuesday and the base told only essential personnel to report. Dave didn’t leave until around 8:00am. I decided to walk down the hill to the train station with him and go for a walk. My walk/train rides took me to Kamakura. My first stop was to see the Great Buddha. He was beautiful covered in his snow blanket.

Instead of taking the Enoshima line train back to Kamakura station, I decided to walk along the beach. It was worth the trip! Don’t let the water color fool you! It would be very chilly. Look at all the snow on the beach.

I continued my walk towards the Hachiman-gu Shrine. As I was walking along the street, I kept hearing this horrible sound (like a belt slipping) coming from many of the passing cars. It took me a couple minutes and then I realized, most of the buses and delivery trucks had chains on their tires! Ha! I haven’t seen those in a while!

The Shrine was very beautiful in the snow.

As I was taking the last picture, I noticed people were entering the Peonies Garden. Surely, it’s not open? Yes, yes it was! I decided to take a walk through. I haven’t been since last April. Dave and I went to view the Sakura trees and peonies. The peonies were beautiful in the snow. Instead of parasols to keep off the rain, they had straw huts to protect them from the snow. Kawaii!

I was shocked and confused to see the gardens open and peonies blooming. Especially, because we went to visit them in April last year. A little research and I learned the garden is open from New Year’s Day until mid-February. It opens again at the beginning of April until the middle of May. So, good news for my friends visiting in April, you will have a chance to see the gardens for yourself! We will keep our fingers crossed the Sakura trees are also blooming that week! 🤞🏼🌸

I also learned about this unique garden. The stones were a present from the Chinese government in 1984. In China, peonies were planted with these unique and famous stones from Taigi Lake in Jiangsu Province in Eastern China. The stones are now protected by Chinese law and can no longer be exported.

By the time I was returning home around noon, a lot of the snow had melted. The sunshine and rising temperatures helped restore things back to normal. The snow was beautiful while it lasted!

Pacific Drive-In

Katie and I decided to enjoy the beautiful and windy day exploring a couple spots we pass when we take the train to Enoshima Island. We decided to stop for lunch at the Pacific Drive-In restaurant.

It is literally right on the edge of Inamuragasaki Beach. Check out the waves today! It was so windy!! Enoshima Island is on the left and Mt. Fuji is on the right.

The view from our table inside was lovely.

We both ordered the ahi tuna poke bowl. It was ok. I was a little surprised it didn’t have more poke flavor. We both ended up adding a little soy sauce and that seemed to help. The ginger ale I ordered was fantastic! We decided next time to order the shrimp plate.

After lunch, we walked above Inamuragasaki Beach so I could show Katie the cute park near by. Check out the daffodils already blooming! You can still see Mt. Fuji even with the cloud halo.

The next spot we wanted to explore was the Ryuguchi Temple. From the Enoshima train line, we can see a pagoda and we’ve always been curious. Today, we had time to explore. We took a wrong turn and found this temple with a very cool tunnel.

Fortunately, Google Maps got us back on track. Literally. We were walking down the street where the Enoshima train runs down the street! I felt like a local when I I snapped pictures of the cute Enoshima electric train line.

A few minutes later, we found the Ryuguchi Temple.

We walked around and up and down. Along the way we passed a Torii. One of my favorite things about Temples and Shrines is the acceptance of both religions (Buddhism and Shinto) at a single location. If only all the other religions in the world could be more accepting and tolerable, we would be a lot closer to peace on Earth.

At the top of the stairs we came to a beautiful Temple with a gold Buddha.

We walked around to the back and we caught a great view of Mt. Fuji and Enoshima Beach.

Finally, we came down to the five-story wood pagoda. It was nestled in the trees creating a serene environment.

Despite the chilly temperatures and wind, it was a beautiful day. We had fun lunching, exploring and shopping. We might both actually be finished Christmas shopping!

Long Way Home

Two things were notable during my English class this afternoon. First, my students loved the cakes I brought back from Nagasaki for us to enjoy during tea time. Second, one of my students gave me a huge hug when she saw me. “Sensei, good to see you!” It feels good to be missed!

After my English class, I decided to take the long way back to the train station and walk through Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū Shrine. I haven’t been to visit in a few weeks and thought I might have a chance to see a little fall foliage. And who knows what else, I mean it’s Friday!

Check out these crowds! While I was there I observed three weddings and a plethora of school groups.

http://wabisabisole.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/img_8558.mov

I walked up the stairs to the top of the Shrine to make my Christmas wish. (Layla, these stairs!) 😳😬

After sending off my Christmas wish, I was ready to find Fall foliage. It was my lucky day! Fall foliage and vermilion bridges.

Plus, a Torii gate.

I found a very secluded spot. The serenity was amazing.

I had to wait patiently to capture some of these pictures without too many people. Like I said, it was crowded.

As I walked back to the train station, I did a little Christmas shopping along Komachi Dori. It was a delightful afternoon doing things I enjoy: teaching, snapping pictures, and shopping! Happy Friday!

Torinoichi Festival

My friend, Miki, invited me to go with her to the Torinoichi Festival on November 30th. Torinoichi means Festival of the Rooster (2017). The purpose of the festival is to sell good luck charms and the promise of a profitable future. One of the main items to purchase is a Kumade (a wide bamboo rake). Each of these creations are displayed on a bamboo rake. It’s like a diorama of lucky Japanese items. But, instead of a shoebox, a rake is used. There were many vendors selling Kumade.

The Kumade symbolizes bringing in a huge profit like a rake brings in leaves. There were so many options for what specific lucky charm you wanted on your Kumade. I took a couple close up pictures to help you see the details. Lots of animals, sake barrels, rice clusters, coins, Seven Lucky Gods, dogs (2018 is the year of the dog), welcoming cats, and daruma dolls.

As we walked around the festival when someone purchased a Kumade, it was blessed. Look closely at the Kumade, you can see it is indeed a rake.

http://wabisabisole.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/img_8498.mov

Another lucky purchase.

http://wabisabisole.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/img_8496.mov

The festival is held three times in November and the vendors sell their Kumade late into the evening. We went early before it was too crowded!

The prices of the Kumade are not listed. You must ask the seller for the price. Miki did a little Google research for me. Here is the information she supplied about the prices.

From Miki:

Private person ¥1,000-¥3,000 (smallest).

Private industry ¥5,000-¥15,000.

Small-Medium company ¥10,000

Big company ¥30,000-¥200,000

Corporations ¥1,000,000 (Biggest)

The big ones are HUGE!

Here is the interesting part. Each year, new Kumade are purchased and the old ones are returned. The same amount of money is paid for a new Kumade. It is considered bad luck to keep the old Kumade. The old Kumade are returned to the Shrine and placed in huge dumpsters. Out with the old, in with the new!

The Shrine is illuminated with lanterns. The lanterns announce the name of donors. The higher the lantern is placed, the larger the donation. The line going through the lanterns is for making your wish.

As with any festival, there were a lot of food vendors. Such an amazing variety. It was great to have Miki with me to translate and explain items.

Like the fried and salted spaghetti.

Or the smoked and salted fish on a stick.

Some needed no explanation.

So many bananas.

I enjoyed the evening learning more about Japanese culture from Miki. She is such a wonderful person and great friend. I’m lucky to have met her!

Page 1 of 3

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén