Originally published on 22 May 2006. This is part of a series of posts from my time living and working in Japan in 2006.
Boy, do I have things to tell y’all! I’ve really missed being able to go to church while I’m here, but I know God’s with me all the time, and He provided a beautiful day to lift my spirits yesterday. He always knows exactly what you need, which is so comforting.
Yesterday, the Mr. and Mrs. Koda took Anna, Mami (the school receptionist), and me to the Ise Shrine. It’s the most important Shinto shrine in all of Japan! We weren’t allowed to take pictures of the actual shrine, but we took lots of the surrounding area. They’ve built a traditional-looking town next to the shrines. There are actually two–one they tore down last week to build it back up for the 20-year tradition, and another one next to it. One is
the “inner shrine” (Naiku) the other is the “outter shrine” (Geku). The little town outside the shrines houses a bunch of gift shops and restaurants for visitors.
Anyway, we had to wash our hands at a well before we walked to the shrine, and when we got there we tossed a coin into a pit to make a wish. We walked back to the town after seeing the inner shrine and stopped at a place to get some green tea or sake. (I chose green tea!) We also stopped at a souvenir shop where people were making Japanese “charms” and paintings, and writing things in Japanese caligraphy. The charms are small, colorful pillow-looking things with Japanese characters embroidered on them. There were some for health, pregnancy, safe travel, studying, and others. Mrs. Koda offered to buy one for Anna and me. Anna got the one for study, and I got the one for safe travel (of course)! It’s dark blue and gold.
After that, Mr. Koda introduced us to one of his friends who was working there. He
wrote our names in Japanese caligraphy. I can’t wait to frame it when I get home! It looks pretty neat. Even if it really says “I’m an American Tourist” instead of Whitney, it’s cool. I can’t tell the difference!
So after that little adventure, we got to eat! There’s a special kind of sushi called “Katonezushi” that originated in Ise. It’s made with Bonito sashimi (raw fish) over rice with a delicious soy sauce and sugar mixture. We also had miso soup and seaweed. All very healthy! Bonita, by the way, is a fish I’d never heard of. I looked it up online, and I think it’s a type of tuna, but when I asked if it was, they laughed and said no. Whatever it is, it was most delicious!
We looked around at the shops a little more, then the Kodas had another surprise for us… they took us to the Ise Aquarium! We saw the seal and sea lion shows and looked at the other fish and sea life.
After the aquarium, we walked to the ocean. The ocean is so close! Ise is right on the coast (their 2 main exports are pearls and lobster–still looking for a place to get some of my own). It’s a beautiful shoreline, though a rocky one, not really beachy. Speaking of rocks, you’ve probably all seen pictures of the “Wedded Rocks,” but did you know they’re right here in Ise? I didn’t realize that until I got here!
After our trip to the sea, we went to the grocery (they knew we might need help getting groceries) and came back to the apartment. As you can probably imagine, it was a full day, and one I won’t soon forget! I can’t wait till our week off next week so I can travel to Tokyo and Osaka and Kyoto, etc., so I can tell you about it! Hopefully it’ll all work out. Everyone I’ve met here is so nice and wants to show me their beautiful country! Stay tuned!