Getting to be tourists is the best part about visiting another country in my opinion. While we weren’t allowed to be for the majority of our stay, towards the end we got to see some truly amazing sites.
A torii is a traditional Japanese gate most commonly found at the entrance of or within a Shinto shrine, where it symbolically marks the transition from the profane to the sacred.
This Shinto shrine was in Sagae and was absolutely breath taking. I felt strange being made to do the traditional gestures of ringing the bells from those long ropes since I didn’t really know the significance of it. It felt like I was taking away the meaningfulness with my presence.
Nature is always a big part of the shrines. I love how they are integrated into the architecture.
My homestay mother, Aki, took me to this interesting shrine her great great grandfather had helped build.
Bet you can’t guess what it is…
Rawr! It’s a fertility tree! Whenever families are looking to conceive they come and do a ritual at this tree. Isn’t it interesting? I haven’t heard of their being any real fertility shrines alive in the United States. Have you?
Another place we were taken to was the Benibana museum. This museum was devoted to their famous production of safflower inks and kimonos. Unfortunately, you weren’t allowed to photograph inside the museum so all I have are some great shots of some beautiful things on the museum’s grounds.
We also went to Ginzan-onsen (hot springs). We did try out the onsen, but had a private bath instead of the traditional communal setting. It was lovely and refreshing. The main reason we wanted to come here though was for the beauty of the little tourist trap.
Isn’t it picturesque? Kayla and I really wanted to take our time and look in each shop and get some lovely shopping done, but our guide was in a hurry to get us back. =/ It’s too bad there was no train to there.
The next tourist location we visited was Yamadera (meaning “mountain temple”). Behind me to the left you can see some things on the mountain that aren’t trees…they’re shrines and temples! We climbed all the way up to them, lots of steps, but a nice and leisure climb.
Before you start the climb, there are lots of opportunities to buy these small trinkets which are left throughout the mountain in offering. We didn’t purchase any, again with that same “making things meaningless” feeling.
The climb up was beautiful and littered with exquisite monuments, shrines and statues.
These are poems chiseled right into the rock.
Tiny geta (Japanese shoes) left in offering.
1 yen coins shoved into the cracks in trees, sort of like a wishing well.
We reached the top.
And I fell in love with this lone little hut on the cliff.
Being able to just relax and not have to pretend you know everything that’s going on was a relief when we were tourists. The great part was, you didn’t feel like the only one since most other people there, were tourists too. Everyone, together, enjoyed seeing sights they’d never seen and would never see again.