We went to Sumiyoshi Shrine first, which is one of the oldest and most respected shrines in Kyushu. There were several red torii which made the place feel like a mini Fushimi Inari Taisha.
MARCH 16, 2020
Breakfast this day was Western style and the lovely grandparent couple offered to drop us off the nearest JR train station so that we would not walk.
We went to SUMIYOSHI SHRINE first, which is one of the oldest and most respected shrines in Kyushu. There were several red torii which made the place feel like a mini Fushimi Inari Taisha. We also saw a statue of a sumo wrestler and there was a sign there that if you touch the palm of his hands, it will give you strength.
We then went to Tenjin (again) and looked for a Taito Station branch… Why? To do purikura again but this time with better pictures printed out. Haha! We were successful with this 2nd attempt so yay!
For lunch, Hisako-obaasan recommended KARO NO URON, Fukuoka’s oldest restaurant (1882). Initially, I wanted to eat in Ganso Hakata Mentaiju but the line was ridiculously long. We ordered one of the bestselling udon priced at ¥690 only. Taking pictures was not allowed so here is a picture of the restaurant from the outside instead.
We went to Canal City after lunch and shopped in Muji then stayed in Muji’s Café.
We wanted to go home early so we decided to eat dinner early. We tried the famous hamburg curry in BERKELEY HAKATA and found this to be a good contender against Coco Ichibanya.
After lunch, we visited Takachiho Shrine. The shrine is surrounded by Japanese cedar trees with the oldest estimated to be 1000 years old.
MARCH 9, 2020
After lunch, we visited TAKACHIHO SHRINE. The shrine is surrounded by Japanese cedar trees with the oldest estimated to be 1000 years old.
Helen showed us the Meoto Sugi, believed to be a male and a female tree growing side by side and married to each other. She shared that walking around the two trees 3x clockwise with your partner will ensure happiness.
As usual, I was fascinated with the ema designs…
Helen led us to the back area of the shrine and shared a story on how a god cut a demon’s body part to teach it a lesson never to come back. We also visited the theater where Kagura dance is performed every night.
Our last stop was in Iwato, to visit the shrine and cave associated with Amaterasu, the sun goddess and Japan’s most revered kami. We went first to AMANO IWATO SHRINE.
Helen shared the folklore on how Amaterasu became the most important kami in Shintoism – not gonna spoil it though! 😉 After visiting the shrine, we had a bit of a trek to reach AMANO YASUKAWARA CAVE.
Helen asked us to pick up a stone from the shrine entrance before going here, and the custom was for us to place the stone on top of any pile of stones in the cave. In this way, our prayers may be answered. We had to be careful not to knock down the pile because each pile contains prayers from different people.
We went back to Higo-Ozu Station and bid goodbye to everyone. Back at Kumamoto city, we had dinner at COCO ICHIBANYA and I got my favorite cheese hamburg with omelet.
We arrived at Sensoji Temple at past 8AM and the place was deserted. Total opposite of the Sunday vibe and environment
Shops started to open a few minutes after 9AM. At around 9:30, the number of people also started increasing and the streets slowly got busier.
JANUARY 20, 2016
We only had a few hours left before our airport service picks us up in our lodging. Our only destination was to go back to SENSOJI TEMPLE to buy local street food. During our visit last January 17, we saw tents near Hondo that were selling all sorts of food — steamed sweet potato, takoyaki, crab claws, big crab meat on sticks, etc. We were not able to buy back then since we were following Toshi-san around and it was almost lunch time.
We arrived at Sensoji Temple at past 8AM and the place was deserted. Total opposite of the Sunday vibe and environment.
The only people around were locals who quickly visit Hondo before going to work/school.
Shops started to open a few minutes after 9AM. At around 9:30, the number of people also started increasing and the streets slowly got busier. A rice cake shop caught my attention because of the cute edible designs they sold.
We were looking for a shop that sells Adidas shoes when we chanced upon a long alley near the temple that is full of shops. Most of them were still closed but there was a shop there that sells luggage. I bought a hand-carry luggage there so that I can transfer my other pasalubongs + I now have my own hand-carry luggage. No need to borrow one from a relative or friend, yay!
I took a look at some of the bags and clothing stores opened there, and they sell affordable items. T.T Such a pity but I guess that’s a good reason to go back here. We went back to our unit after the shopping trip and finished our final packing.
Our driver arrived promptly and he spoke English well. If I am not mistaken, my office mate booked our van with TOKYO AIRPORTER (http://www.tokyoairporter.com/fares.html) since we paid the exact rate of 21,000 yen for an 8-seater van. No other or hidden additional charges like tax, toll, parking as the rate in their site is already “ALL IN”. We had to get the 8-seater instead of the 5-seater van since 3 of us in the group (including me) had 3 luggage each, while our other office mate has a backpack and a suitcase. If you are a group of 4-8 people with at least 2 luggage each, we highly recommend availing this rather than pulling your suitcases to ride a train or take a bus.
We were already in Narita Airport at around noontime. Our flight was scheduled in the evening so we had lots of time to eat, shop, and chill in the airport. It was in an airport shop where I finally found the ViVi issue where Reina Triendl is part of the cover page. YAAAAYYY!!! I also bought the latest tankobon of One Piece there. *-*
It is still quite surreal that I was able to finally visit Japan. Tokyo has been one of my must-visit destinations since high school and now that I have done it, I can’t wait to go back to Japan and explore the other areas — Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Nagoya, Sapporo, Hokkaido, Hiroshima, and many more.