Kansai, Day 10 (AM): Ise-Shima

Last day trip outside Osaka before we head back to MNL. Our destination is Ise-Shima, mainly because I want to go to Ise Jingu which is dedicated to the sun goddess, Amaterasu. Hence, it is considered as the holiest Shinto shrine in Japan. I read before that locals wish to visit this place at least once before they die.

January weekends were quite busy so I only had the time today to finally post the first half of our Ise-Shima day trip! Here you go…

MARCH 15, 2017

Last day trip outside Osaka before we head back to MNL. Our destination is Ise-Shima, mainly because I want to go to Ise Jingu which is dedicated to the sun goddess, Amaterasu. Hence, it is considered as the holiest Shinto shrine in Japan. I read before that locals wish to visit this place at least once before they die.

I bought our train tickets back in Manila by going to the English website of Kintetsu Japan. Got our Limited Express train ticket for ¥2,640 (2 pax) so we had an early train to catch for this day. The trip was about an hour.

Upon arriving at Ujiyamada Station, we looked for a bus that would take us to GEKU (OUTER SHRINE) of Ise Jingu. It is relatively smaller than Naiku (inner shrine) but nonetheless, a tranquil and breathtaking place. Geku is dedicated to Toyouke Omikami, deity of three essentials of human life: cloth, food and shelter”.

Further exploring Geku, I saw a couple going up these stairs and eventually found myself in front of a small shrine. Paid respect before leaving for Naiku…

From Geku, we rode a bus that would take us to Naiku. They said that another option is to walk but that would be too long and it us usually done for pilgrims.

Upon reaching NAIKU (INNER SHRINE), we were greeted by this first torii framing Ujibashi bridge.

Fun fact: Ujibashi bridge is rebuilt every 20 years as part of the Shikinen Sengu. The most recent Shikinen Sengu happened in 2013. All shrine buildings and main bridges in Ise Jingu are rebuilt every 20 years, and they source their wood from the trees grown within the shrine grounds. Through rebuilding, it is said that the power of the deity is renewed.

From the bridge, it was quite a long walk before we reach the area to do temizu. Notice how people only walk along the side and not stepping on the center area. If I remember correctly what our Tokyo tour guide said, this is because the center aisle can only be walked by their deities. It was easy to spot tourists because some kept on walking on the center part.

We reached the area where you could do the usual way of doing temizu but I could not pass up the opportunity to try the traditional way…

Here by the riverbed of the Isuzugawa, you can directly soak your hands in the water and rinse your mouth. Temizu is a must whenever entering shrines and temples as it is said that the gods loathe impurity; hence, the need to cleanse the mind and body through this method.

A little bit of walk from here and I saw the prayer hall, where I bought two types of omamori (Japanese amulet that provides luck or protection) for myself and one for our home.

Naiku is definitely bigger than Geku and the place does not feel like the usual shrine. Think of Meiji Jingu but a lot bigger and with longer walks from one spot to another. I definitely enjoyed walking slowly and taking in the sights here.

We finally reached the Shogu, the main palace. This is the area dedicated to Amaterasu-Omikami, Shinto’s most venerated deity, and her sacred mirror is believed to be enshrined inside. Most people are not allowed to enter here but donors and bigtime people are given special exemptions. Locals still pay their respect by bowing and praying.

After retracing our steps back to the entrance, we walked a bit more and reached OKAGE YOKOCHO. I read that this is part of Oharaimachi, the traditional approach to Naiku. The place is a recreation of how towns looked like from Edo to Meiji period.

An interesting thing here is “tabearuki” (食べ歩き), which means that food/local delicacies can be eaten while walking around the area. This is a big deal because in Japan, eating while walking is considered taboo and disrespectful.

We also passed by this shop which had a long line so we decided to join and see what the fuss is about. Apparently, they were lining up for this mochi-like product made of red beans. There was no English product callout or explanation so I am not sure what it is… But when I took a bite of it when I got home, I understood why. Not a fan of adzuki but this one did not have the overpowering bean taste plus it was not too sticky.

Some more exploration in the area and we found a shop that was selling fried chicken as street food. We bought one serving and we were blown away by the taste. I could not remember though the name of the place. 😦

We made sure that we were able to go around the whole area before we decided to get lunch… I realized that the only activity we did in Okage Yokocho was to eat. Oops! We went inside this restaurant called EBIYA (ebi means shrimp) because we were attracted by their menu outside the restaurant.

We both got the tekonezushi set meal, which included a huge piece of raw abalone. I have always been curious on how it tastes especially after seeing abalone in different Korean variety shows. Proof of its freshness was when I squeezed the lemon over it, the meat-like stuff wriggled for a long time!

Meal set J and I got

Raw abalone (gumagalaw pa!!)

Tekonezushi is also known as “fisherman’s sushi/meal” as it is believed that this originated from a meal that fishermen made while out in the sea. It is a local delicacy in Ise which consists of marinated red-meat fish (usually tuna or skipjack), vinegared rice, and garnish. In our case, we were served tuna with Japanese pickles.

Tekonezushi

Next half of our adventure in Ise-Shima is in the next post. 😊

 

LINKS TO OTHER KANSAI REGION / JAPAN 2017 POSTS:

Japan, Day 0-1: Kyoto (Higashiyama Area)

Japan, Day 2: Kyoto (Arashiyama)

Japan, Day 3: Kyoto (Fushimi, Northern Higashiyama)

Japan, Day 4: Kyoto (Central & Downtown)

Japan, Day 5: Kyoto >> Osaka

Japan, Day 6: Kobe >> Osaka

Japan, Day 7: Himeji >> Osaka

Japan, Day 8: Nara >> Osaka

Japan, Day 9: Universal Studios

Japan, Day 10 (PM): Ise-shima

Japan, Day 11: Osaka

Kansai, Day 6: Kobe – Osaka

Time for our daytrip in KOBE! After about an hour and a half of train ride, we reached Kobe-Sannomiya Station. We bought onigiri and bread for a quick breakfast before walking to our first destination – MAIKO MARINE PROMENADE.

It is an observatory located right under AKASHI KAIKYO BRIDGE, the world’s longest suspension bridge. Basically, it offers a beautiful view of the sea and it even has a small section where you can walk on the glass floor and see the waters below.

MARCH 11, 2017

Time for our daytrip in KOBE! After about an hour and a half of train ride, we reached Kobe-Sannomiya Station. We bought onigiri and bread for a quick breakfast before walking to our first destination – MAIKO MARINE PROMENADE.

It is an observatory located right under AKASHI KAIKYO BRIDGE, the world’s longest suspension bridge. Basically, it offers a beautiful view of the sea and it even has a small section where you can walk on the glass floor and see the waters below. Not for those who are acrophobic.

 

There are two main viewing areas in Maiko Marine Promenade – one is inside the building, which has tall windows and coin-operated binoculars for a better view of the sea and city. As for the other one, you have to go outside the building and walk right under the bridge.

We did not know that it would be open air so we could really feel the sea breeze on top of the very low temperature. Also, every now and then, the structure would vibrate because of the passing vehicles on the bridge.

 

 

Our next mission was to eat Kobe beef for lunch! STEAKLAND is a very popular resto for this but I cannot judge if it is the best one out there. Price is definitely cheaper than the other popular Kobe beef restaurants. They cook the beef right in front of you so be prepared to smell like grilled meat when you leave the place.

Since there were only three of us in the group, a couple was assigned to our table and the chef cooked the vegetables together then divided it to 5 servings. We had different orders on the beef / Kobe beef but the chef knows his craft since he knew what type of beef each one was. I enjoyed my food but I am definitely curious how the Kobe beef in pricier and popular restaurants taste, since Steakland has mixed reviews.

We went straight to ROKKO CABLE SHITA STATION after lunch – cable car to reach MOUNT ROKKO. There are a lot of places to visit in this area and we noticed some locals who brought snowboards. We were puzzled because it was already early March but apparently, there was still snow in Rokko-san Snow Park. Note that there is a schedule on the Rokko Sanjo Bus so better take note of that. We did not know about this so when we reached the cable car station in Mount Rokko, we took our time going around and when we went out, the bus just left and the next one would come in about 40 minutes.

Our bad luck did not end there though… We chose Rokko Alpine Botanical Garden but when we got there, the place was closed until end March. Most likely because none – or very few – plants had bloomed at the time of our visit. We had to wait (again) for a bus and it was really cooold up in the mountain.

We went to ROKKO-SHIDARE OBSERVATORY instead and the architecture looked really awesome. We took time going around plus we were surprised to see remnants of snow + frozen water in the area!

After our time in the observatory, we went to ROKKO GARDEN TERRACE which was just across it. The view of Kobe was definitely breathtaking and we were fortunate to have good weather on that day.

Since we were already hungry and I wanted to see Rokko-Shidare Observatory at night, we grabbed some snacks first. We were confused by the vendo machine for ordering because everything was written in Japanese. I could read hiragana and a few katakana but we were worried we might end up ordering the wrong food. A local went in front of us so we had to ask for his help in ordering the ice cream with Kobe honey. I got that plus akashiyaki, which is takoyaki dunked in hot broth – perfect for the cold weather.

While waiting for nightfall, I bought the famous Kobe pudding in a souvenir shop as well as Kitkat with Kobe pudding flavor. There were other food/snack choices that I wanted to buy but I decided to just limit myself and go with the most popular one.

When the sun had already set, the colorful lights in Rokko-Shidare Observatory were illuminated. It was a nice sight to see but it was not as awesome as I expected.

We went back to Osaka after this and had our dinner at ICHI, a yakiniku restaurant near our Airbnb – recommended by our host and apparently a popular place among locals. We ordered a lot of meat for our empty tummies and we enjoyed our meal here. Even though it was quite difficult to communicate with the language barrier, the staff was able to give us what we need.

That’s it for now. Next post is our adventure in Himeji! 🙂

 

LINKS TO OTHER KANSAI REGION / JAPAN 2017 POSTS:

Japan, Day 0-1: Kyoto (Higashiyama Area)

Japan, Day 2: Kyoto (Arashiyama)

Japan, Day 3: Kyoto (Fushimi, Northern Higashiyama)

Japan, Day 4: Kyoto (Central & Downtown)

Japan, Day 5: Kyoto >> Osaka

Japan, Day 7: Himeji >> Osaka

Japan, Day 8: Nara >> Osaka

Japan, Day 9: Universal Studios

Japan, Day 10 (AM): Ise-shima

Japan, Day 10 (PM): Ise-shima

Japan, Day 11: Osaka