Friday, July 29, 2016

Miyajima Island, Mt. Takao, Kabuki Theater, Tokyo Dome

I am going to combine the last few things we did into one post because I am actually in Hawaii right now and I don’t want to spend my whole time inside writing a blog!

Miyajima Island
Near Hiroshima (a short train and then ferry ride away) is Miyajima Island. If you do a search for it you will see LOTS of pictures of the gateway (Torii) to the Shrine which is in the water leading up to the Shrine. It is actually very beautiful.  I did not take a picture of that because there are so many others on the web which are much better than what I could take. Here is a link to one:

Instead, I took a picture of these two practices that many people do at shrines. There is more about this on a different post:

The other is getting a fortune (they usually cost about $1) and then you tie your fortune onto a string where others are.  I guess it is sort of a talisman that protects you. In this temple you
pay about 1 dollar. Then you shake a cylindrical tube until a stick falls out and then that number was the number of the drawer that you opened to get your fortune. Each drawer had different ones.  I didn’t try it because I could not read the fortune even if I did get one! You read your fortune and then tie it to the strings with all of the fortunes as requests to the gods.

The island is very small and nice and mostly consists of temples and little souvenir shops and restaurants for tourists (lots of Japanese as well as people from lots of other countries). A half day was enough for us and so we took the ferry and train back to Hiroshima.

Mt. Takao
Since we travelled so much through the country we got a Japan Rail Pass. It allowed us to use all of the JR (Japan Rail) trains with our pass. The pass is not inexpensive, but we really got our money out of it!  However, being frugal Mennonites, we decided that we needed to use it one more time before it expired. I told you earlier (in the post about the baths) that we walked up Mount Takai.  It was about an hour outside of Tokyo. 

It was beautiful and there was a walking path. We decided – or maybe I should say that I convinced Steve – to take the chairlift UP the mountain and then walk down. It was a good decision. Again the main highlight (except for nature which is wonderful) was a shrine. It was huge with lots of interesting statues and buildings. It is hard to imagine something like this being built before there were paved paths up the mountain. I think there are a lot of Buddhist and Shinto monasteries on mountains like this.

We walked down and as we often do got ice cream. This is Steve enjoying black sesame soft serve ice cream. I went for a more conventional chocolate/vanilla combination. Soft serve ice cream was easy to find all over Japan, but Gelato places were few and far between.

Kabuki Theater
It was raining when we returned to Tokyo from Hiroshima (and the day after Mount Takao), so we decided it was a good time to try Kabuki theater. I will not try to describe the whole experience, but I am glad we went. The actual play lasts several hours and is quite expensive to attend, but you can pay a partial fee and stand in the top balcony for an act. One act was amazing, but enough.

Tokyo Dome
See the roller coaster going through the mall!
It was raining again, even harder and it was our last day in Tokyo. We had a night flight to Hawaii that evening. What to do??? I have found one of the best ways to decide what to do in a new place is to read other people’s blogs about the experience. Even if people talk about hating something you can learn about it and decide if it is something you want to do.

One of the best things to do in Tokyo is shop. There are high level shops and areas all over town devoted to different types of things (an electronics area, a place aimed at young girls especially, a place for anime aficionados, a hairbrush area, a shoe area, and a kitchenware area. There are probably many others. If you are a fanatic shopper, you might want to come to Tokyo with an extra empty suitcase.

We are not good shoppers, so none of those places sounded very interesting to us. There was also an important Imperial Temple and Shrine, but it did not sound fun to visit it on a rainy day. Also we had already seen a few shrines. So, on a blog, I read about the Tokyo Dome. I think it started with the main baseball stadium in Tokyo. Somehow what was added to it was a large shopping mall and an amusement park. It is the only mall I know of that has a huge roller coaster running around and even through it. There are lots of other rides and a huge ferris wheel. There is also a water ride that goes through the first level of the mall and a fountain that plays music and has a light show 4 times a day.

We are not roller coaster people, but it was fun to walk around and watch it. We did go on the Ferris wheel and eat ramen there. We looked through lots of shops and bought a few gifts for people. We do not bring an extra suitcase, and do not like shopping much, so we buy small things for specific people.

Then it was time to head back to the train station and get our luggage which we had stored in a locker there and go onto the flight to Hawaii.

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