This week is Golden Week and I have 9 days vacation! So I went to Ise and Toba. I arrived around 12pm on Tues and went to drop my bag at my hostel. Luckily I was able to check in early and headed out towards Ise-jingu Geku. It was only a short walk away and really peaceful. You really felt close to nature. Every 20 years the priests remake the entire shrine. This is currently a 20th year so many shrines were under tarpaulin being reconstructed. It was still a good time to visit to see how they do it! As soon as I arrived my camera battery went flat! I had to use my iPad mini to take pictures the first day T_T
I said many prayers and felt cleansed! Then I hopped on the bus to another part of Ise-jingu Naiku.
Close to the shrine is an old fashioned shopping street called Oharai-machi. It was so lovely to walk down, take in the atmosphere and browse the shops. In a small town square area in Okage-yokocho there was an Ise Beer stand and a taiko drum performance was being held.
Beer, drums, atmosphere and sunshine.
I bought a few small holiday gifts and then had some Akafuku mochi. The back opened out onto the river where many people were queuing. My tea arrived just in time for music to start and the people on the bridge start moving forward. Never did find out what that was…
The shops closed pretty early and by 5.30pm everything was winding down. I made my way back to the hostel.
I had lots of drinks and random conversation with the staff and guests at my hostel. I joined a group for dinner, but didn’t realize there was a chance I’d have to wash up! If you lose the after dinner game you have to wash! Waa. Of course I lost!
Luckily I did it fast and two of the guys felt bad for me and helped dry and clear up. Thank you!
The next day I headed for Futamiura and Toba. Futamiura is famous for Futami Okitama Shrine its shrine to marriage and the Meotoiwa rocks which are a symbol of marriage. I really loved it here! It was lots of fun and everyone was in good spirits being splashed by the sea water whilst trying to take photos!
I prayed for a long and happy marriage with my husband and then ventured on. According to the map it was only a short walk to the next station via a shrine with an Iris garden. Hmm. Something went terribly wrong and Id walked a long way. I kept thinking well this isn’t right. But then came to a sign with the stations name and another saying I was on highway 42 as the map said. Hmm. I walked a little more until I met some road workers who laughed and told me the shrine I was looking for was back the other way! Gah. In the end I gave up and waited at a bus stop to go to Toba. There was only one bus an hour! I’m used to Osaka JR loop line where there’s a train every 6 mins!
I eventually made it to Toba and went to the Tourist Information not wanting to make any more mistakes on my way to Mikimoto Island. I’ve wanted to visit for a long time as I wore Mikimoto pearl earrings on my wedding day!
I saw a Ama demonstration while I was there, learnt about pearl production and of course visited the gift shop! I saw some pearls for crazy money, ¥500,000 and more.
I just got a small necklace as I already have Mikimoto earrings, a vintage pearl necklace and Pia pearl bracelet.
Afterwards I went to the only shopping centre in Toba, browsed the omiyage, picked up a few gifts and went to eat some local seafood. I was a little scared to eat alone, my Japanese is still so bad and I always feel awkward. It went well until some middle aged Japanese men started shouting random English to me across the half empty restaurant *slides down seat* and sent me a beer over.
By 5.30pm I was completely done and ready to come home!
I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to Ise and Toba, if I did it again I’d want to spend more time in Ise and maybe get up early enough to see the sun rise between the rocks in Futamiura, oh and I didn’t eat any Ise Udon!