Friday, May 14, 2010

Shrines and Sushi

Today, we were given a crash course in early Japanese art history. Stephanie had already taken Oba-Sensei's Japanese Art History course a few years ago, but I hadn't, so a lot of the information was very new and interesting to me. Class got out at three, and soon after, Steph, myself, and several of our classmates took a walk down the road to find a local Shinto shrine. It had gotten very sunny and considerably warmer, and the walk was short and pleasant.

As we were told during class today, every Japanese town and village has at least one Shinto shrine, just like how every American town and village has at least one church. The shrine we visited today was pretty small, though we didn't walk past the torii, as there was no purification water with which to wash our hands and mouths. Still, the shrine, at least what we could see of it, was very beautiful.


The shrine led into a beautiful forest, made both of evergreens and bamboo. It had a very pleasant, fragrant smell.

Lantern and Bamboo

After taking far too many photographs -- both artistic and tacky tourist shots -- we crossed the very busy road, to Lake Biwa. There was a large rock protruding from the water, circled in a rope with shide, designating the rock sacred to Shinto. As we learned in class today, the gods and goddesses of the Shinto religion inhabit specific objects in nature, such as certain rocks and trees.

Sacred Rock

We soon found that the beach was full of all sorts of wondrous objects: amidst the flotsam washed up near the water was beach glass of many different shapes and colors.

Japanese Beach Glass

After poking around on the beach for far too long, we headed back to JCMU. At 5:00, the class was driven into Hikone, where we were treated to dinner at a sushi restaurant! Not just any sushi restaurant -- this was a place where the sushi spins by on a conveyor belt! I didn't even know places like this existed in real life. Anyway, it was extremely tasty and very fun, and there were plenty of vegan options for Steph and me.

Umeboshi and Cucumber Sushi

Bamboo Shoot Sushi

The first sushi pictured is made of picked plums (umeboshi) and cucumber, and the second sushi is the especially-tasty bamboo shoot sushi!

And what would be a complete day without the purchase of a choice few cute charms?


The figure with antlers is the new mascot for Nara -- which is where we are headed to tomorrow, by the way. The dinosaur is "Tea-Rex" (he holds a cup of tea and his spikes are tea leaves) and the omamori both depict Hikonyan, the samurai-cat mascot of Hikone Castle.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful shrine!

    That Tea-Rex is too cute! XD