Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Ise-Jingu and Sunshine

Last Sunday, my host parents took me and my friend Austin (the only other USC student at Nanzan this semester!) to Ise-Jingu, a shrine said to be one of Shintoism's most important shrines! Not only that, but it's supposed to be home to one of Japan's three imperial treasures, the "Yata no Kagami" (mirror). It's a three hour drive away in the city of Ise. It's actually in the next prefecture over, which is called Mie. The shrine was insanely beautiful, I can't even describe it. The sun was bright and the air was crisp and the red leaves are really starting to show. I wish these photos could do it justice!

There's something special about these chrysanthemums... (see next photo!)
It's all ONE plant! Isn't that amazing?
Okaasan and Otousan in front of the clearest river I've ever seen

We first walked through the shopping street of Ise before reaching the main area. Apparently, the shrine is actually home to 125 smaller shrines. We were able to give a donation and pray, and afterwards we walked around the shrine complex. Okaasan told us that they rebuild the two main buildings every 20 years as a way to honor and pass down the ancient methods of construction. Want to hear something amazing? It was apparently built in 4 BC. Want to hear something even more amazing? They don't use nails to build it, only notches cut in the wood.

The "torii" we went through

After we saw the shrine, we went and got some food! Sashimi and miso soup and tsukemono (kind of like pickles). A nice, traditional meal! We sat on tatami mats while we ate and drank umechu, which is like plum liquor. It was made at the store we bought it, right across the street!


Austin and I

After that, it was time for some sight-seeing and souvenir-buying! Here's a video of some koi we saw in a pond near the shrine:

I always get really refreshed when I see old Japanese culture. I feel like when I'm hanging out in the city, I could be hanging out in any city, shopping anywhere in the world. It makes me feel a bit like I'm wasting my time. When I go to festivals and wear kimono and spend time with old Japanese culture, I feel like I'm really getting the most out of my time here.


I just got back from what I can tentatively call a part-time job. For the past few Wednesdays, I've been helping at the community center at a group called "Sunshine." It's an English conversation practice group that Okaasan's friend runs. I have a lot of fun doing it. Not only are the people there interesting and fun, but it's a bit of a relief to see somebody else struggling with English as much as I struggle with Japanese. I'm really happy to help them, so it's comforting to think that Japanese people might be just as happy to help me.

Tonight was special because another English partner, Erin, showed us all a recipe. Being from Houston, she had told the class that she'd be showing them a Texan recipe, which I was predictably ecstatic for. It ended up being CHILI!! I was so stoked.

There was one problem though... Erin had asked the Japanese group leaders to buy ingredients, which of course included kidney beans...

but they returned with lima beans and garbanzo beans! So we made due with what we had and made the most delicious lima bean chili I've ever eaten!

Looks good!
Okaasan got to eat a little bit. I was really excited to show her Texas food! Later I'm going to make a lemon icebox pie for her.

1 comment:

  1. ok that chrysanthemum plant is amazing. and you sound so adorable in that video!! i wish i could make 'american' food for my friends but all i REALLY think of making is my mom's food. and that requires a lot of cheese. which is way expensive. booo~