Category Archives: Shinto Shrines

Aihama Shirahige Shrine (相俣白髭神社)-Thunder Stone (雷石) in Aihama, Aoi Ku, Shizuoka City!

Yesterday I decided to cycle along a rout I hadn’t done for almost three years: Warashina River in Aoi ku, Shzuoka City!

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I hadn’t found much of interest (I did on the way back, though!) until I reached Warabiko Rest Area which also includes a public bath.

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Apart of some very useful amenities they also had a map of the area!

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I noticed the name of a Shinto Shrine called Aihama Shirahige Jinjya/”Aihama” stands for the area, “Shirahige/White Beard is a very common name for shrines and “jinjya” for shrine.
They also mentioned the Thunder Stone/Kaminari Ishi/雷石. It looked pretty impressive on the map.
later i had to come to the conclusion of not trusting such maps too much when it came to size and importance! LOL

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It didn’t look that far on the map but it took me a good one hour uphill to find it.
On the way I stopped at the Kiyosawa street Station to eat some succulent local wild boar croquettes where ladies were kind to tell me to just go straight ahead!
I cycled and cycled until I knew I must passed it.
I stopped to ask some local farmers as there are quite many around cultivating rice and a famous brand of green tea called “Honyama”!.
It took me time to explain rightly what I was looking for and found out I had just passed it!

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Well, I challenge anyone, Japanese included to find that minuscule sign!
Lucky I was on a bicycle!

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The sign, for its small size, was brand new so the shrine must have found some recognition of late.
I asked a few people people on the way back but nobody could tell me how old it was.
The fact there many shrine called “white beard” in the area didn’t help!

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The stairs leading to the shrine were old, narrow and barely in repair!

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Judging from the vegetation it must cleared only once a year for a local yearly matsuri/festival!

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I finally reach the small torii/sacred bird gate that stands at the entrance of any shinto shrine!

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Past the the torii I found two old stone lanterns with a moon and sun carved openings.

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The pines trees on the steep slope looked very ancient indeed!

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The shrine!
Big enough it was unfortunately completely locked up and even the coin offerings box seemed locked, too!
I might have been the first real visitor in a long time, although the wooden cover over the water stone basin was brand new!

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I haven’t seen that design before although it looks like a pointed beard!

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The Thunder Stone!
I did look all around the shrine to ascertain it was the real thing atop a kind of stone cairn!

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Truth to tell it might be a lot smaller than I was made to believe but it was very unusual!

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The stone looked natural enough to me as I didn’t see nay obvious signs of carving on it.
The color was unusual and I could find any stone of the same color!

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I entertain the notion that someone a long time ago brought it there as an offering.
The small metal torii gate was added a lot later!

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I didn’t feel disappointed at the small size of the Thunder Stone as there was plenty of interesting pictures to be taken on my way out!

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The stone lanterns were really ancient!

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The original hand washing stone basin?

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A paved way out of history!

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

So Good Sushi Restaurant in Nice France
Navigating Nagoya by Paige, Shop with Intent by Debbie, BULA KANA in Fiji, Kraemer’s Culinary blog by Frank Kraemer in New York,Tokyo Food File by Robbie Swinnerton, Green Tea Club by Satoshi Nihonyanagi in Shizuoka!, Mind Some by Tina in Taiwan, Le Manger by Camille Oger (French), The Indian Tourist, Masala Herb by Helene Dsouza in Goa, India, Mummy I Can Cook! by Shu Han in London, Pie
rre.Cuisine
, Francescannotwrite, My White Kitchen, Foodhoe, Chucks Eats, Things that Fizz & Stuff, Five Euro Food by Charles,Red Shallot Kitchen by Priscilla,With a Glass, Nami | Just One Cookbook, Peach Farm Studio, Clumsyfingers by Xethia, PepperBento, Hapabento, Kitchen Cow, Lunch In A Box, Susan at Arkonlite, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Bento Lunch Blog (German), Adventures In Bento, Anna The Red’s Bento Factory, Ohayo Bento,

Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Ichi For The Michi by Rebekah Wilson-Lye in Tokyo, Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Another Pint, Please!, Beering In Good Mind: All about Craft Beer in Kansai by Nevitt Reagan!
ABRACADABREW, Magical Craftbeer from Japan
-Whisky: Nonjatta: All about whisky in Japan by Stefan Van Eycken
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

Non gastronomy must-see sites by Shizuoka Residents

Miho Shrine (美保神社) at Miho (美保) in Shimizu Ku, Shizuoka City!

The other day when I finally reached Hagormo Pine Trees in Miho (美保), Shimizu Ku, I noticed this big shinto shrine just across the street from the entrance to the famous tourisitic spot!

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The date of its foundation is unknown but it bears an important relation with the Hagormo Site.

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Entrance Lantern!

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One of the shrines!
Actually the site contains more than one shrine, all erected at different times!

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You will find no less than three little shrines on your right!

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Votive messages hung on New Year’s Day!

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Shrines usually have water ready for visitors to wash their hands with!

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They even explain how to properly do it!

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One of the main shrines (very old)!

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The main shrine!

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One of the two enormous vases bearing the shrine crest!

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The money offerings box also with the shrine crest!

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Garyubai sake by Sanwa Brewery in Shimizu Ku, Shizuoka City!

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The Shrine Crest Curtain!

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Let’s take a peek inside!

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The prayer room!

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Big drum used for the two main matsuri held during the year!

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Another, much older, shrine behind the main shrine!

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Felt taken to another age!

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Another small but very old and of an unusual shape shrine!

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I even found another one lost among the trees!

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Talking of trees that very very ancient cicada must be one of the most beautiful I ever encountered!

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

So Good Sushi Restaurant in Nice France
Navigating Nagoya by Paige, Shop with Intent by Debbie, BULA KANA in Fiji, Kraemer’s Culinary blog by Frank Kraemer in New York,Tokyo Food File by Robbie Swinnerton, Green Tea Club by Satoshi Nihonyanagi in Shizuoka!, Mind Some by Tina in Taiwan, Le Manger by Camille Oger (French), The Indian Tourist, Masala Herb by Helene Dsouza in Goa, India, Mummy I Can Cook! by Shu Han in London, Pie
rre.Cuisine
, Francescannotwrite, My White Kitchen, Foodhoe, Chucks Eats, Things that Fizz & Stuff, Five Euro Food by Charles,Red Shallot Kitchen by Priscilla,With a Glass, Nami | Just One Cookbook, Peach Farm Studio, Clumsyfingers by Xethia, PepperBento, Hapabento, Kitchen Cow, Lunch In A Box, Susan at Arkonlite, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Bento Lunch Blog (German), Adventures In Bento, Anna The Red’s Bento Factory, Ohayo Bento,

Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Ichi For The Michi by Rebekah Wilson-Lye in Tokyo, Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Another Pint, Please!, Beering In Good Mind: All about Craft Beer in Kansai by Nevitt Reagan!
ABRACADABREW, Magical Craftbeer from Japan
-Whisky: Nonjatta: All about whisky in Japan by Stefan Van Eycken
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

Non gastronomy must-see sites by Shizuoka Residents

Mishima City: Gate to Izu Peninsula

Gembei River

Mishima City is the located at the first important crossroads in Shizuoka Prefecture, whether you choose to follow westwards to Shizuoka City or veer southward into the heart of Izu Peninsula.

Mishima, as described in Hiroshige’s wood prints as the eleventh of fifty-three stops along Japan’s famous Tokaido Road, has welcomed travelers for centuries.
It is blessed with some of the purest water in Japan flowing down from Mount Fuji. One just needs to stroll along Gembei River or hop across it on flagstones to realize why the area has been a long-prized destination for famous and lay people alike.

Mishima Taishya Shinto Shrine

Mishima City’s most popular landmark is its shrine, Mishima Taishya. It first attracted attention when 800 years ago the future Shogun, Minamoto Yorimoto, prayed for his family’s return to power on his way back from exile in the Izu Peninsula. The shrine is located in the midst of beautifully-laid grounds including an area where visitors can feed domesticated deer.
But the best time to enjoy a visit of the shrine is when its 200 cherry trees, numbering some 15 different species are in full bloom between the end of February and the beginning of April.
The Mishima Festival takes place August 15th~17th every year in and around Msihima Tashya Shrine as well as near Mishima JR Station when Dashi/Parade floats and Mikoshi/portable shrines are rolled or carried through the streets and the Taiko/Japanese drums are played.

Other must-see spots include:
-Sano Museum celebrated for its collection of ancient swords and its great monthly exhibitions (Tel.: 055-975-7278).
-Yamanaka Castle Ruins Park where a castle used to during the Fighting Feudal Era. One can admire an exquisite vista on Suruga Bay and Mount Fuji from that very spot.
-Rakujyu Park designed in 1890 in the middle of a forest which had naturally over the lava left by Mount Fuji’s last eruption thanks to the constant flow of pure water from the nearby volcano. (tel.: 055-975-2570)
-Old Hakone Route, an ancient flagstone-paved road where one can experience a timeless walk amid centenarian cedar trees.

Recommended Visit Route:
Mishima City has conducted for a long time a project to improve the downtown area by using its historical and natural resources. The project’s title includes the word “seseragi”, which roughly means the sound of a burbling stream-a fitting choice for a city filled with rivers, ponds and natural springs. Forested parks and wide streets cover the city, but a particularly relaxing excursion is to walk along the Genbei River just south of the station. This winding path of moss-covered stones pokes above the gently flowing stream. The north end of the Promenade finishes behind The Japanese Park Rakujuen, which includes a zoo, amusement park, and a variety of Japanese gardens throughout its sixteen-plus acres.

Mishima Unagi!

After exploring Mishima City, hungry visitors are sure to come across some of the area’s distinctive culinary specialties. Connoisseurs often travel to this city to sample the local eel, called “unagi” in Japanese. Before being cooked, the eels are left to sit tubs of clear spring water that flows from nearby Mount Fuji to remove compounds in the eel’s skin and to cause the fish to burn off excess fat. “Unagi-don”, which features eel broiled with a sweet, rich sauce and served over a bowl of rice, is the most famous dish in town. In 2008, the Association of Eel Restaurants in Mishima have taken the remarkable step to use only domestically-bred eels to preserve natural stocks and prevent rampant illegal import!

ACCESS:
About 50 minutes by Shinkasen Bullet Train from Shinagawa JR Station (JR Tokaido Line)
*FROM NARITA AIRPORT (International Airport):
About 2-2.5 hours from NARITA-Airport to Mishima (pronounced MI-SHI-MA) (The JR “NARITA Express” train from NARITA to TOKYO & JR Super Express “HIKARI or KODAMA” from TOKYO to MISHIMA).

*FROM HANEDA AIRPORT (Domestic Airport, a transit from KANSAI International Airport):
About 1.5 hours (A KEI-KYU train from HANEDA airport to SHINAGAWA & JR Super Express “HIKARI or KODAMA” from SHINAGAWA to MISHIMA)

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

Mummy I Can Cook! by Shu Han in London
Pierre.Cuisine, Francescannotwrite, My White Kitchen, 47 Japanese Farms Through The Eyes of Its Rural Communities, Foodhoe, Chucks Eats, Things that Fizz & Stuff, Five Euro Food by Charles,Red Shallot Kitchen by Priscilla,With a Glass, Nami | Just One Cookbook, Peach Farm Studio, Clumsyfingers by Xethia, PepperBento,Adventures in Bento Making, American Bent, Beanbento, Bento No, Bento Wo Tsukurimashou, Cooking Cute, Eula, Hapabento , Happy Bento, Jacki’s Bento Blog, Kitchen Cow, Leggo My Obento, Le Petit Journal Bento & CO (French), Lunch In A Box,
Susan at Arkonlite, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, The Herbed Kitchen, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Bento Lunch Blog (German), Adventures In Bento, Anna The Red’s Bento Factory, Cooking Cute, Timeless Gourmet, Bento Bug, Ideal Meal, Bentosaurus, Mr. Foodie (London/UK), Ohayo Bento,

Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

Japanese Festivals: Mishima Taisha/三嶋大社

There are many interesting festivals in Shizuoka Prefecture and it is great fun as they offer a glimpse on true traditional Japan as well on a culture that will never fade away whatever the times.
Mishima Taisha Matsuri/三嶋退社祭/Mishima Shinto Temple Festival takes place during the third week of August (15th~17th this year) to coincide with the O-Bon Festival.
So I took a fast train this morning from Shizuoka City and got off at Mishima JR Station to enjoy the sights.
Follow, if you please!

True to say, as soon as I came out of the station, a parade had just entered the same street!

At 11:30 a.m. it was already blistering hot (over 30 degrees Celsius!) but the kids kept fanning the participants!

Tough work to pull that chariot along!

And playing music on top of it was even hotter!

I’m sure they could done better with the water of that well (a pun?)!

Volunteers at crossroads made sure everyone went the right way!

Mishima City is celebrated all over Japan for its eel restaurants dotting the streets!

Another one!

Another well for thirsty people!

The streets were lined with “yatai/屋台/stands well before the entrance to the Shrine!

These cold drinks should sell quickly!

Sakurabou/long pink light bread!

Shaved ice!

The torii/鳥居/gates for the birds. Such gates are the entrances of Shinto Shrines, never at those of Budhist Temples.

We know we are there!

Sake keg from Hana no Mai Brewery in Hamamatsu City. Unfortunately there is no longer any sake brewery in Mishima City!

More stands inside the premises before the actual entrance to the Shrine. Fujinomiya City-style Yakisoba!

Yakitori!

The Park is worth visiting at any time of the year!

Goldfish catching!

A photographer’s paradise (a pun again?)?

The real entrance to a Shinto Shrine is marked with a “giant straw belt”!

A young girl going bananas? We haven’t passed through the entrance yet!

Fukutarou “Happiness” buns!

A secondary entrance through the wall surrounding the Shrine. The blazing sun was starting interfering with the photography!

Clean water is available to wash your hands before the entrance of any Shinto Shrine!

Next year is the Year of the Horse!

If the chrysanthemum of the “mon/seal” has 16 petals, the Shrine is part of the Japanese Emperor’s Cult!

What’s happening there? We’ll check later!

It is always worth it to nose around a large Shinto Shrine: Ikebana/生け花/Flowerarrangement!

Hidden gardens…

Portable fireworks!

Back to that event!

But let’s go around it first! What a blazing sun!

Impressive roofs!

Imperial “mon”!

This roof really looks like a helmet!

Your future for 200 yen (2.20 US$)!

The ladies selling at a Shrine stand/shop are supposed to be virgins…
Look at her headgear!

Knotting one’s wishes for the coming year…

Now, why are these three gentlemen dressed in Edo Era’s garb?

Those ancient clothes are certainly very elaborate!

I see! A (very solemn) tea ceremony!

The ancient shoes of the three gentlemen! Like their clothes, they must cost a fortune!

An illustrious unknown?

I walked across the other side of the gardens surrounding the Shrine on my way back to discover more stands. Japanese karaage/deep-fried chicken! Certainly better than those of that fake army officer!

Charcoal-grilled ayu trouts!

Cute young girls in yukata/summer kimono waiting for their yakisoba!

Such trees at Shinto Shrines are venerated as symbols of virility and fertility!

Now, I fancy these yakitori!

There are plenty of secondary shrines on the premises near waterways and small bridges!

There was another parade chariot at the side entrance with some good percussion music!

But the old guy was already probably thinking about all the Japanese sake sitting beside him!

Now, getting this chariot was sheer brutal work in that heat! It took them three tries before they could manage inching forward!

Walking around the park back to the station is also worth the effort!

Beautiful water running down from nearby Mount Fuji!

The wild ducks certainly love it!

A small bridge turned into a personal garden!

Plenty of clean water to safely play in!

Young ladies certainly welcomed the fresh water!

Whole families were thus escaping from the heat!

i could have stayed hours in such surroundings!

In Japan, always keep a look for English signs!
I know that the Japanese are probably the longest living people in the World but I still wonder…

Back at the station, all these lanterns announced the Festival. Pity I couldn’t stay still night!

There was even an on-going Japanese drum concert by a whole host of teams!

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

My White Kitchen, 47 Japanese Farms Through The Eyes of Its Rural Communities, Foodhoe, Chucks Eats, Things that Fizz & Stuff, Five Euro Food by Charles,Red Shallot Kitchen by Priscilla,With a Glass, Nami | Just One Cookbook, Peach Farm Studio, Clumsyfingers by Xethia, PepperBento,Adventures in Bento Making, American Bent, Beanbento, Bento No, Bento Wo Tsukurimashou, Cooking Cute, Eula, Hapabento , Happy Bento, Jacki’s Bento Blog, Kitchen Cow, Leggo My Obento, Le Petit Journal Bento & CO (French), Lunch In A Box,
Susan at Arkonlite, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, The Herbed Kitchen, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Bento Lunch Blog (German), Adventures In Bento, Anna The Red’s Bento Factory, Cooking Cute, Timeless Gourmet, Bento Bug, Ideal Meal, Bentosaurus, Mr. Foodie (London/UK), Ohayo Bento,

Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

Ooi Shinto Shrine in Shimada City!

Torii/Portal at the entrance of Ooi Shinto Shrine

Whatever City you visit in Japan, down to the smallest mountain village, you will discover at least one Shinto Shrine venerated by the locals. And if you are lucky enough to visit them during traditional holidays or festivals they become an unending source of lore study and photography!

Hand-washing fountain.

How do you recognize a Shinto Shrine from other cult sites?
It is actually very simple even if you can’t read any Japanese!
1) The entrance is always marked with “torii/鳥居/portal”, however tiny the shrine.
2) You will usually find a hand-washing fountain/basin.
3) Entrance is free contrary to some of the shrines of other beliefs. Actually you will often see children playing in their yards in daytime.

Ooi Shrine garden

Now, if you happen to pass through Shimada City, by road or train or on your way from the International Airport take a couple of hours off for a leisurely visit of Ooi shrine/大井神社 as it is only a 10-minute walk from the railway station!
It is just the right size and a true representative of the long local history and culture.
It is also within walking distance to places such as Setsugekka Soba Restaurant where you could take a beautiful lunch before proceeding to the next stage of your trip through Shizuoka Prefecture and Japan!

Shimada Obi Festival Dancer Statue

Shimada is celebrated for its Shimada Obi/belt Matsuri/Festival, an event officially designated as one of 20 strangest/most original festivals in Japan. It is held every 3 years on the Years of the Tiger, Snake, Monkey and Wild Boar!

A young dancer of the other celebrated Shimada Festival, the 300-year old Daimyo Gyoretsu, which imitates the procession of a grand jumangoku (one hundred thousand koku, units of rice) daimyo with a total of 250 marchers stretching over 500 meters!

The New Year is an important time for the Shrine to collect money through the sales of New Year decorations!

The New Year is a great time for photography when people of any age and station visit the shrine!

New Year Decorations sales booth.

The Shrine has a small and cute garden with a carp pond and arched bridge!

2012 being the Year of the Dragon, so it would be a good idea to search for hidden representations of the fabled creature!

An ancient hand-washing basin inside the garden!

Traditional paper lanterns/chōchin (提灯), make for great photographs!

A sacred cow, symbol of fertility and wealth!

A “Kappa”!

Keep your eyes open and you will discover some very intriguing statues such that of a “kappa/河童”, the Japanese cousin of the Scottish kelpie!

The French will be glad to discover frogs everywhere!

More dragons spouting water instead of belching fire!

Lions help the dragons guard the shrine from evil spirits!

Looking forward to meeting you at the next shrine!

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

My White Kitchen, 47 Japanese Farms Through The Eyes of Its Rural Communities, Foodhoe, Chucks Eats, Things that Fizz & Stuff, Five Euro Food by Charles,Red Shallot Kitchen by Priscilla,With a Glass, Nami | Just One Cookbook, Peach Farm Studio, Clumsyfingers by Xethia, PepperBento,Adventures in Bento Making, American Bent, Beanbento, Bento No, Bento Wo Tsukurimashou, Cooking Cute, Eula, Hapabento , Happy Bento, Jacki’s Bento Blog, Kitchen Cow, Leggo My Obento, Le Petit Journal Bento & CO (French), Lunch In A Box,
Susan at Arkonlite, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, The Herbed Kitchen, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Bento Lunch Blog (German), Adventures In Bento, Anna The Red’s Bento Factory, Cooking Cute, Timeless Gourmet, Bento Bug, Ideal Meal, Bentosaurus, Mr. Foodie (London/UK), Ohayo Bento,

Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery