Results tagged “Shrine”

Otsu trip part2

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Yesterday, Chelsee and I had the opportunity to tour around Biwako and visit many wonderful locations.

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Our first stop was at a pottery store called Karahashiyaki. Almost everything inside had an owl theme.

We learned that, in Japan, owls symbolize wisdom and scholastic achievements. Their name can be taken to mean many things, such as "no hardship" and "luck kept in a cage for you".

Later on in our trip, we noticed these owls in other locations!

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We then headed to the owner's workshop to learn how to make some pottery of our own.

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I made a mug for my dad, Joe. We had to leave them there to dry, but I am excited to see the finished product!

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Next, it was time for lunch. We stopped at a restaurant called "That Calendar" that had a fun, relaxed feel to it.

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Our guide told us that the restaurant had a capsule hotel attached to it, and that occasionally a DJ would come and play music for everyone.

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On our way back from lunch, Chelsee, our guide, and I stopped in Otsu station, which was also attached to the restaurant.

It was a large information center with many pamphlets full of different events and attractions that were available in the area.

There were even information booklets written in different languages, for foreigners.

Outside, bicycles were available for rent, which I have only ever seen before in large American college towns. The bicycles looked to be very good quality, which made us a little jealous.

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After that, it was time to go visit Omi Jingu, a beautiful Shinto shrine built in 1940.

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We were told it is customary for people to wash their hands before entering in order to purify their bodies.

It was my first time visiting a Shinto shrine, and I found myself wanting to see more in the future.

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Chelsee and I were led to a room where we could pick out our favorite kimonos and try them on.

Even though it was freezing outside, I will admit that this was my favorite part. The kimonos were beautiful and surprisingly comfortable!

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Finally, it was time for our last stop: the Biwako Otsu-Kan.

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Former hotel turned (primarily) wedding venue, the Biwako Otsu-Kan had once hosted many famous visitors such as Emperor Showa, Hellen Keller, John Wayne, and various other celebrities.

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It was also home to a large light garden, which we were able to go explore.

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All in all, touring around Biwako was an amazing and I feel so lucky to have had the experience. Chelsee and I are already making plans to go back!

Otsu trip

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Carly and I previously had the opportunity to take the Biwako tour, with Hashizume-San as our guide.

This tour allowed us to see some of the old and the new parts of Biwako.

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★First Stop:Karahashiyaki

Karashiyaki is a small pottery shop in Otsu-shi. It's main theme in pottery is the owl, or Fukurou, which is a symbol of scholastic achievement.

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The designs of the pottery reminded me of something you'd see in a whimsical-like movie.

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During our visit, Carly and I were invited to take a pottery class and make our own cups.

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Our instructor was a nice man, who we'll call Mr. PPAP, and was also really funny -- he made a PPAP cup in reference to Piko Taro's song and cracked lots of jokes.

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We ended up having to leave our cups to dry, for them to be mailed to us when complete. Before leaving I made a purchase of my own, and hope to return to Karahashiyaki someday before I leave Japan.Next Stop: The Calendar!

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★Second stop : The Calender

Next, we stopped for lunch at The Calendar. The Calendar is a restaurant that's connected to Otsu Station.

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The restaurant had a modern contemporary setting, with a relaxing vibe. On the inside you could find two different seating areas -- one Japanese style and the other side Western style. A bookstore was also included inside the restaurant, but one would think that the books are for show upon first glance.There was also a beautiful outdoor terrace, in which BBQs are held during the warmer seasons.

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For the food it seems that the menu may be weekly or maybe even seasonal, with only a few select entrees that come with a small cup of soup and a tiny salad.

I found it interesting that there was a capsule hotel attached to this restaurant. Next stop: Omi Jingu!

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★Third stop: Omi jingu

Omi Jingu, constructed in 1940, is a shrine dedicated to Emperor Tenji. This point of the trip will be one of my most cherished memories.

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Carly and I had the opportunity to pick out our own Yukata and walk around the temple.

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The process allowed us to see how to properly wear a Yukata. Although cold, the experience was amazing. Final stop: Illumination Show!

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★ Last stop: Illumination Show

Our last stop for the evening was an Illumination show held at Biwako Ostu-Kan.

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Biwako Ostu-Kan used to be a hotel, but has since shut down the rooms for booking. Instead, people can now book the hotel venue for weddings, class reunions, and art seminars.

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The illumination show was beautiful, but cut a little short due to the incoming snow storm -- which was even more beautiful in that it started to look like a winter wonderland.

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All in all, with the guidance of Hashizume-San, this trip was amazing. Carly and I hope to return when the weather is warm.

Hachimanbori Matsuri(Festival) part.2

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During my short stay here in Japan, I was given the opportunity to travel with We Love Shiga・Biwako to Omihachiman.

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I'm never really sure what to expect when visiting a new city in Japan, but I wasn't let down with Omihachiman. This city of full of history, beauty, and entertainment; whether you want to enjoy a nice stroll in the city, enjoy the thrill of shopping malls, or even climb a mountain, there's something to do for most everyone.

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Our first stop was at a bead shop called "Rear Wood Beads Bijux"; the wood they use for beads comes from all over the world (I believe some comes from South America).

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Here, we made some nice wrist strap for cellphone. All in all, it was a fun experience (I've never made anything with beads before).

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After we had finished making our wrist strap, we were famished. Thus, we took a quick break at the sweet shop across the sidewalk (maybe 10 steps away). There was an assortment of delicious snacks to choose from, but since I can't resist the parfaits in Japan, I had to get one. It was pretty tasty, and the atmosphere of the shop was quiet and peaceful.

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I would say that one of my favorite things about Omihachiman is the scenery, it's spectacular. I couldn't help myself but to take as many pictures as my phone's storage could handle (it can handle quite a bit). Perhaps some of the best shots I took were of the river. Although I am quite a poor cameraman, the natural beauty made up for my budding skills (or lack there of). This shot was actually taken on top of a small bridge that overlooked this river. Omihachiman has some beautiful places to visit, and this is perhaps one of my favorites in the city.

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I can't mention beauty without mentioning Japanese temples and shrines. This particular shrine was a bit different than what I've experienced thus far in Japan. Usually, there will be a large red torii gate that gate that you have to pass through. In this case, the gate you see (frame of the picture) was brown, which made me think it was a temple.

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I won't spoil the inside of the shrine area for you, so please, if you have the opportunity then you should visit.

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After walking around inside the shrine for perhaps 20 minutes, the sun decided to make way for dusk. Actually, Japan is perhaps at it's most beautiful during the hours when the sun is just rising or just sinking, in my opinion.

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Here's actually another torii gate that you walk through in order to get to the aforementioned shrine (it also leads over the bridge mentioned earlier as well).

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Japan really likes to light places up, especially here in Omihachiman. Actually, the day we explored this city (Sept. 17th)there was a festival going on. As you may be able to see from the background, the whole river way is lit by candlelight. Simply beautiful.

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Walking around the town at night was a lot of fun; there were many vendors selling food (like omi beef skewers, takoyaki, corn on the cob, and more), people singing, and lots of hustle and bustle.

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Omihachiman is the "City of Merchants". What I mean by that, is that many many years ago, merchants from all over Japan would gather here and trade. These merchants had built large houses, and so you will see many such houses in Omihachiman. Furthermore, these very merchants went on to actually found some of the most well-known cities in Japan (Tokyo, Kyoto).Perhaps it could be said that Omihachiman is the heart of Japan (my thoughts).

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This painting is one of dozens that has survived for many hundreds of years. I forgot who created such beautiful works of art, but their work is well remembered by the people of Omihachiman. I often wonder what it was like to live in Japan many hundreds of years ago; is it in some ways similar to now, or perhaps vastly different. What about my home country, America, or other places around the world? Going to these merchant houses really made me think about the past, present, and future. If you have the opportunity, again, please visit them.

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The last piece on our itinerary was riding a gondola up to the top of a nearby mountain. Let me just say that the view was spectacular, and my pictures can't even hold a candle to the real thing. There's something awe-inspiring about being above the clouds and looking over something so vast and being able to see it all. Perhaps humbling. The pictures at the bottom are just a couple more shots from the night.

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Omihachiman holds so much beauty and history, it's really an amazing city. I probably never would have experienced this if I wasn't invited.

Hachimanbori Matsuri(Festival)

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Roughly since I came to Japan and started living in Hikone I had thought Omihachiman would be a nice place to visit.

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I had really wanted to ride the cable car there.

Not only was I able to ride said cable car but was also given the opportunity to enjoy various food and live music during a festival going on when I had visited.

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Firstly, me and my compatriots from JCMU visited a place called Rear Wood Beads Bijoux, where we made some bracelet-like accessories with wooden beads originating from various places all over the world.

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This was actually quite difficult, but the accessories came out well.

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I ended up giving mine to JCMU's Student Services Coordinator who had sarcastically joked about me making one for him--the joke's on him because I actually made one!

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I also had a parfait at a local restaurant called Hosa Amana.

The restaurant was a nice little place with an interesting upstairs seating arrangement.

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Such kind of places are a bit rare where I am from in Michigan. The service was amazing and, as parfaits go, it was definitely something I would recommend to anyone who goes to Omihachiman.

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After eating, my classmates and I went to a shrine that had some pretty cool statues and enjoyed the shrine's architecture.

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I taught one of my classmates that is less experienced with Japanese culture how the hand washing custom works at shrines,and one of the people with us noted how I Japanese my cultural knowledge makes me seem, which is funny because there is still so much I do not yet understand fully about Japanese culture.

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Around the time we visited the shrine there was a small festival going on, so we spent some time enjoying the river that was lite up with candles. It was quite a sight!

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We then saw someone play an ocarina (which was way cool!) and went to this old building with a bunch of beautiful art in it.

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The ocarina is what I would say was the coolest live music I saw during the trip and the water color paintings were also a sight to behold. I treasure having witnessed both.

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We ended the night by taking the Omihachiman cable car to the top of the near-by mountain.

The night time view quite spectacular considering how dark it was.

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Omihachiman has a bright skyline, which makes the city a marvel to behold at both day and night time.I would like to return and use the cable car again in the day time to compare.

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There was a couple playing live music up there as well. With both the live music and vew from the mountain it a spectacular experience!