Posts Tagged mishima taisha

April 1, 2006 part 2 – Sightseeing with the family

After an interesting cultural experience at the supermarket, The Penpal and her parents picked up my parents and I and we departed for two great sightseeing places in the area: Numazu Goyotei and Mishima Taisha.

Numazu Goyotei is also known as the Imperial Villa. It was one of the Emperor’s summer houses from 1893 to 1969, and is now open as a museum.

Family picture outside the Emperor's summer house

Meeting of the families at The Imperial Villa

The main building is a sprawling single story surrounded by beautiful landscaping. The building itself is traditional Japanese style with lots of tatami and sliding panels, but some of the rooms have been set up “Western style” for receiving visitors, one of the most notable being US President Grant. The most interesting part for me is the room with a large pool table, which looks very strange in a traditional Japanese house.

A mix of styles inside the Emperor's summer house

One of the Western Style rooms for receiving visitors

My parents really enjoyed the visit to Goyotei, and then especially enjoyed lunch at Numazu’s 100 year old tempura restaurant Uobun. The Penpal’s family had taken my family to Uobun on their last visit to Japan, and my parents had specifically asked to visit again. We ate delicious tempura battered seafood over rice, served with miso soup and Japanese pickles. Yum!

After lunch we visited Mishima Taisha. The grand shrine is usually impressive, but on today’s visit all of the cherry blossoms were in bloom. My mom was fascinated by the beautiful pink trees, and took about 50 pictures. One of them was this fantastic picture of the rest of us with pink trees in the background. As a rule, Japanese people (especially older Japanese people) don’t smile in pictures. The Penpal does more often now (I credit myself for that), but this is a rare picture where The Penpal’s mother is smiling.

Cherry blossoms at Mishima Taisha

The Penpal and I had a sudden engagement and it took a while for her family to get on board with the idea, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when my parents came to visit. I’m very happy and thankful that both families are getting along amazingly well and seem to really enjoy spending some time together. I’m a lucky man!

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January 1, 2006 – Part of the family

Happy New Year!

Today I went to Mishima Taisha with The Penpal and her parents. The weather was beautiful; sunny and 10 degrees ABOVE zero. Usually in Winnipeg it would be sunny and somewhere around minus 20.

mishima-taishanewyear2

As usual, the shrine was completely packed with people going to pray for good luck in the upcoming year. As a rule, Japanese people are not religious, but they do regularly visit Shinto shrines for big events, likely more out of tradition than religious obligation. We worked our way through the crowd up to the front of the shrine, dodging flying coins from people who didn’t have the patience to get all the way to the front. As I clapped to get the attention of the gods of the shrine, I decided that 2006 was going to be MY year.

After surviving the crowds, we returned to The Penpal’s house. The Penpal and her mother went into the kitchen to prepare dinner, while The Penpal’s father and I watched TV and talked. I got some good Japanese practice, and felt like I was part of the family, which was pretty great.

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January 2, 2004 – Mishima Taisha, Evangelicals, and Fathers

A crowd trying to celebrate New Year at Mishima Taisha

A crowd trying to celebrate New Year at Mishima Taisha

Today’s plan was to go to Mishima Taisha with The Penpal. I took the train to Numazu station to find The Penpal waiting for me. She walked up looking worried and told me that her father was waiting outside. Apparently he was off work, wanted to meet me, and offered to drive us to the shrine. I am generally pretty good with parents in Canada, but had no previous experience with Japanese parents. This was going to be a new challenge.

The Penpal’s Father greeted me at the car. We exchanged some pleasantries and the three of us got into the car. About a minute into our drive, he got the Penpal to ask me how old I thought he was. This was obviously a loaded question and I needed to come up with a reasonable answer. Guessing too high was out of the question, and if I guessed too low he would know I was lying. I masked my panic and decided to work this out logically. He looked to be anywhere from 45-65. The Penpal was 24 at the time, so if he was 25 when she was born then he would be 49. After redoing the mental math, I attempted to sound confident with my answer of 49 years old. He was actually 62, so he seemed pretty happy with my answer. Bullet = dodged.

With that out of the way, we went in the direction of Mishima Taisha but made a few stops first. The first stop was the rooftop parking of the new Seiyu department store in Numazu. It offered a good, unobstructed view of Mt. Fuji. After that, we went to Kakitagawa Park. It is a park next to a river where water comes underground from Mt. Fuji. The Penpal’s father treated us to some Green Tea ice cream and then we departed for Mishima Taisha.

Taisha quite literally means “big shrine” or “grand shrine”. There are only a few taishas in Japan. Since it was New Year, there were literally thousands of people trying to get into the shrine to pray for good luck in the upcoming year. On the approach to the shrine we passed a lot of food stands and souvenir shops, which gave the whole area sort of a carnival atmosphere. We got into the shrine itself, worked our way to the front, and dropped in coins to pray for good luck in 2004.

After leaving the shrine, we worked our way through the crowds to leave and find some lunch. Across the street was a van with a giant loudspeaker on top. The Penpal explained that they were a Christian group warning people not to go to the shrine and pray to false gods, recommending Jesus instead. It was an interesting scene to say the least.

We ate lunch in one of Mishima’s many small parks and exchanged slang from each other’s languages. Some time later a security guard approached us and told us that the park was closed. We apologized and he escorted us out of the park. We wandered around Mishima for a while and then ended up at karaoke again. Karaoke is fun – my singing isn’t getting any better, but I am starting to care less about how bad I sound.

It was a good day and I got to see a lot of new things, as well as spending time with the Penpal. On the way home I managed to sleep on the train, but waking up as my head hit the stainless steel handrail I was sitting next to. I am getting better at sleeping on a moving train, but am still in training.

(rewrote parts of the original post to add more detail)

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