Another travel day! We got an early start to meet my sister’s friend in Ise, where we went to see the Ise Grand Shrine. I had the sneaking suspicion that it could be a complete shitshow, at least in the travel department, but it turned out we arrived only a couple of minutes late!
First off, I had a horrible night’s sleep. I woke up in the middle of the night with my nose plugged full of boogers. My stomach felt bad too. I’m hoping it’s not old age food allergies because I don’t want to cut anything out of my diet (especially not hamburgers filled with cheese) but I also had weird dreams. I’ve been off my game a little this trip. In fact, during my shower I was thinking about a bug I’d filed with another company that was rejected the day we left. I have some thoughts about that, but why am I thinking about it on my holiday?
We left without too much trouble and got in a taxi for Kintetsu Namba station. I don’t think I’ve been there before. On the way, we did see this car with a basenji sticker. My sister had a basenji and they’re weird dogs. I think this one’s name was Anchovy.
I thought Kintetsu would be like JR, but at Namba it was far underground like the Tokyo subway. It seemed like it was even below the Midosuji subway line. When we finally got to the ticket window, we had five minutes to get to the train I thought we were going to catch. The line took closer to 10-15 minutes. But instead of taking an express train to somewhere in the EBFE and switching to another express train, we just took a local train four stops and got on the second express train. Weird how that works.
On the way we saw some odd statues. I’m not sure that the Venus de Milo is supposed to be 40 feet tall and towering over the Statue of Liberty on the left. There’s also a gold goddess of mercy in the background.
We made it to Isuzugawa station that’s about 30 minutes walking to the traditional old shopping arcade next to the Grand Ise Shrine. My sister and I didn’t want to make my mom walk, so I was counting on taking a taxi. We found coin lockers to stash our baggage and went outside to find ALMOST NOTHING. I thought we were in the middle of nowhere (which we really were) but fortunately, a taxi came within about ten minutes. As we got closer and closer to the shrine, it became quite clear that there was one thing people came to see. And there were lots of people.
Here’s a picture of the Isuzu river from the Uji bridge at the entrance to the shrine.
Another picture from the bridge. That’s my mom in the purple coat with the hat she left at the soba restaurant the other day.
It’s quite a walk in the grounds through majestic trees. Huge old cedars, but I don’t take as many tree pictures as my dad used to. However, here’s an offering of sake from lots of different makers to the Grand Shrine.
We finally made it to the main shrine but you can’t take pictures once you get inside. People were lining up to get to the coveted middle spot to ask the gods for their favor. I figure if the gods are listening to me then I’m in big trouble, so I just went to the side. I’m not religious but I figure there’s no harm in being respectfully superstitious. That’s my sister and my mom.
No more pictures from the Shrine grounds. Here’s a picture from the bridge on the way out, though.
Here’s a view down the shopping street. Can you see all the Asians? You can see my sister in the middle with her friend Yumi, and towards the right is my mom and Yumi’s friend (whose name escapes me right now) and very soon after this I LOST TRACK OF THEM. Fortunately, I saw my mom soon afterwards and she doesn’t move that fast any more.
In one of the stores we saw Ise beer.
Lunch was a great and way too much food. That’s mine, negi toro. Chopped fatty tuna with green onions and egg on rice.
My mom and Yumi had seafood soup and maguro on sushi rice. My sister didn’t have the soup but had fried shrimp. Yumi’s friend also had the soup and maguro.
After stumbling out we went wandering around the shopping arcade before we could eat some more. Yes, there’s a dessert that we couldn’t pass up but we were incredibly full. Here’s a kid in his finery for shichi-go-san, which means he gets to visit the shrine when he’s five. Girls do at three and seven.
The main square in the shopping & food area.
Here’s Yumi taking a picture of zenzai (and her friend looking confused about my taking their picture). Zenzai is red bean soup. I ate it all.
We said goodbye to Yumi and Yuriko(?) and went on our way to Matsuzaka. It was the closest place my sister could find a hotel. Tomorrow we’re off to Nagoya for a day. Actually it turns out that we could’ve made this a day trip from Osaka and gotten back by 5pm, making logistics much simpler, but this is more of an adventure.
When I hear, “Matsuzaka,” I usually think of the famous Japanese beef and not the pitcher who the Red Sox brought from Japan for tens of millions of dollars. We went to steakhouse “Noel” for dinner and it was spendy but I was not disappointed. The beef was tasty and crunchy and melted in my mouth all at the same time. I got the “roast” while my mom and sister got the “filet”. I thought the added fat of the “roast” would make it more flavorful, but I had a taste of the “filet” and there’s really no wrong way to go on this.
“Noel” only had three or four tables and probably only seated eleven people on the main floor. They had upper party rooms as well, but I didn’t see those. We snuck in early and were lucky to get a seat because the tables were all reserved. They said we could get in if we could finish in less than an hour and I think we were in and out within half that time.
So there you have it. I’m just taking it easy this evening since we’re in the middle of nowhere and I’m hoping to have good dreams of that steak.