Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Journey to Izumo: The walk

After leaving Izumotaisha-Mae station you are faced not with the Izumo Taisha itself, but with a long road stretching in two directions.
And which direction is the Taisha? 
To the right.
And what happens if you go to the left?
You come across a strange rock sculpture. 

But you probably didn't go all this way to see the sculpture (though it is interesting), you can here to see the Taisha. So, to the Taisha we go.

The right direction

The street is lined with beautiful pine trees. In the distance you can see the deep forest green mountains. The Taisha is deep in those woods, about a 15 minutes walk away. So long of a walk in fact, that we were often wondering if we were indeed going in the right direction. 

To keep one entertained, there are many interesting sights along the way. For example, observe this mysterious and elusive night club called, "Live" (pronounced like "live show" not the verb "to live"). So the Japanese indicates that this is a "snack bar," which is like a hostess bar, but less expensive...and with snacks. Snack bars are apparently all you have to choose from for adult entertainment in the countryside.

check out this guy, walking suspiciously out of "live"

Just before the shrine, we met  an old man and woman making Kinako mochi on the side of the street. Thinking this opportunity was too rare to pass up, I bought some, and stuffed it in my mouth while walking obtrusively along the street
. (In Japan, it is a  huge cultural faux pas to eat while walking). 

waiting in line for mochi

I never ceased to be amused by the sights of rural Japan. Even this shanty alley holds some kind of mysterious appeal to me.

a random ally

After we ate our mochi and walked up a steep hill, we turned around to snap this photo. The station is just in front of the white gate (on the left), and the mochi stand is directly off to the left (where you see the purple banner), to give you an idea of the distance. 

the view from atop the hill

Along the way we passed a strange residence. 

 I was sort of fascinated by this random house. There are almost no windows, and the driveway is enormous! What is anyone going to do with all that gravel? Seems odd to me. That strange house almost made me forget about Izumo Taisha. Well, you know you are close when you pass this house.

a random house with a large gravel front yard

Finally we've reached the entrance to the Taisha! Too bad there was a lot of construction going on when we were there. It kind of detracted from its ancient look. Oh well...

you've made it!

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