Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Shave Ice and Kyudo

The morning after our sail, we awoke to the sight of long fishing boats crossing the lake to check nets. The yacht harbor is closed on Tuesdays, so this would be a day for a different sort of adventure than sailing.

miso soup, nori seaweed, salmon, egg, bean sprouts and ham on the little stove, banana and orange slice, raw egg, pickled veggies, natto (fermented soy beans), rice, and salad.

After breakfast Kimie drove us to Kasama Inari, the third largest Inari Shinto Shrine in Japan. Inari is the kami (god) of fertility and agriculture which is said to reside in the mountains in winter and in the rice fields during growing season. Worship of Inari spread during the Edo era. The shrines dedicated to Inari have many statues of kitsune - pure white foxes that act as Inari's messengers. Kasama Inari was founded in 651.

The town of Kasama still has an old feel to it with narrow streets, low rise buildings and shops fronting the shrine.

main entrance to the shrine

purification fountain used to rinse one's hands and mouth before entering the shrine

main gate

East gate - 1814

main building or "Haiden"

behind the main building is the "Honden" which is where an object of worship is kept. This one dates to about 1854-1861

The sun was merciless and after viewing the grounds and buildings, we decided to cool off with a treat.

A press squeezes out long thin strips of cold jelly made from tengusa seaweed. Vinegar dressing, green tea powder, and horseradish are added. The result is called tokoroten, and has been a summer treat in Japan for over 1300 years.

Kimie cools off with a peach flavored shave ice.

It was getting close to lunch time, so we headed for JA Pocket Farm DokiDoki - a farmers market and restaurant operated by the Ibaraki farmers association. The "Restaurant in the Woods that serves Home Food" is a favorite of ours, as the food is all local, fresh, and of high quality. Martin gave this 5 stars last time he visited. He wrote, "What I really liked was the friendly atmosphere and the focus on local, Ibaraki-made ingredients. All dishes in the different stations had memos explaining what the dish contained, and many also the name and photo of the farmer and the chef who had created the food."

Then it was on the road again, following the eastern edge of Japan's second largest lake, Kasumigaura, through Itako City and along the Tonegawa river to Katori Jingu in Chiba Prefecture, the ancient Shinto Shrine that we visited last year for sakura viewing (posted as Katori Jingu Sakura).

Katori Jingu, with its forest of ancient cedars, was much cooler than Kasama Inari and we enjoyed wandering the paths.

This anchor belonged to the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force training ship, Katori, which was built in 1970 and was named after the shrine. In 1995, it was replaced by the Kashima - named for the related shrine in our town. (The Kashima is now in Baltimore, by the way, with two other Japanese ships and the crews will pay a visit to the Arlington National Cemetery.)

Martin stumbled upon their Kyudo Dojo. Kimie made an inquiry, and we were welcomed in to watch them practice. In Kyudo (the way of the bow), the targets are just 36 cm (14 inches) in diameter and placed at a distance of 28 meters (92 feet). They were most gracious in making us comfortable, serving us drinks, and explaining various aspects of how Kyudo is done. For more about Kyudo visit Zen's Sakai 1 - if by land.

A cool drink, the quiet pace of Kyudo, and the songs of cicadas made for a relaxing end to the day's adventures.

Until next, sweet sailing.


Baydog said...

Was that 651 a.m. or p.m.?

Everything about Japan that you show is soooooooo desirable to me.
The food, the tradition, the surroundings, the spirituality. It seems as if they really have perfected the art of living.

I haven't had toro in so long.

Pandabonium said...

That's 651 CE - "it was on a Tuesday", as Norm Crosby might have put it ;^)

Modern Japan is full of interesting contradictions. A love of nature, and at the same time of concrete and soft drink machines, for example. But there is a movement toward a simpler, slower, more natural way, and there is no better place to find that than in relatively rural areas like Ibaraki prefecture.

Baydog said...

Hello Mudda, hello Fadda

Pandabonium said...

Allan Sherman - classic

Anonymous said...

Hmm, what were they doing in Sweden back in 651!

Thanks for these photos, a great time was had by all. You didn't share the jokes with your readers, though ;)


Arkonbey said...

Thanks for the Kyudo video. It reminds me a bit of Iaido, actually.

Doug said...

Wow, the photos are awesome of the shrine and so on. Very nice collection.

--Doug (from Japan: Life and Religion)

Pandabonium said...

Anonymous "M" - 651 was pre Vikings by a few centuries I think. They were sailing little blue boats peacefully on lakes I think before they ran out of beer and decided to go get some from the Brits.

Arkonbey - glad you enjoyed it. I imagine the emphasis on form would be similar.

Doug - thank you very much. We just got back from a trip to Wakayama Prefecture where we stayed in a Shingon Temple where Shinran spent some time (they even had an altar dedicated to him) and explored the temples and shrines of Koyasan. Also visited Shrines to the south and took in the natural beauty there, so lots of pics to come which will be posted next week at Pacific Islander>.

Zen said...