I wrote this ages ago, and meant to post it then. Better late than never!
Mike and I are expecting a baby in September (2008), so a class of students decided to take me to Suitengu shrine. Everyone had been asking me if I had been to that shrine yet, so I was really glad to be invited to go. Suitengu is the shrine pregnant women visit to pray for a safe delivery and healthy baby.
We met at Azamino station (at 11:00, then caught the express to Suitengumae station. I was expecting to just make a quick visit and prayer at the shrine, like any other shrine, so I was surprised that I had to register my name at the desk when we got there.
I was given something to wrap around my waist to protect the baby, and an “omamori” good luck charm. Then we waited until a specific time when all of us who registered were called into the interior of the shrine. Before we entered, we purified our hands with the temple water.
After entering, we were all asked to sit down, and the priest began a short ceremony to pray for us and our babies. Afterwards, we went outside, made a quick prayer at the front of the shrine, and took some photos. It was very interesting!
Haru, Ikue, and I then decided to find a place to have lunch. On the way, we passed some traditional sweets shops and bought a couple of things. Some of the items were very nostalgic. I picked up some candied dried apricots. I love dried apricots, but I had never seen candied ones before. They turned out to be very delicious!
Around the corner we found a tiny tempura shop. The restaurant had a real “shitamachi” feel and had just a few stools. We all ordered tempura, and it was served with rice, pickles, miso soup, and tofu. Everything was absolutely delicious! And it was the first time for me to have broccoli and seaweed tempura.
Our bellies filled, we decided to stop at Mitsukoshi department store on the way home and browse through the baby goods. Haru and Ikue helped me find some things I will need to bring with me to the hospital when I deliver. We enjoyed looking at all the cute little clothes!
Before heading home, we took a break and had tea. I ordered lemonade, and it was maybe the best lemonade I have ever had!
We caught the train to Azamino and chatted all the way home. It was a really fun day. Thank you very much, Haru and Ikue!
Deana, Smith’s School of English Azamino