Hi, it’s Derek from Smith’s School of English Tsukaguchi in Amagasaki. Last year, I wrote about going to Tottori Sand Dunes in my blog My Golden Week Holiday Trip. Today I’m going to write about things I did during this year’s Smith’s Golden Week holiday. Let’s get started!
Bus Ride to Mimasaka, Okayama Prefecture
On May 3, I took the JR express bus to Mimasaka, Okayama and joined my family at my wife’s parent’s house. I enjoyed some homemade fried chicken which was delicious!
Drive to Shimane Prefecture
The next day, my family, my wife’s parents, my wife’s brother and I went to Izumo Taisha in Shimane Prefecture by car. On the way there, we passed through many tunnels. I had never seen that many tunnels on one trip. Some of them were very long! It was interesting!
Izumo Taisha is a revered ancient Shinto shrine. It is said that gods from all over Japan leave their shrines and meet at Izumo Taisha in October. The god Okuninushino Okami, the god of love and marriage, is said to be enshrined there. Many people go there to pray for good fortunes. The etiquette there is different from other shrines. You have to bow twice, clap your hands 4 times then bow once. I managed to do it a few times with guidance! The oshimenawa rope at the Kagura-den hall is one of Japan’s largest sacred ropes. It was so big! There were also buildings with very steep roofs which were quite fascinating. Izumo Taisha is also deeply related to the Japanese myth The White Hare of Inaba with is why there are some cute statues of rabbits there. It was a nice place to visit.
Dango with Bean Paste
After visiting Izumo Taisha, some of us wanted to go to a restaurant to eat famous Shimane Prefecture soba (buckwheat noodles). But restaurants there were crowded so we did not eat soba there. Instead, some of us enjoyed dangos with red bean paste which was yummy. Dango is a Japanese dumpling made from rice flour mixed with uruchi rice flour and glutinous rice flour.
Inasa Beach (Inasa-no-hama)
Before leaving Izumo Taisha, we went to Inasa Beach which is said to be the waiting place for gods during the sacred season. It was a scenic place. Although I did not see it during my visit, there is a large rock there called Benten-Jima on which stands a small shrine. It is dedicated to Toyotamabime, the daughter of Wadazumi, the God of the sea, and is said to protect seafarers. Apparently the view of the evening sun sinking behind the silhouette of Benten-jima is stunning. As a symbol of “Izumo, sacred place of the setting sun,” it is even registered as a Japan Heritage Site. Many thanks to my wife’s brother for providing the photos of it.
Quick Stop in Matsue
Next, we went briefly to Matsu where we looked for a restaurant that sold soba. We found one but gave up on eating there as the shop was going to close soon.
Soft Ice-cream and Soba at Service Areas
While driving back to Mimasaka, we stopped at 2 service areas. We enjoyed soft ice-cream at the first one and, finally, soba at the other one!
I also bought souvenir gift (omiyage) for my students of English. It was a rabbit-shaped, white bean paste-filled sweet. The rabbit shape was inspired by the famous White Hare of Inaba story of the region. I tried one as I had some extra ones. It was cute and also delicious!
The next day before leaving Mimasaka, my wife, son and I all briefly tried riding a unicycle at my wife’s parent’s home. My daughter could already ride it so I wanted to try it. Even though I did not succeed and got scratched and bruised, it was fun trying! I want to try unicycling again until I can do it! I enjoyed watching my wife and son try it after I did. Great effort!
Some schools in Japan have unicycles which students can use. In Grade 6, my wife had practiced riding a unicycle at school during recess but never mastered it. This time so many years later, she succeeded riding a very short distance. Well done!
The next day, I went back home. My JR express bus made a brief stop at a service area. I was able to buy and enjoy freshly-baked chocolate chip melon bread. It was delicious!
Another Nice Golden Week Holiday
I had a nice Golden week break again this year. I wonder what I will enjoy doing during my Smith’s Golden Week holiday next year? (^.^)
Smith’s School of English Tsukaguchi