Obon is on of the biggest holidays in Japan. It's basically a big festival in order to honor the deceased, and it's pretty much the ONLY time of the year that most Japanese workers can be guaranteed a full week off.
I, of course, only had off Friday and Monday, so I decided to head over to Gifu to hang out with Abby(fine, I'll spell your name right) and Matt for my four day weekend. I was originally planning to just spend one night with them, but somehow that turned into the whole weekend.
Ise Jingu in Mie Prefecture. If you want a well put-together blog entry with lots of info, check out Abby's post, as you're probably not going to get that from me.
It's this amazing shrine complex that is dedicated to the goddess Amaterasu. I guess she's apparently enshrined there, but according to Matt, she's also enshrined somewhere in Nagoya, so that's weird.
There's an outer shrine and an inner shrine, and while the outer shrine itself was nothing overly impressive, I can't even remember the last time I felt so peacefully surrounded by nature. There was this HUGE hollow tree, and despite Abby's lack of desire to meet a spider or get bitten by a mosquito, I managed to convince her to go in with me! She left quickly, but it was my first time actually INSIDE a tree, and I practically had to be dragged out. I could literally stand up inside and look up all the way through it. It was amazing!
in Abby's blog, but I guess they just dismantle them and then rebuild them every few years or so. I guess the Shinto's don't believe in permanence, and really, why should they? The world is an ever-changing place, after all.
akafuku, which is basically like reverse daifuku - the red bean paste is on the outside, and the mochi is on the inside. It was utterly and absolutely delicious! The picture to the right is the akafuku shop - I have no idea for real, but I'm just going to say that maybe they make some of it in those vat looking things! :-)
And that was our day in Ise! We stopped in Nagoya on our way back for some delicious Indian food (it's wonderful that Indian food can almost always satisfy both the gluten free diet and the vegan diet) and were basically exhausted beyond belief upon our return home (well, Abby, Matt, and I were - I can't really say for Martin)!