Friday, November 18, 2011

Day 25 - Ise Grand Shrine (Ise Jingu) in Mie Prefecture

Today, we went quite a ways to the next prefecture, Mie, kinda like going to the next province to meet Megu's friend Natsumi to visit Ise Grand Shrine.  It was a long train ride to get to Mie, and Na-chan picked us up from the train station and kindly drove us through the 2-hour traffic jam to get to the Shrine.

Apparently this shrine is for the God of all Gods in the Shinto religion.  Probably explains the ridiculous traffic!  People from all over Japan would make a pilgrimage to visit this temple and it was pretty darn busy the day we visited.  The way to the temple is a narrow road filled with all the omiage (souvenirs) you can possibly imagine.

One of the shops was run by a wood-carving artist who had some pretty awesome work.  I didn't remember to take pictures of his awesome art, but you can see a couple small items at the bottom of this picture.
The scenery was pretty awesome on the walk to the big temple.  Walked across a few beautiful bridges as below.
Here's a shot off the side of said bridge.
The girls and some Japanese-y looking trees.  It was hella bright out, hence why they're having trouble looking at the camera.
Corporations donate sake to appease the Gods.  Here's a wall of sake containers (they're actually full!  what a waste!!! er, i mean, sign of deep respect for the, uh, Gods)
Cooler shot of said sake, though I don't think it would make as much sense without the boring pic above.
Giant-ass Torii (Gate).
Cool shot of a torii and bridge by Megu.
Cool shot of trees overhead along the walk...
Once we got to the temple, you're only allowed to take pictures from the bottom of the stairs.
Girls again on yet another bridge :)
More bridges!  Apparently, I'm obsessed!!  Or maybe they just make cool photo-ops :)
Took a shot of this on the way out, but you actually have to wash your hands and pour water into your hand to drink from the cup to "cleanse" yourself before you head into the temple.
Here's a shot of the little wooden cups all bokeh'd!  Bokeh is a japanese word that we've stolen in the english language for photography.  
Bokeh refers to the defoccused areas of the picture, typically the background.  It's really useful for making your subject "pop" in the picture, by having them be the only in-focus section of the photo.  Plus everything else dissolves into pretty circles.  Here's a couple pretty random pics I nabbed off google images to better illustrate.

Obviously these pics are 1000X better than mine!  But yeah, bokeh is dreamy and awesome.  To maximize bokeh, you need a fast camera aperture, ideally long camera focal length (ie zoomed in!) and the background to be far from the subject.  I bought my tiny point and shoot camera because it had a relatively fast aperture setting so I could do limited bokeh-y stuff, but it'll still be much better with a more expensive camera.  Thus ends the camera lesson for the day!

As we left the temple, we ran into a traditional Japanese wedding.  Pretty cool!
Outside the temple, we grabbed sushi lunch.
We all ordered a Mie prefecture specialty, bonito (it's a fish!) marinated in soya sauce, mirin, sake and served on a bed of vinegared rice and topped with seaweed.  Freaking amazing!!!
Megu and I at the restaurant, hanging out the window!
Here's a shot of me on the train ride home, looking homeless (er, unshaven) as ever with gifts from Na-chan, yummy Mie prefecture seaweed (has a different texture than i'm used to and delish!) and mandarin oranges from her family's orchard.  They were great!
That's it for today!  Gah, another monster blog post!!!

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