On Sunday, as the second day in a three-day weekend, I went to Ise (pronounced /ee-say/) in Mie Prefecture, home of the most important shrine in Japan, and took a bunch of pictures starting here. Let me start right out by saying that every once in a while, you will see something you never expected you would ever see. Well, in Ise, I saw such an vision. That is, I saw chickens sitting in a tree. It might be the most incredible sight I have ever seen in my life. I still haven’t gotten over the shock, the thrill, the elation of seeing this. Here it is:
OK, so anyway, there are many shrines in Ise, and millions of Japanese come every year (6 million a year or so) to visit them. Especially the big one, 内宮 (naiguu). When I went, it was a throng of humanity:
Sugoi hito desu ne! Anyways, besides the many shrines, Ise is famous for udon. There is this old-style town there where you go to a shokken (a manual one, with a real person, not a machine) and get a wooden tab with a number on it. It was difficult to hear the number because there was taiko drumming going on about 10 feet away at the same time.
The noodles were delicious. I also had some other festival foods, a cucumber on a stick, crab on a stick, and some amazake, which is a hot drink made from fermented rice. It’s got an interesting, lumpy texture and is kind of sweet. No alcohol to speak of in it, so it’s even used as baby food. Here is a picture of me eating some kimuchi yakisoba okonomiyaki taken by a beautiful kind stranger:
I also found four Energy Gym machines. And also, a cool VW dealership. Did I mention there were chickens up a tree? This man explained to his son that the kamisama (god of the shrine) put them up there. OK, but why? Why would a divine entity take the time out of protecting the people of Japan to put chickens in a tree? WHY?