Sunday, October 4, 2009

Sunday, October 4, 2009 (Part I)-

I have had yet another exciting day sightseeing with my host mom today. She and I took the afternoon to visit the nearby prefecture of Ibaraki. All you Northfield people out there, this is the region that Yosh Soltis was born in and it is literally 15 minutes East of my town. Yosh you’ll be happy to know that I thought it was beautiful. The map on the right is of the Northwest corner of the prefecture. I’ve circled my town of Nakagawa in yellow, Fukuroda Falls in blue, and the Owl Shinto Shrine in red. Just so you know that took me like twenty minutes on Adobe Photoshop!

The weather today couldn't have been better. 70 or so with a nice breeze and just the right amount of clouds. It is finally feeling like Fall. Anyway, our day consisted of us visiting the beautiful Fukoroda Falls of Daigo. I couldn’t fit all of the images on one blog entry, so I posted some snapshots of the falls, the mountains, the autumn colors, a snug little restaurant we ate an Ibaraki-ken specialty and an awesome suspension bridge we got to cross (albeit three 60 year old men were standing in the middle shaking it from side to side!) below.

After Fukuroda we headed to an ancient (1552 CE) Shinto Shrine that is dedicated to birds, or more specifically to Owls. The keeper of the Torinoko Shrine is a Rotarian and although he was away his wife helped show us the place. The shrine is literally split right down the middle between Tochigi Prefecture and Ibaraki Prefecture. To prove the point there is a long white line running up the steps. So as I climbed to the top I was in Ibaraki, but coming back down I had returned to Tochigi.

The shrine is pretty unique. There were dozens of statues of owls all around: some of stone, several of wood, one to put your umbrellas into, one of fancy blue china, a jade owl, and to top it all of, a gigantic owl painted gold that overlooked the parking lot!
It was a beautiful mountain escape and to give you an idea of how remote it was I included a picture below of the forests and countryside we had to drive through to get there! It makes me appreciate how quickly one year can pass when I stand next to a temple keeper who is seventy something, under a temple that is 400 and something, and amongst trees that are 1000 and something. I just hope I get to experience more before my one year is up.

The mountains and forests that run between Tochigi and Ibaraki Prefectures


  1. Those pictures are amazing.
    I love the owl! :D

  2. Sam-
    We have been following your blog, and enjoying hearing about all your adventures! You are a fabulous travel writer and photographer, and it is so fun to feel so up to date with your Japanese life. We check the blog often :).
    We are so proud of you!
    The Tianos