Last I left you we were heading out of Misawa to Hachinohe to visit a temple and go to the fish market. The guides kept calling it a temple but from what I have read it was actually a Shinto shrine. I’m not super familiar with these religions so I can’t be for sure.
So when we got there we were taught how to complete a purification ritual prior to entering the shrine. In order to enter the shrine this is a requirement. However, they did express if this were to go against your religious beliefs you did not HAVE to participate. Below you will see a picture of Nick doing the purification. What happens is you pick up the wooden ladle shown with your right hand. You fill it with water. The water was FREEZING by the way! You will then rinse your left hand, switch hands, rinse your right hand, switch hands, and rinse your mouth from the ladle. You will then rinse the hand that you used to rinse your mouth with.Do not drink directly from the ladle! At this time you will take the ladle in both hands and slowly raise it in front of you emptying the remaining water from it.
At this point you are allowed to enter the shrine. Below is the entrance to the shrine. It is called the Torii. It is only appropriate to enter a shrine through the Torii. A Torii is a wooden structure and will usually be painted orange and black. You will see in the pictures above and below that there are white pieces of paper hanging from a rope on the structure. These are there to mark the entrance of something sacred.
Once inside you can throw a coin into the offering box and have a short prayer. We did not participate in this particular portion. The way shrines are different from the traditional church I am used to is pretty extensive. A shrine is not a place where worship or services take place. I equate it to much more like meditation. The inside of the shrine is typically where the sacred object is located. We were not authorized to enter. We did see a few young babies there. Newborns will often be taken to the shrine at a few weeks old for a blessing. They said sometimes weddings will also take place there.
One of the other things that you can often do at the shrine is receive your fortune. You can pay anywhere from 1-5$ to get your fortune. In the picture below you will see that you can also leave the fortune behind by hanging it up on the teepee like structures. The picture on the right is called a Kappa. A Kappa is a Japanese folklore. The green salamander is meant to scare children from swimming in the river and lakes. It is said the Kappa will eat them. Sometimes offerings are even given to the Kappa’s for protection.
The last place we went was the fish market. We bought some more delicious goodies from the fish market. We probably spent $50 alone on pastries 🙂 One whole side was the market and then there were individual stores within as well. It looked like a lot of the local business men and women went here for lunch. We saw a lot of eel and octopus. Octopus is a huge thing here. You will not hear about me partaking in that! The best sweet thing I have had in Japan so far was here. It was like a fried croissant with custard inside. I do not know what it was but I intend to figure out how to make it! It is also apple season here and the one picture below is of the giant apples. There were some that were the size of the baby’s head! Like I said before, it was a great day. It ended with the little girl passing out at the very end and one of the cookies I got had a sweet little message on it 🙂 Stay tuned for more adventures soon. I will say-it seems like we got here right at the end of all the festivals so I do not think I will be able to write about those. Instead we will get to tell you about all of our snow adventures!