Japan Diaries 4: Day 72

Day 72: January 12, 2022

Wednesday - Mie Road Trip Day 2

Hello everyone! Like what I always do during our past road trips in Japan, I made sure to wake up early to explore the place where we are staying. This helps me avoid the usual crowds and in some instances, have a place solely for myself. 

The morning view from our room in Oedo Onsen Monogatari Ise Shima

From our accommodation, Oedo Onsen Monogatari Ise Shima, the nearest place to visit is the town of Hamajima. For this morning stroll, I woke up at around 4AM but since it was still dark outside so I delayed my plan until the sun is visible. 

Heading out to walk to Hamajima

I left Oedo Onsen Monogatari Ise Shima a little before 5:20AM. I made sure to inform my Japanese family about my plans and also told them that I would be in contact and would be back before breakfast. 

Mie Prefecture
Beautiful sunrise at Hamajima

From the hotel, I followed the main road facing the bay. I was planning to visit Umikozuki which is a maritime museum but decided not to continue when I found out that it was still closed and there would be nothing much to see near it.  

Hamajima, Shima
Exploring the neighborhood of Hamajima

Hamajima, Shima, Mie
Hamajima Seaside Park is really a great place to stroll early in the morning

Hamajima Seaside Park

I then took a detour and walked through the residential area until I reached the Hamajima Seaside Park on the other side of town facing the mouth of Ago Bay. The seaside park was clean and there were only a handful of people during my visit. Strolling the beach early in the morning has its perks as I enjoy the smell of the sea and it was still the Golden Hour hence taking photos is highly recommended.

As much as I wanted to stay longer, and also explore other areas, Mr. Toshi called telling me that I need to go back to Oedo Onsen Monogatari Ise Shima for breakfast. It took me about 30 minutes to get back to the hotel from the beach just in time to meet my Japanese family in the lobby for breakfast. 

My breakfast at Oedo Onsen Monogatari Ise Shima

The pancakes are too cute to eat

Today's meal plan at Mikuri, it was a selection of Japanese and Western breakfast meals. Of course, I made sure to try everything available. 

Mr. Toshi resting for a bit before we check out of Oedo Onsen Monogatari Ise Shima

Waiting for Ms. Sawa before we head out to our next destination

Karin enjoying her photoshoot

After breakfast, we headed back to our room to get our stuff. We then checked out and said goodbye to Oedo Onsen Monogatari Ise Shima who served as our home for the day. We then continued on our drive north to Toba Aquarium in Toba City, Mie Prefecture. 

Toba Aquarium - Toba City, Mie Prefecture

Inside Toba Aquarium

Toba Aquarium Penguin Show

The drive was around an hour long. What was amazing about the hour-long trip was that we passed through several scenic roads along the way. Nature lovers would surely enjoy such a trip. We arrived at Toba Aquarium at around 11:30AM. The admission fee to enter Toba Aquarium was 2500円 per adult, 1300 for children, and 600 for infants. 

Mr. Toshi checking out the planktons

Toba Aquarium's bizarre octopus

Toba Aquarium houses more than 1200 species of fish and other creatures. My favorite part of the aquarium was the area for bizarre aquatic creatures. I was shocked to see a plethora of weird-looking and sometimes scary creatures. However, the highlight of our trip was the Penguin Show which seems to have been enjoyed by everyone. We didn't stay long though as we have other destinations to visit. 

Driving to Ise City from Toba City

Washed our hands (misogi ritual) before entering the shrine

Visitors can't take photos beyond that torii

From Toba Aquarium, we drove to Ise City to visit the Ise Grand Shrine Geku (pronounced gegu). It is one of the most important shrines in all of Japan. As a matter of fact, it is referred to as the "Soul of Japan". It's free to enter and explore its grounds. If you feel generous, you may actually give donations to the different sub-shrines on the shrine grounds. 

Ise Grand Shrine Geku - Ise City, Mie Prefecture

There is one thing that tourists frequently do that is forbidden here. That is to take a photo of the main shrine. There is a guard is posted at the main shrine entrance to make sure you won't try to sneak in a shot. Regardless, you can still take photos of everything else on the vast shrine grounds. 

During our visit to Ise Grand Shrine Geku, I made sure to avail of the goshuin or shrine/temple stamp for my goshuin collection

We crossed the Uji Bridge going to the Ise Grand Shrine Naiku

From there, we then drove to the other half of the shrine on the other side of the city which was Ise Grand Shrine Naiku which is about 15 minutes away by car. It took us a while to find a parking area but we managed to find one between Isuzu River and the Okage Yokocho Ancient Street

Misogi at Ise Jingu Naiku

The Kagura Stage

Ise Grand Shrine Naiku is located 15 minutes away on foot from where we parked. We had to cross the Isuzu River via the scenic and historic Uji Bridge. Ms. Taeko, Ms. Sawa, Ryo, and Karin accompanied me inside the vast shrine grounds until the Kagura Stage while Mr. Toshi had to excuse himself as he had an important call to attend to. After availing of the shrine's goshuin, they told me that they will proceed to Okage Yokocho Ancient Street and I should be there in an hour. 

The main shrine of Ise Grand Shrine Naiku

I then proceeded to the main shrine of Ise Grand Shrine Naiku alone. It was only about 220 meters away from the Kagura Stage. Like the main shrine of Ise Grand Shrine Geku, it is forbidden to take photos of the main shrine and there are also guards posted there to keep an eye on the visitors. 

Betsugu Aramatsu-no-miya 

It only took me less than 10 minutes to visit the main shrine and since there was still some time to kill, I decided to explore other parts of the shrine grounds. I visited interesting spots like the Betsugu Aramatsu-no-miya and Betsugu Kazahinomi-no-miya to name a few. 

After satisfying my curiosity, I walked towards Okage Yokocho Ancient Street where Mr. Toshi and his family would meet me. Surprisingly, I bumped into them outside the Banquet Hall which is still inside the shrine grounds. 

Okage Yokocho Ancient Street

Zanzai and matcha of Akafuku Naiku-mae branch

Together with my Japanese family, we went and checked out Okage Yokocho Ancient Street. It reminded me of our trip to Takayama City last 2018 but this street is much longer and has more stores and restaurants. After almost an hour of exploring we decided to look for a place to eat and we eventually ended up at the Akafuku Naiku-mae branch near the parking area. We ordered the zanzai and matcha which was a traditional Japanese snack. 

Driving back home to Osaka

A quick stop at Ureshino Parking Area

Tsuchiyama Service Area

Checking out the cute illuminated tanuki ninjas of the Tsuchiyama Service Area
Checking out the cute illuminated tanuki ninjas of the Tsuchiyama Service Area

Dinner at Tsuchiyama Service Area

As night begins to fall, we decided to drive back home. Since it was a long drive, we had to do a few stops at Ureshino Parking Area on Ise Expressway in Matsusaka City, Mie Prefecture, and at Tsuchiyama Service Area in Koka City, Shiga Prefecture. It is also in the latter that we ate a full meal for dinner. 

Picked up the family dog, Yomo, at Ms. Akiko's house in Suita City.

Suita City Manhole Cover

From there, we drove to Ms. Akiko's home in Suita City to pick up the family dog Yomo. I got to see Ms. Akiko's husband and eldest son again after 2 years. We had a short catch-up chat and exchanged omiyage before continuing on our way home. We arrived at Mr. Toshi's residence at around 9PM which officially ends our 2-Day Mie Road Trip. Overall, I had created so much fond memories during this trip that writing them down would probably make this article into a book. 

Well, my eyes are tired and sleepy now as I was the co-pilot of Mr. Toshi during the trip. See you tomorrow!

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