After six nights in Kobe, it was time to plan the final two weeks of my trip.  My time in Kobe was memorable, and much more relaxed than the first three weeks.  The next couple of weeks had originally been planned, but with the cancellation of the naked festival (see previous post) in Furukawa, I had to revamp my plans.

Rather than end my trip hopping from place to place, to finally land in Tokyo, I decided to spend it in Osaka.  I had originally planned a couple of days there after Kobe, but now would spend the better part of my last week instead.  So, what to do with the time before that?

With Osaka now pushed out, I decided to head to Inuyama, which is a small town about 30 minutes outside of Nagoya.  I could have made it a day trip from Nagoya, but there were a few things in the area that merited a couple of days, and I happend to have the time.  I booked the hotel late, and as  result didn’t have a lot of choice – I ended up in a Ryokan Hotel.  A bit upscale but not too expensive – a far more than I had expected.  A (very) large tatami mat room, and large indoor AND outdoor onsen on the water.  The only thing it didn’t come with was meals – which was to be the painful aspect of the trip.

For those who don’t know, Ryokan typically come with meals – dinner and breakfast – and you pretty much have to work your schedule around their marginally flexible schedule.  While that increases the costs, if you factor the cost of your dinner into your day it’s actually a good deal and a much better quality meal than you’ll find at your local restaurant.  In this case, I hadn’t been given that choice, so after arriving at the Ryokan and dropping my stuff off, I headed out for dinner to try and find something open.  Did I mention it was raining?

Inuyama, as it turns out, tends to go to sleep early.  There isn’t much happening in this town of 75K residents, and not many open restaurants to service them.  The main train station in town seemed a likely bet, but even with two pachinko parlours there just didn’t seem to be anything open past 7pm.  After walking around for a while I managed to locate a yakitori place that seemed reasonable, and had a few customers.  More importantly, it was open.

I headed in and got to ordering a bunch of stuff.  Having been in Japan for a while, I was getting used to figuring out what stuff was, or just guessing and being surprised.  The one item on the menu I happened to guess wrong was the scallops wrapped in bacon – which in fact turned out to be fish sausage (I think) wrapped in bacon.

Fish sausage is not something I’m particularly fond of.  It’s an acquired taste, and not one I’ve made an attempt to acquire beyond what I might end up getting accidentally covered in tasty sauce so you don’t notice you’re eating it situations.  This time, I’d have to say it was undercooked, and didn’t taste much like anything.  And for the next week, I’d be regretting eating it.  Maybe I was due for stomach problems, given all the stuff I’d been eating – maybe not.  Maybe it was the fish sausage, and maybe it was something else.  Can’t say for sure, but it was painful and certainly drained my energy for the week.

Anyways, you didn’t come here to read about that, now did you?

The next day I was headed to two shrines, a short train ride away;  Ōgata-jinja 大縣神社 and Tagata-jinja 田県神社.  Ōgata-jinja is a 2000 year old shirne dediced to the female Shintō deity Izanami, while Tagata-jinja is the male counterpart.

I stopped by Tagata first, as it was the furthest stop, and wandered around the town for a bit getting lost while looking for the shrine – let’s just say the guidebooks directions of “west of the station” left a lot to be desired.  It did allow me to stumble upon some cherry blossoms which made good subjects after the rain the previous day/evening.

The shrine itself had a whole lot of “no pictures” signs, so I took what I could from a distance.  Using your imagination, I’m sure you can figure out the imagery.

The next shrine was Ōgata, a train station and 20 minute walk “southwest” – again, not very accurate, but I smartly asked for help this time and was pointed in the right direction.  This shrine was away from the town, a good walk up a large hill (small mountain?), and on larger grounds than the Tagata.

The fertility objects in this case were, as you might expect, the opposite of the male one.  Again, you can probably figure out the imagery in the pictures below without much guidance.

Between the shrine and the station there were several houses that appeared to be growing plum trees, and they happened to be in bloom.  Some flowers were also up and about after the overnight rain.

An autoshop that apparently feeds off of twisters:

And don’t do whatever this sign is saying not to do (large fine):

On my way back, I headed over to the local sake brewery for a tasting, and picked up some items for drinking and importing.  The brewery also made beer, so I decided to give that a try with dinner – which, in this case, would be pizza.  My stomach being what it was, and having passed by this little italian take-out/delivery place on the way to the brewery, I decided to keep it simply (and cheap) tonight.  I grabbed a small pizza for take-out, and headed back to the Ryokan for dinner.

I couldn’t resist a  few photos of the Cherry Blossoms in full bloom over the water, however, before packing it in.