sechan19: (anne)
[personal profile] sechan19
Since Wednesday feels like two separate days—pre-nomikai Wednesday and-post nomikai Wednesday—I'm going to split them up into two separate entries.

We started Wednesday off with a morning lecture on the Toyouke Shrine—often referred to as the Outer Shrine. When thinking about the inner (naikū) and outer shrines (gekū) of Ise, it's easy to imagine that they lie close together, when the reality is that they are actually situated quite distant from one another. The Inner Shrine (also known as the Grand Shrine) is located in a part of the city known as Uji, while the Outer Shrine is in Yamada. In pre-modern times, the Ise pilgrimage involved stops at the Outer and Inner Shrine, as well as time spent in Yamada no machi and a visit to Kongōshōji. Pilgrims first visited the Outer Shrine, then visited the Inner Shrine, and then made their way to Kongōshōji before returning home. They would spend two-to-three days just in the Ise area alone to do this. (And at certain points in Ise history, the Inner and Outer shrines did not get along with each other, and they sometimes fought battles because the Outer shrine—as the first stop—had better control over transit pathways to the Inner shrine and could [and did] restrict people's access!) Anyway, today it is not uncommon for visitors on pilgrimage to Ise to recreate this pilgrimage route and spend the same amount of time on it—even though they now come by car, bus, or train.

It was a pretty intensely rainy day, and cold with it, which limited our mobility. Our trip to Kongōshōji was misty and chill, but somehow the weather for the Outer Shrine trip was a bit more oppressive. Fortunately, however, we have a special return visit scheduled for next week, and I hope for better weather (or that I remember to wear my thick socks) then. We did spend a good amount of time in the Sengū—the museum dedicated to the shrines' history, which contained lots of valuable information about the building techniques and ritual process involved in the rebuilding of the shrines (which takes place every twenty years at both the Inner and Outer shrine complexes). T. and I latched onto Sano-sensei—an Ise shrine expert—early on in the tour and spent the time peppering him with questions, which he kindly and diligently answered.

After the tour, we had about two hours to kill until dinner at the craft brewer and Tamada-san (our program coordinator) mentioned an akafukumochi place nearby, so T., our friend M., and I—along with Kogakkan students Suzuki, Haruki, and Saki—made our way there for tea, mochi, and conversation. It was warm, and the tea and sweets were delicious and fortifying, and we had a lot of fun chatting about language, and interests, and whatnot. And, in that time-honored tradition of friendship, we made fun of each other for various and sundry things. And we laughed a lot. With the little bit of time left over before we had to meet back up again for the taxi ride, the Kogakkan students took us over to a small bookshop, where I was able to find a copy of a book on Ise that I had been coveting—a book chock-full of excellent photographs and articles that will be a material help to me in future teaching projects. There were exactly two copies of the book, which was awesome because it meant that both T. and I were able to buy one. (Bookstore win!)

Our purchases made, we powered back to the meeting point—pausing to take a few silly pictures along the way—and then it was time to say goodbye to the students, who sadly had decided not to join us for dinner, and make our way to the restaurant for delicious food, excellent beer, and more scrumptious conversation.

But that's another story, and shall be told another time. Stay tuned...
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May 2014

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