Monday, September 26, 2011

Misawa Thursday

We had so many adventures this week! Ian finally got to do his FTAC program which orientates new airmen to their first base. This means lots of boring briefings and field trips that spouses get to go on! We had a three day weekend and all our adventures started on Thursday. There is so much to tell you about that I am going to split the posts up into days. I also stole some pics from Ian's phone so there are many more picks than usually. He really went picture happy on the hike and got some great shots.

We started on Thursday with only a half day of travel around Misawa to a Buddhist temple and grave yard and the Samurai house at the Tonami Clan village. We had already been to the village but we didn't get a chance to go in the samurai house before it closed. It was a very chilly in there like the house was literally outside. I can see why the Japanese would all huddle around their braziers in the stories I've read. We had to take off our shoes and the floor was completely covered in tatami mats. Those mats are so beautiful. Ian and I were looking to get a grass mat like that for our house. Of course not as nice as those. The house also had the paper doors and beautiful wood work that you see in the movies.
The man that own the samurai was a real pioneer in Japanese ranching. He implemented western technologies and breeding programs and became the most successful rancher in the area.

The Buddhist shrine was really pretty inside. I guess the Japanese only go to the shrine about 4 times a year normally. The most important time being New Years. I'm super excited to participate this year. At this shrine there was an altar to pray to the goddess of unborn children and I'm having a hard time remember the other god. I think he cures illnesses. I am going to need to come back on my own - there was just too many people milling around to get a sense of the atmosphere.
In the back of the shrine was a whole room with this little cubby holes stacked on top of each other. They are like household shrines for your dead ancestors. I guess if you don't have a place for a shrine in your house you can buy one here. In the back of the shrine at the little plaques with the name of the ancestor and there are flowers and offerings of flood and drink. That is what the little tray with the bowls on it are for. Some of them were very plain and some of them had lots of offerings. It was really fascinating to have all these...ancestors? spirits? dead people? stacked from floor to ceiling in this small room.
Outside were the grave plots of families. I guess everyone is buried together and as the years roll by they buy little add ons for the family grave. We didn't really get to explore but I am going to try some day. There were also scary stone statues of demons? guarding the grave yard from evil spirits. You'll just have to check out the web album. Buddhist Shrine and Samurai House

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