Saturdays seem to have become the unofficial day for exploring nearby regions. I finally got my credit card and ETC card last week so we can go traveling and get better rates on the toll roads. My car doesn’t have an ETC reader but my friends’ do so we use their car. So far we’ve been to Inuyama and Tahara. This weekend was my birthday weekend so I got to choose what we did.
My birthday was on Saturday but the celebration started on Friday evening. A friend cooked a fabulous dinner. On Saturday morning, we had breakfast together while we planned our trip to Toba and Ise in the Mie Prefecture. Our first stop was Ise. We went to Sushi Train for lunch. I think I’m going to miss those two little tortoise characters when I leave Japan. As we headed to Sadahama Port for the boat to Dolphin Island, we came across a home made ice cream shop. I had chestnut ice cream while my friends had Pearl and blueberry. Mikimoto Pearls originated from the Toba region so I assume that pearl ice cream is a local specialty. We didn’t visit the Pearl Island but took a boat cruise to Dolphin Island.
The boat was clearly designed for an amusement park with bright colors and a myriad of life size adornments. Dolphin Island is quite small. The dolphin show was disappointing but the beach was beautiful. We walked along the beach with our feet in the water before climbing to the observatory for a panaromic view of the area.
From Toba, we headed to Ise to visit the Jingu Geku shrine. We were too late to go to the Naiku. The entrance and viewable areas of the shrine are relatively simple. It’s a Shinto shrine that has not been influenced by Chinese or Buddhist traditions. The walk through the grounds is very peaceful with majestic trees and small ponds.
The Jingu Naiku is 6 km from Jingu Geku so we did not go to the inner shrine. It was already dusk. Instead, we went to see the wedded rocks. There is a boulevard along the water. It was relaxing to stop for a moment and enjoy the sound of the waves and the trickling of water from the nearby temple. We didn’t get to see Mt. Fuji in the background but perhaps another day.
We found a nice little restaurant on the way home. It served “dry curry” which is apparently quite healthy. Unfortunately, all the descriptions were in Japanese so I don’t know what dry curry is (although I think I ate it) but it is apparently healthy. The restaurant is called Caravan and has lots of character with old records hung all over the walls. There were posters of the Beatles and John Lennon with the Statue of Liberty. The man and woman who I assume ran the place or maybe own it were very gracious. We wanted hot tea (which they said that they did not have) but the lady later brought us hot tea with a note written in English saying “Japanese hot tea is free”. We got home quite late but my travel companions came over and had birthday cake with me. Thanks ladies for a great birthday weekend.