Monkey Time on Iki

We recently made a trip to Iki island, off the coast of Nagasaki prefecture. The whole island is covered with monkey statues and rocks shaped like monkeys, and other monkey paraphernalia.

Here are some of my friends at a monkey shrine on the north end of the island! There were hundreds of iterations of these hear, speak and see no evil monkeys at the shrine. Also, there was a giant mukade, a poisonous cockroach.

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A Weekend in Miyazaki Prefecture

It’s a busy week here at school and at home. I got back from a whirlwind weekend in Miyazaki and am heading to Shikoku on Thursday.  Miyazaki was amazing. Here are the highlights!

Udo Shrine – a beautiful shrine built into a cliff. The shrine is dedicated to fertility and has rabbits everywhere. There is a rock a little out to sea with a dimple in the top. The shrine sells clay balls for you to throw into the dip, and if you get it in, you’ll have good luck!

Fake Easter Island. Sometimes its better not to question why.

Pizza Hut – After nine months of Japanese Pizza, all of us were looking forward to the Hut. It was a decision I later came to regret – too much Cheese! We couldn’t find the actually restaurant, but the GPS brought us to a delivery center, so we ordered some to the parking lot.

Takachiho Gorge – an unbelievably beautiful place. We went boating and on a hike that turned out too be much l0nger than we expected. Ugh.

Chicken Nanban – the famous dish from Miyazaki prefecture. Chicken with a vinegar sauce. Delicious!

I am so glad I got the chance to camp in Japan, even if it was on the most beautifully manicured lawn. Miyazaki was wonderful, and given the chance I would go back!

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Visiting a Shinto Shrine: Ema

These wooden plaques, or ema, are found at all shinto shrines in Japan. For a few hundred yen you can buy a plaque and write your wish on it in the hope that the shrine deities will grant it.

These ema were at a love shrine in Kyoto, so these messages are wishing for luck in love. At this shrine you can also try to gain luck in love by walking between two stones with your eyes closed. Unfortunately, when I tried it, I veered far off course and into an elderly Japanese man. Whoops.

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Dazaifu Tenman-gu

The most famous shrine in Fukuoka is Dazaifu’s Tenman-gu shrine – dedicated to the God of learning and built on his grave. Ever year thousands of students come to rub the horns of a lucky bull, buy omamori, good luck charms, and pray for good studying and good grades. We went to visit just as the plum blossoms, Fukuoka’s prefectural flower, were blooming. Beautiful!

Plum blossoms at Dazaifu

As you approach the shrine you cross a pond built in the shape of the Japanese character for heart. The two bridges signify past and future, and you apparently shouldn’t walk over them with your current boy or girlfriend, as it leads to the end of relationships. Whoops.

Dazaifu is also home to the Kyushu national museum, where we saw the visiting exhibit on Van-Gogh.


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