Wide Island View
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Wide Island View

Shrine Hunting in the Inaka

March 2022. While restrictions and guidance are easing, it can be difficult to justify going to the next big city over. I wrestle with my desire to see Japan by doing what I can and making the best of it. Once every weekend or two, I hop into the car to go “shrine hunting” and shoot driving videos that I set music to, upload to YouTube, and send them to my friends to share Japan as best I can.

Kui Inari Shrine

This willingness to do something is paying off. At one local shrine, I met the caretaker and he introduced himself to me after helping an obaa-san wrangle her loose dog. He opened up the main shrine for me to look into; I think he was tickled pink he and the shrine had a visitor. I plan to revisit to snap photos on a warmer, clearer day and hopefully ask him some questions in my broken, baby Japanese.

Another shrine I visited is up a hill from a playground. I spotted this one with a fellow ALT as we were driving up to see a nature park heaped with boulders after a good snowfall. I made a note of it to check it out later. I went on a snowy-turned-rainy, absolutely, ugly, stay-inside day, but my Midwest-Southern American bred stubbornness forbade me from not going. I drove to the playground, climbed up the stairs, and found a little shrine tucked up and away in a little wood grove. One particular drive wound up with me seeing an observatory and discovering a temple atop a mountain with a gorgeous and clear view for what seems like forever.

The “Playground” Shrine [Actual name unknown; my Japanese ain’t that good yet.] Location; Kui, Mihara-shi, Hiroshima-ken, Japan.

I know not everyone has the same situation, resources, or drives as I do. Even so, it never hurts to try doing something small, especially if it helps get out of a crappy frame of mind. Shrines and temples help with that (at least for me). They are typically quiet and lonesome, so I can just wander and look to my heart’s content. It’s small, but it scratches the itch to see Japan.

“Mountain top temple” [Actual name unknown]: Location; Kui, Mihara-shi, Hiroshima-ken, Japan. Close to the local observatory and Kui no Gankai.

P.S. Still going to visit Akihabara. Gotta mark that off the nerd pilgrimage list one of these days. Maybe when it’s a little easier to justify traveling to Tokyo. Might even make a great urban shrine hunt of the trip.

Written by Jacky “the Nerd” Killian

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A collaborative online publication written by JET Programme participants in Hiroshima, Japan.

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Jacky Killian

Jacky Killian

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