Last month when I first got the car, I figured it would be best to stick around the village for the weekend before I tried driving anywhere remotely city-like. I practiced driving to two of the convenience stores in the village, both relatively easy to get to. I then decided to drive to the top of Mt. Tamaki on the following Sunday afternoon. The drive was easier than I expected and it gave me great practice in maneuvering on the sharp and narrow turns the inaka is well known for.
Mt. Tamaki is surprisingly closer to where I live than I thought- the mountain itself is very close, but the road that wraps around the mountain upwards resulted in a 30 minute trip towards the top of Mt. Tamaki.
I felt like a champ when we got to the parking lot. Not only did I get us to our destination safely, but I also got to witness an amazing view from the top, one that you definitely would not see back home in Minnesota.
When we entered the parking lot, we noticed a large and prominent stone torii gate, the entrance towards Tamaki Shrine.
The pathway leading towards the shrine was maybe a 10-15 minute walk from the parking lot. We encountered many friendly locals and tourists who would give us a smile and a little-head nod to acknowledge us visiting. The rocky path soon turned into wooden steps that sloped downwards. It was a very pretty sight- the trees blocked us from the sun so the shade felt really nice. Overall, the walk was very calm and peaceful.
Soon, we saw a large shrine which we could only assume was Tamaki Shrine. It was beautiful!! We walked up the stone stairs and witnessed three ladies (probably around my mom’s age) clap, shake the shrine’s bell, and pray. After seeing them do that, I wanted to try doing that as well! I mimicked their actions and prayed. I also donated a couple hundred yen into the wooden box and pulled two fortunes, one for me and one for Trevor. Obviously, the fortunes were written in Japanese and I have yet to ask someone to translate it for me.
We continued walking around the area and took a look at the various altars and shrines.
Some of the wells (for drinking and washing your hands with purified water) had these really cool dragon statues perched on the ledge. Almost as if they were guarding it and watching you so that you wouldn’t mess up…. Trevor and I thought they were awesome looking.
Beyond the bright red torii gates was a more touristy area with a stand of souvenirs and a rest spot to sit and relax. There was an assortment of omamori, charms each for a different purpose, such as doing well in school academically. The last time I bought omamori was when I was in Kyoto. I decided to buy one but because everything was written in kanji (borrowed Chinese characters). I ended up choosing a charm with a pretty color scheme and hoped for the best. It ended up being a charm meant to give for those who are sick… sort of a “get well soon” charm… Guess I should work on reading kanji better…
Along the way, we noticed many of these guys hanging around the path and the shrines:
There were tons of them! At one point, we stopped at a little souvenir booth ran by what looked to be priests and priestesses dressed in white traditional Shinto clothes. A baby version of the lizard above ran along the booth, to which the priestess commented: kawaii! (cute). This surprised me as many people I’ve met so far have thought of lizards as gross 😦 It made me happy to hear that she thought of it as kawaii– which it was!
Prior to leaving, I bought Trevor and I a cool little notebook(?) that featured the Tamaki Shrine on the cover. For an additional ￥300, one of the priestesses offered to stamp the inside of the notebook and write 玉置神社 (Tamaki Shrine) in sumi ink. I thought, why not? The end result was insane- it looked amazing!!!
I had a great time at Tamaki Shrine and I really want to come back and explore more of it. (We skipped some parts because it was getting really hot that day and we thought it would be best to come back when the weather is cooler) I’m excited to go there again for festivals, such as 秋季大祭 (Autumn Festival) coming up next month in October.
You’ll hear more soon! I’m loving Totsukawa!! 😀
**Asides from the last two photos, all of the pictures in this post were taken by Trevor- I think he’s taking some really cool photos and they’re turning out awesome!!*