The other weekend I decided to get out and do a little bit of exploring with some friends. We visited the Nakagawa aquatic park in Ohtawara, not too far from where I live. Was a nice little trip out!
One thing which took a lot of manning up to do, was sticking my hand through a hole in a tank and letting some fish eat the dead skin from my hands. Not going to lie, it felt horrible. I’ve only really seen people have ‘fish pedicures’ but not ‘fish manicures’. I literally stuck my hand in there for about 30 seconds then pulled it straight out.
We then headed for lunch afterwards, and I had soba noodles for the first time in Japan. It came with an onion tempura with spring onions and shrimps which you dipped in the noodle soup. It was delicious!
A friend then took us to a nearby place which was well known for its insane flavoured ice creams! Yes, your eyes are not deceiving you. That ice cream advertised on the window is asparagus flavoured ice cream. I felt like I should have been adventurous and tried it out, but when you ‘re in the mood for good ice cream you do not want to take the risk in case you don’t like it. I’ll definitely make it a goal to try it before I leave Japan. I promise!
After getting ice cream, we went to visit a famous shrine which was around 15-20 minute car journey out of Ohtawara. My friend has been living in Ohtawara for a number of years, so knows the area like the back of his hand. We drove along some narrow country roads, and stopped by a tiny road with an empty car park. Across the road there was a small entrance heading into the forest. As we walked through, I was pretty amazed at what I could see.
I’ve visited quite a few shrines and temples during my stay in Japan so far, but for some reason this temple really amazed me. There was something very eery about it that made it beautiful. I guess I am use to seeing shrines and temples with bright coloured paint and with a few visitors. But this temple seemed forgotten about, with no visitors other than me and my friends, the wood faded and washed out. I found out that this temple is called the Unganji temple, and it just celebrated its 750th anniversary this year.
We climbed up the steps and made our way further up the mountain. We approached a little building right at the top, and an old man came out to speak to us. He happened to be the monk in charge of taking care of the temple, and he seemed so surprised to see us. Not only because we were visitors, but I think he was also shocked that we were all foreigners.
Unganji temple has definitely been the most breath-taking temple I’ve had the privilege of visiting so far in Japan. The fact that it seemed so hidden away on the outskirts of town. Such an old, beautiful structure seemingly lost and forgotten about. I tried doing some research on the temple, but have found very little information about it. I’m fascinated to know what the temple represented and what it was used for. Hopefully I’ll be able to find out some day.
Hope you guys are having an amazing weekend. Until next time!