Before we go, a little shopping and a little shrine seeing

It is a Japanese custom to bring back souvenirs, so called おみあげ (omiage). Traditional gifts are the local sweets, hence you usually wait until the last day to buy them. They are somewhat unified, so it does not matter at all where you buy them. You could do it at the airport. Alcoholics are also quite popular gifts, but you should maybe know what you are buying up front. You can never go wrong with sweets though.
We took a last stroll through the international Street, 国際通り (こくさいどおり, Kokusai-dōri) to obtain these presents.
After a late lunch we returned to the hotel to get our bags. With some time left we visited two shrines that are on the way to the airport. These are not the first shrines we visited on it trip, but as time was short, you’ll learn about them first. Addendum will follow as soon as possible (there is a lot to catch up on).
Most of the shrines and temples in Okinawa have been destroyed during world war II, and were often later replaced by concrete buildings. Often they are not extensively beautiful. However, nature and beauty will always find it’s way back, and even in modern times, simple designs just cover the rich inner beauty.
The first place we went to is Okinogu jinja, which was once one of Japan’s national treasures. Apparently a master of karate, maybe even the founder of today’s style, had taught many people there. I failed to take a picture of the monument at the entrance.
The shrine itself looks quite rustic, but if you follow the path behind it to the power centre, you see some beautiful sights. A narrow path leads to various stales with inscriptions.

(Gallery will be updated with captions when time allows.)

Our second destination was Gokoku-jinja. The name is quite confusing, since there is a temple with a similar name, i.e. Gokoku-ji. We visited this one too, but the report will have to follow. It is only a few metres away from Okinogu jinja and one of the prime examples for a post world war shrine. Very simple exterior and completely made out of concrete. The surrounding area has a few monuments and there is a nice long stairway to the central area. I quite like this design it has enough features from traditional buildings, while maintaining a post modern simplicity.

(Gallery will be updated with captions when time allows.)

I obtained a Goshuin at both places. It never will cease to amaze me how the people will react when I ask for it. Because of the nearly complete lack of conversational skills in Japanese on my part, any word smithing is hard. Occasionally I have a good moment and understand, and in an even better moment, I can reply.
Today I was asked, if I was not cold. It was indeed a bit chilly outside because of somewhat stronger winds. When you live in Ibaraki, however, it feels quite comfortable. I really enjoyed wearing shorts again and have now high hopes for spring, even in Mito. It has been rumoured that Sakura will start early this year. Anyway, I was able to tell the friendly lady, that I love in Ibaraki and that it is much closer there. She laughed and showed me, that she was wearing a woollen pullover.


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