This story starts off with us celebrating EB’s first birthday strawberry picking and celebrating St. Patty’s Day – Japanese style.
We took a bus trip up to Hirata Farms in Miyoshi to pick strawberries with the kiddos. The weather was a tad brisk, but sunny nonetheless and naturally the kids had a great time. EB and Rudy both ate their weight in strawberries.
After a bit of picking and grinning, we made our way around the farm. There were pens with goats and pigs that the kids enjoyed feeding and a pasture with some rather tall bovine. Seriously, these cattle had legs as long as horses and had these really cool nose rings that wrapped up around their heads. I’ll give it to the Japanese to score style points on a bullring.
After the strawberries and livestock, we boarded the bus for the Hiroshima Miyoshi Winery. It’s funny when you have kids and eating in a restaurant becomes damage control mixed with partially entertaining the youngsters while trying the get in a couple of glasses of wine. Top it all off with the fact that a majority of the places we’ve eaten so far in Japan combine the cooking right at the table. Add a grabby one-year-old and a headstrong four-year-old to the mix and yer in for a really good time. This place had a built-in hibachi right in the center of the table. The food was pretty good, the wine was decent, but the park was the best part.
Across the street from the winery was the Miyoshi Sports Park. The park is a miniature of Maggie Daley Park in Chicago, but wine themed. Nothing says kids entertainment like getting sauced in the park. Ha! It was really cool, though and the weather only kept getting better.
We were there with a group of military families from the base, and Iwakuni being as small as it is, everyone pretty much knew everyone, so we all let our kids run around and hung out while they tired themselves out. EB was a trooper, Rudy overcame some fears of tall slides and the ride home was met with a well-deserved nap for the birthday girl.
We did get some Easter and Birthday gifts for the kiddies from back home. A big thanks to the grandparents, aunts, uncles, and all others for their thoughtful contributions to Rudy n EBs growth, happiness and development.
This past weekend we went to Miyajima Island up near Hiroshima for the Kiyomori Matsuri Festival. The festival is pretty cool. Every year in March, a Heian costume parade is held on Miyajima to give thanks to Taira no Kiyomori who developed the Itsukushima Shrine during the 12th century, laying the foundations for the prosperity of the sacred island. That’s really just a short description, but the procession was pretty awesome and the costumes were intricate.
I fell in love with the island. A grand mixture of sea and mountains, Miyajima is a magical place to be. Down near the beach is the floating O-torii Gate, which is a cool sight to behold. There are feral deer all over the place and though they may be somewhat aggressive when it comes to food, are harmless for the most part.
After the parade, we made our way up towards the ropeway which took us most of the way up Mount Misen which is about 500 meters (or 1,640.42 feet for you American-types) above sea level. The scenery is stark, beautiful intoxicating.
Story goes that Buddhism was first practiced on Mount Misen by Kobo Daishi, the founder of the Shingon sect and one of Japan’s holiest religious persons. Near Misen’s summit there are several temple structures, which belong to the Daisho-in Temple at the base of the mountain. We hung out at the Reikado (Hall of the Spiritual Flame) which protects a flame that Kobo Daishi is said to have lit when he began worshiping on the mountain back in the 12th Century. It has been burning ever since, and was also used to light the Flame of Peace in Hiroshima’s Peace Park.
We got back down off the mountain just in time to catch the sunset.
What a tranquil end to an incredible day. Another grand journey in the books for the Pylinski clan. Yabusame is next weekend, horseback archery. Giddeyup! Thank you again to everyone following our adventures. This has been great so far and we’re only about four months into the trip. Stay tuned for more excitement. For now: