Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Greeting the New Year, only a week late

I have never really properly been into Gifu.  I didn't realise that it was a large city. I have only previously see a small tiny corner of it and had assumed it was a small town. But no. It is quite a large city. And right atop a mountain there is a nice looking castle.  I knew the castle was there. I have seen pictures of it.  I have seen photos taken by friends, family and acquaintances who have been there when visiting Austin.  But The Builder and I have never been.

So yesterday Austin (who has been about a million times and didn't really want to go again) drove The Builder and me out to the castle in the morning, dropped us off and went back home again. And The Builder and I rode the "Ropeway" cable car towards the top of the mountain, admiring the wonderful views on the way up. Then we walked and climbed and scrambled up the remarkably uneven steps towards the castle - where we made the welcome discovery that people 70 and over get to go in free. I, of course, am not 70 or over.  But The Builder is.  The question is - how to prove it?  We looked at his driver's licence and couldn't see a birth date (there is one, of course). What a pity we don't have his passport with us.  But we do!!!!!!!  It's in my pouch. I always carry passport when we are in Japan, Just In Case.  Mind you, it's only 200 yen, or $2, or about £1.40 to get in anyway, so hardly expensive.  And worth every yen, cent or penny. You get a mighty and wonderful view from the top.

From the top of the castle

We encountered lots of very helpful Japanese people who wanted to take our photographs (using my camera, not theirs, obviously), or who greeted us either in Japanese or in English. And we enjoyed our camber down he uneven stairs, past the squirrel enclosure, back to the cable car for our trip back down to the bottom. Where we had a pleasant stroll around in the park while waiting for Austin, Kaori and Tatsuki to come and collect us.

Calling first at a convenience store for some lunch provisions, we set off for the Gifu temple, climbing up a rather pretty, if quite narrow, hillside road back up Gifu Mountain. Up and up and up we went, confidently following the Google Maps directions.  And up, and up, and up, and up. I don't think the Google Maps directions really were taking us to the temple but rather up to the top of the mountain :-S  So we stopped to eat our picnic lunch and to review our options

We decided to carry on up the mountain.  After all, the road had to start going down again eventually. And eventually it did. And finally we were back down in Gifu, driving along the main road and on to the temple.  What should have taken around 10 or 15 minutes had actually taken over and hour :-S

It is the Japanese practice to greet the New Year at a temple and to offer prayers for prosperity, health and happiness (and for various football teams to be successful).  Austin and Kari had decide to wait for us to arrive and to greet the New Year a little late.  For various reasons so had lots of other people and the temple was quite busy.  But eventually we found a parking space and made or way up into the temple, where we sacrificed small coins to invoke prosperity and offered thoughts of greeting to 2013 and votive wishes for health and happiness

And then we made our way back home after a really lovely day.  We had another very traditional Japanese meal for dinner - Pork steaks with fried apple rings, mashed potatoes, vegetables and gravy.  I think Austin is hoping I'll cook lots and lots of Western style food while I'm here, although I am still hopeful that Kaori will teach me how to make proper gyoza.  I can make Chinese wontons, but I can't fold them properly so that they go from being wontons to pretty gyoza.



Click on the votive board to see the whole album

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