Japan Travel · Rodeogirl

Where in Japan is Summerqueen?!

When last we left our intrepid Rodeo Girl, she was recuperating from sinusitis (Pro tip, children: if you’re taking prescription allergy meds, don’t decide to just stop cold turkey; that’s what I did and opened up my poor nose as a gateway to a previously unknown hell. Just don’t) and preparing to jet off to Miyagi prefecture for the weekend.

Thanks to generic Flonase, I am feeling much better now, but still was a tiny bit off in Sendai. I didn’t let that stop me from trekking up the coast half an hour to Matsushima (literally “pine island”) for a cruise around the bay that Saturday morning. Matsushima is one of Japan’s top three “scenic sites,” and it was pretty, if hazy. But I admit to being somewhat underwhelmed by the designated “scenic sites” I’ve seen — the other being from the top of Mount Misen on Miyajima. I’ve seen prettier spots in Japan. Still, I enjoyed the cruise, which wandered in and around a number of small islands in the bay. The second half of the cruise meant coming into Shiogama port, which wasn’t quite so picturesque, though I was able to see one of Shiogama shrine’s two shrine boats (a dragon).

Side note, since coming here, I seem to have gotten over my fear of boats, or rather, my deep-seated phobia of being on deep water in a boat. I’ve done multiple hour long cruises on placid water and been fine (still not good if there’s waves, though). We’ll see if this can extend to kayaking in Okinawa later this year. Conversely, my dislike of planes has grown considerably, which is why I save flying for getting to Tokyo or points further away. And one reason why I will be taking a train to Nagoya tomorrow.

Once we docked in Shiogama, I trekked inland to Shiogama shrine, which is a major shrine for the Tohoku area. And I could’ve stayed all day — stately pines, mossy stone lanterns, peaceful atmosphere. Found myself quite verklempt at one point, as I was aiming for a photo down a gentle sloping staircase facing a torii gate. Shrines do that to me, but in a good way (moving me to tears, but happy ones). Next year I will head straight to Shiogama, have breakfast at the fish market, and go back to the shrine for more peace and pictures.

Had plenty of gyu-tan (beef tongue), including my first gyu-tan sausages, which were quite tasty. Also indulged in zunda shakes and soft serve ice cream. Zunda, made from young soybeans, is hard to explain, but it has a pleasant, mild flavor. The two Granrodeo shows were … well, they were interesting, since the lead singer seemed as sick as I had been, but he was determined to not disappoint anyone (instead he just worried us!).

Thankfully he was back to almost full health the following weekend in Osaka, where it was just plain too hot for sight-seeing. Enjoyed the shows, a tiny, tasty dinner of hot, fresh takoyaki (octopus in fried dough) underneath the train tracks of my hotel’s station, plus a delicious viking (buffet) lunch in the Hilton Plaza for my friend’s birthday. Got to catch up with old friends, make new ones and generally have a good time when not melting.

This weekend brings Nagoya, more shows, and “real feel” temperatures over 40 C. Had wanted to go to an outdoor museum in Inuyama, but I think I’ll stick to their tiny castle instead. Do not want heat stroke for my birthday weekend, nope.

You can see all my pics from the weekend in Miyagi here.

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