Away from Main Street, it was quiet again. There are narrow streets running parallel with and perpendicular to Main Street. Each of them has a different atmosphere, but they all look traditional.
This is the Oryu wooden lantern. It functioned as a beacon for ships in the Edo period.
Finally, I went to the Eirakukan Theater. It was opened in 1901. It is the oldest drama theater in the northern Kansai region. It is still used for Kabuki performances. It was fun to walk around the building. I was able to see the theater from every angle. I was especially interested in the stage mechanism.
I left the theater and took the bus for Toyooka Station. I got on the Konotori Express at Toyooka Station to go home. I fell in love with Izushi! I really want to return there. I bought some traditional cakes as a souvenir. They were soft and delicious!
Leaving Sukyoji Temple, I walked toward Main Street. On the way, I saw a beautiful sake brewary.
This building used to be a merchant’s house in the Meiji period. It is now the Izushi Historical Museum. Unfortunately, it was closed on that day. I must go back!
I saw few people until I came to this buiding. However, I saw more and more people as I approached Main Street. Main Street was bustling with shops and restaurants. There were many people waiting in line for soba (buckwheat noodles) restaurants. Izushi is famous for its soba. My mom had recommended a couple of restaurants and I was planning to have lunch at one of them. However, I wanted to explore the town as much as possible, so I decided to give up my lunch. I continued walking, promising myself I’d come back to eat soba some day.
This is Izushi’s landmark, Shinkoro Clock Tower. It was built in 1871.
In the moat, you can see beautiful carp.
Out of curiosity, I dropped in at this Samurai House. It was a chief retainer’s residence in the late Edo period. This buidling looks one story high, but it is actually not. The building structure has some tricks to protect the residents from their enemies. If you like, you could take a photo of yourself with the samurai panel (with your face sticking out of the panel).
You could even take a photo of yourself sitting next to the samurai.
Leaving the shrine, I walked on a pathway at the foot of Mt. Ariko. I found some historic sites. The first one I found was the site of a clan school, Kodokan, established in 1775.
Across from it, I found the birthplace of Tsutomu Sakurai (1843-1931), who was a government official and started weather forcasting.
Past a temple called Kyooji Temple, I crossed the bridge. I saw a heron in the brook.
Take a closer look! It’s beautiful!
Then I went to the birthplace of Hiroyuki Kato (1836-1916). He was one of the first Japanese who went to Europe to study. He studied German language and philosophy. He introduced Western ideas to Japan and contributed to establishing the university system in Japan.
The pathway, History and Academy Walk, was very inspiring. I was inspired and motivated to work hard when I thought about those passionate and diligent people.
After leaving the pathway and walking for a while, I found a beautiful building, Izushi Meijikan. The pseudo-Western style building was built as the county hall in 1887. Now it is used as a museum. Unfortunately, it was closed on that day. I hope to go back.
One of the most impressive places in Izushi was Sukyoji Temple (or Takuan Temple). It was restored in 1616 by a Zen priest Takuan Soho, who was born in Izushi. The crane-and-tortoise garden and the pond were created by him. They were stunning. I loved the gardens in the temple. They must be beautiful in other seasons, too. I definitely want to go back!
Photography was not allowed in the internal gardens, so I have only two pictures to show you. The internal gardens are even more beautiful. They are worth visiting!
I went on a trip to Izushi. My mother and my maternal ancestors were from this region, so I would often go there when I was younger. I felt nostalgic when I got in.
I took the Konotori Express and got off at Yoka Station. Then I took the bus to Izushi.
Getting off at Izushi Bus Station, I passed by two temples. One of them was Fukujoji Temple.
Then I caught sight of a magnificent view. These are Izushi Castle Ruins.
On the top of the ruins, there is a shrine called Arikoyama Inari Shrine. I climbed the stone steps through the vermillion gates and reached the shrine. I was all alone at the shrine. It was silent and the air was cool and clear. I really liked the place.
I went down the steps and further went to another shrine called Morosugi Shrine. I found an omikuji box and drew one. Omikuji is a fortune-telling paper strip. Mine was “a little luck.” It said I should study hard, which was convincing.
On the way to D.C., we dropped in at Five Guys and I had a yummy cheeseburger.
We arrived at our hotel in the evening. Entering the room, we found everything the same as eight days before. (We stayed at the same hotel.) This brought me to think that the whole trip might have been a dream! Indeed, everything seemed too good to be true. Perhaps, I might have taken a nap in this room eight days before and had a dream of traveling with my BFF and miss Fairy.
We went to the lounge and had a chat over a cup of tea. We reviewed what we had done during my stay in Virginia. I was surprised at how many things we had done.
Next morning, I found letters on the desk. They were from my BFF. One was for my father and the other was for me. I put them in my bag.
We had breakfast and went to the airport. We entered a cafe near the check-in counter and kept chatting until the last minute. It was really hard to say goodbye to my BFF and miss Fairy. (Even now, just remembering the scene makes me sad.) When I was walking toward the gate, I found a message from Mr. M on Facebook. Even though I couldn’t see the family, I felt protected by them.
I read the letter from my BFF on the airplane. It was encouraging. I remembered my BFF had always encouraged me since I was a student. My BFF has always been my role model and her words have always been my treasure.
On the plane, I watched Spiderman movies which miss Fairy had recommended. The time passed quickly. Before I knew it, I was flying over Hokkaido.
I arrived in Japan. My husband picked me up at the airport. At home, Tiffany was waiting. My husband had prepared dinner for me. During dinner and after that, I was busy talking about all the experiences I had had during the trip. Since the trip, I have always been dreaming of the day when my BFF and her family will come and visit us in Japan. Now I’m enjoying looking for attractive locations and experiences for them!
Next morning, while my BFF was away from home doing some volunteer work, miss Fairy and I watched “Friends” in the living room. We laughed a lot. After that, I asked Mr. M to play the guitar. I remembered him playing the guitar 23 years before. His music had been so impressive and unforgettable that I was eager to listen to it again. He played two guitars: an electric guitar and a steel guitar. His music was accurate, cool, and beautiful. Puppy and I loved the little concert. We were his big fans! (Back in Japan, I showed the videos of his performance to my husband, who also plays the guitar. He admired it, too!)
My BFF came back from volunteer work and we had lunch together, when Mr. Luca came to me and said goodbye. Mr. M and Mr. Luca were going to a baseball game. I was going to miss them.
It was a perfect day for a stroll. My BFF, miss Fairy, Puppy and I visited a historic site called Meadow Farm. The farm had been owned by seven generations of the Sheppard family since the early 1700s.
Around the mid 19th century, tobacco was grown here and sold at the market in Richmond. This log tobacco barn was built in the early 20th century and relocated to Meadow Farm in 2001. It is similar to those from the 19th century.
On the farm, there were several kinds of animals living in peace. I was impressed with their loving attitudes.
Afterwards, we went back home. It was about time to leave for Washington D.C. I got ready and took some photos of Puppy on the backyard deck. It was hard to say goodbye to Puppy.
My BFF, miss Fairy, and I went to the public library. We met one of my BFF’s friends again. She wished me safe travels and I wished her the best of luck in her pursuit. (Later I was delighted to hear that she had achieved her goal! Congratulations!)
With a lot of wonderful memories of Virginia, we got in the car and headed for D.C.