Izushi: Wooden Lantern and Kabuki Theater

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.

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This is the Oryu wooden lantern. It functioned as a beacon for ships in the Edo period.

Finally, I arrived at 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.

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Stage
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First floor
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View from the second floor
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Numbered seats
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Battens
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Revolving stage
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Revolving stage viewed from trap room
Dressing room

I fell in love with Izushi! I look forward to my next visit..

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Izushi: Main Street and Samurai House

After leaving Sukyoji Temple, I walked toward Main Street. On the way, I saw a beautiful sake brewery.

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As I approached Main Street, I saw more and more people. 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 mother 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 within a limited time. Accordingly, I decided to give up my lunch and continued walking, promising myself I would definitely come back to eat soba some day.

This is Izushi’s landmark, Shinkoro Clock Tower, built in 1871.

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In the moat, I saw beautiful carp.

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Out of curiosity, I dropped in at this Samurai House. It used to be a chief retainer’s residence in the late Edo period. This building looks one story high, but it is actually not. The building structure has some tricks to protect the residents from their enemies. You can take a photo with your face put through the hole in a board with a picture of a samurai on it.

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Izushi: History & Academy Walk and Sukyoji Temple

I walked down a pathway called History and Academy Walk 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.

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Across from it, I found the birthplace of Tsutomu Sakurai (1843-1931), who contributed to the development of weather forecasting.

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Past a temple called Kyooji Temple, I crossed the bridge. I saw a heron in the brook.

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I finally reached the birthplace of Hiroyuki Kato (1836-1916). He was one of the first Japanese who went to Europe to study. He studied the German language and philosophy. He introduced Western ideas to Japan and contributed to establishing the university system in Japan.

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The pathway was very inspiring. I was motivated to study hard when I was thinking about those passionate and diligent people long time ago.

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.

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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. The crane-and-tortoise garden and the pond were designed and created by him. They were stunning. I loved all the gardens in the temple. They must be beautiful in other seasons, too. I look forward to my next visit.

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South Garden
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Bell tower

Photography was not allowed in the inside gardens. They were even more beautiful. They are really worth visiting!

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Izushi: Izushi Castle Ruins and Shrines

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 young. 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.

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Getting off at Izushi Bus Station, I passed by two temples. One of them was Fukujoji Temple.

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Temple bell

Then, I caught sight of a magnificent view of Izushi Castle Ruins.

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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.

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I went down the steps and went further 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 very convincing.

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I liked the green carpet of moss.

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Kitano, Kobe and cherry blossoms

I took a train to downtown Kobe and walked up to Kitano. The cherry blossoms were in full bloom. I took a nice afternoon stroll there.

Kitano is a historic district situated at the foot of the Rokko mountains. In 1868, the Port of Kobe was opened to foreign trade. After that, some foreign merchants settled in Kitano and more than 200 colonial-style houses were built. Some mansions still remain and they are open to the public as museums.

There are many beautiful buildings, whether old or new, in Kitano. I enjoyed both the architecture and nature of Kitano.

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Lamppost and cherry blossoms
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Maruyama Park, Kyoto

Maruyama Park is the oldest park in Kyoto. It is next to Yasaka-jinja Shrine in the Higashiyama area. It is famous for its beautiful cherry blossoms. In spring, many people come here to enjoy viewing the cherry blossoms and picnicking under the cherry trees.

You can also enjoy autumn leaves in Maruyama Park. You can have a nice stroll around the pond or along the brook, admiring bright red leaves here and there.

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