First the traditional…
From Kumamoto, we took the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Hiroshima. From there we made our way via local train and ferry to Miyajima. If you’ve ever seen a Japanese tourism poster with a huge red torii (gate) sitting in water…well, that’s Miyajima.
The tide was going out during our visit, so that meant the accompanying shrine did not appear “floating,” but it was still impressive.
Japan has been under a heat wave for about a month. While typically hot and humid in the summer (temps usually about 30C/80F), this summer, temps have been in the high 30s, low 40s (low to mid 90s). Luckily for us, Miyajima had an enormous open-air temple on top of a fairly steep hill that was really cool. We rested up there for over an hour.
From Miyajima, we were off to Kyoto, the epitome of shrine and temples. Our plans were to visit the 4 major ones, but we only got to two before collapsing in the air conditioning of the International Manga Museum.
Kinkakuji (temple of the golden pavilion):
And ginkakuji (Silver pavilion)
The garden at the silver pavilion were more impressive:
The Golden Pavilion had huge crowds from foreign countries. The Silver seemed to be preferred by the Japanese. I caught quite a few glimpses of yukata-clad visitors.
In Tokyo, our inn was right next to the Sensoji–Tokyo’s oldest temple.
(an interesting side note: at each temple, the Things all pulled their fortunes (by shaking loose sticks from a canister and then taking a fortune from a drawer with the corresponding number. Each and every time, Thing 3 drew a positive, good fortune. Thing 1 drew a neutral fortune, and Thing 2, well, her bad fortunes hit home way too accurately. after the Mister read the first two aloud, i thought he was actually ad libbing (you are surrounding yourself with friends with negative energy. You are not living up to your true potential, etc) but nope–it was all there in Japanese black and white). i can only hope that she paid attention. If the gods are telling her, maybe she’ll listen)
After visiting traditional temples and shrines, we just had to visit the most important one of all–Tokyo Disneyland!
I’ll admit it, I love the Mouse. It was our 2nd trip to Tokyo Disney, and while this may seem extravagant, to be fair, we’ve never taken the Things to either Orlando or Disneyworld in Cali. I like the small size of Tokyo Disney, and it allowed us to let the older two Things roam freely while the Mister and I did the rides with Thing 3. We met up at lunch and then again at the Bibbity Bobbity Boutique (BBB) for what ended up being the best evening ever for Thing 3.
At the BBB, girls ages 3-12 are transformed into Disney princesses. The event consists of choosing your costume (Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Belle, or Tinkerbell), getting your hair and make-up done, and then having a photo shoot. Thing 3 saw this advertised in a Japanese magazine about 3 years ago. She’s been saving pocket change in a 5 gallon bottled water jug for this moment.
She chose Snow White
The entire evening was magical. She was so excited to have hair extensions (even though the shades didn’t quite match up). The dress is high quality and sized to fit her (no S, M, Ls here). The salon stylists taught her how to curtesy and say royal phrases in Japanese. And best yet, her older brother and sister did. not. snark. AT. ALL. They were so excited for her and cheered her on so enthusiastically that all the other girls in the salon were internally questioning their siblings’ quietude. It was awesome.
All in all, a satisfying trip–fortunes (scarily accurate) were told and dreams (scarily commercial) came true, but everyone left happy.