Thursday, March 29, 2012

Trip to Taiwan-Japan Day 14 (2)(京都 (Kyoto))


After teh lunch & dessert, we took a train to visit Shimogamo Shrine.  From teh station, we walked to the shrine through "Tadasu no Mori" (which is the forest associated with the shrine but its name is so ancient that its history is uncertain).

I hadn't been here since I was probably in high school.

The shrine and the forest are the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
森にはたくさんの木が生い茂り (原生林)、すごく爽やかで歩いているだけで気分が良くなります。気のせいか空気もきれいな感じが。後で母に聞くと最近ではパワースポットとして人気があるようです。確かに納得です。

The forest today spans over 12 hectares and is well protected - you just feel so comfortable and refreshed by walking through it.  
途中いくつかの古い木が御神木として祭られてました (写真左側)。

On the way to the shrine, we found several of very old trees separated from others (left side in the picture) as sacred trees 

This rock is called "Sazare-ishi", a kind of boulder grown from pebbles, which is used as a symbol of national unity in the national anthem of Japan.

This is the gate to the shrine.
下鴨神社は数ある京都の神社・仏閣の中でも1番古いものの一つで、創建は紀元前 (弥生時代) までさかのぼるそうです。

The shrine is one of the oldest in Kyoto (which means really, really old) - the history of the shrine extends at least two thousand years (the buildings themselves are not very old as all buildins were destroyed and re-built every 21 years starting from ~ 8th century) 

Inside the shrine you can find seven tiny shrines which enshrine the Earthly Branches (12 animals in Chinese zodiac signs).  This one is for rat.
下鴨神社にお参りした後はもちろんここ、加茂みたらし茶屋 でみたらし団子を食べねばなりません! 糺の森の各地には鴨の七不思議と呼ばれる伝承があって、その中のひとつが盛夏の土用の頃、御手洗川の源泉である御手洗池から水泡が湧くというものです。この泡をもとに生まれたお菓子がみたらし団子らしいです。由緒正しいお団子です。

After visiting Shimogamo Shrine, you have to stop at "Kamo Mitarashi-Chaya", where "mitarashi dango" (a type of dango skewered onto sticks in groups of 3–5 (traditionally 5) and covered with a sweet soy sauce glaze) originates from (more than 1000 years ago!).
もちろんみたらし団子を注文。一番上のお団子が少し大きく、残りの4個のお団子とは少し離れています。これには串に刺さった団子を人間の体に見立てている (一番上は頭、残りの4個は四肢) という説と、後醍醐天皇が行幸の際、御手洗池で水を掬おうとしたところ、1つ大きな泡が出、続いて四つの泡が出てきた逸話によるという説があるらしいです。

This is the mitarashi dango.  It was cooked to order.

It had great burnt fragrance, and the sticky sauce was not overly sweet.  This is one of my favorite Japanese sweets (since I was a kid).  Sooo yummy.

My husband also ordered this dessert, which had sweet red bean, ice cream, shiratama (balls made of rice flour), warabi mochi (a jelly-like confection made from bracken starch).

When the weather is good, you can enjoy their sweets at the outside seats, as well.

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