It might sound peculiar to some, but shrines and food are inseparable. In fact, most Japanese shrines have food stalls near the entrance gate, especially at festive seasons. After visiting the sacred space to make your wish and reflect your own past, people frequently enjoy warm tasty food on the street. It does add the great feeling of appreciation for life; with warm food inside, you are ready to take a new step forwards.
Traditionally in Japanese, ‘trip’ meant visiting Ise Jingu. Ise Jingu is where the God is, where Emperor’s ancestor Amaterasu no Omikami resides. It was the ultimate destination that people used to plan as their ‘once in a lifetime’ pilgrimage. Even now, despite bullet trains and great local transport, it’s not straightforward to get to Ise Jingu directly, you must plan a trip especially for it. This is another reason why food stalls have been around shrines; people need to gain strength to continue their, often long, journey home. At Ise Jingu, food stalls occupy a whole street near-by, from famous Ise Udon to Takoyaki, all the familiar comfort foods are sold with lively patter from the sellers.
We sat down to have nice warm Ise Udon and realised a picture-card-show was just about to start in front of us. The story-teller was so good that we unexpectedly sat through the whole thing. The story was about a very loving old couple who lived in country side that owned a dog whom they raised as their child. They were working hard to save money to visit to Ise Jingu, but by the time they saved enough, they were too old to travel. After seeing the couple’s disappointment, the dog decided to visit the shrine instead… The story ended where the dog got slightly lost on the street… We wonder about the rest of the story…!