The Year of The Rooster

I’m trying to make the most of my weekends. My week is so busy with work that I’ve decided all my exploring will happen over the weekend. I must admit the rainy weather today did initially put me off.

After finishing a fitness class (woohoo I’m working out again!) I mustered up the strength to stay out despite the ‘light’ rain and visit the local shrine and I’m so glad I did. Ikuta Shrine is a five minute walk from where I live and work and is really beautiful. It is also (I think) the oldest shrine in Japan.

The first thing that caught my eye was big picture celebrating the year of the rooster. I also noticed people performing a ritual to the main shrine.  The ritual included, making a coin donation, clapping your hands together and then ringing the bell. I watched several people do this and I’m interested to find out more about it. I also saw another ritual of people gargling water around a well using wooden ladles. It was really interesting to watch.

Another interesting thing I saw were people putting a special type of paper into a little stream and either the temperature of the water or the minerals it contained revealed a message on the paper. The ladies I watched seemed to be happy about their message.

The secret to discovering the best parts of Kobe are the lane ways and little alleys. Growing up in London common and being some what ‘street’ smart taught me to avoid places like theses at all costs. Today I silenced my ‘street smart’ voice and explored the lane ways. There were so many cafes and boutiques. I even bought a coffee which wasn’t so bad. I’ve barely scraped the surface of the lane ways and I’m looking forward to discovering more. I came across a Middle Eastern restaurant that I can’t wait to try!

This weekend I had planned on going to my local onsen ( a natural hot spring bath where you bathe naked) but after some research they do not allow anyone with tattoos to bathe. I was gutted as I had been looking forward to it but instead I took myself to a public foot spa bath. For those of you who know me I have a thing about feet but I was able to partake in the foot spa and I enjoyed it.

The foot spa is literally in a wooden shelter on the street with a bench and seating for about 8 people. It’s free and open from 10am to midnight. When I arrived there were already some Japanese ladies in there, as I entered they all smiled and after a while one of the ladies asked me my name and if I liked Japanese food. She was really nice and ended up translating  another lady’s questions for me.

The foot spa was really enjoyable, the water was so warm and because it was so cold it was really relaxing. I think I stayed for about twenty minutes. As I got out to dry my feet the lady that was asking questions in Japanese handed me a delicious looking pastry. It was so unexpected and kind of her. I thanked her and chowed down on it whilst walking home which is so un- Japanese because the majority of people don’t eat on the street!

All these little experiences I am having makes living here even more enjoyable and I wonder who or what I will encounter next.



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