Driving from Lake Biwa to Ise Grand shrine

If we would have gone according to plans this day we would have spend the day doing activities in Japan’s biggest lake, Lake Biwa. I wanted to do paddle board yoga or get on a boat and cruise the lake. 
But things didn’t go according to plan. It was barely the third day and already the plans had gone to hell. 
Apparently, I didn’t plan a trip for humans but for robots who didn’t need to eat and sleep, and I didn’t take into account traffic and bathroom breaks. My plan was destined to fail from the beginning. 
And because my sister had only a few days to join us on the trip and she wanted to see Ise Grand shrine, we had to sacrifice Lake Biwa. The lake was demoted from protagonist to understudy. However, we did get to stay the night in a road station near the lake and when we woke up we did take advantage and took Whiskey on a quick morning walk by the lake.
It all worked out for the best because in April the air was pretty chilly and the water icy cold, it would have not been to fun to freeze our butts off playing in the lake. I really wanted my parents and sister to try the joys of paddle boarding but if we feel in the water we would die for sure!
And so, we did see lake Biwa but only for about 30 minutes. These are some pictures to prove our being there.

Before my sister had to go home we had to reach our next goal which was Ise Grand Shrine in Mie Prefecture. This was about 2 and a half hours away from Lake Biwa, including traffic and breaks we took just a bit longer than that but managed to arrive a bit after noon.

A big mistake we made was not look up information ahead of time so when we got there we didn’t know in which order to go around the shrines (there are 2 main ones and hundreds of small ones and they have an order in which to see them). Also, we didn’t know where the main entrance was or where to leave our dog whiskey (dogs are not allowed inside the shrine). Therefore, we walked pointlessly for a long time, getting lost and getting tired.
There are lots of stores selling all kinds of crazy items in the street leading up to the shrine and at first, we were enjoying all the weirdness like this crazy flavoured ice creams…

But little by little we got tired of walking without finding the shrine’s entrance, and it was getting late so we worried it might close before we got to see it. We were pretty tired but what really took my joy away from Ise grand shrine was a very moody security guard…
Walking about trying to find the entrance we found a place that looked promising, and there was a security guard there so we hoped he could point us the right direction, but as soon as he saw Whiskey his face grew red in anger and he could no longer hear what we were asking. He would only scream that dogs weren’t allowed inside the shrine, his forehead veins coming out. He was scary!
And so, without any information and answers from the constipated dog fearing security guy we walked away as fast as possible before he ripped our skin away, or blew his veins out…
We had no choice but to go back to the parking lot and leave Whiskey inside the car and keep looking for the entrance.
A little before 4pm we finally got in, maybe it was because I was already so tired or maybe because of the demonic security guard but I had already lost interest in the shrine.
Yes, it was big, and yes it was beautiful but come on! Is it worth coming here and being treated like shit!? I didn’t see the appeal… 

From now on I think it’s important to check ahead a bit of information about the places I go to. Just to have an idea of how things are. Sometimes going somewhere without a plan is good but on some places like Ise Grand Shrine it may be a good idea to have a slight notion of what’s going on.
If possible, go visit the “Mythology museum” outside the Geku shrine and learn a bit of Japanese mythology (its only in Japanese though) to have an idea of why the shrine is important and meaningful to the Japanese. If not, its really just another shrine but bigger. 
Our first day in Ise Grand shrine was like that, but we went the next day as well and that was much better! In the next blog I will write more about it. 


Multilingual acupuncturist travelling the world