Yokoso Japan's Travel Mart 2007 Spring and My Familiarization Trip to Chugoku District of Japan-Part 4/4

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Itsukushima Shrine When we were on our way to the Itsukushima Shrine, which is a "UNESCO World Heritage", site the next day, I was still overwhelmed by the feelings and thoughts that Hiroshima City created in me. We took the ferry to the Miyajima Island where the shrine is. The whole island, which was considered to be "sacred" where no births and deaths were allowed since 1878, was very welcoming. I tried to forget about the bloody Battle of Miyajima, which took place here in 1555 and won Mori Motonari a preeminent position in western Japan. Motonari and his sons ordered extensive purification rituals after the battle, to cleanse the shrine, which was covered by, blood all over.

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Torii and the Writer at Itsukushima Shrine It was sunny and warm day and I decided to focus on the natural beauty of the island, which is considered one of three most scenic places in Japan along with the sand bar Amanohashidate and Matsushima Bay. I started to feel at ease. The tide was in and the vermilion torii appeared to be floating in the water as it has been photographed in many travel magazines and books. However, it was under renovation as this traveler's destiny claims and she couldn't take one decent picture of this beautiful Shinto gate.

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Our group and the Torii at Itsukushima Shrine Later, my disappointment with torii ceased as I discovered that we went there on a special day, 17th of April during which Jin-Noh was performed. This dates back to the Noh drama that Motonari Mori dedicated the shrine in the year of 1568. Jin-Noh (Sacred Noh) is performed for three days from April 16th as one event of the Peach Blossom Festival every year. It was a pleasure to be able to watch at least a short part of this ancient performance art of Japan at Miyajima.

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Noh Performance at Itsukushima Shrine

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The Torii and the Miyajima Island That night we were staying in Matsuyama and our hotel was in two minutes walking distance to Dogo Onsen, the oldest hot spring bathhouse in Japan with a history stretching back over 1500 years. According to legend, even Prince Shotoku (574-622), who was a regent and a politician of the Asuka period in Japan and was a proponent of Buddhism, was one of the guests.

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Dogo Onsen Like others, I wore my yukata, the cotton robe and went to the bathhouse. The ladies' quarters were separate from the gentlemen's. According to the bathing principles in Japan, first I washed myself thoroughly and then entered the pool, which was full of hot spring water. I closed my eyes and relaxed. After my cleansing bath experience, I was offered green tea and wagashi. This lovely treat reminded me how hungry I was. I left the bath house, wandered the meandering little streets full of cute little stores like my fellow visitors from all over Japan, all in our yukatas, did some shopping for my little boy and went back to my hotel. A feast was waiting for us in a private room. We were yet to experience another "banquet dinner" where we would sample about ten different small courses each proved to be distinctive in taste. They were delicious. At the end of our short journey, which didn't seem that short anymore after all we saw and did, we were not tired at all and ready for a busy tradeshow where we would meet the local suppliers at the Trade Mart. The next two days would be very exciting and informative. The organization of the whole trip and the trade show was superb and our hosts from Japan National Tourist Organization and the prefectures were very hospitable and generous to us in every possible way. All of our needs were foreseen and taken care of, so we could spend all our energy to see, learn and make connections. It was a wonderful introduction to Japan! I can only be happy to send my seasoned travelers to Japan because it's a destination of unique culture and history where a traveler is treated with respect and warmth. Ozgun Tasdemir (Japan Travel Specialist) Operations Manager Tourcom Int'l. Inc.

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